Lately, my mom has taken to explaining to everyone that our wedding is going to be “very odd.” As of yet, I have not been able to tell her: “It's my day, please respect our wishes.”
I observe patterns of behavior for a living, so it soon struck me that my mom, herself, uses that statement. Whenever I talk to her about the budget, she tends to call it “my day.” When it comes to talks of the dress, it is yet again, “my day.” Whenever, for that matter, I talk about more conventional wedding-related things that seem silly, outlandishly priced, or a bit out there to me, it is “my day.”
This, of course, is never said alongside something offbeat. “A picnic, with no chairs? We can't have that, can we? People won't like sitting on the ground.”
Clearly, “it's your day” serves as more than just an encouragement. It seems to function as a myth, in the anthropological sense. Normally, calling something a myth devalues it by implying that it is false. Naomi Wolf uses this to great effect in the title of her book The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women (a must read, I think). But that is not the sense in which I use it here.
Actually, the truth (or lack thereof) of the myth is completely irrelevant. A myth is a tale that serves to justify certain ways of doing things — specifically ritualized behavior, like weddings. This means that not only must calling something a myth be done carefully — as calling it a myth means it is rather important to our understanding of things — but also that myths are extremely meaningful things.
This myth is employed not to justify any oddity that you might wish for, but to confine your desires to the correct ones.
Now, myths constrain as much as they enable. Yes, they explain why things are the way they are. Let us remain with the wedding example to illustrate this. Explaining that spending a small fortune on flowers is appropriate, since: “It's the bride's day,” would be the functional use of this myth. In more abstract terms, it is alright that something that would otherwise be called frivolous or even ridiculous is done in this context, because it serves to commemorate and appropriately mark the importance of the ritual we know as “wedding.”
Yet there is more to myths than simple explanation. They are also a claim to authority, a means to negotiate the exact form of whatever is in need of justification. In this context, it tells the bride or the questioner that they are indeed doing the correct thing for a wedding. Buying a tiara that you will never again use or even look at is completely justified as “normal” bridal behavior. It is appropriate to the idea of “wedding” that exists in people's minds, and you will be encouraged and indulged in all appropriate flights of white-dress fantasies. It also serves to discourage fantasies that are deemed inappropriate to this idea.
To summarize: This not only means that there is a set idea of what the wedding ritual should be like (a passé statement if there ever was one), but also that ritual is backed by a myth — one I have called “it's your day.” This myth is employed not to justify any oddity that you might wish for, but to confine your desires to the correct ones.
[related-post align=”right”] Of course, making sweeping statements like I am doing here is extremely unfair based on only one person's experience. I do think, however, that next time someone justifies something by saying “it's her day,” or next time that I'm tempted to justify it in that manner, I will think twice.
I do not wish to appeal to an established narrative of what weddings are, nor do I wish others to attribute it to this idea. If I am to seriously question “wedding,” and what that means, and if I am committed to making it mean what I want it to, then I must break away from “it's your day” as well.
Comments on “It’s your day” as a myth, in the anthropological sense
What struck me while reading this post is how many “days” I’ve had in my life. Prom, graduation, baptism, first day of kindergarten, first “date”…
In each of these instances, “it’s your big day” was a reminder to stand up straight, wear my Sunday’s best, smile a lot and do all of the things I was supposed to do. For me, that translates to “It’s time to shut up and look pretty until this is all over.” (A notion that I do not respond well to.)
But ritual is important in a society. Rituals are part of the construct on which we’re built. If there’s no vows or official acknowledging a union as valid, then who’s to say it is? If we none know the bride on sight, how are we to behave? What will we do while we wait for this ritual to be completed? When can I expect cake? Even though our rational minds know it’s not necessary, our social consciousnesses are waiting for expectations to be filled because we beg validity and sameness. And sameness isn’t necessarily bad. The presidential inauguration, the passing of the Olympic torch, the first hot dog of summer–these things fulfill our need to recognize order and importance.
But it’s also important to recognize our need to be genuine and our need to express ourselves without worrying when the cake will happen.
Dootsie, I’m not sure we ever get cake….the cake is a lie. (Sorry just had to throw that in!!!! 😉 )
Maybe it’s because I’m male, or because I’m a positive person, but “It’s your day” never occurred to me as a statement that would limit choice.
No, I agree with you and I’m female, and newly-ish married.
Personally for me, I do not find the “it’s your day” thing to be constricting. I find it to be a way to get things I want for something important to me. For example…my birthday. I can say, “I want to go ride ponies and eat cupcakes because it’s my day!” because maybe pony rides and cupcakes are super important to me for my birthday.
Just like when my wedding occured, people were pestering me to wear fancy high heels (I wore chucks), and wanted a prayer for dinner (not on my atheist watch)…but I said, “No, it’s my day.” And no one spoke a word again because I had requested to them that I will not be doing those things because it is my day (and my husband’s), so I will do what I please.
I feel the “it’s my day” is a way of getting people, who are trying to force me into something I don’t want or a more traditional thing, to back off because this is my day/event and I will do it how I please.
I choose to view it as a positive tool only to be used under certain circumstances (like when people are trying to force you to change something you want for your event). I suppose you could view it as, “This justifies me spending tons of money on flower arrangements because that’s what I’m supposed to do.” But why not view it as, “This justifies me NOT spending tons of money on flower arrangements because that’s not what I want.”
I agree with both of you; however, I’ve had a different kind of limitation by the statement “it’s your day” that isn’t intended.
I’ve found “it’s your day” has played into all the rhetoric surrounding making a wedding a reflection of you/partner, etc. Feeling like I can’t make any choice but I need to make the choice that’s right for me or reflective of us as a couple has been more panic inducing than any of the times folks have told me what I have to do (to which I’ve simply cheerfully disagreed).
But I think comparing it to a birthday in my head might help this… because birthdays you get a lot of (which takes the pressure off picking any one right way to celebrate, for me) and the wedding I’m hoping to just have one of (although my brother pointed out that if we’re not happy with our choices we can just have another wedding a few years later, who cares if we’re already married).
In my own experience, I have to agree with Tori. Being told “It’s your day” over and over has been very hard. I normally have a hard time with decisions, and wedding decisions have been excruciating for me.
What’s more, I’m the type of person who lives to make other people happy. When I seek input from my friends and family as to how to plan and execute the wedding and all I get is “whatever you want, it’s your day”, I freak out a little. What I want to to make everyone ELSE happy, and that seems incongruous with the idea of the bride getting whatever she wants.
Let’s just say….it’s been tough some times
I never saw it as a phrase that would limit *my* choices, but I still see it as a limiting phrase.
When is it my partner’s day? Where’s he in this? “It’s your day” is a phrase I’ve only seen spoken to women, and I feel like it feeds into the idea that the wedding and ensuing marriage are my show and my partner is an invisible and possibly even uninterested party in the whole process.
It’s a heck of a lot milder than everything else we’ve got planned, but perhaps the first indication that our wedding is not going to be the standard off-the-shelf model is when someone tries to tell me it’s my day and I correct them. “No, it’s /our/ day.”
This was the only way I heard the phrase used, and it was his mother who said it! He was discussing his ideas for the wedding and she told him he shouldn’t be making any decisions because it’s my day and I might want something different (and naturally being “The Bride” my choice would completely overrule his).
When it was about me doing something they didn’t like the arguments were more along the lines of “but it’s a wedding” (apparently people won’t know this without real flowers in the middle of the table?).
Which still comes down to the same idea as in the article – it’s a wedding so you have to do it like every other wedding because that’s the way it’s done.
My response to any protest along the lines of “it’s not a wedding without X” is: “Do we have a marriage license? Will it be signed by the end of the day? THEN IT’S A WEDDING.” No arguing with legality. 🙂
Luckily our families were extremely supportive of both of us, so we heard, “It’s your guys’s day. You need to do what feels right for the both of you”
But a few vendors we interviewed (not many… just one or two) continued to tell me that I needed to think about what *I* wanted for the day. The vendors we did end up with were spectacular about understanding that we were a united team, creating a day between the two of us… not just mine.
