I've never been the type of girl you would really describe as girly - except for one thing: I'm obsessed with weddings. Please don't tell my boyfriend.
As a kid, I was more into catching frogs than playing with Barbies. I didn't really like pink, I never wanted makeup, and my first period made me cry with anger rather than excitement. I would read Judy Blume and wonder who are these girls? I didn't want breasts or a husband – I wanted to become a drummer in a rock band, or learn how to survive in the wilderness (this was a particular obsession of mine). Even as an adult, I don't really care for romantic comedies, I hate lipstick, and I only very, very recently figured out how to wear a pair of heels. I have also been described as a "pushy feminist" (alternatively: angry feminist, feminazi, lesbian shitass). In short, I am not the type of girl you would expect to be obsessing about weddings.
Except I am. I want to plan my own wedding so badly.
I should make it clear right now that I don't want to get married anytime soon. Actually, I don't know if I want to get married at all, ever. We've all heard the criticism of the Wedding Industrial Complex – how it makes women lose sight of the marriage in the wedding-frenzy, how it turns normal, reasonable women into frenzied bridezillas, how it promotes materialism and sexism and probably cubism as well. This things are all true. And all too familiar.
Here's the thing: I know I sound crazy. This level of obsession would probably place me on an Ask Men list of 5 Girls To Avoid, a title I probably deserve. My wedding obsession isn't something I fully understand about myself. I tend to be independent (sometimes to the point of excess) and even a little bit prickly. As a feminist, I recognize all the things that are wrong with weddings – from the basic premise to the smaller things, like the question of who is walking you down the aisle and what color dress you wear – and yet I remain unswayed in my desire.
I have a close friend (I'll call her Laura) who shares my obsession. Though our relationship is normally pretty amazing and supportive, when it comes to this, we are not good for each other. We sit at the computer and scroll through page after page of dresses and rings and flower arrangements. We even signed up for the Vera Wang Wedding newsletter. Things only became worse when I stumbled on 100 Layer Cake and Project Wedding and discovered the crafty wedding movement.
Now we obsess over creating the perfect invitations – from scratch. And making flower arrangements out of wildflowers. And creating the perfect menu of locally-grown produce. I particularly enjoy organizing paint chips to get the perfect color palate – which, naturally, changes every time I begin thinking about it again. At this point, I've decided on a Maine wedding, with blueberry pie instead of cake, a royal blue vintage dress and forsythia and lily-of-the-valley everywhere. Laura designed her dress first (dove gray with lavender), wants lilacs in her bouquet, and has yet to think about the menu.
If you're beginning to suspect that I'm more interested in having a big party than finding true love, well, you're absolutely right. For me, a wedding doesn't really symbolize the union of two souls, but rather the tasteful, impeccably crafted and ingeniously designed display of one's aesthetic leanings.
As someone given frequently to pouring over the pages of Real Simple magazine, and doing daily checks of websites like Design Sponge and NotCot, the wedding is just another way to obsess over a certain type of self-expression and reflection. It's design porn, only with the added bonus of being able to share my vision with my family and closest friends. Weddings also have another essential, incredibly attractive component: the groom. Not because my future husband is going to be a real knockout, but because just having someone else there means the focus won't be all on me. I always prefer to attend parties rather than host them; center of attention is not my default position (which is probably another reason these fantasy-events will remain just that, a fantasy). In my mind, the Big Day will be quirkily perfect, made charming by the minor mishaps. And I think that's really where the root of my obsession lies - in the ideal blend of public and private, personal style and manicured design. Like all elements of "personal style," we like to pretend weddings represent our individualism, our taste and our experiences. In the end, I don't really want to get married, or even have a wedding - I just want to show the world a polished version of my innermost chaos.
Occasionally my feminist background takes charge and I start thinking, why not just have a wedding for myself? Since love isn't the driving force here, maybe I should just forget about the whole life partner thing and focus on what's important: blueberry pie and lobster. Seeing as I'm a resident of the great state of Massachusetts, I recently asked Laura whether she would be willing to marry me. I was at least 80% joking. "Sure," she replied, "but I want to pick the menu."
Image via Luna Vandoorne/Shutterstock