“Please Don’t Bedazzle That” or “The Wedding Industry Sucks”

Let us just take a moment to bitch about  discuss wedding planning, y’all.

4 months ago, Aaron proposed to me on a residential street corner in South Minneapolis. On a Wednesday evening. It was perfect. I was so excited, I forgot to say ‘yes’ and I grabbed the ring right out of the box to put on my own finger. Classy, I know.

I would love to tell you I am a young woman with so much poise and self-assurance that I could just let things come as they may in terms of planning our wedding. But instead, I am still the 5-year-old who adored Disney princess stories, the 8-year-old who loved to dress up Barbie in the fluffiest, fanciest dresses, the 13-year-old who fantasized about over-the-top celebrations of over-the-top love, the 20something who clung happily to every Hollywood wedding recreation in countless chick flicks. Why don’t any of those chick flicks show the craziness of planning a wedding- the struggles with guest lists, the indecision about whether or not you even have to/want to send a ‘Save the Date’? Because that would classify it as a horror film, not a romantic comedy.

On top of all the years of daydreaming building up in my own head, there is all this pressure from The Wedding Industry. Ugh, The Wedding Industry. The WORST. There are two distinct circles of hell in the wedding industry– The Traditionalists and The Indies.

The Traditionalists are the ones that fill our head with over-the-top expectations. They scream to brides, “It’s your day! Stop at nothing to get everything you want! 400 dozen roses? You can have it! A designer dress for thousands of dollars? It should be yours!” Everywhere you look, The Traditionalists are directing you to create the perfect seating chart, buy your guests monogrammed treat bags with little mass-produced chocolates with the date of your wedding imprinted, matchy-match napkins and a custom dance floor decal, a bedazzled tank top that says BRIDE in glittering gemstones to wear as you get ready that morning, and just… crap. Cheap and hideous crap. To the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.

In direct opposition, The Indies implore you to have a serene backyard ceremony in the woods with 20 close friends and family. The Indies gently whisper, “Walk down the aisle in a vintage gown you found in an Arizona Goodwill. Handcraft some homemade preserves for each guest and hand write a story about the source of the fruit on each jar. Dip dye your invites in organic watercolors and dry them by the light of the sun for 3 days before stamping your custom designed invitation to them with hemp ink and lavender scent.” Everything in The Perfect Indie Wedding is handwritten, custom, ‘shabby-chic,’ unique, thrifted, decorated with farmer’s and flea market finds, and served in a mason jar. To the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. And hundreds of hours sourcing all the perfect vintage crap decor.

I am sometimes stunned that more people do not show up at the courthouse, remnants of some DIY-craft-gone-wrong still hot glued to their hair, and say, “We’re just going to this the simple way.” And yet, I also understand where the desire to plan this big event comes from. My love for Aaron feels like a big event. It feels like a fete with lots of people and cheering and dancing. It does not feel quiet. And, more than anything, I want our day to reflect the way I feel about him. But my love for him does not feel boastful or opulent, either; it is not a glitzy, sparkling top coat that begs to be adored. It is a thread that runs between us, both strong and fragile, and we can feel its tug in the smallest of things– when one texts the other to say there are leftover pancakes in the fridge, when we catch each others’ glance in the gym mirrors, when we argue in the grocery store. Friends, that kind of love doesn’t need fake gemstones or embossed champagne glasses. It doesn’t even need matching bridesmaid dresses. It needs our friends and family to be present and in good health. It needs us to make a commitment to one another. And it needs a fete that is focused on joy and gratefulness, not centerpieces and chair covers.

May the peace and serenity of wedding planning that has come over me today continue to be present in the months to come. May I ignore The Wedding Industry’s desire to take all my money by telling me what I “must have” and instead may I focus on what makes us happy. May I never order candies with an imprint of my face on them. May I never cry in a shopping mall over wedding shoes (again. Don’t ask.). May I ask others for help when I need it and may I take 30 seconds to breathe and ask myself, “Does it even matter?”

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