How “all about the bride” is not about the bride at all

Guest post by EMedKC
Photo by Wild About You Photography

I first noticed it when my best friend got married.

She was super-invested in the wedding, the gathering of friends, the party, the fun — but not the details, and really not the planning. It's not her style. And yet, at her rehearsal, the chaplain said, “We will all stay here until we get things right and, most importantly, the bride is happy.”

“The Bride” shrugged as if to say “I'm not the one you need to please,” and the chaplain looked almost offended.

Later that evening, I referred to her as “the bride.” She sighed and said “I can't wait until next week when I can just be me again.” I never called her “the bride” again, but I didn't really get it.

Now I'm “the bride.” Now I get it.

I knew going into wedding planning that there would be a lot of cooks in the kitchen, so to speak, and that my fiance and I would have to fight for what we wanted. Don't get me wrong, I have an “it takes a village” mentality toward weddings, and I am delighted to compromise, sacrifice, and juggle to make a large number of people happy. But we knew there would be a few things where we just couldn't compromise and would have to put our collective foot down. I offered, early on, to be the bad guy in these situations, since I could just say “I'm the bride, and this is what I want.”

Turns out, no one cares if I'm the bride unless I want what “the bride” is supposed to want in their minds. “I” have been erased from the process.

Let me give you some examples…

We are having two children (niece and nephew) in our ceremony, and I have learned that I have family members who believe that children are a distraction in a ceremony because “they take attention away from the bride, and it's the bride's day.” “I'm the bride!” I protest, “and I want children in my wedding.” I am met with blank stares.

Or how about the time I said I'd be more comfortable doing my own makeup? “Oh, but you must have it done professionally, all eyes will be on you! It's all about you.” “Yeah, and I can do my own makeup better than some professionals and want to look like myself.” “But you're the bride, you have to get your makeup done!”

Or “we are going to have boardgames at the wedding.” “But, this is your day, why would you want anything to distract from that?” “Because I love board games and will want to play them.” “No, everyone wants to watch you dance. It's your day!”

In short, “my day” (a phrase I hate anyway since it takes at least two to get married) is being morphed into something that has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with other people's preconceptions of what a bride wants.

I'm not surprised that people balk at the more creative, anti-Wedding Industry Complex ideas. But when it gets to the point that I tell them what I — the bride — wants, and they say “but the bride can't want that,” then it's clearly not about me.

It's about pretending to put me — put any woman — on a pedestal while we're actually being stuffed into a box. It can only be about “me” when I conform to what others want. God forbid, apparently, that I be a smart, independent, creative woman with ideas of my own.

I'm not surprised by this from some professionals — some think it's their job to sell me what they think I should want. But I am horrified by how many of my loved ones — particularly the self-described offbeat ones — used “all about the bride” to erase me. It's unintentional many times, but it's still there.

And that is not okay.

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Comments on How “all about the bride” is not about the bride at all

  1. Love this. I think you very eloquently expressed a very important point. One size does not fit all – and it shouldn’t. Every person gets to decide what’s best for them. And I believe that wedding planning is a good time to practice asserting that.

  2. This is such a great post. The title “bride” sometimes seems to take on a life of its own, having little or nothing to do with the person the title has been ascribed to. Sometimes you just want to look at those people (even the well-meaning ones) and ask, “do you HEAR yourself?!” Kudos to you for bringing attention to this and reminding us that WE need to define what “bride” means to each of us and how big of a role that title should be playing in our lives.

    On a side note….is the picture at the top from a featured wedding on OBB? I can’t seem to find it..and I want to see more! Those wings are fabulous.

  3. This is exactly what happened to me when my family forced me into having a church wedding. I did it to make them happy but really the entire process made me miserable.

  4. This couldn’t be more true, and so well written. I’ve known all along my family and I would have different ideas of how I should have my wedding, especially having just gone through my brother’s wedding planning a year ago. I wasn’t quite expecting people to insist I didn’t really know what I wanted, though. Nor was I was quite expecting a reaction of “What?! But you have to!!” when I told an aunt I didn’t think I wanted to have a Maid of Honor. No, I don’t have to actually.

