Should We Ban Weddings?

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When does planning a wedding stop being about competition and start being about the romance between two people?
Image: Moth_ladder via Reddit

There has been a lot in the news about weddings lately. Whether it’s the horrific story of the newlywed bride who fatally pushed her brand new husband off a cliff or a photo of a college student pointing a finger-gun to her head after three friends got engaged, it’s sure kept us busy. Oh, and let’s not forget the “Why Marriage Isn’t For You” guy, who truly knows how to hook an audience with a misleading title.

The first two stories don’t make marriage look so hot—or more accurately, they don’t make weddings look so hot. Last week Valerie Alexander posted an article on the Huffington Post entitled “Let’s Ban Weddings and, While We’re at It, Baby Showers Too.” In the article, Alexander talks about how overly-glamorized weddings have become as celebrations—not of a mature love, but of getting to be a bride.

Reading the article brings on mixed feelings. On one hand, it’s hard not to agree that lots of people get married before they are ready and for many of the wrong reasons. Instead of a celebration of love and commitment, the wedding becomes a competition for who had the best caterer, the most glamorous dress, and the most enviable location. It sucks up tens of thousands of dollars of the couple’s, their family’s, and their guests’ money. And it’s frustrating when so many of those marriages end just a few years later.

Alexander argues that it’s silly to make weddings the pinnacle of achievement for women—and I’d have to agree. Things like graduating from college, getting your first “big girl” job, and getting promoted should certainly be more important in society—but they don’t come with any of the same “glam” that weddings do. Instead, the “achievement” women are taught to be most proud of is snagging a guy, getting married, and popping out a few kids. Something’s wrong with that picture. Okay, a lot of things are wrong with that picture.

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Would banning weddings help us focus on more important things?
Image: Melvin E via Flickr CC

But, on the other hand, if there’s one thing worth celebrating, it’s love. There can never be too much love in the world, and to me, that’s what a wedding should be all about. It’s about falling deeply in love with someone and being willing to share your life with that person. It’s about accepting someone new into your family and becoming part of another. And there’s nothing wrong with celebrating that.

It’s true, unfortunately, that too much time, effort, and money goes into celebrating the experience of being a bride rather than of being in love. It’s true that this shouldn’t overshadow other major life achievements.

Alexander asks, “what if, as a society, we celebrated other milestones instead? Wouldn’t it be amazing if college graduations were given the wedding treatment? If the commencement ceremony included a $3,000 dress and a $70-a-plate dinner for friends and family who came in from all over the country? Photographers, flowers, dancing, a band? ‘You’ve got to see my graduation video. It was so beautiful!’ What would be the outcome if little girls had 32 television shows to watch about that? Would that give them something else to aspire to? To dream about?”

To that, I say simply, yes. But, it is up to us as individuals to make those sorts of things start happening. I don’t think that we need to replace wedding celebrations, but rather help these other occasions rise up to their own levels of awesomeness. There are many things women can hope for and achieve in life, and we should never stop celebrating that.

I’ll leave you with one more insightful tip from Alexander:

“Choose the man who will take care of the laundry and change the baby’s diapers when you’ve got the flu, rather than the one who spent a month choreographing his proposal so that the video of it would go viral,” she writes. “Understand what you’re getting into and put your energy into planning your union, not planning your wedding. That’s the key to a happy marriage and a happy life.”

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