Having decided on marriage, my fiancée and I are now well immersed in the process of planning our wedding. And like many young couples, we feel a strong distaste for what we have come to call the wedding-industrial complex: the North American industry that makes a lucrative profit from telling couples what they must do and selling it to them, documented in Rebecca Mead’s One Perfect Day. And then too often, we have then wound up going through a process uncomfortably familiar to many couples in our situation: observing traditions you despise, deciding you’ll do it all differently, and then finding yourself going through the traditional process anyway. Susan Jane Gilman expressed it perfectly in her article (and then book) Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress. She and her fiancé decided that they hated the expense, pomp and sexism of a traditional wedding, and so theirs would be different. They’d just leave it as a fun party: hire a DJ, a bartender and an ice cream truck. But:
Somehow, Bob and I had also overlooked the fact that even if all you wanted was an ice cream truck, a bartender, and a deejay, you still needed a place to put them. And if you decided it might be nice to have some photographs of the day — photographs that did not scalp anyone, or feature detailed close-ups of your uncle’s thumb — it was best to hire a photographer. And then, as my mother diplomatically pointed out, if relatives were going to travel across the country to witness your marriage, it was probably polite to feed them more than a Fudgsicle and a glass of champagne. And surely, you couldn’t expect older folks to balance a plate on their hand all night: they had to sit somewhere. And since you were going to have tables anyway, would it really kill you to put out a few flowers to brighten things up?
Eventually Gilman even accepts the pouffy white wedding dress of her essay’s title: “My mind might have been that of a twenty-first-century feminist, but my body was that of a nineteenth-century Victorian, and the dress seemed to have been custom-made for my proportions.” And so it begins: Continue reading