Tag Archives: wedding

The Weirdness of Weddings

wedding paper flowersLast year, just after I got married, I was lonely, depressed, and trying to come to terms with what had happened in the wedding planning: two of my three bridesmaids dropped out of the wedding and stopped talking to me. I wrote up a piece about it, framing it not as a explanation (because I’m honestly not completely sure), but as a “how to” craft piece. The step-by-step craft process gave me a little emotional distance, and I thought it was kinda poetic.

I submitted it to APracticalWedding.com, a site upon which I’d relied heavily during wedding planning. This summer, they decided to publish it, which was pretty cool. Then it was republished by Refinery29—bonus cool!
But I’ve noticed something. Women, online and in person, respond a few typical ways:
  • “Well, at least you know who your friends are now?” or “Well, they just weren’t very good friends, were they?”
    I’ve gotten this from several commenters, as well as my mom and the therapist I briefly visited. You know how helpful this response is? Not at all. Because they were my closest friends, and their absence meant the utter dissolution of my friend circle. So, sure, I knew who my friends were: older friends, from college, who I rarely get to see. I had no “Let’s go see a movie” friends left.
  • “You shouldn’t have wanted such a hard craft project! Some people aren’t crafty!”
    Mostly received online, from people I think who didn’t understand that the craft was just a way to talk about it. For the record, they didn’t leave just over the craft. They ignored me about the craft, then were dismissive about it, didn’t offer ideas on dresses or like any of the ones I picked, and didn’t bother to RSVP to any shower invitations, didn’t come to my birthday party, weren’t available to meet for dinner, and then were upset when I asked for more support. I even said that if I was asking too much of them, I’d understand if they didn’t want to do the bridesmaid thing and they could just come to the wedding if that was easier. They, apparently, didn’t think so.
  • “I think we’re only getting one side of the story here.”
    Another from the commenters, and—well yeah, of course you are. That’s how a narrative works. This comment has a little added zing of implying I’m lying or manipulating the story. But, if it helps, I don’t know any more, really. They never said why, exactly, they were dropping out. They never said anything at all, except one half-hearted “I’m sorry things turned out this way” a week later, before dropping off my Facebook friends list and not talking to me again. One changed her username so I can’t search for her.
And that would be it, except a few men I know read my article, too, because I forgot who can see things I post to my personal Facebook page. And this is what they said:
  • “Wow, did that really happen? I’m sorry. That’s really shitty.”
    And that was amazing. Because the majority of the women who responded hadn’t given me that kind of empathy. These men validated my experience and just let me say, yes, that was a thing that happened. It was shitty. They didn’t blame me or accuse me of being a “bridezilla” (more than one woman has made that suggestion—including the therapist). They didn’t tell me they weren’t crafty. They didn’t try to play it off as no big deal.
I think it says a lot about women and weddings. The women are afraid to admit that something like this could happen to them, that weddings aren’t always the Hollywood ideal of being so popular you have to be in 27 weddings. So they look for “if only’s”—”if only I don’t do that, it won’t happen to me.”
I didn’t have a Hollywood wedding experience. Parts of wedding planning were really, really shitty. I don’t think I “deserved” what happened, and it’s taken me a long while to stop feeling as hurt about it; it was hard to mourn those friendships. But I did have a lovely event, in the end, with lots of dancing and happy people. I married a really amazing man, and we’re building a solid life together.
Plus I have this kickass wreath, so that’s cool.
paper flower wreath

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How Marriage is Different

wedding bouquet

I’ve been married about 8 months now, and I was trying to explain to a group of friends from college what it’s like. And I’m struggling. They are single or couples-living-together, and I desperately wanted to make marriage sound awesome. Because I like it pretty well!

But everything I could think of just made marriage sound lame and/or pretty much the same as a nonmarried couple that’s living together. Stuff like having someone to take care of you when you’re sick. Or being totally ok with staying in and watching marathons of a cartoon instead of putting on pants one weekend. Or not always having to be the one to do the dishes.

Like I said, I’m having trouble explaining why that stuff is all cool.

Even the governmental benefits of being married have either not yet manifested themselves (like managing dual property) or haven’t been too easy (filing married

-person taxes sucked this year, in part because taxes for writers are a little different).

So what’s the point?

The biggest boon I’ve personally experienced since getting married has been not the result of moving in together or of a piece of paper. It came from the public declaration: legitimacy.

