Confession: I don’t like being a “bride”

Most people who know me know that’s I’m getting married in four months and I’m deep in mire of wedding planning. Overall, it seems like most wedding-related media puts forth this monolithic concept of what a bride is – white, straight, conventionally-attractive, stereotypically feminine and having a good relationship with her family (who also wants to and can pay for a lavish affair). While I’m several of these things, I find this vision of ‘bride-ness” put forward in magazines and on websites to be kind of saccharine and problematic. As I’ve perused sites like Pinterest, The Knot, WeddingBee etc, I’ve come across several trends that really bother me about the wedding-industrial complex.

1) “You are a special magical princess who deserves everything you want because today is all about you.” AKA – entitlement. To be honest, this one bothers me the most. The following quote from Pinterest sums this up quite nicely.

  • Only 6 rules: 1) Ask for my parents blessing. 2) Make it a complete surprise. 3) Use my full name 4) Get down on one knee. 5.) Have somebody catch it on camera. 6) make sure my nails are done

Oh my. While there’s nothing wrong with having a definite vision for what you’d like for your wedding, it seems to be an event that MUST go correctly or it’s a failure. If I had a dollar for ever “I must have this” or “my future husband must do this,” I’d easily be able to pay for this shindig myself.

2) “Oppressive/outdated gender roles are cute!” I dare any feminists among my readers to wade into the cesspool that is Pinterest filtered to things marked “wedding.” While there’s plenty of clever and creative ideas, there’s also a definite undercurrent of inequality that’s noticeable with fairly little effort. It’s the patriarchy, but adorable and all dolled up in tulle. I haven’t been keeping a comprehensive list of thing I’ve seen, but here’s what I’ve pulled up just going on to Pinterest for 5 minutes right now.

  • “IF I EVER HAVE A LITTLE GIRL: ‘On my 16th bday, my dad gave me a half heart necklace and kept half of it. My half was attached to my bouquet on my wedding day. At the reception, he surprised us by giving his half to Chris. He literally passed down the responsibility of holding on to my heart.'”
  • A product called a “unity cross” that you can buy. “Groom places the outer Cross on the wood base to symbolize how God created man- Bold, Strong, the Defender of the Family but empty and incomplete without the woman. Bride then places the delicate cross inside of the Grooms to show how God created Woman- Delicate, multi-faceted, taking care of all of the little things that complete the man, and the Two become One. 3 golden pegs lock the union together (Father, and Son, Holy Spirit).”
  • Giving an embroidered handkerchief to your dad at the rehearsal dinner saying you will always be his little girl.

Sometimes I wonder if people really think about these kinds of things or just do them without realizing what they symbolize. I mean, having your dad keep half a necklace or giving him a little present sound cute I suppose, until you think about purity rings and purity balls or certain religious circles who claim a woman can’t get married unless her father approves It can feel like being a killjoy to point out the problematic issues of “cute” traditions, until you realize that they’re infantilizing you (forever daddy’s little girl) or implying you’re property that should always be under a man’s authority. If you don’t actually agree with those things, perhaps you should re-think the traditions.

3) Manufacturing sentiment. The final bothersome trend I’ve encountered is how brides now seem fixated on filling the entire wedding day with a succession of meaningful (and pre-planned) moments. No longer is it enough that it’s the day you’re getting married, but now it needs to involve bridal boudoir shots texted to the groom, elaborate notes sent down the aisle with the flower girl, photos of the two of you praying blindfolded before the wedding, and a mini-photoshoot of your bridesmaids with their matching Starbucks orders.  It’s your wedding day – it will already be meaningful and very busy – so why clutter it up with tacky attempts to make it somehow more special?

So in addition to the practical details of wedding planning, I’ve found it challenging to be immersed into a culture that’s steeped in entitlement I try to avoid, blithely espouses weird aspects of the patriarchy, and insists that my wedding isn’t special enough unless I get in those shots of my bridesmaids and I  sipping mini bottles of champagne in our monogrammed oversized dress shirts. I’ll be glad when I’m happily away on my honeymoon and all this is done.

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7 thoughts on “Confession: I don’t like being a “bride”

  1. ana74x says:

    I need a “love” button for this. Spot on. I blogged about weddings last year and how ridiculous it’s all getting. Yes, the idea of being chattel that is passed from father to husband is BULLSHIT. And yes, Pinterest is a scary place when it comes to weddings. Great post.

  2. emily @ la corbeille says:

    THANK YOU.

    Re: number 2. I attended a wedding that contained a long, striking section in the vows about female (not both members) submission, while the couple made lovey gazes at each other. Lovey gazes = okay. Long, one-sided submission pledges that make me want to start screaming feminist propaganda from my pew = not as much.

    1. Kirby Sampson says:

      You’re welcome! 🙂

      Oh, that’s a little awkward, especially that + lovely gazes. I feel like vows aren’t really a place for something that’s basically preaching.

      Currently, the standard vows our pastor has include me saying I will “respectfully submit” to my fiance and that he will “honor” me. I’m not sure the best way to tackle it, but I think I’ll be content if I can change mine to just respect, because I certainly do respect him! I’d like to write vows that affirm our equality, but I’m not sure that would fly with our pastor, plus if I don’t really want to hear someone else’s ideology I disagree with during their vows, I probably shouldn’t subject my guests to the same thing but in the opposite direction.

      1. emily @ la corbeille says:

        Mmm. We used mostly the Book of Common Prayer, in which the bride and groom both promise to love, comfort, honor, and keep. We liked the use of the word honor and the emphasis on mutual service – one reason why we opted for the BCP version. Our pastor didn’t have a determined set of vows (we avoided this by attending a tiny non-denominational church), but my husband’s childhood pastor would’ve required vows pretty similar to the ones you’re talking about.

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