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.
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.