Cecilia's Blog

25 April 2012

I’m engaged to be married. I’m not a bride-to-be. There’s a difference.

Filed under: personal — Cecilia @ 20:34
Tags: , ,

I’ll never forget the moment I told my mother I am engaged. She braced herself, and quietly asked “What kind of wedding do you want?”
I almost burst into tears. “Please,” I begged, “I don’t want a big white wedding.”
My mother heaved a sigh of relief. “Don’t worry,” she hugged me. “I didn’t think you would. It doesn’t suit you. It’s not you.”

There you have it – it is not me.

Yes, I’m engaged to be married. Yes, I want to make my lifelong commitment and loyalty to one man public and official. But no, I am not a bride.

Here is why not:

(1) The Bride’s Day

It’s not unheard of to hear the wedding day referred to as “The Bride’s Day”. Sorry? What? You mean the groom is unimportant? You mean it’s not about him too? His opinion is irrelevant? What if he’s allergic to roses? What if he actually prefers turquoise to royal blue?

I hate the fact that most of the attention is on the bride on the wedding day. Why is it like that? Surely the focus of the day should be the couple and about the promises they are making to each other, not about the bride and what she is wearing? I also hate this assumption that the wedding day is something that all little girls have been dreaming about since their birth. “It is your one day to be a princess,” people say. What? What delusional planet do you people come from? No, I have never dreamt of my wedding day. I have never wanted to be a princess. An astronaut, yes. A dragon-slayer wearing body armor, yes. A princess? What on earth for?

Alice, from the movie "Alice in Wonderland", dressed up in armor and ready to slay the Jabberwocky.

I hate it. The day that is all about me is my birthday. That’s my day. My wedding day is not that. In fact, it is not even my wedding day. It is our wedding day. It is about us and the intimate, serious promises we make to each other. It’s got nothing to do with me or my hair or my dress or my shoes. It’s about us.

(2) The Guests

It appears to be standard practice to invite absolutely everyone you’ve ever met in your life to your wedding. Auntie Mary who is the second cousin to your uncle’s ex-wife’s brother? Oh, but Auntie Mary bought your Girl Scout cookies when you were ten. So yes, Auntie Mary must definitely be invited. Jonno, the crazy alcoholic friend of your brother’s girlfriend’s best friend when they studied together? Yes, Jonno should be invited because you are Facebook friends and he will feel left out if Jessica gets an invitation but he doesn’t. Also, you can’t invite Bob but not invite Jonno. So yes, Jonno must be invited.


Has the world gone mad?

Why is there this crazy expectation that people who are not close to you at all, who never call you on your birthday or even know where you live, should be invited to your wedding? Again, a wedding is a actually a serious occasion. Two people are making some pretty serious vows to each other. Is it really necessary to invite every Tom, Dick and Harry to witness such a private moment between two people? Why?!

I don’t get it. So forget it. My parents and his parents will be at our wedding. That’s it. It’s got nothing to do with the rest of you anyway. So bugger off. No, you are not invited!

(3) The Venue

Not too long ago I came across the term “wedding village”. I threw up a little inside my mouth. A “wedding village”? Oh yes, you know, one of those “one-stop-shop” places where you have everything on one premises: the rooms where the bride and groom get dressed on the day, the chapel, the reception area (complete with a dance hall), some scenery that makes for your nice, clichéd wedding photos and, of course, the honeymoon suite that the happy couple retire to at the end of the evening.

Your typical, clichéd wedding photo. Yuck!

Now, the concept of a “wedding village” is actually not a bad one. It’s convenient to have everything together because it minimizes the chances of forgetting a little flower girl or a groomsman’s socks somewhere and it also means that your guests (assuming you’ve buckled under peer pressure and invited all 500 people you have ever met in your life) only get lost once trying to find this village instead of getting lost on the way to the church and then getting lost again making their way to the reception venue.

What I do have a problem with, though, is the commercialisation of it all. There are now wedding villages everywhere… and they all look the same. They are all clichéd, tacky and kitsch. They all have the same sentimental and nostalgic-looking chapels. They all have rolling lawns, tree-lined avenues and water features. Their reception halls all have the same, bland food. And all of them, every single one of them, charges you an arm and a leg and another bond on your house. I’ve heard of people having to put down a R40,000 deposit just to book one of these places, and that the final bill is expected to amount to about R120,000 once everyone has been fed and the bouquet and garter have been tossed.

Another typical, cheesy wedding pic. You people all do the same stuff! Have you no originality?!

Are you people nuts?! R120,000? Do you have any idea what an awesome holiday you could go on for that amount of money? Instead it is being wasted on trying to impress the guests. Guests, remember, who have such distant connections to you that you need to trace through your life history to remember where they fit into the picture.

Forget it. I’ve got other things I would rather waste money on. Things like a lovely ski holiday for just me and my man. Or a deposit on our first home. Not a ridiculous wedding village with a wedding package.

(4) The Wedding Industry

Only Greenpeace with their mantra that nuclear power is a bad idea can make my blood boil at a higher temperature than the term “wedding industry”. I hate the fact that the term “wedding industry” even exists! I can’t believe that something sacred between two people can be turned into a money-making business. It is disgusting! And yet, everywhere women (yes, mostly brides-to-be) fall for it. They get trapped spending thousands on wedding invitations (you do realize that those wedding invitations will get thrown away once the wedding is over, right?). They fret about colour palettes and matching almost anything with everything (from the bridesmaids dresses to the serviettes to the groom’s socks to the tablecloths to the curtains must all be same tinge of lavender). And, oh yes, the invitations should already have that lavender in them! The flowers – the bride’s bouquet, the bridesmaids flowers in their hair, the flowers in the chapel and the flowers on the tables – must all match and have a common theme. The photographer must have a fat portfolio, awards and certificates coming out of every orifice and a ridiculous hourly rate. The videographer must at least have been nominated for an Oscar. The musicians must all be professionals with at least 20 albums each. The people preparing the food must all be cordon bleu gourmet chefs and the hair and make-up people must all be beauty consultants to celebrities.

Oh, and remember brides, if you don’t get a french manicure, then you have failed in your role as a bride!

Sorry….. what? Can’t you people see what absolute madness this is? How can any rational, thinking person, fall for this? HOW??

I don’t get it. I really, honestly, don’t get it. Our wedding invitations will be sent by e-mail, and neither of us could be bothered about colour schemes. It’s enough to know that I will wear a white dress and he will wear a black suit. Oh, and guess what – I am actually showing my husband-to-be what I will be wearing! For goodness sake, the man lives with me and I regularly ask him “How do I look?” so why can’t he give some inputs into my dress? None of this superstitious “the groom may not see you before your wedding day” rubbish for us!

So to conclude – you are all welcome to your formulaic, clichéd weddings with the 500 strangers and white peace doves. I’m not interested. I haven’t heard of a single bride who wasn’t stressed about her Big Day and, you know what? I have enough stress in my daily life that I really do not need extra stress worrying about nonsense like whether the specially imported snow drops will have wilted by the time the ceremony starts. We’re having a plain, simple registry office wedding followed by a special meal with our parents. I will look pretty and he will look handsome. We’ll exchange rings and make a couple of tear-jerking promises to each other in front of our parents. And we’ll eat and drink and enjoy our wedding night somewhere special and intimate away from home.

But then that’s it. A day or two later we’ll have a casual get together (probably at Gilroys) with our close friends.

But that’s it.

No colour schemes.

No tossing of bouquets.

No fretting about bridesmaids dresses and Auntie Mary that got an invitation but not Auntie Georgie.


But okay… maybe I’ll give in and get a french manicure.



  1. Absolutely!

    Comment by lennymaysay — 25 April 2012 @ 21:21 | Reply

  2. That first paragraph could just as well have been an extract from my own life.. In fact, perhaps the entire post hits a little too close to home.. Spot on, lady!

    Recently, the “wedding expo” was on at the Dome (or somewhere?).. And where was I? Firing guns.. or wait, no.. I think I was trying out new games on my PS Vita.. No hold on, I think that was the weekend I rearranged the house.. get my drift? ;P The whole thought of planning an entire wedding just seems like such a “schlep” to me. I’ve actually mentioned to my mom that I’d rather sign the papers and get it over and done with.. Ok, I admit, there is still that slight, teeny tiny part of me who wants to skip down the aisle, and eat wedding cake, and roll around on the grass outside in a wedding dress…. ;P

    I have appointed my mother as the wedding co-ordinator, and she is loving every minute of it. Well, mostly. I can see the disappointment in her face when she shows me fabric samples, and asks me whether I like the way this fabric matches that one, and whether I would prefer black or gold underplates, and all I can do is to cringe in disgust and say that I really have more important things to be concerned about.. (To be honest, I had no idea what underplates were until all of this wedding business landed on me).

    In short, you’re not the only one who shares this point of view on weddings, and I’m so glad to hear that I’m not alone either..

    Comment by battica — 25 April 2012 @ 21:23 | Reply

    • Wait… you mean an underplate is actually part of a dress and not what you call the bottom of the oil sump on your car?

      I totally understand. I can’t think of a worse punishment than organising my own wedding. That’s why we’re pretty much signing papers and then drinking champagne. The parts about weddings that I like – wearing a nice dress, bothering about getting my hair and make-up properly done for a change, nice shoes and wedding cake! – I don’t object to at all. But I truly couldn’t be bothered about the rest of it all.

      Comment by Cecilia — 26 April 2012 @ 07:31 | Reply

  3. I’d like to send this to my fiance, but I’m a little worried about the retort, so I’ll probably just send the opening paragraphs :-).
    The thing is, all of these things exist because there is such a massive want for them – please note, I used the word “want” not “need.” So who creates that want? Is it another case of keeping up with the Jones’ daughter’s wedding; or is the daughter so besotted by all of the crazed advertising and commercialisation surrounding the occasion that she says: I WANT THAT! I WANT WHAT SHE HAD, BUT BETTER! So, a commercial industry starts up and caters to it, if you’re willing to bow down to it and pay those profane amounts, and ask the photographer (who, and trust me on this, is even more sick of those stupid shots than you are) for those stupid cliched shots, and get the R20 000 dress that you’ll only ever wear once, and pay the R6 500 for that rental classic car that’s going to take you all of 13.6 metres – then you’re an idiot and deserve to be conned.
    But come on, how is this any different from the commercialisation of every single event that should be, if not personal at least celebrated in your own personal way? Easter or Christmas, even if you don’t believe in them, are supposed to be a private and personal celebration of your own belief. Now the day that Jesus died for our sins (if you believe in that, again, I’m just using an example and am not intending to offend anyone), according to Beacon and Nestle, is the day He came back to earth as a bunny that gave everyone chocolate eggs.
    Unfortunately, this is simply the way of our world, the way of mindless, ignorant and easily controllable drones – that have iPods, iPads, Tablets and F*^k-all common sense. I personally look forward to the day when I come to power using these same techniques, so I’m not too perturbed by the methodology – it’s all about seeing an opportunity instead of a problem really. However, I know what you’re saying, and I agree with you – not only because I’m doing something similar – but because if you really take a closer look, it is in fact the problem with everything! Why do I pay R750 000 for a 4-bedroom house in Pietermaritzburg, but R5.6 million for the exact same house in Bryanston? Supply and demand? Seriously?! Although, people do need houses, so that is a stupid example, but it’s one that pisses me off because obviously, I would like to buy a house! Ons poep teen die berge en glo hulle sal omval!

    As a little side-note, considering that I am a studying christian (even though admittedly I’m not the model of my faith, very few of us are) I can share a bit of this: the “christian vows” taken at a wedding ceremony, are in fact borrowed from pagan vows from the Roman wedding rituals (so is the giving and receiving of rings by the way). The exchanging of gifts at Christmas time, did not start out as a christian tradition; ancient christians decided to have a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus and the Church of the time chose a date that coincided with one of the pagan feasts which was about exchanging of gifts with your neighbour. Later it was decided to move the date to coincide with the feast of St. Nicholas, and exchanging gifts became a token of peace and goodwill – I say there’s nothing wrong with that, except now you have to scour Game and Incredible Corruption looking for Star Wars: the Old Republic on PS 3 for your nephew. If someone can tell me how Easter bacame about chocolate covered eggs, I’d appreciate it. If it in fact was Beacon’s or Nestle’s idea, then the Sith really do in fact rule us all! (Okay, so maybe that game never managed to get to my nephew).

    Comment by Fernando — 25 April 2012 @ 21:46 | Reply

    • You’re right. The problem with the world is the commercialisation of absolutely everything, including sacred religious holidays. I hate it! And why do people fall for it? Does no one ever stop to think about these things and why they are doing it? Can’t they see they are being conned?!

      Sometimes I really, truly have no hope in humanity at all.

      Comment by Cecilia — 26 April 2012 @ 07:37 | Reply

  4. Marry me!!

    Comment by Dave — 25 April 2012 @ 22:57 | Reply

    • Sorry, Dave. I’m old-fashioned and believe in monogamy. 🙂

      Comment by Cecilia — 26 April 2012 @ 07:40 | Reply

  5. The cost of weddings is insane! And, yes, I’d much rather put that money to better use like a deposit on a house or a fabulous honeymoon. Any logically thinking person can see the reasoning behind that. Unfortunately, years of social conditioning cause us to have that I WANT attitude.

    Comment by Sandika Kishoorilall — 26 April 2012 @ 05:41 | Reply

    • But that’s exactly my point – I want to challenge people to think and ask themselves “Is this really what I want, or is this what society is telling me I should want?” There’s a big difference.

      Comment by Cecilia — 26 April 2012 @ 07:39 | Reply

  6. “No, I have never dreamt of my wedding day. I have never wanted to be a princess. An astronaut, yes. A dragon-slayer wearing body armor, yes. A princess? What on earth for?” FUCK YEA!

