I’m High on Being a Bride (And a Little Sad About it, Too)

LB Note: Remember when I said I was going to write more much unfiltered, unedited content? This is my attempt at making good on this promise. Not necessarily #perfi related, but nevertheless, it's where I'm at in my own life right now. Also – the photo above isn't my wedding dress, but a runner-up. Happy Monday from Europe, everyone!

 

As a woman, I can't recall a time in my life when I felt truly ignored, and I count myself lucky in that. After all, I’ve written a moderately successful blog, had my advice featured in media outlets, recorded dozens of podcasts and climbed the corporate ladder. Google Analytics tells me REAL people listen to what I say and read what I write.

But something changed when I got engaged. Whenever I would mention I’m getting married, people's eyes lit up. They'd lean in a little bit closer. They'd ask me questions beyond the typical elevator/waiting room/cocktail party chit-chat, and you know, act genuinely interested in what I had to say.

This took me by surprise – how good and important these reactions made me feel. And then I felt sad my getting married was celebrated more than any other accomplishment. I figure that in the eyes of society at large, I have now reached the apex of my value; soon I'll add “wife” and (hopefully) “mother” to my resume – two of the most lauded roles for women.

But as sad as that makes me, I'll also be honest: I have been enjoying the extra special treatment for the last eight months. And I'm scared to come down off this high once it's all over.

My friend and recently engaged blogger, Stefanie O'Connell, voices my exact sentiments on Twitter.

 

Truthfully, I've always wanted to get married and have a family

 

But I never wanted to be the woman who looked back on this time, this rite of passage over 50% of the population experiences as the “most special” in my lifetime simply because a man “chose” me. I want to savor it because it is exciting and special. But there's also so much pressure to get it right, to get it perfect, because for me – a woman – this is it. Isn’t it?

Weddings used to be the biggest event in a woman’s life. Are they still?

In the past, literally, the only thing a woman could do was get married. Her only real value was in the children she provided a husband. So it makes sense she looked forward to her wedding day and that so much fuss was made over it: her entire life was built around it.

Now that women's lives are built around so much more, why do we still celebrate like it's the only thing that matters?

I had a dear friend say to me….

 

“Enjoy this time. The wedding is for you because the rest of your life will be spent being all about him.”

And everywhere I go, people keep saying, “Oh, it’s your day.” (Admittedly, I've taken this a bit too seriously over the last few months of wedding planning.) When it comes to wedding-related decisions and celebrations: people acquiesce to me now. People listen when I talk.

People say, “whatever you want,” and for once, they mean it.

If I’m being honest – I’ve never had such unilateral decision making power in my whole life. Instead of being overwhelmed, I'm energized by the agency. F*ck yeah, it feels good.

But if a successful woman with a business and a following and a creative outlet feel this way, then women who don’t normally have all of these things definitely do. And suddenly, I understand how easy it is to become a “bridezilla.” You want to have it all because it's the only time in your life when you'll probably get it. That's probably the saddest thing of all.

 

I'm struggling to figure out a way to tie up this essay.

I don't have any answers and know I can't insist on changing the complex when I am (gleefully) participating in a more traditional wedding experience: 150 person wedding, fancy dinner in a ballroom, designer dress, drinks, and dancing. This piece isn't so much a condemnation as a collection of thoughts during an extreme time of transition in my own life.

Perhaps people are so interested in talking and asking me about the wedding because it’s a unifying experience.  Most everyone (at some point) gets married, so individuals can truly empathize with how I feel; they’ll have stories or questions or anecdotes to share. Maybe marriage is a common denominator, a conversation starter – like having a dog, or kids, or sharing a hometown.

Even though I've participated in the wedding industry more than I initially thought I would, and spent more than I planned (read, I did not spend more than we can afford), I'm looking forward to having all of our loved ones in one room. I'm looking forward to celebrating the occasion. It is a momentous undertaking to find someone to share your life with and there should be a party to celebrate the end of the search and the beginning of a new union.

And, in my opinion, I do think progress is being made. People are spending less on engagement rings and weddings. Small, tasteful gatherings are now in vogue. More women are keeping their maiden names and rising in the ranks at work. And I don't think anyone would argue in 2018 that a wedding is still the ultimate occasion in a woman's life, but perhaps its just the one society connects with the most.

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Kay
    October 24, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    Thank you for writing this! I agree that we should be celebrating more accomplishments that we’ve worked hard on in life with society. I’d love to attend more new dog showers or university beginnings – graduation parties or supporting friends’s business venture get togethers, even congrats you made it through the week celebrations! Anyone can decide they want to get married – why does society feel as though marriages contribute so much to society? Less crazy single folk running amuck in the streets wondering what to do with their lives maybe?? lol. If I never have to go to another lame wedding or baby shower though I’ll be a very happy girl! Don’t get me wrong- getting married having babies or showers or having a wedding is fine just don’t over do it.. people need to realize that it’s a one day event and they don’t need to spend a down payment on a house to do it (especially if they are still renting a house!!!) also it’s a one day event.. why aim to make it the best day of your LIFE .. why not put all that energy into just having your best life?

  • Reply
    Shannyn
    October 23, 2018 at 10:12 am

    I experienced something similar when I was engaged. I got a M.A. degree, started my own business, traveled around the world a bit, and later bought a house on my own…and I didn’t get nearly as much awe and attention as I did when I was engaged for a time.

    I hope that changes and we soon have parties to shower a woman with praise when she starts a business or goes back to school, or gives her the supplies she needs to get an advanced degree and offset those costs (a ramen and coffee shower maybe?) but I think it’s also on us to be the weird ones and invite people to participate. We’re trained to throw a party for a new mom or bride, but we need to perhaps hold space for life’s other milestones too, and make room for people to hop in.

    Also- wth,….it’s “all about him?” WHAT? WHO SAID THIS?

  • Reply
    Leigh
    October 18, 2018 at 1:00 am

    I never wanted to get married and wasn’t into the whole Wedding thing. But honestly though? Life was pretty chaotic that year and the wedding was a thing I was organizing and felt like I actually had some Control over. Plus, it was way easier to talk about than my confusing career trajectory. So I diverted so many conversations there for a while and it was fun! I’m sure it confused people, but I also super loved our wedding! It was a great time with food we liked, a great venue and so many of our best people in one place. How often does that get to happen?! So, fistbumps to complicated feelings but loving it! You do you. I think you’re right that weddings are a unifying experience. Everyone has weird family drama from weddings and they are such a joyful occasion!

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