I’m just amazed by both our families not putting any pressure on us for our wedding to be anything other than exactly how we wanted it!
I love everything about this. Thank you so much.
Just as the Wedding Industry can’t logically use “It’s your day” to justify forcing brides into a certain mold, Offbeat brides also cannot simply say “It’s my day” as a real reason to justify doing off the wall things for the sake of being off the wall. Yes, it is you and your future spouses wedding, and if anyone has the final say, it’s you. But I also think it’s important to remember that parents, family and friends – no matter how conservative a view, have strong opinions because many of them are contributing to your day in some way. Be it financially or with their time and effort. In that sense, weddings in which family and friends take an active roll are not just about “Your day”. It is “Our Day” or a day to celebrate with the community. I think that it is important to honor the contributions of your loved ones. Now, on the other hand, if they use their generosity as a way to guilt you into having the wedding THEY want you to have, then they are missing the point of community as well. I guess it’s a matter of know which category your family falls into. It may also help with a bride’s patience, n the very least, to realize that her overbearing parents only seem that way because they’ve been duped their whole lives into believing the marriage myths too. So in this sense, in their minds, they are trying to help, and doing it in the only way they’ve been taught.
I could say more but I might be rambling! Sorry!
You took the words out of my mouth. 🙂
Whenever I think about how I’m going to manage to pull off all it will take for “my day” I come back to this…”it takes a village” Which means it’s not “my day” at all. And it isn’t. Our wedding day belongs to me, and my FH and all the people who love and support us (whether they are there in person or in spirit) and even all the persons (and even non-persons) who have functioned to make us who we are (past teachers, past loves, pets and so much more.) I don’t want my wedding to be a reflection of how much I love myself. I don’t even want it to be a reflection of how much I love my FH. I want it to be about how much we all (the community, etc) love and support one another. Because that’s what commitment IS. And that’s what I want for my day.
I have been trying to be careful with the balance. There are things that are important to me, things at important to the husband in training, and things that are important to the family. With the exception a handful of issues we’ve found a middle way, and I’ve added more then a few things to make others happy. Balance isn’t always easy.
Looking at weddings from an anthropological point of view is both interesting and confusing. For one thing, as an anthropologist I actually have a lot of respect for “tradition” as something that helps link generations and give people scripts to follow to make life easier, so I don’t think everything being meaningful to the individual couple is actually that important, that’s a very modern western way of looking at things. I think “it’s your day” kind of lubricates the tension between valuing individualism and being uncomfortable with being selfish or standing out – on “your day,” decisions that would otherwise seem completely extravagant (like $1000 dresses for one person) are actually “traditional.”
You know where this really throws me for a loop though? Post-wedding name changing. What do different decisions signify to others, and what side of social change do I want to be on?
The whole it’s your day” thing is a fallacy in the first place. It sort of implies that the groom doesn’t exist, that a wedding is only about the bride and the groom just happens to be an afterthought. Thankfully, neither of my sides play that game. MIL is incredibly offbeat friendly and has an interesting way of knowing my brain along with her sons. My mom on the other hand thinks our “offbeat lite” wedding is not offbeat enough. She actually, literally gagged a little when I told her I want sleeves on my dress. But aside from generally hating the “stuffyness” I’m imposing upon her (I literally had to demand she buy a proper bra for the occasion) she’s been ok. I guess I’m lucky.
I really feel better about our wedding remembering that it is partially for the enjoyment and benefit of our families and friends than I do trying to focus on us. If it was really only for us, I don’t know why we would do it at all (we’ve been living together for four years and are pretty quiet at home kind of folks).
My thoughts exactly! I had to check your name to see if I hadn’t sleep-wrote. Though we’ve been together five years.
As a South Asian bride brought up in the US I had a really hard time with this concept. Traditionally weddings in our culture are considered a marriage between two families, not just between the bride/groom. On the other hand, it was pretty much left up to me to do all the leg-work for the organizing, planning and financials (which is usually unheard of).
Naturally I did things the way I wanted since it seemed like “my day.” Well when my day came around, it felt more like I organized a production or a play, not a celebration of love or even a coming together of two families. Our celebration started when my husband first asked me out, and the months of our engagement were really the time when our families came together and started developing the great relationships they have.
During the wedding my husband and our parents especially were too nervous about doing things the right way to really enjoy what we were there for. I wish it was easier to realize it’s not that “day” itself that matters as much as everything leading up to or following it.
I’ve noticed the same thing while we’ve been planning our celebration for next April. The things I’ve enjoyed the most are the times that my family and my FH have gotten to know one another and create shared memories. Our at home wedding has allowed my dad to show off his skills in home fixing while teaching my FH and I some great life lessons. These things wouldn’t have happened if we were having a “traditional” ceremony and reception in a church..
I had this exact experience while shopping for wedding dresses. It was surreal actually. It was like the term “It’s your day” was invoked to shove me in the WIC box, especially when I was trying to express a preference that was counter to what the consultant was trying to get me to try on. I told her I didn’t want a veil, and her response was “But it’s YOUR DAY. Let’s try on 12 veils just so you can see”.
Or I wanted to try on tea-length dresses (of which there were only two in samples in my size) and she tried to steer me away from them by explaining that it was “my” day and on “my” day I should wear a long gown, because it was my one chance on “my day” to wear a long white gown.
She did not make a sale. She was so adamant on the whole “your day” nonsense that was contrary to all my actual wishes that she’s taken on cocktail party fame as my friends tell and retell the story to greater hilarity each time.
OMG! I had almost the exact same experience! I only went to one bridal shop while looking for a dress-the lady scard me so much I almost went running out of the place.
She too tried to talk me out of a tea legth dress and convince me I needed all sort of adornments for the simple look I was shooting for. I nearly killed her when I told her my budget, then she gave me the whole “it’s your day” speech (for about the tenth time) and made me look at someone’s wedding cofee table book. Afterall, that could be me! (By this point I was trying not to laugh at her)
Yes!!! I love this post. I have been trying to consolidate my own mixed feelings about the “it’s your day” statement. The problem for me is that people will often say “it’s your day” when you’re adhering to the norms that exist in their minds for what a wedding “should” be.
When I try to avert from the norms, “it’s your day” goes out the window. It’s because, in reality, it is not your day at all. It becomes everyone else’s day. The people surrounding you will pull you this way or that. Ultimately, your wedding can end up becoming a reflection of the person that others want you to be, rather than the person you really are.
But it is also the same thing that people do to friends or family members having babies, or people making other huge life choices. The pressure surrounding how to raise your kids is unreal! I don’t have any of my own, but the attitude that some people have towards parenting decisions made by others is scary. Even from something as simple as dietary restrictions parents put on their children: “Well, when I was a kid, we ate twinkies and ding dongs all the time and we ended up just fine!” Really? We’re picking fights over twinkies and ding dongs now?
It may be difficult to accept the choices made by others because they are choices that we would not ourselves make. But there is a certain level of respect that is necessary if you want to maintain a healthy relationship with that person. She wants to wear a bright red dress to her wedding? She wants for her kids not to eat high-fructose corn syrup? It’s really not that big of a deal, and it’s certainly not worth sacrificing a friendship or family member over.
It doesn’t even have to be something as big as a wedding or having kids. I recently considered changing my hair style (currently waist length and as straight as I can make it without straighteners). I tried discussing it with other women and soon realised even though the actual advice I was getting was very different the underlying theme was the same: “You should make your hair as close to mine/what I want as possible”.
People with short hair told me to cut it really short “for something different”, people with long hair told me I’d want to keep it long. People with dark hair suggested dying it. People will curly hair suggested curls and so on.
