We Need to Stop Obsessing Over Walking Down the AisleS

Can we please stop sending little girls the message that their wedding is the most important moment of their life because they get to be a fairytale princess for a day?

There's nothing wrong with having fun planning an elaborate wedding with your partner for your mutual friends and family to enjoy. But this New York Times article about women who obsess over the particulars of their wedding day for years before they even have a groom in mind is indicative of a major cultural problem. The women in this piece who fantasize over table setting minutiae for no reason come off as materialistic and self-obsessed. But instead of lamenting over how pathetic they are, let's ask ourselves how we got here in the first place.

There's 34-year-old Kate Owens, who planned her nonexistent wedding for more than a decade before actually getting married last summer. She knew the exact details of her hairstyle, flower arrangements, ring settings and band, which she booked years before she knew her future husband. Owens might be an extreme case, but she's not exactly an outlier:

Weddingbee, a site that sponsors forums for users to discuss all wedding topics, reports that in 2012, 14,974 members identified themselves as not yet engaged.

Anja Winikka, the director of TheKnot.com, said 40 percent of 20,000 brides it questioned in 2011 revealed they visited the site, whether they had a boyfriend or not, before becoming engaged. Thirteen percent created profiles, which means a "highly engaged person," Ms. Winikka said. "You get a checklist and your planner and your budget tool, so they could have been playing around with numbers."

Pinterest, a site where users can create virtual bulletin boards by "pinning" their favorite items, is imbued with wedding-themed boards with titles like "Yeah I'm single and...?;-)," "Someday my prince will come," and "I want to get married. 2018?"

Forget all that "you choose your choice" stuff. We should be judgmental here because this shit is a massive waste of time. Not because single women who obsess over their wedding day might not even get married in the first place, but because there's no good that can come out of the concept that your wedding is literally all about you and the stuff you want to buy to feel special. Except for marketers, of course:

As single women see endless photos of weddings on Facebook and seemingly infinite ideas for wedding cakes, dresses, canapés, lighting, dance floor shapes and other details on wedding blogs like Style Me Pretty, Bridal Snob and Ruffled, the images become eye candy.

"When you watch a lot of commercials on television, all of a sudden you want that product, and you don't know why you want that product, but it's because you've seen that commercial 10 times," [wedding planner Shannon] Whitney said. "It's the same with weddings. It's just the way our brain works. We're just programmed to want what we see and what's around us."

The Times notes the downsides of fixating on your wedding day, from the pumpkin soup you envisioned not working so well in July (tragic!) to the perhaps more important "not taking into account a future partner and what his needs and considerations might be." But the issue here isn't that these women are counting their chickens before they hatch or putting the cart before the horse or any other demeaning farm animal metaphors.

Spending a significant portion of your time planning a wedding without being in love isn't as much delusional as it is sad. And it's a distraction: from the fear that you'll never connect with someone whom you want to share your life with, or just from regular life stuff — family issues, career challenges, whatever — that aren't as much fun to think about as picking "the perfect napkins with favorite song lyrics written on them." But instead of mocking women who are "married to the plan," let's stop teaching girls that a perfect wedding leads to a perfect fairytale life.

[NYT]

Image via Grekov's/Shutterstock.