    Take the money you would have spent on a big wedding and go to the Alps for a week with your man.

    Comment by kelltrill — 26 April 2012 @ 07:32 | Reply

    • That’s the plan! We both prefer cold, wintery conditions over tropical beaches, so we’re planning a ski holiday in Austria for the honeymoon. That’s another thing – this assumption that the honeymoon must be on some humid, tropical island somewhere. What on earth for? You’re so hot and sticky that you don’t want to cuddle and surely the point of a honeymoon is to cuddle and stay in bed?!

      Comment by Cecilia — 26 April 2012 @ 07:43 | Reply

  7. This is awesome! How can I contact the author directly??? ps- not to spam, i promise 🙂

    Comment by Szerdi Nagy — 26 April 2012 @ 08:58 | Reply

    • Hi Szerdi. When you left your comment, you filled in your e-mail address. As author, I can see your e-mail address. Want me to e-mail you?

      Comment by Cecilia — 26 April 2012 @ 09:12 | Reply

  8. cool that would be great 🙂

    Comment by Szerdi Nagy — 26 April 2012 @ 09:13 | Reply

  9. I think its amazing that you are staying true to yourself and to you as a couple!! People lose track of why you have a wedding – it is to become husband and wife and start your marriage. Good Luck!

    Comment by Lauren Kim — 26 April 2012 @ 11:21 | Reply

  10. Brilliantly written! totally true! Just to set the record straight though… most people believe that ladies get caught up in all this wedding madness but its not true. I’ve seen men behave just as silly

    Comment by Ridwaan Adam Umaduth — 26 April 2012 @ 15:36 | Reply

  11. […] https://ceciliavdm.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/im-engaged-to-be-married-im-not-a-bride-to-be-theres-a-di… Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

    Pingback by On marriage… | theramblingquirk — 30 April 2012 @ 07:30 | Reply

  12. Yup yup yup.

    This is why I got married at Home Affairs. And possibly why I am still married, 17 years later.

    Comment by Vanessa (@mysehnsucht) — 6 June 2012 @ 08:45 | Reply

  13. So true! I realise that as a 62 year old male I will probably get some response along the lines of “what the hell do you understand about the greatest day in the life of a bride”, but that is exactly the point: I do not get it. The couple can start a house at the cost of the wedding (of which both of them will remember very, very little anyway) AND have a fantastic honeymoon. The next thing will be the couples having to invite friends and family on honeymoon, for God’s sake!

    One other gripe: the idiots (both male and female) who are “forced” to stand on street corners wearing some ridiculous dress such as a tutu or a corset from the thirties to collect money from motorists for their honeymoons (or wedding, bachelors, kitchen party , or what the hell ever): I find it both demeaning and arrogant in the extreme, What the hell are you thinking?

    Thanks for a great blog Cecilia. You speak to me!

    Jy kan my blog hier lees: http://schyffie.weebly.com/index.html

    Comment by Peter van der Schyff — 15 November 2012 @ 09:05 | Reply

    • Thanks for the comment Peter. And, yes, bachelors- and bachelorette parties are yet another thing I want to moan about. Lately I’ve been attending a lot of bachelorette parties and I wish I could understand why it is expected that everything should have penises on them. I find it very distasteful and tacky (and embarrassing if your mother is attending).

      Comment by Cecilia — 15 November 2012 @ 09:56 | Reply

      • I must say, my bachelor’s was pretty cool – we played paintball and everyone got a chance to shoot me without the fear of retaliation. Then we went to my mate’s place, had a braai and a nice “kuier,” where I drank till I fell asleep. So, basically it was a typical Saturday but I didn’t have to pay for anything.

        Comment by Fernando — 15 November 2012 @ 10:21

  14. hahahah… ai my friend! I hope you scaling down on your wedding means i can still have a kick as bachelorette for you since I’m not invited to the party with the white dress your going to have…but knowing me… Ill find away to be there… I could take your photos… with my Iphone.. I have no long list of photographic diplomas.. so i think i make the cut… 😉

    Comment by Jeanri — 27 May 2013 @ 14:54 | Reply

    • Ah, Jeanri, thanks for your kind offer, but I’m already married! I guess should blog an update on that, huh?

      Comment by Cecilia — 27 May 2013 @ 19:25 | Reply

  15. I thoroughly enjoyed this and couldn’t agree more. I had been wondering about some of these things and how absurd they seem but it seems a lot of people fail to realize it. In many ways it’s like the “baby industry”. So it’s nice to read this from a woman engaged to be married. Thank you, and most importantly congratulations!

    Comment by matisidro — 12 October 2013 @ 10:03 | Reply

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