Oh, did I say I wasn’t going to write about the wedding for weeks? Well, ok. I lied.
Slogging through the madness that is Google search results for wedding questions, I found eastsidebride pretty early in this crazy process, and was like “Great! I’ll just read this! It’s sane!” You have to understand that I am someone who never “daydreamed” about getting married, absolutely never thought I would, and the first thing my late grandmother said when we told her we were engaged was; “YOU are going to make HER settle down?”
So I was at a loss, a major loss. I knew I didn’t want anything traditional, and wanted to avoid the Martha-madness, but through people wanting to help and sending 239487290 links to “real weddings,” I fell into the sordid world of MAJOR WEDDING BLOG CRAZYTOWN.
These weddings are insane. Insane. They’re huge and expensive and over-planned and crazy and oppressive and weird. It makes me feel panicky to look at them, at rows of banquet tables (which always freak me out anyway,) matched floral arrangements, skinny blonde people in the same somewhat awkward wedding photo poses. The budget ones are not budget, at all. They do not speak to me, or reflect what I want out of a celebration, and yet, it gets under my skin and makes me doubt my own decisions. And it makes me bemoan my inability to wear a Galliano gown to my wedding.
Luckily in the last week I came across the lovely blog A Practical Wedding, which is sense making and seems like a nice community of women all in somewhat similar boats.
Which is when I realized: Oh my gosh, I’m part of this THING. There’s something about finding a group of women who are all going through the same nerves and pressures and stress and elation and heart-bursty feelings that I am right now.
Human beings create groups, we create meaning around rituals in our life. As much as the wedding industry exists to Make Money (& mind you, it’s happymaking that tiny studios and artisans are now getting a slice of this pie with the indie wedding trends – if people HAVE the cash to spend, at least they’re going handmade!) it also exists because People Want Ceremony.
And if you can get past that pressure to spend, to be blog-perfect, skinny, with everything perfectly matched and letter pressed and in place for your wedding day, there’s something much bigger here, something that isn’t about historical marriage (which makes my skin crawl) or straight marriage or anything related to the social mores or deranged “values” of marriage.
It’s ritual. It’s the need we have, as people, to celebrate the highs of our family-tribe together. When I started seriously thinking about eloping, the one thing I kept coming back to was a mental image of my grandmother sitting at a picnic table in my woods, like she was waiting for me. I miss her so much every day, and I wish she could be there, so I thought maybe it was just me missing her.
So I thought about eloping, of how it was just about the 2 of us getting married, how we didn’t need a party or some expensive day to make that happen.
What I realized, though, was that with all the death and funerals and low-point-of-the-cycle-of-life ceremonies this year, my family-tribe NEEDS a wedding, needs something bigger than an announcement or an elopement, needs to get together and feel love together and eat and talk and be in my woods, my woods that feels more healing and amazing and magical than almost anywhere I’ve been, and that the image of my grandmother sitting there is almost a beacon or a direction for me.
The rituals in modern life have become so entirely hijacked by consumerism that with life, birth, new families, love – these major milestones are marked more by spending than by celebration, true elated celebration. I love the concept of these pregnancy blessing parties where women string beads and think positive thoughts rather than bring diapers in the shape of cakes. And I love the idea of a wedding that knows it’s a ritual, and not a photo shoot, and respects that. I love the idea of reclaiming ritual away from capitalism, and that’s not “indie” or “budget”: it’s primal and true existence.
In a few months I’ll be going home to have a ceremony around my grandmother’s ashes. I’m terrified, in a way, of this ritual, of saying goodbye. But I’ll do this my way as well, howling into the sea, and then carrying the overwhelming love and celebration of her life with me, knowing she will be there in spirit.
And as I continue to mark my life with the rituals & love that we often overlook in favor of “fitting in” or being swayed by capitalism, I’ll remember why.