Both my relationship with my partner and my relationship to society as an adult have become solidified, apparently, because I wore a white dress and he wore a suit and we made some promises to each other. People who have known me for years, since I was little, are starting to listen to me like I have actual input. New people I meet at work are a little more likely to relax a bit if I share a “husband story” at lunch. I give off the impression of being “settled down” (even if I don’t feel it!). We fit into a nice tidy societal compartment.

Sometimes conversations about marriage equality rights focus on the benefits, the legal stuff: undisputed hospital visitation rights, automatic powers of attorney, inheritance, health insurance, adoption, taxes. And those are all good, concrete things that–I believe–everyone who loves deeply should be able to acquire. But the most significant benefit of marriage, the one that will be most hard-won, will be that simple societal acceptance, being seen, officially, as one familial unit.

It’s a pretty great perk. And one of the reasons marriage is awesome…and why there should be more of it.

P.S. Congratulations to the newlyweds in Alabama today!

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I Got Married for the Sick Days

My husband is home sick. He’s gloriously pathetic: a cold-turned-bronchitis walloped him at midday yesterday, leaving him with a hacking cough and bleary eyes. The medicine the doc-in-the-box prescribed has knocked him back on his bum, and a good thing, too, because it is letting him sleep despite the cough (not so me, however, who woke up multiple times to the dry agonizing cough of the sleeping lump next to me.)

I feel so badly for him, and a bit guilty for his illness. Perhaps his cold wouldn’t have worsened had I not dragged him all over the country to see my family for Thanksgiving?

All I want to do is stay home, making chicken soup from scratch and reminding him to take his medicine.

I am no Florence Nightingale; I find his hacking cough monstrously icky and don’t want to snuggle with his germy face. But still I find myself fretting over him, wondering if I put enough honey in his hot water, if he needs another pillow, if I got him sick.

I realized, this morning, that this is one of the reasons you get married. Or at least one of the reasons I got married. The good times are, of course, good. They keep things exciting and moving forward and laughing. But the good times also serve as a reminder, during the bad times, of why you’re so danged committed, of why you promised to be with this person forever in the first place (it’s an absurd promise, if you think about it).

But when we’re sick, it is a tremendous relief to let someone else worry about the essential day-to-day stuff when you’re dealing with something sucky, from bronchitis or a bad day at work or the death of a loved one.

I owe my husband lots of chicken noodle soup and orange juice because my grandfather died suddenly last month. He’s been keeping me going as we took the 8-hour drive up for the memorial service and then back one weekend, and again as we repeated the trip for Thanksgiving so Grandma wouldn’t be alone. He’s kept me fed, dressed, and showered, and even got me to giggle a little, on the days when I want to do nothing but crumple to the floor and cry (there have been many of those days). He was there for the days–and probably more to come–when I was soul-sick; I’ll be there for him for the days that he’s just regular-sick. Not only is it part of the promise I made in front of 150 people, it’s the reason I made that promise. Because I got married for the sick days just as much as the whole ones.

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Review: The Bride Wore Size 12

The Bride Wore Size 12  (Heather Wells #5)The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I admit I’m a little disappointed…but that could be my own fault: it turns out I started a series on #5 (oops) and mistook the author for Jennifer Weiner (my bad). But congrats to Cabot’s marketing team! I picked up the book because of the title and because I had seen posters around, so not a total loss.

So, like I said, I came into this series at exactly the wrong point. But it is charming and fun and a nice little mystery to nibble on.

Basically, for those who are as lost as I was, this book is about Heather Wells, a nice enough girl who is about to get married at the end of the month to her tasty PI boyfriend. She works as a residence hall administrator at a college, and she really just wants to get through to the wedding… but the dead girl messes that all up. So Heather takes time out of her busy schedule to solve a murder, too.

I admit it: I only picked up this book because it had the word “bride” in it and, as a very recently married person, I was hoping to enjoy some fictionalized wedding stress. I wanted to see if all the crazy chaos that went into wedding-planning made it into a book.

…it didn’t. In drips, maybe, but really everything in the title is completely disregarded. Rubbish title, in terms of relating to the story at all. I mean, sure, it is periodically mentioned that “OMG Heather is a BRIDE!” but, let me tell you, I had a lot more panic going on in the month before my wedding, and I was, as my groom put it, not a bride-zilla but bride-chilla.

