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We’re All Mad Here: On ‘Un-weddings’ and Forging a New Wedding Culture

 “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?” –Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

A very merry un-wedding. That is what I am going to call it from now on.

I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum, and I suspect my lovely fiancé has always done the same. Or maybe we are just contrarians living in our own wonderland — which is also very likely the case. In any event, our un-wedding is going to be…different.

But, as I am beginning the initial planning stages of what our un-wedding might be like, I have really started to wonder:

What’s the price that we are  paying for weddings in this age of conspicuous consumption?

And I don’t mean the monetary price.

Weddings have become commodities. And who can blame us for wanting to take a drink of the white silk taffeta wedding Kool-aid? Celebrity gossips rags inundate us with the latest wedding news. Celebrities sell their wedding pictures for hundreds of thousands of dollars because there is a market for them. Kim Kardashian’s infamous televised wedding garnered record viewers. Can’t just blame Kim K., folks — we were the ones setting our DVRs. We buy the gossip mags. Heck, celebrity gossip even appears in the New York Times. Let’s face it, we like this stuff.

Likewise, wedding websites allow us to endlessly consume wedding details to our heart’s content – satiating our appetite for a glimpse into an “ideal” affair, a fairytale ending. While those pictures are pretty, I think that by over-saturating culture with a curated wedding world, we lose sight of what makes marital unions truly special in the first place.

Let’s think about the impact of media imaging in another way. Did you know that there are over 100 published studies on the impact of ‘thin’ perfected body images on girls and women? (There are a number on the impact on men, too.)  According to nationaleatingdisorders.org, evidence has found that exposure to thin-ideal images taken directly from fashion magazines produced significant increases in self-reported depression, stress, guilt, shame, insecurity and body dissatisfaction relative to women exposed to images of average-weight women from magazines. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many studies like that.

Undeniably, media’s (this includes internet) saturation of what is “ideal” – be it a Victoria’s Secret model, or Mario Lopez shirtless on the cover of People, or a wedding featured on StyleMePretty – has a significant detrimental impact on cultural consciousness.

So, here on WelcometoAdulthood, I am going to provide a counter-discourse about weddings. I’m not sure how I am going to do it yet, but I am setting out to do something big. Something big and something that makes people feel great and empowered, not that makes people feel less-than. Here on WelcometoAdulthood we shall forge a new reality. This is a reality which is wholly constituted by us, not by the media and by those who profit from the wedding industry, and this new reality will forever impact the cultural conception of what a wedding is: a union of mutual love and commitment between any two adults (note the very deliberate use of the world adult here, rather than ‘man and woman’), an acknowledgement from the community that it will support the couple on their life path, and a legal contract between these two committed adults. And all the unique joy that follows.  The joy that follows is the best part! Union+joy first, aesthetics second (or maybe somewhere like 7th or 8th.)

Impossible, you say?

Well, in Alice’s words, “Sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

[photo by Jill_M_Casey via Flickr.]

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6 Responses to “We’re All Mad Here: On ‘Un-weddings’ and Forging a New Wedding Culture”

Author comments are in a darker gray color for you to easily identify the posts author in the comments

  1. The Fiancé says:

    you know, it’s things like this manifesto that make me jump-on-the-couch in love with you 🙂

  2. Kevin Robertson says:

    Mara,
    I’m going to leave the couch jumping to others, but I also love where you’re going with this. My latest passion is http://www.heartofleadership.com, an organization dedicated to helping young women be leaders and free thinkers, just like you are!

    Kevin

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Nice post. As someone who was recently married, I know well how easy it is to get caught up in the frenzy of wedding magazines, blogs, and “real” celebrity weddings and think that your wedding has to be some version of the same – dress, flowers, dinner, dancing, ceremony, toasts, etc. – that is considered “a wedding” in this day and age (and part of the world). However, I think that the most special weddings are the ones that are a true celebration of the union of two individuals, not some fairytale ideal. I salute your effort Mara, and I know that your un-wedding is going to be wonderful!

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