Has Wedding-Bashing Jumped The Shark?

Illustration for article titled Has Wedding-Bashing Jumped The Shark?

Today on The Smart Set, Jessa Crispin mounts a critique of a pair of books, Susan Squire's I Don't: A Contrarian History of Marriage and Rebecca Mead's One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding, both of which set out to expose the marriage industry for the patriarchally-based, commercial brain-wash that it is. Crispin feels that neither of the books really does much beyond the superficial to really redress the situation, beyond pointing up the obvious: lots of the traditions underlying weddings are either rooted in something offensive or crass products of the wedding industry; weddings are out of control (Bridezillas, anyone?) and people feel immense pressure to shell out for the myth of the perfect day, which obviously has nothing to do with the reality of marriage. Yes, we get it: weddings suck. Lots of people have misplaced priorities and spend money on stupid things. But "weddings" are an easy target: they're easy to mock because even at their most earnest they're based on optimism, and that's easy to disparage. But choosing to have a wedding is valid, people! I'm excited to get married. And I don't think admitting that makes me a dupe or a lesser feminist.Okay, I should back up here and admit that when I say "wedding" I'm not exactly Modern Bride-ing it up here. Being broke takes care of that, and my parents eloped themselves. By "wedding" I mean a few kegs of PBR and some friends playing old timey music in a warehouse. So, no, it kind of has nothing to do with the tulle-fests these books and this blogger are critiquing. But I guess that's kind of my point: sometimes it seems like "wedding" has become a dirty word, inseparable from the consumer-driven mayhem that is "the wedding industry." Yes, pressure to shell out for chafing dishes and rented chairs and satin pillows for some terrified toddler to tote down an elaborately-decorated aisle sucks. But I like to think that not everyone who chooses (again, chooses ) to celebrate in a more elaborate and traditional way can do so without it overshadowing the point of the wedding or without turning into some kind of white-gowned cartoon virago with dollar signs in her eyes. And sometimes it seems like weddings are becoming the new "50s suburbia" - easy to mock and stereotype and shorthand for a certain shallow sort of evil banality that's the antithesis of intellectual rigor. Yeah, the women on Bridezillas are out of control - so are 90% of the people on reality TV. But I can honestly say that I've never felt the slightest societal pressure to do anything I didn't want to do, and while I'm probably fortunate in my friends and family in this regard, I think this truly is an age of options: to stay single, to stay coupled, to marry, and none of this should require justification. Forgive me my rant, friends, but I do feel that, ironically, this whole anti-wedding backlash is starting to undermine my sense of choice as surely as does the pressure to wear white. And to paraphrase a recent Brizezilla, "I'm the one getting married so everyone has to listen to me!" Marrying Type [The Smart Set]



THANK YOU SADIE!! I completely agree. I'm a relative newly-wed (a year in October) and that I am automatically lumped in with crazy people who train doves to place a 17 carat diamond ring on their fingers as Stevie Wonder croons a song they comissioned for the "special day" makes me really angry.

I'm a hardline feminist, I married a hardline feminist, I wanted a wedding. Done. No judgements required. Anyone who goes on about "you can't be a good feminist and get married because it's a tradition seeped in misogyny" need look at this same argument for "can you be a good feminist and be religious?" from a couple weeks ago.