And I have no idea where the size 12 nonsense came from, aside from once or twice mentioning that Heather enjoys a morning bagel (unnecessary fat-shaming, excellent).

So I hated the title and the book wasn’t at all what I expected, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. It was fun.

I found it particularly interesting to see Cabot’s perspective on working in college administration, something I know about first-hand a bit. It’s not exactly a common career path, so I found that refreshing and interesting.

The murder and related sub-plot was a little transparent for my taste, but this is meant to be light reading, so I can’t fault it too much. Overall I thought it was charming, though I don’t think I care to step back into Heather’s world much more.

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A Name I’ll Miss

I’m getting married, and it’s made me contemplative. I wrote this just after picking up the marriage license, when I was feeling really contemplative about the whole name-change situation. It is a challenging choice, and I think it’s become so expected that a lot of people don’t even think about it. But I do. It bothers me. It bothers me that it is assumed (at least in my area, in my licensing office) that a name change is just a given.

Anyway, that’s how you get weird prose-poems like this. Sorry.

——–

First, they called me “the bun in the oven.” Then, “sweet baby.”

Then they gave me my name, 21 letters that spelled out my parents’ hopes, the legacy of the family unit.
My name I learned, writing it out in waxy kindergarten hand, scrawling it at the top-left corner, papers held by the lopsided staple poorly mashed in. I knew trouble was my name yelled in full.
 I grew into my name–it always was, and always would be. Even as nicknames proliferated and clung like sticking burrs, the name fit, comfortable as a hug.
Then I owned my name. Proudest moment the first time it blazed in fresh ink on a high school newspaper. My name rang out at graduations to my family’s applause; my name on a resume opened doors to shaking hands; my name on a check at the bank bought a sense of accomplishment, ability to spend.
Once again I’m called “baby,” having found my love.
But to be with him, I am rewritten, my name undone.
Though the change is a choice, it’s often assumed. Something is wrong with me if I reject a new moniker, a new life, all at once.
I grapple with this new name, this unwanted pre-supposed choice. I pin it to the ground an try it on. It fits a little tight; it’s not quite my style, but I suppose it’ll suffice.
(I leave my name on underneath, because it’s mine and I don’t have to take it off, not for no one.)
But outside, I’m different. I’m changed. The shift is subtle, but I notice, the looks, the gentle mentions. The rudimentary paperwork I plow through; the expense, the awkwardness.
In time, this name will fit me, like the one before. As I wear this second skin, it will gain meaning, import, weight. Maybe it won’t feel so strange.
I’ll be ma’am’d and not miss’d… and that I may miss.

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Let’s Talk About Bridezillas

Let’s talk about the concept of “bridezilla.”

It’s the idea that weddings inherently turn perfectly nice young women into some sort of fire-breathing, plate-throwing, tantrum-screaming monsters. That women develop this malady through their own lack of character, a high budget and the desire to achieve a selfish fantasy in which their every whim must be met.

I hate this concept. It needs to go.

First, as Slate so humorously describes, it is a really bad portmanteau. “Godzilla” and “bridezilla” don’t even sound alike, so it doesn’t make sense from a language standpoint.

Second, it is a term used to judge, cut-down, and control others. “Bridezilla” is a term that comes out when a woman–only a woman, you never hear about “groomzilla,” do you?–doesn’t perform to your expectations. It is a weapon.

Personally, I have heard it several ways.

  • “Oh, don’t worry about it! I’m sure that Major Wedding Problem will work out! You don’t want to be a bridezilla now, do you?”
  • “Don’t get all bridezilla about it, but I need you to…”
  • “You’re really acting like a bridezilla now.”

Every time, it came up–sometimes “jokingly”–as a way to brush off my genuine concerns, to minimize my experiences and stress, and to manipulate me into being something else.

Okay, by now you may be rolling your eyes and saying, “Geeze, she must really be a bridezilla if this is going on!”

And maybe someone objective would say that–but I really don’t think so. All throughout wedding planning, this term has been hanging over my head: don’t be “like that.” I’ve tried to be accommodating wherever possible, and I truly don’t care about things like what color napkins we use or if we use live flowers or not.

Now, will I agree that there are women who do go overboard? Absolutely! But we already have words for unreasonable people, tons of them, and the act of being unreasonable is really not limited to women in this situation. The truth is, some people are bitches all the time.