I suspect a big part of it is actually people seeking validation. As I suspect we’ve all discovered at some point going your own way is scary. (How many people have said they love this blog just for the reassurance that they’re not the first and only person to have a non-traditional wedding?)
If other people are willing to spend $1000 on a big poofy white dress, or feed their kids twinkies or dye and curl their hair like you did then it can’t be a mistake. Multiple people wouldn’t keep making the same mistake over and over. Right?
I think that in the traditional context of a wedding, “It’s your day” would probably translate to permission for the bride to draw attention to herself – something that women are traditionally discouraged from doing – rather than permission to do whatever she wants.
This is the way I’ve heard it explained traditionally. Before the wedding she is submissive to her father, and should be a good, obedient, quiet child. After the wedding she is submissive to her husband and should be a good, obedient, quiet wife.
The wedding is the brides one day to be the center of attention, to show off and be shown off by her husband as the fabulous prize she is.
Totally off-topic and unrelated but if you’re having a picnic wedding with no chairs, make sure elderly guests are accommodated – we didn’t do this because I have too many older relatives who couldn’t have sat on the ground. They were just not physically able to endure that. Something to think about – doesn’t mean you can’t do one, but it’s worth considering before you do.
Yep! But a picnic wedding with chairs only for those who need them is still a good way to avoid renting chairs.
Renting fancy matching chairs is an expensive pain in the keister.
Tying cushions to bales of straw could be pretty perfect for a back yard barbecue, and is biodegradeable if you don’t know a farm sanctuary or dog kennel to donate it to when you’re done.
Borrowing quirky stools and benches from your local theater department may be cheap, boho chic, and brilliant. 😉
(/barefoot hippie theatre nerd)
The problems have with “It’s her day” is that it completely ignores the other half of the relationship. When I got married it was my day. And you know what happened? My marriage ended in divorce. “It’s her day” sets the wrong tone for a marriage. I just recently became engaged again and it’s certainly going to be our day.
Hmm…been trying to think of what to say. I think this is a great topic of research, but this piece in and of itself isn’t very anthropological, so I guess the title was kind of misleading. I’d love to see more research done though, and hadn’t quite thought of it like this. Nice job to the author overall, and I think it would be enlightening and interesting to read more on this. (I’m graduating with a bachelor’s in anthropology next semester with a minor in mythology and folklore).
Ooo! That’s my photo! Thanks for linking to it. By the way, your mom sounds exactly like my mom when I was planning my wedding. Haha.
I struggle with the concept of “it’s your day” especially after being an avid reader of OBB for quite some time now. I love this site because it not only give you kick ass wedding ideas but ideals to think on and implement to have/start/live a good, grounded life with your partner.
I see both sides of the coin and don’t want to re-hash an already great set of comments from my fellow peeps upthread. What I will say, however, is that it would be lovely to have some witty comebacks/polite demurals to those that say “no, but it’s YOUR day!” For those of us having a terrible time thinking of things to justify our choices and offbeat style in the moment, having only a “No, I’m sorry, but it’s OUR day” may not quite be enough. I know the OBB’s contributers have written many a post on easy-peasy lemon-squeezy conflict resolution…but this one was never tackled until now. Sweeeeet!
I am an OffBeat Oreo….looks normal on the outside, batshit awesome and offbeat on the inside. Many people think that I want many aspects of the WIC…and in some ways, I’m OK with a little bit of glitter and sparkle [c’mon…who doesn’t freaking love sparkle shit?] But as for other, major aspects…they may have a surprise coming. I’d like to think that having the “it’s my day” in my corner will help alleviate some of the justification I’d need in a non-wedding circumstance….but this post is a great reminder of the evolution of marriage, the act and creation of rituals, norms and societal values and exactly how amazing OBB is for amassing a group of people that challenge the ideals the WIC assumes is “necessary”. Woot for you!
(you said ‘batshit awesome’. i kinda less than 3 you for that!)
“It’s my day? Did [fiance] tell you he’s not coming? Oh, no? Good. Then it’s still about both of us. That’s a relief”
Said with a cute little smile to take the sting off.