  5. “Turns out, no one cares if I’m the bride unless I want what “the bride” is supposed to want in their minds.”

    I’ve felt exactly the same way. I haven’t felt catered to during this process like I expected all brides were catered to. Instead I find myself adjusting to confirm to society’s/their standards.

    On a lighter note: board games at your wedding sounds like a blast! My partner had the same idea. How are you planning to set them up?

    • We have a table next to the door of our reception venue. On one side of the table we have a basket full of flip flops that says “feet hurt? Try these magic flip flops, they make you dance!” We have a basket on the other side of the table full of games (checkers, candy land, ticket to ride, Jenga, etc) that says “don’t like to dance? Find a friend and play some games!” We then have a smaller basket labeled “kids only” full of coloring books and toys for the little ones.

  6. I think the only time that I ever referred to myself as “the bride” was when cutting the line in the photobooth at my wedding. and really I think I just yelled “bridal cuts” as I jumped into it.

    Side note, games at weddings are AMAZING. People will legit play them and enjoy them and remember your wedding as “that awesome one where I played Cards Against Humanity”

    • People still talk about the epic game of Cards Against Humanity at our wedding. At the end of the night (1am) we had to kick out the people playing Cards.

  7. I absolutely agree, and I’ve been facing a lot of similar issues. I think you nailed it: Whatever the bride (because WIC still assumes a bride marrying a groom) wants is the most important thing, BUT the bride is supposed to want the things the WIC thinks she should want.

    I’ve been dealing with this a lot because I’m not wearing a white dress. There are all these options I’m supposed to have (fabrics, styles, embellishments, accessories), and I’m supposed to feel gorgeous and amazing, etc. But for me, that means wearing a color that makes me feel gorgeous and amazing. And for a lot of people, that was just not okay, even though they kept talking about how important it was to appease the bride.

    Same thing happened when I didn’t want a bridal shower.

  8. I just discovered some of this last night when I was going over some details with my mom. Before I knew it, about 15 people were suddenly being invited even though I’d never met them, I was once again chastised/attempted guilting over my venue choice (too far from the bride’s family…even though it happens to be where FH and I currently live), and apparently I’m just being too nice and soft-hearted when it comes to menu (accomodating vegetarians, since my MoH is one, but “they can just eat the side dishes or a large salad”) and not wanting to drive between ceremony and reception… which is as much for my and FH’s convenience as anyone else’s.

  9. Yes times a million! I’ve just been ‘the bride’ and I lost count of the number of times someone would say ‘it’s all about you’ or ‘it’s what the bride needs’ and I would look at them and think ‘the bride needs to be left the fuck alone because she’s also got a bunch of other stuff on besides this wedding, which, by the way, involves marrying a second, equally important person who is also able to speak, listen, communicate and have an opinion…and, oh, right, your question? No, I doubt very much this bride is going to regret not having a videographer/first dance/flower centrepieces’. And yet, I still knew that they really cared, and they did want it to go well, and they did it out of love. It was just a bit misguided.

    “But I am horrified by how many of my loved ones — particularly the self-described offbeat ones — used “all about the bride” to erase me. It’s unintentional many times, but it’s still there.”

    I love this post because it absolutely hits the nail on the head when it comes to the idea of the bride’s day. It took a lot of soul-searching and upset before it hit me that (especially where parents are contributing) the ceremony can be almost totally for the couple, but all the trappings? People might say it’s for the bride, but really, it’s often what the bride and groom are doing to ensure that they can celebrate the expectations of their parents/loved ones. OBB is wonderful in that more couples here are much more willing to say ‘fuck it’ to tradition and expectations, but we all still have to manage the expectations of parents and siblings and friends that only truly emerge when the word ‘wedding’ comes up.

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