The other truth is, weddings are extremely stressful and there are a lot of competing values at stake: what you want, what you have money for, what your parents want, what your SO’s parents want, what your neighbor who isn’t even invited to the wedding thinks a wedding should be like, etc etc. (Seriously, I had a family friend call to ask me the color of my guest book, because this was apparently critical to her preparations. Really?!)

I mean, how often do you plan an expensive multi-hour event for hundreds of people? It’s not like you know how to plan a wedding going into it; you’re stuck browsing Pinterest and getting sucked into the DIY rabbithole as you try to navigate all this.

And the wedding industry is literally built on people telling you you are not good enough, that if you don’t have XYZ, your wedding will be the worst and you’ll ruin “the memories.” I am shocked by the mountain of pressure that gets dropped on women when we get engaged (and on the men, but to a lesser degree, in my experience). (This article in The New Yorker does a good job analyzing this.)

In my own circumstance, the accusation of bridezilla-dom came from the then-maid-of-honor. What had I done? I told her I was upset that she went dress shopping without inviting me. Without even telling me. I felt left out of my own wedding, and when I told her–honestly–about my feelings, she came back with that. “You’re really acting like a bridezilla.”

It hurt. It hurt deeply, and I cried. It was an insult from someone dear to me, and I didn’t feel like I’d deserved it (particularly because the dress I was suggesting she wear cost all of $50).

That was a low moment. But it wasn’t the worst thing to come from wedding planning. There have been a lot of stress-tears, and grief-tears (which came when she decided to drop out of the wedding rather than wear said $50 dress). Wedding planning is hard, but, really, it’s just a party. And I’m not a monster for feeling hurt.

I’m looking forward to the marriage, and an end to this madness.

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The Bride Price: Pedestals and Critics

Before it happened to me, I did not realize it, but being a bride–a female person intending to get married in a ceremony in front of a group of people–comes at a price.
Being a bride, just a few weeks out from the wedding, means you are suddenly completely open to judgement, direct and indirect, on EVERYTHING.
(This is said in no way to diminish the realities of those people who still, in 2014, have to face a LITERAL bride-price: those women and, frequently, girls who are bought and sold for “marriage” because women are not worth much in their society. I realize I am privileged in that my problems are very first world. My heart hurts for those women, and I wish I had an answer to banish the practice forever. )
Growing up in the American South, I expected some of this. I more or less knew the protocols for attending a shower and had a vague sense of what was required of me. But I had no idea it would be this long and tiring a stressful slog that it has been.
First, there’s the pressure from the “WIC” (the Wedding Industrial Complex). These are the folks whose only aim is to make you feel shitty so you’ll spend more money on their products in an effort to reach an unattainable ideal (looking at you, The Knot!). This came out from the bridal shop who was dismayed that I’m not a size 6…and then was dismayed when I did lose weight before the fitting (told ya so, lady!). It’s the patronizing way the vendors call me “sweetie” or “darling.”  It’s cloying, but I can write it off (most of the time) as someone just trying to wring cash out of my little fists.
But there is also family pressure. People who, despite my directly asking “is there anything in particular you care about a lot that I should know?” coming up at game time (or when it is too late to change the choice!) and expressing their shock that I’m not doing something “traditionally.” (I’m marrying a man, while wearing a white dress, in a church, followed by dinner. What isn’t traditional about that?!) This was/is more painful and there just isn’t anything I can do, as far as I can tell.
There was the expectation by some of my bridesmaids that weddings follow one script all the time, and that if I was not going out of my way to accommodate them and their vision of what that meant, that I was a “bridezilla.”  (And then, when I tried to ask them for support, decided to quit instead. Both those things hurt a great deal).
But even when I win, I lose.  After a bridal shower, I wrote my thank you notes. I was super-proud of myself for finishing the 20+ notes in a weeks’ time. But by Sunday, I was informed that I had “caused a kerfuffle.” Apparently my heroic thank-you-note feat had made some other girls look bad, and feathers were ruffled. (I “joked” with the worried parties that, don’t worry, I don’t be able to keep up that pace for long.)
Can’t win for losing.
It’s exhausting to try to be “perfect” all the time. I don’t even really WANT to be perfect–I’d so  much rather just be myself.
I apologize, wedding-reality-show girls and real-life brides, for any judgmental thoughts I had about you. That’s not what you need. That’s not helpful. It’s okay to relax; remember, it’s about the marriage, not the wedding.
Until then, let me know if you want to share a margarita. I use as heck could use one.

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