Friday, January 21, 2005

"Running of the Brides"

This is just embarrassing. When I was getting married, I was on the look out for bargains. I bought my wedding dress at a consignment shop for $200 and was very happy with it. (Just this last year, trying on wedding dresses at Goodwill for my Hallowe'en costume I was admonished by a strange woman that I couldn't buy a used wedding dress. Not that it was any of her business. And not that I hadn't already done it and have had a happy marriage for almost 12 years now. Luck shmuck. You make your own luck) And I understand how someone would want to get a good deal on something that can be outrageously expensive: the wedding dress.

Just now on CNN they showed the above footage of an Atlanta store that offers dresses at something like a 75% discount with brides racing, pushing, and literally screaming as they ran into the store through a banner and I'm sure pushed and pulled frantically to find their "dream dress." The anchors playfully joked about how dangerous the place must have been. Yes, it looked like people were having fun, and there were a couple of grooms in there. In fact, late in the video there is a man running with "swishy" hands screaming and making fun of the whole thing with a big grin on his face. BUT the anxiety clear on the faces of many of the brides shows how seriously they took this event, how important this dress thing is to them. For the majority of the women, it was NOT a laughing matter.

Okay, fine. Let's not focus on our marriage, our spouse to be, but on the dress we'll wear. The issue is somewhat humiliating, and has granted me a rant for the day.

This is all part of the Cinderella syndrome. Even Cathy the cartoon strip is going through the same issue right now-- perpetually worried neurotic Cathy is finally getting married, and very day there's a wedding cliche played out in the comic, supposedly for funny effect. We saw Monica on Friends go insane, (and drive her friends that way too) with a huge scrapbook of the "dream wedding" plans she had been making since she was a little girl. Many women seem to think that on their wedding day everything must be PERFECT and they have to live a fairy tale, or else life is just not worth living. It's a major cause of anxiety and debt.

Is it just me, or is this a really sick precedent? A wedding is a really special moment, but middle-class people spend sometimes as much as 50 grand on weddings-- FOR ONE DAY. It can be just as special for a heckuva lot less money. Don't even get me started on what rich folks pay. Little girls should not be raised with the idea that the most important day of their entire life will be the wedding day. Yes, it's a big event. But I see it as a lot like "The Prom"-- you get a nice dress, you have some nice food and pictures, and the rest of your life and marriage is what is important. The MARRIAGE-- that is what is the most important thing. NOT the dress, the cake, the flowers. Not even the tiara.*

I don't mean to belittle or insult anyone's dreams by any means--but reasonableness really needs to prevail here. For the price of many folks' single day, one can put a substantial down payment on one's first house! Or put aside money for one's children's education! Or even go on a long vacation! To freakin' Europe for weeks!! Andrew bought me my first car with part of the money we could have spent on a fancy wedding. And we still had enough money in bonds to save to buy our first rental property, which we still have invested and is still making us money.

I just can't believe this sort of mindset still exists and is thought to be a quirky human interest story where women race screaming and pushing into a store FOR A DRESS. A Thing. A pretty dress is nice, yes, but you could get married in a pair of cutoff shorts and a sparkly tube top (and if you do, please please please invite me to the wedding.) :) The dress has nothing to do with your marriage; it's a fun part of a fun ceremony, but not something worth devoting this much energy to. I was both embarrassed and saddenend by this story, and the attitude about how women have or have not come so far in the last 30 years.

My wedding probably cost a total of about 5,000, and I had a very nice, small, simple wedding with family & friends. I was very happy with it, and lucky to have a sister who was a catering person who got some great deals on the equipment and prepared all the food for me (which was low-key anyway.) I've been to some extravagant wonderful weddings in my time, and they were really neat. But even those were just one day in the life of the couple. The rest of the days are the important part, and I guess my concluding moral is that if you can't afford the dress of your dreams, perhaps your dreams are beyond your means. My friend with the extravagant wedding could afford to spend more-- she didn't have to belittle herself racing screaming into a store for the amusement of the cameras, standing in line for hours, for a dress at 75% off.

I, with lesser means for the wedding, bought a used dress, not a used husband. The "bad" or "good luck" comes from your choice of mate, not your choice of a dress. (Besides, the wedding dress as we know it is a Victorian custom. It's certainly NOT something that is ageless and timeless. A tradition from the same people who renamed a male chicken "rooster" cause they didn't want to say "cock," and who put skirts on table legs so that one wouldn't become aroused by looking at the feet/legs of your dining set. We really should take all the Victorian traditions to heart. Yeah.)

Don't be part of the running of the brides. (Where, if you check your metaphor, you will realize that the comparison being made here is to the running of the bulls, where the bulls=brides, or a raging mindless animal who is about to be killed on a sword in a bullfight is compared to a bride.) Have some dignity. Plan a wedding within your means, and then focus on getting to know your spouse so that you're not part of the 50% of marriages that end. And for the goddess's sake, save me a piece of wedding cake.

*And for a drag queen crow who loves sparklies like me to say this, you gotta know something is serious. :)

Also published at Kim Procrastinates

No comments: