No, I don’t have it.
But it is the time of year when everyone you know seems to be getting engaged. And everyone seems to be talking about weddings: their own, their friend’s, their co-worker’s, their mailman’s, it’s everywhere. Between listening to a lot of wedding conversation and watching a lot of wedding themed t.v. I’ve become aware of a rather unnerving trend in brides-to-be. Somewhere between Saying ‘Yes’ to The Dress and being a Bridezilla we have decided that a wedding day is all about the bride. We are saturated with the idea that a woman’s wedding day is a day for her to be a princess. And those people attending your nuptials? As one Bridezilla so aptly put it, “They’re just lucky to be invited to my day.”
In my opinion, a wedding should be the first big party you and your partner throw together. It is your societal debut as a married pair. It is not a day for everyone to bow and scrape at the altar of the all powerful wedding princess. My opinions on weddings aside, I think it’s important to examine what wedding themed reality shows are selling us, aside from over-priced ballgowns.
Lesson 1: The Dress Trumps All
Spend five minutes watching Say Yes to the Dress(Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta), I Found The Gown, or My Fair Wedding and it will become apparent that your wedding day will be garbage if you don’t have the perfect dress. You should be willing to do whatever it takes to find the one, gown, that is. If you need to drag your bridal party around to 20 different stores, do it. If you need to go over your budget, do it. If you need to fly across the country just to visit an “elite” bridal salon, fucking do it. It is not enough for you to simply ‘like’ your wedding dress, you must love it as much as, or more than, you love your partner. Each of the aforementioned t.v. shows employs a parade of experts to bombard customers, and viewers, with ideas of “the perfect dress” and alludes to the magical “it” factor that one will surely feel when wearing THE dress. It is perhaps unnecessary to mention that THE dress is rarely ever found in a bargain basement. It is often the newest Lazaro or Pnina Tornai gown, which the bride can seldom afford. The hype these t.v. shows place on finding THE gown is a neat and tidy way of superimposing issues of class and classism onto one’s wedding. While the perfect gown is not always the most expensive gown, the idea of more money being synonymous with a better dress is certainly a dominant, if unspoken, theme. The assumption is as follows: the amount of money you are willing to spend on a dress is directly proportional to the amount of love you have for your partner. If you loved your partner as much as you claim to, you wouldn’t balk at spending whatever amount necessary to ensure you have THE gown.
Lessons 2: Who Needs a Groom?
For as much hype and importance as wedding shows tend to place on finding the perfect wedding dress, almost no mind is paid to the groom unless he is being used as the bride’s whipping boy (Bridezillas) or as complicit in the ruining of the relationship (Shedding for The Wedding). Once the cursory introductions are made, wedding shows tend to focus exclusively on the bride and her wedding which makes it that much easier to perpetuate the myth that the wedding is “all about me.” Where brides are often referred to by their names, grooms will be referred to only as “the groom” or “her fiance'” reaffirming that they are mere accessories in a woman’s wedding. Indeed, whenever a groom wants to be more involved with the planning of the wedding he is painted to be a micro-manager, or a usurper trying to steal his bride’s thunder. On My Fair Wedding, host David Tuttera has referred to one “overly involved” groom as a “groomzilla.” By relegating the men to the same importance as say, the table linen, it implies that they are interchangeable. That one face in a monkey suit is the same as any other, so long as there’s a body to meet at the altar the identity is unimportant. Which leads into the third and final lesson…
Lesson 3: It’s All About Me If you were to turn on an episode of Bridezillas and take a shot every time a bride-to-be announced that “it’s my day,” you would be under the table in less than ten minutes. And while Bridezillas is intended to showcase very bad bridal behavior, the bride-centric theme pervades other, more polite wedding shows. The wedding day is rarely ever referred to as “our day” or “our fairytale moment,” it is almost always “my day,” “my fairytale,” or “my time to be a princess.” Showcasing this selfish behavior encourages viewers to believe that being a bride means getting everything you want, or at least acting as though you should. Spoiled, ungrateful behavior has become de rigueur for brides-to-be, while the bridal party is forced to shoulder unrelenting bridal abuse. Of course not every bride acts like a spoiled child, but many of the women featured on wedding shows do.
In conclusion, I remain hopeful that not everyone is blindly absorbing the poisonous messages transmitted by many reality wedding programs. In the meantime, I’ll wait for this year’s wedding fever to break.