Ah, weddings. Romantic, right?
Well. . . yes. But they’re also insanely stressful, and end more friendships than divorce (you think I’m joking? I’m not).
Here’s a few photos of the “happiest day of my life” (there are similar ones of the four parents, CJ, and others):
On the up side, sometimes you get amusing photos of your friends that you can pull out unexpectedly to torment them. So that’s a plus.
But most of all, weddings are about family (and stress. Mostly stress – regardless of one’s previous mental state). My sister and I knew we’d probably get married to our respective boys about twelve months before either of us were engaged. We tried for twelve months to space things out, but ultimately we married 33 days apart – which at least showed how genuinely good my Mum and sister are. The only things I truly wanted were CJ (who I got to keep, yay!), some kind of ritual, and to marry in January (long story – we married on January 25).
Since my wedding was before my sister’s, the throwing of the bouquet was (for once) a happy occasion.
My advice to anyone planning to marry: No it isn’t the most important day of your life, nor is it all about you. Never forget that the wedding industry/culture is designed to prey on your emotions (and your mum’s) and trick you into spending more money (chair-wrapping is now, apparently, “traditional”. Think about that. And the diamond engagement ring is a convention invented by diamond sellers. Ugh! I’m proud to say mine is jade AND inherited). Here are your priorities:
1. Don’t screw up your marriage – be good to your fiance as they inevitably panic (regardless of gender). And try not to get into debt, because marriage is hard enough. Your fiance, not your dress/ring/flowers/food/photos, is what you actually want to end up with at the end of the day. The good news is that marriage is worth it!
2. Don’t screw up your relationships with your family or friends – even if they’re being crazy and you want to kill them with a cake fork. It’s a wedding thing, unfortunately, and applies regardless of how selfless and rational they were pre-engagement. Allow at least one illogical demand per person, and find out what the demands are asap (although they’re probably unconsciously held beliefs – they’re the least flexible – so you’ll need to say things like, “Say, outside weddings sure are nice.” before your mum will mention that she believes outside weddings are an offence to God. Because she will think that you already KNOW outside weddings are JUST WRONG). Have at least two back-up dates (mine was my third, and three wasn’t enough), and check them all with the list of people who you feel need to be there.
My advice to friends and family: Duck and cover – or become the bride’s unquestioning minion (I will never stop being grateful to all of mine). And be nice, especially when the bride really needs to be slapped in the face. She’s juggling social expectations, plus scores of family members (at least half of whom she barely knows, and at least 10% of whom will disapprove of everything she does – again, because it’s JUST WRONG). If she says she can’t do what you think should be perfectly simple – believe that it is the literal truth, because sometimes it is. And always remember, she will be herself again LATER.
Personally I’m still going over and over my wedding in my head, trying to find a way of doing it that would have pleased more people – and that’s just within the bridal party (none of whom are unreasonable people). And I still can’t find a way that wouldn’t have had a detrimental effect on my marriage. I did my best; I failed. It happens. Luckily I had a counsellor who realised from a few seconds on the phone with me that I was about to injure myself (for the record, I planned to burn the word “No” onto my skin). I’ve been lost in the third world several times (usually without any knowledge of the local language), I’ve been hungry and alone and trapped with random guys asking me to kiss them (usually when no-one knew what city I was in, and I had no friends within 1000 kilometres), and once or twice I’ve thought I was going to die or be killed – but nothing compares to the stress of weddings. Nothing.
So it took me a while to sort out the wedding photos – to go back into those memories and decide what pictorial story I wanted to record. But it’s done now. And it’s ever so pretty, and it helped me remember the good bits (like, for example, CJ). Best of all, today the many tasks of the wedding are truly finished. (Plus I found $20 in one of the cards. Score!)
Play along at home: Erm. . . do you have travel/wedding/high school/whatever photos in a drawer/computer that you’ve been meaning to deal with? Why not deal with them today?
And here’s your lovely library for this entry. This is taken by Candida Hofer, and published in the Thames&Hudson book on beautiful libraries.