On Weddings #1 : The Heeby-Jeebies
She answered, "Somebody who doesn't want to be at the wedding?"
(Apparently, dragee is a bit of confectionery, like a sugared almond but not. I was later reminded that at my sister's wedding, they had some chocolate ones covered in gold plate. Or possibly gold-leaf. Either way, they tasted kind of metallic.)
For many years, I had recurring nightmares about being the bride in a traditional straight wedding, which are only partly explained by my subconscious imploring me to leave that relationship. Whilst I deeply regret getting married the first time, I don't regret the way the marriage bit was administered; in secret without romance or ceremony (except as much as is legally necessary). Weddings frightened me.
Five years ago, I wrote:
The traditional wedding is a fantastic manifestation of the traditional inequalities in marriage. Women do all the work; the bride must organise everything, the venue, the decoration, the itinerary, she must appease family members when the political conflicts arise over the seating plan. In many cases, the bride even chooses what the groom is going to wear. And all this for her big day, the happiest day of her life etc., etc.. Meanwhile, the groom is obliged to make a big show of reluctance, stag parties and so on, and turn up to perform his brief role in proceedings somewhat hungover. He gets to speak, of course; whilst the women did all the work, it is the men who get to make the speeches.
It's a horrible caricature, but you have attended this wedding, haven't you? You bought them the hideous vase with the turquoise flowers on, remember?It is a horrible caricature and now I don't think it's fair. I have been to straight weddings a lot like that which nevertheless celebrated basically egalitarian relationships. These events are all about symbol and ceremony, and it is fairly common for people to play a symbolic role that may be a world away from their usual role, just as it is common to dress up in clothes than you'd never normally wear. I have known some formidable matriarchs who originally vowed, "to honour and obey."
"It's your wedding and you can do exactly what you like - we'll support you and help in any way, whatever you decide to do. But..."Among their many suggestions and concerns was the worry that Stephen's parents might be heartbroken if we didn't get married in a Church. There are lots of personal and practical reasons for not doing so, even though Stephen and his family are Christian. We'd talked this through and were sure Stephen's parents would be happy with our plans. My entirely non-religious parents weren't. We listened to and humoured them up to the point where my Dad stated that he knew a Canon who owed him a favour. Seriously. And no, I didn't dare ask.
Then there's noticing things written about weddings and the process of getting married. My rage against groups who think marriage belongs to them has only increased. I notice articles or blog posts extolling the virtues of keeping names or taking someone else's name or combining the two surnames into a new one (our options there would be Welly or Kitehead - we should run an internet poll), all of which strongly imply that there's only one right way. At the time of writing, I think I know what I'll do, but I'm not completely sure. I know, from experience, that whatever I do I will be judged for it.
I also notice products aimed at me, a woman about to get married. Most of these are just excessive and silly, but some, such as Bridal Betty (via Vagenda), are utterly baffling; blue dye for your pubic hair (or down there as the website puts it - it's one thing to sell pubic hair dye, it's quite another to use the word pubic) raises many pressing questions, such as
You get the picture. About weddings, I mean. I got a little distracted by the thought of blue pubes...
Thing is, I think weddings are a fundamentally great thing. It is a public ritual - something we rarely do in this culture - which celebrates love. Not only romantic love, but familial love, friendship, love among a community and sometimes spiritual love (whether expressed in a religious building or not). All these people come together. Families are joined together. There's music, special food, poetry and speeches. Two people declare their love and commitment to each other in front of the other people they love and who love them.
Stephen and I want to celebrate our love in a public way. We have become part of one another's families and have befriended one another's friends. We want to bring the principle players together and celebrate that. We also want the legal and social advantages of being married. Stephen looks really hot in a suit. So we both want a wedding.
But I need to do some working out. And this is where blogging comes in handy!