Today on Good Morning America, a man proposed to a woman. That's what happens on morning television on Valentine's Day, right? The bride, Melissa, teared up and said yes, and everyone was very happy. Then her fiancé, Brian, informed her of the big catch: They had to have the wedding right away. Like, now. Right now. On live television. In 30 minutes.
Melissa looked as if she'd seen a ghost. The ghost of the wedding she may have wanted, a dream — or even just an idea — that had died right then and there around 8:20am EST.
GMA was treating Melissa, Brian and all of America to a "flash wedding." Now that Melissa had agreed to marry Brian, they (i.e., the show's producers) had 30 minutes to "plan" the whole thing. She looked like she was in shock, then squealed her agreement (like she could say no on live, national television?), got excited for a moment, and then resumed her state of shock. The parents, bridesmaids and groomsmen magically appeared in black tie and matching hot pink dresses, ready to go — hope you wanted that girl to be your matron of honor, Melissa, because GMA already made that decision for you. (Also, hope you like hot pink, because your wedding will be drenched in it.) (Okay, I really do hope she likes hot pink; one would hope that the groom and the producers did a little research on that basic matter.)
And throughout all this, Melissa was kind of…shaking. But whatever, the bride will get over it — let's get on with the show.
GMA had everything all figured out: Captain Arnold from something called "Nautical Wedding Bells" would officiate. She would walk down the aisle to the traditional bridal march. Her reception dinner would be at Del Friscos (aka, the restaurant with the really cheesy commercials on NYC taxi tv).
In what might be considered the greatest affront, whether you're sentimental about weddings or not, GMA presented Melissa with four very different dress options based on the random stuff she'd posted to her Pinterest page. Dude. Pinterest dresses mean nothing. Watch one episode of Say Yes to the Dress and you'll know that all those pinned images and magazine tear-outs are rarely indicative of what the bride actually likes when she tries stuff on. But you can't have a flash wedding and let a bride go dress shopping. That takes too long. The key here is FLASH. (Although, the fact that she had a Pinterest page means she knew a proposal was forthcoming, at least, even if she didn't know it was going to be on TV.)
Note that Melissa is pretty much silent at this point.
The fact that Melissa had wedding stuff on her Pinterest page tells us something: She was probably looking forward to some aspect of wedding planning. Hell, she probably even wanted some agency in the whole affair.
Actually, strike all those "probably" ideas and make them "definitely." With 159 pins on her Wedding Day board alone (plus separate boards for rings, hair, and bridal shower ideas), it's safe to assume that Melissa was really fucking excited about her wedding. She wasn't avoiding the bridal industrial complex; she, like many women, was looking forward to it. But she was totally robbed of that experience. Instead, she got to walk down the aisle in a pre-selected dress, presumably without alterations, for all of America to see.
"She may have looked shocked, but she is so overwhelmed and so happy right now," said the matron of honor (who, don't forget, Melissa didn't actually ask to be her MoH). And one doesn't doubt that Melissa was happy; the man she loves just asked her to marry him and she was minutes from becoming his wife. That is cause for joy, sincerely. And yes, the endgame — a happy lifelong partnership — is what matters here. Indeed, Melissa seemed pretty happy by the time vows were exchanged. Not that she had more than twenty minutes to let it all sink in. And maybe, once she's had time to process what just happened, she'll be just as happy. Maybe, despite all that stuff on her Pinterest board, she loved the whole crazy thing.
But. But. The idea that one's wedding day is special, even if it's as low-key as they come, is something deeply ingrained in our culture. As it should be; mutually agreeing to spend your lives together is a big deal, to say the least. Brian and Melissa's wedding may have been special, but probably not the kind of special Melissa was expecting. And it sure as hell wasn't personal. On live television, with Sam Champion tweeting the shit out of it and Josh Eliot giving play-by-plays like a sportscaster of love, how could it be?
Aside from saying yes and picking what to wear from a limited selection of dresses, Melissa had no say in her own wedding.
"It was something that she would want to do," said Melissa's father. Hm. Melissa may be down for any adventure, okay. But unless one lazy Sunday morning in bed, she murmured, "Let's have a flash wedding on national television," this probably wasn't the adventure she actually wanted. But what Melissa wanted wasn't really a factor here. She'll get over it?
There are many types of brides. There are the ones who dream of a princess wedding with an over-the-top dress and 500 guests. There are ones who want their wedding to be the occasion of their own stardom, literally, and throw themselves at the televised altars of Kleinfeld or David Tutera. There are ones who just want a nice, elegant affair, nothing over-the-top or epic. There are ones who want their wedding designed by Etsy and photographed by Instagram. There are ones who just want a nice brunch with close friends. There are ones who don't care for any part of the occasion and head straight to City Hall, sign some paperwork and look forward to their forthcoming tax breaks. And there are a million brides somewhere in between.
But no woman dreams of being rushed into a wedding on Good Morning America.