I’ve put off writing this piece for a while — partially because there is no more defensive reader than a bride who’s in “fairytale wedding mode” and partially because I’ve been avoiding my own harsh opinions on a seemingly harmless topic.
When I wrote my last wedding rant Big wedding. Small marriage., I didn’t quite expect to be married within the year and still harping on about this wedding thing. But here I am, talking about it again, and hoping old news will fall on a few open ears.
My man and I married on Saint Valentine’s Day in the South of France because that’s the day the Mairie (City Hall) could fit us in. Of course we didn’t have to try very hard to make it a day of fairytale proportions what with the cobbled and rain-sprinkled streets of the Middle-Aged Eze Village. The Mediterranean coastline was where we’d met nearly three years before and it’s where we met again on this, our wintery wedding day, sat under one of those antique French chandeliers at the mayor’s office.
Brides were sold the “biggest day of your life” story; and they bought into it.
A shortness of both time and money meant that a 100+ guest list of extended cousins and forgotten friends wasn’t doable for us — although I don’t want that to be the excuse for our obviously small day. It was small because we wanted a small wedding from the start. Admittedly, not as small as it was in the end but at the least, a day that was just about us.
And so it went. My man took my measurements and I ordered a rather forgettable wedding dress online. I didn’t have a bachelorettes. Or a kitchen tea. Or an engagement party. I just got out of bed one morning and married the man I love with all my heart.
It is a brave and unusual thing to keep a wedding simple in this day and age — to re-orientate the focus and energy of the day to the people it’s really about: husband and wife. I admire those who manage to pull it off. You might be surprised when I tell you that it was still the most special day of my life — even without the rose-tinted table cloths and left-footed first dance because those things don’t matter. It’s the strength of the relationship that matters.
And make no mistake about it, our very small, very simple wedding was tough, especially for our loved ones. We missed them terribly and they missed us even more. My man is the only son of five kids and I’m an only child: no family deserved a wedding more than ours. But still — they all bravely supported us in our decision to keep it to us and it meant the world to us. One of these days we’ll thank them with an unfussed occasion of sorts.
Somehow — however it happened — our world ended up turning weddings into big business. Suddenly, weddings were a product; something you could buy and sell. Brides were sold the “biggest day of your life” story; and they bought into it. The guests bought into it. Everybody stressed each other out over the bigness of the big day. Everyone spent way too much money. People got offended when they weren’t invited. People fought over money. It got ugly.
Somehow — however it happened — the relationship was no longer the focus.
Slowly the focus shifted from the bride and groom to everyone else at the wedding. The pressure to please was huge; on a day that was meant to be about them: husband and wife. We made magazines and wedding expos and rehearsals… All for one day. We stopped asking about the relationship, the marriage relationship, and how that was coming along. Somehow — however it happened — the relationship was no longer the focus.
Big or small — however you please madame. But don’t forget the marriage. That’s kind of important too.