“Oh, okay then.” (Start singing “It’s My Party” by Lesley Gore [and others]) substituting whatever they’re telling you not to do for ‘cry’.)
My mum kept describing our day as “……different. It is going to be different” and I’d call us Offbeat Lite, for sure! So we had pie instead of cake, and tons of appies instead of a sit-down meal. It’s not that weird, but it sure was to her.
By the way, it’s completely off-topic in every way but please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks the woman in that picture looks like she’s practicing her psychic powers by causing the lipstick to levitate and accidentally lifting a bunch of other stuff as well?
I was lucky in the sense that I never heard “It’s your day” once throughout the whole planning. And it wasn’t; it was our day. The only thing I can remember putting my foot down with my mum was having fairy bread and cheerios (cocktail hotdogs) wrapped in bread at the reception … because bloody hell, it’s just not a party without fairy bread and cheerios! (Which was her doing anyway … all those awesome childhood birthdays were her mastery!)
It was a great day, so relaxed, and everyone had the best attitude in the leadup to it. Loved it 🙂
I just find the “it’s my day” excuse to be a cop out, but then again, sometimes that’s all anyone wants to hear. It really comes down to how far you’re willing to stand up for what you want/feel is right. I could spend every day of the week trying to justify my centerpiece ideas to my relatives, and in the end “it’s my day” is the only “valid” point I can give them(i.e. the only thing they will listen to)People will always be out to make decisions for you and tell you their ideas are “better” than yours, more traditional/more unique but if you gently remind someone “it’s my day”, it just stops the hostile judgement and you can breathe again.
I also think from another point of view, telling someone “it’s your day” encourages them to embrace their ideas and not feel ashamed for it. I’ve told my fiance this line several times during the wedding process. He wanted to wear a Steampunk coat instead of a tux, but felt he was being silly. I reminded him “It’s your day.” He wanted a Topsy Turvy wedding cake with Sonic the Hedgehog on it. Again. “It’s your day.” I want him to have these things, and okay, both of those things sound very cool in my nerd-book.
Yes, “It’s my/your day” is a generic excuse, but sometimes it’s just exhausting to go into great detail. I don’t mind being told it’s -my- day. It’s completely ridiculous to assume the wedding is all about the bride but I understand some people are old fashioned. If it makes them feel more secure to assume my fiance is busy with some stereotypical “manly-man” hobby rather than helping me sew my wedding veil, then they are free to do so. I just don’t feel a wedding is the place to pop someone’s bubble. Your wedding isn’t a battleground, you know? “It’s my day” is truly a blessing for these situations.
For us, there is no “my day”. There isn’t even really an “our day” as in just The Boy and I. It’s about our families. If we wanted it to be about just the two of us, we would have eloped. We still talk about it, but know that not allowing our families to celebrate our wedding would create more drama than we’re willing to deal with. And despite the hassle of planning a wedding, I don’t know if either of us would feel “Married” without that celebration.
That being said, I am going to use the My Day excuse when dealing with opposition to some of my offbeat ideas. The difference is that when I say My Day, it will really mean Our Day. But traditionalists will respond better to a request/demand from the bride, and I plan on using that to my advantage!
As someone studying the way that society is constructed by us at every moment (mind BLOWN by these sociology courses), this article was a really interesting jumping off point! Thank you for inspiring me to consider a wedding’s social construction as a topic for my upcoming independent study!
Check out the book White Weddings if you really want to blow your mind 🙂
I am recently married and I had the opposite problem, I kept thinking it’s “my day” but everyone else (accept my new husband) acted like I was the least important part. We paid for the whole thing ourselves, apart from gracious donations from friends and family so you would think my simple requests would not be too much. I heard alot of people saying “this wedding will be crazy/odd/offbeat” even when they had no idea of my plans. As the time crept near was finding my mother responding “no We can’t do that” and “we don’t want that” and what will people think. Needless to say it was not “my day” in the end but my wonderful husband reminded that we had a good day and can always do it again w/o the input of nay saying.
Thank you so much for giving me a challenging read! I really enjoyed having something to mull over!
I am inclined to agree with you.
My first wedding was so not ‘my day.’ I’m an introvert, and I found myself planning and hosting a big (to me) party. There wasn’t emotional space for feeling the enormity of it all, or feeling anything really. People still talk about how beautiful it was, but it wasn’t for me, or about me. My MIL chose my dress and flowers. My mother chose my shoes and the bridal shop lady chose my veil, because ‘you can’t not wear a veil.’ I don’t know, everyone was really supportive, but I just ended up letting things happen.
I struggle with this wedding, because I really want to just elope, and have it be just us.
I actually had the opposite. My fiance keeps telling me it’s my day any time I ask him to help, so then I jokingly panic and ask if he’s going to stand me up. 😉 His parents, on the other hand, have tried to make it all about them. (Did I mention we’re paying for every cent for this?) If there’s ever a time I’ve wanted to tell someone it’s about us, not you, it’s now…I hate that they are so focused on what they want thay they are missing the most important part of any wedding: two people happy, in love, and wanting to spend their lives together. Who is anyone else to judge what the two of you want to do? If you don’t agree with what the couple is doing for their wedding, at least support them. Weddings are stressful enough as is. Plus what kind of memories do you want them to have when they recall their wedding? Feelings of inadequacy, sadness, etc, because someone they love told them they celebrated their love “wrong
I was married a long time ago, but whenever someone trotted out the “It’s your day” business, for good or for bad, my reaction was “I want more than one day, thank you very much.” I also, reminded people that while a wedding was one day, a marriage was many, many more days, and hence more important in the long run.
As an anthropologist myself, I disagree. Sure, weddings are a ritual, more specifically a rite of passage. Calling it a myth, eh, don’t know how I feel about this one. I would make an argument that the meaning behind “it’s your day” is more symbolic for individuals that are about to be married and their corresponding families, however this is only the case in some cultures, more specifically contemporary western culture. The symbol behind its meaning may possibly hold different context for the various individuals within contemporary western culture as well.
Symbolic, yes. Myth, not so much.
Just this anthropologist’s tidbit.
Thanks for this great article! I am inclined to agree with much of it. As a flaming liberal and atheist who married a wonderful man (from a crazy conservative family), I definitely encountered a lot more pain that I should’ve if it really were, in fact, “my day.” Like you, I’m not a big fan of that phrase anyways.
I am currently feeling both sides of this “its your day” thing right now. I am having an extremely traditional wedding. I never thought I would until I started planning and found that I like a lot of wedding traditions more than I thought I would. I read offbeat bride because I love the ideas – even if it turns out I’m not an offbeat bride myself. When my mother said “its your day” it is because she means “your father and i will support whatever you and your fiance want because it is your wedding and we love you.” specifically when we were considering not having a wedding at all. Its not in order to justify spending obscene amounts of money on a dress or giving in to some idea she fundamentally disagrees with. She means exactly what she says. On the other hand, when his mother says “its your day” it is when she is totally exasperated with something we’re telling her as in “whatever, that sounds crazy but its your day!”, as if we’re a couple of kooks and she’s washing her hands of us. Mind you, we’re doing NOTHING out of the ordinary except we’re not having a church ceremony, which is hardly unusual. I’m not sure what about the wedding seems disagreeable to her that makes her use the phrase so negatively – but she does every single time we discuss the wedding.
I suppose what I’m saying is, I’m not sure its a total myth, but it certainly can be frustrating.
I agree with most of what was said and love the anthropological examination. Another take on it, is that typically the couples I have observed having the most stupendous wedding day experience, were the ones who considered it their guest’s day. Making it about everyone BUT you, almost guarantees a wonderful and memorable time. I hear it used as an excuse for the couple at times, to make hig demands on everyone around them. No one wins. Make it like any dinner party, the aim is to give your guests a wonderful experience, that makes them glad they came. Not only will you have a wonderful time, the glow will last a lifetime.
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