Thursday, February 18, 2010

On Weddings as a Tool for Self-Expression

I've finally figured out wedding planning's dirty little secret - that it doesn't become our lives because the day "has to be perfect". It becomes our lives because it's the easiest way to express who we are. Everything else about our lives is about work, about TV or books or whatever, about exercise, about what to eat and what to do and what is fun and what isn't fun but has to get done. We get sold on this idea that the day is "all about you" and you can use it to represent your values, your ideas, even your favorite colors. In theory, it's all fun - it's all about the fun. It's a big giant party, and even though the tasks to plan it suck sometimes, the party, the ceremony, the love, the commitment, it's all about love and it's all about fun. And it's all about you and the person you love most in the world.  

But then, once you buy into expressing yourself, the flood starts.  It comes up time and time again on the inspiration boards. "Turtles are important to Tina and Greg, both Maryland Grads, so they rode live tortises to their reception and gave a donation to Save-the-Turtles in honor of the guests." "Bethany and Bruce wanted to combine their two favorite colors - hers, purple, and his, chartreuse, and the result is spectacular."  "Mandy and Madeline wanted to showcase their talents, so Mandy handpainted each guests champagne glass and Madeline sang a soulful ballad about lesbian love in Texas."  There are just these weddings that have so much love, so much work, so much of each person poured into it, like if you don't use your wedding to express every inch of who you are, while still making it pretty, it just won't be special.  

I'm starting to crack under all of this pressure, I will admit.  The centerpieces have to be right!  They have to be the perfect expression of who we are!  The buffet must include all of our favorite foods!  I must show our guests that I'm creative and crafty and can do it all myself!  I must prove to them that I am worthy of Mark's love and that he has a reason for marrying me!  And woe is the man who gets stuck with a wife who would dare put centerpieces on the table that are too small, or not colorful enough!  

I may have had a slight breakdown in Michael's last weekend about centerpieces.  I looked at all the candles, I looked at the rocks, the moss, the fake moss, the flowers, and nothing felt RIGHT.  Nothing felt US enough.  It wasn't a total expression of our love!  

You know what is us? Not caring about centerpieces.  Most nights we sit on the couch and eat dinner and the Tivo remote is our centerpiece. Now we have a table.  Our centerpiece is our laptops that we pile in the middle of the table to get out of the way of our food.  And I suspect that this is a lot of our friends lives as well.  So why do I feel this pressing need to not only make the centerpieces, but to make them somehow reflect us?  Same with the table names.  Same with the flowers.  Same with the food. There are SO MANY choices and we might pick the WRONG ONE!!!!!  

And as much as I do believe in making the right choices, I'm going to try, very very hard, to remember: there is no wrong choice here.  The only wrong choice is any kind of plant that attracts mosquitoes.  Whatever choice we make, it doesn't matter if it doesn't express us enough.  They will be the centerpieces that are there and man, I hope our guests are occupied enough with food and dancing to care as little as I do these days.  


  1. I say, don't worry about whether or not the centerpieces are the perfect expression of you as a couple. I mean, really, can a centerpiece REALLY express how much you love one another, explain your entire personalities, or the type of relationship you have? If it can, that's gotta be quite the centerpiece. But that's a lot of pressure for a vase and some flowers.
    Although this is a slightly depressing thought for those of us who pour themselves into planning every little detail of our wedding, but half the people in the room (mostly men) won't even notice the centerpieces. And the people who do notice them will probably think something along the lines of "oh, that's really pretty" and then move on with their lives. As brides, we spend months scrutinizing over minute details when, like you said, guests will be more occupied eating and dancing than they will be with the decor.
    Having said that, you're definitely not alone in the breakdown department. My last one was caused by the thought that some gorgeous floral napkins wouldn't go with the centerpieces we'd already bought. Okay, it wasn't entirely about that, there was some emotional baggage hiding behind it, but still, I feel so stupid at those moments.

  2. Amen. There IS no wrong choice. As my wedding approached, I went into total "good enough" mode. These earrings I just bought? Eh, they're not perfect, but they're good enough. The tent fits on the lawn in that spot? Well, it's not exactly what I thought I wanted, but it's good enough. There's nothing wrong with that. It's normal and it will keep you sane.

    I think one of the things I struggled with most in the early stages of planning was the bit of advice that your wedding should reflect who you are. I originally felt this pressure to create creative centerpieces and novel programs that expressed who we were as a couple. This just seemed silly. In the long run, I've realized that our wedding was about who we were based on the decisions we made: as many local vendors as possible, beautiful hymn singing, crossword puzzles on the tables, simple flowers, veggie food, etc. Don't let the pressure get you. Your wedding will be unique regardless, b/c it is you and your fiance getting married. Not anyone else. Remember: good enough is just fine.

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  4. This is not an ode to fucking ribbons. See? Totally in the clear


  5. I just stumbled across your blog, and I have to say HELL YEAH to this post. It's interesting - I've been so determined to avoid the typical kind of wedding and make it express us as a couple, include only stuff that's meaningful, be really craft, be really unique... But now I'm feeling pressure from the other side. Like my wedding needs to be super unique and super crafty and be the kind of wedding people blog about wistfully, and if it doesn't achieve this it fails in its purpose. Which is stupid, because the purpose of a wedding isn't actually self-expression or looking fab in photos at all.