My friend Jenna wrote today’s post as her wedding is fast approaching. While part of the post is laughing at the absurd comments we receive as brides, Jenna also acknowledges that weddings are not “your day.” That weddings are much more – they are for our families, our community, and our partners.
With 23 days to go until my wedding, most of the details are finalized. As I sit in my tiny apartment besieged by wedding paraphernalia, I have too much time to take stock. Throughout what has felt like an eternal (two-year) engagement, I feel like I have heard it all. First, there were the nosey coworkers inquiring about my budget (or lack thereof). Then, my mother’s long-lost friend offered to take lingerie photos of me as a gift for my husband-to-be. I can never hope to list all of the things that are better left unsaid, but I’ve put together a list of the most common offenders. Please accept them as humble advice from a woman on the edge.
1. “Your parents must be thrilled!”
Someone who throws out this line either had perfect family harmony during her wedding, or more likely, isn’t married yet. Clearly she doesn’t know my parents, or she would know that the last time they were “thrilled” was when Walgreen had a three-for-one on Scott bathroom tissue. No one knows your parents like you do, and you probably didn’t know your parents as well as you thought you did before you started planning a wedding. The bottom line: This is a silly thing to say. Either you’re stating the obvious, or you’re tapping the deepest well of stress and anxiety that exists for most women. Do you like those odds? I didn’t think so.
2. “It’s getting close to your date. How excited are you!?!”
For me, this is like “Your dog just died. Aren’t you sad?” Of course I would be sad if my dog died. Of course I’m excited about my wedding. But I’m also wrestling with apprehensions I didn’t even know I had. I find myself pondering the meaning of marriage, and if I am vainly trying to make it mean something it doesn’t. With three weeks to go, I am still desperately reconciling my little-girl-princess-dreams with my working-adult wedding budget. I’m teary, edgy, hopeful, worried, homicidal, and at least three other kinds of –cidal. For brides without children, we are experiencing the most wonderful, scary and complex cocktail of emotions in our lives so far. Please, if you ask us something like this, pull up a chair, it’s going to take a minute.
And, speaking of little-girl-princess-dreams…
3. “Just remember: It’s your day!”
I encountered my fair share of ideological conflicts while wedding planning: my family is Southern, his is Irish-Italian from Massachusetts. My family is very conservative, his isn’t. We wanted a sit-down dinner, they wanted punch and nuts. The biggest stand-off was whether or not it would be a wet or dry reception (my parents couldn’t have been more horrified if we’d planned to sacrifice a goat).
When I lamented the dilemma to my friends, they uniformly responded with the battle cry of the modern bride: “You should have what you want! It’s Your Day!” To be fair, it is our day, and our money, but I struggled to make people understand why the decision to have a dry wedding was the only one that was possible. For me, being happy on “my day” is seeing my family happy – not disappointed, offended, or absent. As inflexible and unsolicited as some of the opinions I struggled with were, what really pushed me over the edge was the suggestion that making my family comfortable constituted a failing on my part.
“It’s your day” tells a lie. Perhaps it is true for someone with unlimited resources, whose friends and family are unconditionally interested in her happiness. I’ve never met someone for whom this is true. Money gets tight, friends have lives of their own, and family expectations will conflict with your own in fundamental ways. This is reality, and it’s far-flung from the silliness of the “it’s your day” mantra.
May 6th may not be, in every single aspect, my day. Regardless, my wedding day celebrates the fact that I am beginning a new chapter in my life; the one that I have chosen, with the man who makes me happy. Nothing anyone says cans change that.