Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Bringing Back the Bride

The flower girl sits down in the middle of the aisle during the processional. One bridesmaid insists on flip-flops instead of heels. The florist shows up – one centerpiece short. Whatever will the bride do? Her perfect day is ruined. At the end of the ceremony, the bride is absolutely ______________.

Hysterical? Devastated? Maybe. But what is she absolutely? Married. Period. No matter what goes wrong, two things are left: the marriage and the pictures. But somehow over the years, society has turned “every little girl’s dream” into everyone else’s nightmare.

Every wedding has a groom, but his spouse’s title varies. If he is marrying a relentless woman in getting what she (and only she) wants, who focuses so much on the wedding that she becomes unbelievably obnoxious and difficult, he’s dealing with Bridezilla. Juggling a Jeckyll and Hyde routine between a traditional bride and Godzilla, she considers herself and her wedding to be more important than anything, including her fiancĂ©, finances, family and friendships.

Reality TV glorifies “bridezillas” who throw tantrums, put their families’ lives on hold, and force their parents to spend more money on a 20 minute ceremony than they spent on her college education. This behavior is not only accepted, but it’s expected.

There’s also the anti-bride – the woman who wants a ceremony that completely shatters society’s preconceived concept of brides and weddings. Goodbye bridal teas, white dresses, and unity candles. Hello whatever random she picks.

The average cost of an American wedding is $28,800 – not including the rings, honeymoon, or wedding planner. (Another point for another article…but I can’t imagine paying for another opinion. I have plenty.) Is this an investment? Perhaps. But Dr. Scott Stanley, author of The Power of Commitment, says 40-50% of young couples who marry will divorce.

As a bride 18 days shy of our (not my) big day, I can clear up the confusion: Too much focus on the wedding. Too little focus on the marriage. For example, Webster’s Dictionary defines a bride as a “newly married woman or a woman about to be married.” Finally – a definition that refers to MARRIAGE!

We’re not the only ones to blame, brides. Daily, we’re asked, “How’s the wedding planning?” But when was the last time someone asked about your preparations for marriage? No wonder we spend more time talking about the font for the invitations than how we will handle finances.

Here’s the bottom line: Divorce is not an option for me. Neither is valuing the wedding over the marriage. So here’s my plan to bring back the bride.

I won’t spend more time dreaming, obsessing, and planning for the wedding than preparing for the marriage. Do I want a wedding or a marriage? Being married is work, and if I’m not willing to put in the effort, I should throw a big party because that’s all I want anyway.

I won’t be the groom. If I trust him to take care of me for the rest of my life, he needs practice. He can pick out the ring, plan a honeymoon, and choose his groomsmen. And if his parents are paying for the rehearsal dinner, it’s up to them.

I won’t be a control freak. I picked a venue, set the date, and put it on my calendar. I selected a florist, chose the flowers, and paid the bill. In other words, I will do my part, delegate, and check it off my list.

I won’t repeat other’s mistakes. I hate paying too much money for an ugly dress I will never wear again. I will choose a color and let my bridesmaids choose a dress they can afford and feel comfortable in.

I will say thank you. And send thank you notes. This is practice for putting someone else above me. Plus, the more grateful I am, the easier I am to work with, and the more others will be willing to help me. I recognize I can’t plan a wedding alone.

I will seek advice from others. I will schedule pre-marital counseling sessions, ask questions of those who have marriages I respect, and read any marriage materials recommended.

I will expect imperfection. Something will go wrong. Guaranteed. The only thing you can control is how you will respond. I can cry and make my mascara run, or I can smile, knowing I will laugh about it eventually.

I will eat, rest, and enjoy. Crash diets, lack of sleep, and stress will leave me unhealthy and unhappy. This is supposed to be the happiest day of my life. I can’t be a good wife if I’m sick and worn out.

I realize keeping these guidelines will ruin my chances of being a reality TV star. America won’t be captivated by my fits or my dad’s checkbook. No one will fidget impatiently through a commercial break to see if my fiancĂ© follows through with his threat to call off the wedding. I won’t get the satisfaction of the shock factor when I walk down the aisle in a cowboy hat instead of a veil. But I guarantee that I will cherish my marriage ‘til death do us part.

Take that, Bridezilla. You too, Anti-Bride.


Ally said...

Thank you for this post. I'm getting married in May and it's been hard to keep focused squarely on the marriage instead of the wedding day. I'm going to send this blog to friends and family. It was really uplifting to me.

Michelle Myers said...

I'm so glad you were encouraged. It's been almost 6 months since James and I got married, and I'm very glad I was more prepared to be a wife than I was a bride. Marriage will be the biggest blessing for you - as long as you do it God's way. Congratulations - I said a prayer for you and your husband-to-be today!