I hear it from young girls, from high schoolers, from women who are engaged – it’s usually the same thing that goes something like this: “I always imagined my wedding would be like…,” or some variation to this extent. Since we were little, girls envision their perfect fairy tale wedding, imagining what their dress will look like, the flowers, cake, dancing, and all the lovely glittering details of the celebration. They create mental Pinterest boards of their special day until they’re old enough to make an actual and probably secret Pinterest board to organize the pretty little details of their future nuptials.
By the time he or she pops the question, that sparkly ring secured on your finger, the last piece of the puzzle is finally in place, and you can put your long-awaited plan to action.
Why I Never Dreamed of My Wedding
From trying on wedding dresses and choosing flowers to cake tasting and meeting your wedding planner, the pros always seem to ask a similar question – “What did you always imagine your wedding looking like?” – to which I would always reply, “I have no clue! I just got engaged.”
That’s when I realized I was a minority and had been my whole life – a girl among girls in my childhood and later a woman among women, I never participated in those starry-eyed conversations where you compare future wedding notes. Yes I knew I wanted to get married, and yes I played Mash and True Love games to determine my compatibility with various prospects, but I never thought about the actual wedding.
It’s not that I don’t like weddings – in fact, I don’t think anyone had a more enjoyable two-year engagement and wedding planning period. I thoroughly relished in each part of the experience and had no clue why wedding planning was notoriously a stressful time. (Plus, didn’t you know the biggest relationship myth that all good relationships are hard work?) When the day came, our planning came to fruition, and the celebration was my idea of perfection. So you’ll see, it’s not that I don’t love weddings or buy into the planning process, it’s just that I never dreamed of my wedding until I was engaged. And in fact, I don’t understand why or how anyone does.
Programmed since childhood
Typically, girls are programmed, through television, books, Disney movies, and the media as soon as they can glue their toddler eyes on the TV screen that finding your ‘happily ever after,’ aka getting married and finding your Prince Charming, is your life goal. Luckily kids’ programs today focus more on stronger female leads, like the bright and ambitious girl doctor, Doc McStuffins, or the kind and courageous Princess Sofia who has no emphasis on finding a man to fulfill her life, but even with the inclusion of this new media, the classic stories still exist and prevail.
The thing is, those “once upon a time” and “happily ever after” stories existed in a time where women either weren’t allowed to go to school or to work or were discouraged from doing so; this was a time when your only option was to find a man to get married, or attend college purely for that purpose, so you could be taken care of and start a family. But that was a long time ago, and gone are the days (far gone) where a woman needs a man to exist in society, and in fact, more women attend college than men and are pursuing careers in all fields, even those once dominated by men.
The Problem with the Wedding Industry
Aside from this, I see a problem with the whole wedding industry, one that spotlights the celebration and all the fun components of weddings, so when you think of wedding, you think rings, cake, flowers, dancing, dress, décor, and more. Whether you have a 6-month or 2-year engagement, your engagement period is solely focused on plan plan planning for the big day.
But amidst all the glitz and glamour of getting swept into the idea of engagement parties, registering, trying on wedding dresses, and choosing bridesmaid gowns, the true focus of a wedding is lost. A wedding is a by-product of the most important part of the “big day” – a wedding is simply a celebration of the most important thing to celebrate, a couple’s marriage. Their commitment possibly to God, definitely to each other, and deciding to come together to share their lives forever.
Dreaming of a Wedding…
I never thought of all of this when I was a kid, but I somehow, subconsciously, must have known this. How can you dream of your wedding when you need to understand who your spouse will be first? Isn’t the most important piece of the wedding puzzle your significant other? And without him or her, how can you concoct this dream wedding when the wedding is just a result of celebrating your commitment to this person?
The Rush for Fun Shiny Things
I think people can rush into an engagement because it’s the next fun, shiny thing to do after you’ve been in a relationship; I think people get caught up in the wrong aspects of engagement and wedding planning.
Instead of flashing through your engagement, preoccupied with guest lists, financials, and white or ivory (always choose ivory!), people should focus on their relationship. Your engagement, of course, must involve wedding planning, but that shouldn’t be the sole focus. The couple should focus on understanding themselves as a couple, learning about and considering the implication of marriage, speaking to established couples, a religious leader, or people in your church community, if that applies to you.
Whether you’re a parent, adolescent, are engaged, single, or married, I would encourage you to consider the difference between a wedding and marriage, the difference between a celebration and a sacrament, and encourage your kids or young girls to dream about actual future accomplishments that lie ahead in their future. Because getting married is not a triumph, but pursuing education, higher education, and a fulfilling career are all certainly achievements to strive for.
More emphasis, excitement, and congratulations seem to go towards a newly engaged couple over the new graduate, the girl who put herself through community college, living at home to pay for college, and working three jobs to work her butt off to graduate from law school. Let’s show our excitement for the engaged couples in our lives while putting more emphasis on the actual milestones that are true achievements.