Thanks to Offbeat Bride Cay for sending me this recent BBC article, which asks the question “Has an atmosphere of narcissism and self-promotion worked its way into the idea of the modern wedding celebration?”
There's talk that we can all agree with about princess-y wedding culture and overpriced weddings. There are quotes that many of us can poo-poo from a Canon Chancellor about how weddings really should be solemn religious affairs. The article's most interesting question for me, however, is whether the reality of the “self-sacrifice” that's inherently a part of marriage “is lost when the ceremony is specifically designed to be all about me.”
Reading that, suddenly I went from being all “BOO, enforced princess culture!” and “PSHAW, dictated wedding solemnity!” to thinking, “…Well, yeah. That can be sort of true, just as much for offbeat weddings… in fact maybe even more.” Then I was like, “Holy shit, I think I just agreed with a clergyman.”
Because here's the thing: while I don't think weddings need to solemn or sacred, I actually do worry about the narcissism and self-promotion that I see in some weddings — even (or especially?) offbeat weddings.
In an environment where individuality and authenticity are tantamount, there can definitely be a gentle drift toward narcissism and self-promotion. Over and over again, the advice Offbeat Brides give each other is “This day should reflect YOU, not old traditions that don't fit you.”
I do believe that's true. I believe it to my very core — that not just weddings but your whole LIFE should feel like it fits you. Like you're not buying into someone else's vision of how happiness looks. Each of us should be able to craft a wedding and a lifestyle that feels like an honest reflection of our values. Of our specialness. Of our VERY SPECIAL I AM A SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE THERE IS NO ONE ELSE JUST LIKE ME LA LA LA LAAAA!!! AREN'T I SO VERY SPECIAL!?
…See where it goes if you take it too far? I'm laughing because it's funny because I see myself in that ridiculousness. And I'm guessing I'm not the only one. (Remember, Offbeat Bride is the brainchild of an only child — AND WE ARE THE SPECIALIST SNOWFLAKES OF ALLLLL!)
I really do believe that the world would be a better place if people felt freed to pursue their honest selves and their truest visions of their life. But I'm also aware that this freedom and truth comes with a price, and the price can be an overemphasis on the me and my specialness, at the cost of recognizing where you (in all your specialness) fit into the larger context.
That doesn't need to be the larger context of a solemn church wedding with the Canon Chancellor mumbling at the altar whinging about “dignity and moral seriousness.” (Because if your wedding is serious because you're not expecting your marriage to be fun – UR DOIN IT WRONG.)
Dr Fraser blames the “pervasive influence of the media” for driving people towards narcissism and lavish expenditure.
I'm not with him on anyone being forced into lavish expenditure (these days, even the luxury brides are pinching their pennies), but with the media and the narcissism? Dudes, he's not wrong. Here's an open secret: I AM THE MEDIA. On a certain level, Offbeat Bride is The Man WIC conspiracy theorists warned you about. By featuring Real Offbeat Weddings, I'm creating a culture where weddings become something to be shown off to the world. I've written about this before.
It would be disingenuous to deny that my favorite parts of my own wedding planning were the fun, superficial parts — the fashion, the reception, the socializing. The writing the vows were meaningful too, but I am who I am — and that's a lighthearted, gregarious agnostic who likes to dance and eat and talk with her beloved folks. So of course I wouldn't have a wedding full of “dignity and moral seriousness,” because I'm pretty undignified and goofy. I'm also narcissistic and used to work in marketing (read as: self-promotion).
This is all to say: I'm part of the problem.
I like to think that Offbeat Bride encourages each of you to pursue your most authentic wedding, and for those of you who are thoughtful, that should mean obsessing over your vows as much as you obsess over your shoes. For those of you who are like me, I guess that means planning one hell of a party and dorking out over independent fashion designers. I'd like to make sure I'm representing the more thoughtful side of things as well — please consider submitting! I know there are lots of awesome bloggers who do a lot of deep thoughtful writing about weddings.
…and I like fancy dresses? SAD FACE.
No, whatever: I think it's just important that each of us know ourselves well. Know your foibles and blind spots and weaknesses, in life and in wedding planning, and take a second to examine them and work on them. It's crucial for each of us to step back from the dizzying swirl of wedding details and color schemes and party plans and think about what it all means.
And so: what does it all mean to you?