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?
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.
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.
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.