I’m getting to be at that age where all my friends are getting married. Not that I’m even of marrying or childbearing maturity myself, my friends are just a lot older than me. But attending all these weddings has got me wondering: Are weddings obsolete?
We live in 2010. Women’s liberation. Democracy. Equality for all. Does the traditional wedding symbology seem a little out of place to anyone else, particularly when everyone seems to think lower salaries for women is something the complain about (which it definitely is). We women are a juxtaposition in every aspect. We want to be treated equally to men in the workplace, in education, and in social settings. We want to be financially independent, yet we are daddy’s girls and want to marry men with a secure, and reasonably comfortable income. We want to be handy and autonomous, yet most of us don’t even own a power drill or know how to unclog a toilet. We want to be thought of as strong and powerful, yet we shriek for a man to kill a spider. How can we be both independent and depdendent? How can we want to choose our mate, sometimes without familial approval and then be presented by our fathers and “given away” at the altar? Somehow this seems out of place to me.
I think its great that more and more of the white collar workforce is becoming female, and that a great many women are graduating from universities, and have the ability to have careers and families. But while we are moving forward in most every aspect, why do we want our weddings, some say the biggest event in our lives, to be so antiquated?
Let’s start with the biggest concern: the dress. Why white? Now, I’m sure most of the brides walking around in white gowns are kidding themselves. There is a very small percentage of brides that can claim the state of chastity on their wedding day. Yet why do we still wear white? Is it that we think this a new life and it’s a kind of baptismal purity symbol? If I’m not mistaken, a lot of women move in with their boyfriends before they are married, and when they decide to get married they think nothing will really be that different, other than we will be “officially committed”. How is this a new life then if nothing changes? Apparently, a signed legal document means we shouldn’t wear whore-house red to our weddings, or I’m-in-mourning black because it would insult the groom, who wants a pure and spotless bride to embark and a new yet not-really-that-new-because-we-live-together-so-nothings-really-changing-except-her-name journey. Hm. So why else would we wear white if it’s not for the groom? For ourselves? Right. Because I want to wear a ridiculously overpriced gown I will use once and not be able to eat or drink any of my favorite things like red wine or Mexican food for fear of spills and then I’m going to have to dance carefully as not to rip or muss the perfect folds of fabric. I wouldn’t want my pictures to make me look like the lush of a lass that I am or anything. What is with this illusion of perfection that we feel we have to have as brides? Everyone knows you were shit-faced and vomit-covered last weekend at your bachelorette party. We all saw the Facebook pictures, and we all loved them. So don’t put that fun party girl into hiding just because youre wearing a pretty white frock.
I completely understand that religion and propriety might come into play here. I would be mortified if my strict Protestant grandmother watched me walk down the aisle in red and black lace with a cocktail in my hand and a vibrator in the other. I’m not saying be lewd. I’m merely wondering at the importance we’ve placed on these symbols and how it compares to our actual ideology as a society of equal opportunity females.
I recently attended a wedding of a very good girl friend, and was thinking about the concept of the groom waiting at the altar for his bride. I understand the symbolism is that you come into the ceremony as separate people and leave united as one, but why can’t you start in the “together” mindset at the beginning, especially since you already live in the same house anyway. And why does your dad have to “give you” to this other man? We all have careers, or career aspirations, and most of us don’t even live with our parents anymore, or our dads are deadbeat abandoneers that shouldn’t be at our weddings anyway. Why can’t you walk alone… or is that too forward thinking of me? Modern Western weddings are not arranged anymore. Women choose their husbands, hoping for the approval of their families, but that is not always the case. I know for sure my dad hated a few of my ex-boyfriends but still would have graciously given me to them to avoid my humiliation. But that doesn’t mean he has to falsely declare his support by walking with me down to the man that I’ll probably divorce before I’m 40.
I probably sound like a bitter single woman, just jealous of all the good fortune that has come across my friends in the past few years. To be honest, I am a little. I want to wear a pretty dress and have everyone take pictures of me and say nice things to me and give me gifts and dance all night with all my loved ones while we drink champagne and wine… and then it ends there. I just want the party, but not the ceremony or the proverbial afterparty with a man that I haven’t decided is man enough for me or not. The man hasn’t quite come into that particular picture yet, though some of you may be wondering, and it is difficult to think of anything past graduation when you’re in school. Besides that, I’m way too selfish to be married at this time in my life. And even when the man and the timing is right, the literary-ite in me thinks deeply of symbols and their significance. I don’t want to do anything for the wrong reasons, and if that means my dress will be lime green, and I walk down the aisle alone, then so be it. If that means I get married in a living room and go to happy hour for my reception and those things have meaning to me, then I will be happier because I didn’t give in to all the tradition for the sake of tradition while the meanings were lost on everyone, including myself.
What tradition I will leave alone are the vows. Vows are personal, and they have different meanings for every couple based on their past and their future. My only wish is that we would be more traditional in this sense, because so many take the vows as just a few mandatory lines you recite, when it is the most meaningful part of the whole shebang. How did we become so backwards in our thinking, where the white dress is more important than the promise of fidelity and commitment?
I worry about our society sometimes. We are far more frivolous than we delude ourselves into thinking.