For the most part, the wedding mega-industry strikes me as a scam. Before planning my own wedding, I'd spent some time as a wedding industry observer, and even, very briefly, a bridal shop employee. And what I observed were many wedding industry people seemingly knowingly taking advantage of women's childhood fantasies and desire — err, obsession — to have the perfect wedding every chance they got. It rubbed me the wrong way.
No, it more than rubbed me the wrong way. I found it somewhat disturbing as a human, and quite insulting as a woman.
So when the time came for me to step into the role of bride, I tried my best to avoid the bridal shows, the wedding websites and those pesky seasonal parasites that can't help but try to project their own Dream Bride Barbie illusions on you. Okay, I may have visited a website or two (including Offbeat Bride, obviously!), but only the ones that allowed visitors to view threads without selling their souls to any of the aforementioned prenuptial pests.
I won't lie: Even with a whirlwind engagement, a small guest list and the absence of a traditional wedding reception, I had my difficult moments. I am now confident that these are impossible to avoid. I had a few tearful meltdowns, I made a handful of completely baseless accusations and I distinctly remember the words, “This is my wedding!” coming out of my mouth at least once.
But somewhere between the countless emails to vendors that revealed my Type A tendencies, the frequent rants about the ridiculous cost of everything wedding-related and my somewhat desperate attempts to avoid anything bridal, I realized there was fear. The fear that the wedding that felt right to my husband and me wouldn't be the wedding that others expected, or the wedding that even I had once envisioned. This epiphany was both wonderful and traumatic.
I realized that I needed to mourn the loss of the wedding I thought I wanted when I was 10, and have fun planning the adult celebration that was truly reflective of me and my husband and the relationship we'd worked so hard to achieve. Furthermore, I discovered that most of the two-cent'ers didn't intentionally want to annoy me with their own wedding imaginings.
Apparently, many women — and perhaps men as well — dream about their wedding day on a very regular basis and have since buying that Dream Bride Barbie with their hard-earned allowance, many years ago. They place incredible value on the day and want it to be the biggest and best of their lives. Just as I'm entitled to a little restraint from those who may not share my path, they deserve their fairy tale wedding without the condemnation of “enlightened” people telling them that they're superficial or misguided.
The truth is, wedding big or small, off-white or Snow White, there's likely a lot of trepidation, a fair amount of tradition, and at least a little Bridezilla in each of us.
In the end, our wedding was magical — not just for the day itself, but for the mostly beautiful and befittingly less-traveled road that brought us there. All the self-analysis and sleepless nights were undoubtedly very important for our future, and perhaps even right on time. And while my husband and I didn't marry for anyone other than each other, we had been reminded how much we care about the thoughts and feelings of those who mean the most to us.