Okay, I’ll be honest with you. Yesterday’s weekend wedding planning index left off one rather important figure…
Number of times I started crying, even though I promised myself I wasn’t going to let anything in the wedding planning process make me cry: 2
I suppose this is a somewhat unrealistic goal—I cry over everything, good, bad or otherwise—but still. Twice? On our first weekend out of the gate?
The first episode occurred as we were heading back to the car after concluding the tour at our First Choice Venue. The caterer had just informed me that we could, in fact, have our first dance in the same room as our ceremony. And the thought of marrying PIC there, in that room, with that view, of reciting our vows and having our first dance there—it was just too perfect.
Dream wedding perfect.
So perfect, in fact, that I started crying. The minute we got into the car, I pulled up my calculator and started crunching numbers. There had to be some way to make this work…
The second episode occurred about 24 hours later. We were between tours, heading to my brother’s house to have dinner with him and his girlfriend, and it was very hot out and there was young kid selling water under an overpass with his father.
The kid happened to be black and my white guilt complex kicked into high gear.
The next thing I know, I was basically sobbing to PIC about how I didn’t want to have a big white wedding when there are kids who have to sell water on the side of the road. How I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night knowing we’d spent tens of thousands, or even just thousands of dollars, on one day…
As if not having a big, white wedding was going to somehow directly benefit this kid?
As if I personally needed to save this kid?
As if this kid needed saving?
As if my very own (and very white) brother didn’t sell water too when he was younger? We had a traveling lemonade stand; we cleaned up every July 4th. Maybe this kid was just an entrepreneur-in-training?
Or maybe he’s not. Maybe he doesn’t have a choice, and maybe I was just trying to transcend the ridiculousness of my well-intended-but-still-f*cked-up-white-guilt-complex by succumbing to the wedding-industrial-complex…?
(Can we say analysis paralysis?)
Fortunately, PIC had the good sense to suggest we table all further wedding discussion for the rest of the night (not before assuring me that we didn’t have to do anything over the top, and that we didn’t have to do anything we didn’t want to do). I was kind of irritated at the time because I like to get issues dealt with, then and there, but we had been driving around all weekend, it was hot, and we were both overtired… fertile ground for an argument, not a rational discussion.
My other consolation is that my high school BFF got engaged only a week before we did and thanks to my being a bit more hyper about planning than most people, we now find ourselves in the exact same stages of the wedding planning process.
Like me, she’s traveled a lot, has lived abroad, and is trying to walk the line between fiscal responsibility, social consciousness and planning a beautiful affair that will make herself, her family, and her fiancé happy.
We’ve been texting all morning about that damn Huff Post story— the one where the Turkish couple decided to forego the traditional three-day feast to serve food at a refugee camp instead—and how guilty it makes us feel over our own desires. I mean, seriously, the bride is standing there in a gown and a golden tiara, handing out plates of food.
So instead we talk about donations instead of favors, of forgoing the traditional registry because we’re both in our 30s and how many Mikasa plates does one couple need? (And no, I’m not just being rhetorical here. I already have one set of Mikasa plates and one set of Lenox plates and they’re both second hand but perfectly fine, aside from the one salad plate that PIC accidentally put in the microwave…)
Her fiancé was thinking about trying to turn the entire event into a fundraiser for some non-profit or another, and I have to admit I had a few thoughts along those same lines but I can’t help wondering if a small part of me wants to have a “responsible” wedding just so I can say I had a responsible wedding…
So I can look down my nose at those who get caught up in the frenzy…
So I can feel somehow noble about not going to Kleinfelds…
So I can justify not being vegan, not even being vegetarian, of rather liking steak… because, hey, we had a small wedding!
So I can live in a perfectly nice house in a perfectly nice neighborhood while all the while dreaming of a bigger house in a nicer neighborhood, but its okay, because living in a nice neighborhood is something you earn right? There’s nothing privileged about it…
And being an anthropology professor makes it all that much worse. Because I know better.
I know that the things we think we need (the white dress, the multiple rings, the first dance, the open bar because you don’t want to look cheap, the live music because it’s classier than a dj) are all crap. Lovely crap, but crap nonetheless.
The white dress didn’t become a thing until the 19th century, and even then it was only to inject the lace industry with a much-needed boost in sales.
Diamond rings are also a relatively recent “tradition” and we’ve got DeBeers to thank for that (check out my book review of The Engagements to learn more about this).
Traditions are traditions because we make them traditions, not because there is anything inherently right or wrong about them.
They change, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, and even though we’d like to think that these changes are totally natural and organic, they’re often the result of carefully calculated marketing campaigns and most of us are too dumb to realize it.
(And there we go with the self-righteousness again… I’m starting to get why so many people find me to be a bit difficult.)
I’m not really sure where I’m going with all of this (which is, perhaps, more apparent to you as you read this than it is to me as I write this) except to say that it’s all very confusing.