I suppose I’m at the age when weddings are becoming a bit of a regular occurrence.
Whilst they have all been absolutely heavenly and divine (so please, brides, be chill) – there has been some elements that really didn’t change.
The bride was nervous. The bill was huge. The vows were awkward. The first dance was even more awkward.
So, as I slink quietly in the back entrance of the Grown Up Adult stage of my life, I’ve really got thinking: not just about weddings in general, but about what I personally would want if, when, and how I got hitched.
Surely, there’s got to be a better way?
I have noted, with an arched brow and sense of unease, that I am developing feelings about marriage. Strong feelings. FANTASIES. White dresses and floral arbours and big f*cking shiny diamonds. What is this? Do these feelings subside? What is happening to me?!
But beneath the hysterical chants of ‘Vera Wang, Vera Wang, Vera Wang’ looping through my head, there is something more prolific: I think I want more.
I think I want a wedding that isn’t about money, or looks, or alternate chicken/beef dinner drops… I want a wedding about love.
Here’s some of our Mamamia staff’s biggest wedding regrets. Post continues after video…
Columnist and comedian Catherine Deveny has always tap danced around my radar as one of those clever women that you cannot help but admire – and her wedding this month was no exception.
Oh, sorry, I shouldn’t call it a ‘wedding’. It was a LOVE PARTY. Non-denominational and non-legal, it was a colourful celebration in front of family friends between two people who were, irrevocably, head over heels in love.
“On March 6th 2016 Sparkle and Bear (Catherine Deveny and Anthony Artmann) had a Love Party, a wedding with no god and no government. We were in love when we were 18 (1987) and fell back in love 23 years later in 2010.”
As I scrolled through the photos of the “…90 kilo, 47 year old bride in a $260 dress on a bike” I felt a little flutter in my stomach.
This – this crazy, happy, colorful wedding – this was what I wanted in marriage.
Absent were the anxiety-inducing elements that tormented me at the idea of traditional weddings: you know, the separation between the bride and groom beforehand, the months of brutal dieting, and the horror of saving thousands upon thousands of dollars for a single day.
(A day in which I was unlikely to eat the food, enjoy the booze, or actually be able to breathe in my frock…)
As Catherine so proudly announced on her website, there were, “No Spanx, no fake tan, no dieting, no botox, no fillers, no gifts, no seating plan, no name changing, no marriage.”
I love it.
And it would appear she is not alone, with the rise of the ‘non-wedding’ becoming a major trend among brides young and old.
The stresses and limitations of the traditional religious wedding – churches, vows, promises of forever (ever…ever…can you hear that echo?) – well, it freaks people out.
Young women like myself want flexibility, not the promise of male ownership that once gave brides an overriding sense of safety. We have our own income, our own friends, our own dreams. Life and sex and love and messy beds and careers – it’s all different now.
So doesn’t marriage deserve a different approach?
Mamamia’s own Alex Greig has quite the wedding story of her own.
Eloping in NYC unabashedly for visa reasons, she wore a $17 dress and carried flowers from a bodega.
“Earlier that day, the ILotD and I had taken the A train to downtown Manhattan and, as if in a big, loved-up RTA, we’d gotten a number at City Hall and taken our place among adorable, identically-dressed gay couples, Latina brides with 17 bridesmaids and one bride wearing what can only be described as formal hotpants – all waiting to get married.”
Now back in Australia, Alex and her husband are planning a ‘proper’ wedding for family and friends – but the fact remains, the big vows were said in sandals and glasses, with a slice of pizza eaten on the curb to celebrate.
Just two people in love.
I guess it all comes down to our perception of romance.
For some, that well-organised, storybook progression of first dates, Valentine’s Day, shock proposals, and rose petals is their idea of love. And that’s ok.
But for kid raised on Anais Nin and Joan Didion and Patti Smith, my version of love has to be beyond the saccharin happy snaps, and exist as something that’s real.
I love the twisted and messy love stories, the ones that connect two lives like twisted roots on a tree: the first time you cried in front of them, the first time your farted in front of them, the moment you realised you could hardly breathe at the thought of you being apart.
So I’ve always a figured I would need something ‘different’ for my wedding, if I ever got married at all.
The aptly named, ‘Offbeat Bride’ website is full of suggestions when it comes to planning a ‘non-wedding’. Reader Gwen wrote in with the following question for the readers:
“….Getting married has never been a priority or dream for me, so I don’t really care about not getting married. I have, however, been thinking about alternate ceremonies where we could invite friends to symbolize our commitment without the legal aspect. I’d like to know about non-wedding commitment ceremonies we could couple with a party.”
The suggestions are beautiful. There’s simple unity ceremonies, non-legal vow exchanges, handfasting ceremonies, and even just simple ‘say nice things to each other’ rituals. I like that one.
Falling in love is a rare thing. Falling in love, and deciding that you want to commit yourself to someone wholly and completely and tell the whole world about it? Well, that’s ever rarer again. And it’s for that reason that a ‘ceremony’ of sorts feels important.
Traditional marriage isn’t really my bag. But celebrating love really is.