Wedded Bliss?

I’ve been thinking a lot about weddings recently.  What with my friend getting married in May 2011 and my cousin in June this year, there has been a lot of wedding talk recently.  While my friend has lived and breathed her wedding since her engagement, has nearly everything organised already (even though, as she told me the other day she still has 61.5 weeks to go) and was one of those little girls who always dreamed of her big day, my cousin has a more laid-back approach to hers.  She and her fiance have a 1 year old daughter so she has less time to plan and stress about her wedding.  She doesn’t have a facebook countdown going on and I think the most important thing for her is to be a family with the same surname as her daughter and make things official.  Not that her wedding will be any less special or meaningful than my friend’s.  So what I wonder is…why does a wedding have to be a stressful, over-the-top event?  How much should you really spend on your day?  And why are there such differing opinions on what makes a wedding?

My husband and I were happy living together before marriage and really the main reason for our marriage was because my parents, being Christian and married for 31 years, believe in marriage and that it’s a sacred thing.  To be fair I have grown up safe in the knowledge that my Dad would do anything for my Mum and vice versa and neither of them would ever conceive of cheating or giving up when times get tough without a fight.  I knew that they would be happier with us being married and not ‘living in sin’.  Another reason was so we would have the same surname when we get around to having kids and when we (hopefully) emigrate in a few years, it will be easier to get in as a married couple.  My marriage certificate and wedding ring don’t make me love him anymore than I did before.  What I do like is that being a wife sounds more official than being a girlfriend.  It does show commitment and that commitment is what a marriage is all about.  I have very strong beliefs about weddings and marriage and it really frustrates me when women get too caught up in being a ‘bride’ rather than a ‘wife’.  The focus should be about your lifetime with your spouse rather than the one day you make the commitment to each other.  My own wedding day was, I guess, a little unconventional.  Originally we were booked to get married in Central Park, NYC with friends and family there and a reception upon our return.  I started to look at wedding magazines and went to a wedding fayre.  Have you ever been to one of those?  Worst day of my life!  It’s basically people wooing you with champagne in the hope you will spend money on their horse-drawn carriage, balloons with both your names on, overpriced photography….blah blah blah!  I realised that my Mum and friend (who had endured this with me) were more into the arranging process than I  was, so I freaked out.  I got home and told the boy it wasn’t what I wanted at all.  Luckily he agreed and now says he is so thankful that I wasn’t some bridezilla who wanted to spend all our money on a set meal and a dj and dress I would only wear once.  You see none of that is important to me.  What was important was that we be together.  To me, a marriage is about the couple not the guests attending.  I wanted our day to be about us.  To go somewhere by ourselves and have the most relaxed wedding day spending the entire day together.  I have heard so many women say “I barely saw my husband on our wedding day.”  Neither of us wanted that.  Our parents were ok with it all and understood that this was what we wanted.  We decided on Vegas because it’s so easy to do over there, I didn’t know anybody who had done it and of course the idea of an Elvis themed wedding totally appealed to me and the boy.  Everything was arranged online about 4 months before.  All we had to do was get our outfits – the boy wanted a kilt.  I would have been happy to get married in my jeans, I mean what difference does the outfit you’re wearing make to the commitment you are making that day?  In the end I settled for a pretty gothic looking prom dress with a black sequin bolero and apart from walking down the aisle at the Little White Chapel with Elvis, I was barefoot.  I did my own hair and make-up and our day was so relaxed and fun!

All in all, I think our entire wedding cost less than some women spend on their dress.  I actually picked my engagement ring so it would double as a wedding ring so we didn’t have the cost of 2 rings for me, when really the ring is not that important.  My entire outfit cost less that £150.  Our wedding meal was at The Cheesecake Factory because it’s somewhere we both like to eat at and with the boy being a bit of a fussy eater, it had lots for him to choose from.  It wasn’t expensive but it was delicious.  The whole day was perfect for us and we did what was important, making the promise to spend the rest of our lives together.  We didn’t have any guests, we didn’t expect presents from anybody, but some lovely friends and family gave us presents anyway even though they hadn’t attended the wedding.

Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t because the money wasn’t available to us that we chose this option.  We had some savings and both our parents wanted to contribute but why take tons of their hard-earned money to spend on a single day????  It’s ridiculous!  You could put a substantial deposit down on a house with the amount some couples spend on ONE DAY!!!!!  Where is the logic?  I do realise that everyone is different and everyone wants different things.  I realise that I am a little unconventional in my thinking but in this day and age, in the midst of a credit crunch, can anybody justify spending so much money on a single day?  Why do women get themselves stressed over what is supposed to be a celebration of your love for another?  It should be fun not stressful.  It’s insane.  Why do some women need to be the centre of attention on their wedding day?  I hate when you hear a future bride saying “I want this and I want that” – seriously girls, what about your guy?  It’s his day too.  Maybe he wants a casual, less expensive day.  I know my boy did.  Why do we feel we need symbols (a ring, a dress, a cake etc etc) to prove our love and commitment to another human being?  All you need is a boy and a girl and an officiant/pastor/celebrant (delete as appropriate) all the rest are non-essential expensive extras.  

Despite what I’ve just written, I’m not gonna judge anybody who wants a huge wedding.  In fact, I have been to a few very expensive weddings over the years and they have been beautiful and I’ve enjoyed them.   Like I said, each to their own.  I know that there will be many out there that would freak out at the idea of getting married in a black dress in tacky Vegas, but I just hope these girls who do want a big expensive day put as much effort into their marriage as they do into their wedding day.  I think it’s important to remember that you are a bride for a day and a wife for life.

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