Construction is always more difficult than demolition

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A reader sent me this “Best of Craigslist” post that encapsulates one writer's take on all the traditional things she doesn't want at her wedding. (And yes, I'm assuming the author is a woman, although there's no way to know.)

… I couldn’t help but look around at your wedding and think, “Wow. I don’t want any of this.” But don’t think that your wedding specifically turned me off to weddings. No, we are all now in our late twenties and wedding invitations appear in the mail with almost the same frequency that delivery guys slip take-out menus under my door. And now, having attended and been in a few weddings, I can’t help but think “I don't want any of it.”

You should definitely go read the whole post. It's hilarious — but then be sure to come back, because I've got something important to say…

It's a great little rant, filled with the writer's frustrations about all the traditions they'll be skipping when and if they ever get married. It's good for a chuckle and a nod-along as you read it, but I realized by the time I was done that it brought up some issues for me.

See, I don't really care about what you DON'T want at your wedding. It's easy to point at things other people have done and shout No! No! No! as you stamp your feet. It's easy to react against stuffy traditions, family expectations, and a wedding industry that shoves its “you gottas” down your throat.

But you know what's much harder? Creating what you want. It's so easy to slam other people for their over-the-top this, their tasteless that, their tacky whatever. It's much harder to stare down the muzzle of your own wedding (and your own life!) and determine what you actually want from it.

When you make all your plans through the process of elimination, you're cheating yourself out of some amazing creative opportunities.

I rally a lot about constructive, proactive communication … I'm sure it gets tiresome at times. But reacting online to things you don't like can almost become a sport of snark, a grand volly of bitching and dismissing. I don't want a church! I hate the patriarchal bullshit of the father walking me down the aisle!

Ok, sure. That's the easy part. Now the harder part is finding your perfect non-church venue and a way to include your family in the ceremony in ways that are more meaningful to you. Rejection and rebellion isn't especially creative — and me, I'm mostly interested in the creative process. Saying “FUCK YOU, TRADITIONS!” only gets you out the door. It's a long walk to the altar.

Focusing on proactiveness and creativity works wonders for communication with family members, too. Instead of just hollaring, “But, Mom: I don't want a receiving line!” (which is you rejecting her), you can try “Mom, I've looked for a more engaging, fun way to interact with my guests — that's why we're getting a bouncy castle!” (Which is you agreeing with the idea of engaging with guests, and providing your solution.) Then you can stop arguing about what you don't want, and start building support for what you do want.

It's easy to be reactionary. It's much more difficult to stop griping about what you don't want, and dare to make your own plans.

UPDATE: This post isn't intended as some sort of slam on the Craigslist poster. The posting is a funny little rant, and the writer is not alone in her frustrations. I'm just not interested in criticizing the author — rather, I'm interested in exploring the ways in which it's easier to focus on what you don't want instead of focusing on creating something new. The Craigslist post is just one example out of thousands across the web.

Comments on Construction is always more difficult than demolition

  1. I think the best any of us can do is make our lives, ceremonies, weddings and marriages be exactly what *we* need and want… and leaving everyone else what they need to do. Life just gets so much freer and easier and (omg!) happier that way 🙂

  2. I’ll second that amen! So far, I’m finding that in creating my own (and my finace’s own) style of wedding, we’re really revisiting who we are and what’s meaningful to us- individually and as a couple. It kind of feels like wedding therapy. The idea of being judged on a wedding you have put your heart and soul into and created based on who you are is kind of a scary prospect. But in the end, that’s why we’re all here, right? To say “nope, I’m doing it my way- and fuck you, judgement.” It’s just a waste of time to tear down anyone else’s idea of a wedding, traditional or not. Let’s just appreciate that we have the opportunity to build each other up and the courage to create our own zany, wacky, beautiful celebrations of love!

  3. I actually loved the Craigslist rant, I gotta say. That being said, it’s also an anonymous Craigslist posting. No one said that it’s the only thing s/he’s thinking about, and it’s just a rant much like the rest of us have rants about anything in our lives. I think it’s a little unfair to judge ths poster based on this one rant, saying she needs a drink or to get laid or to lay off. I’m sure s/he’s a rational person.

    But Ariel, you’re right! Creating what you do want is much harder than just rejecting tradition for the sake of tradition, for sure. But that’s also the fun part! At the end of the day, everyone wants their guests to feel welcome, the wedding to be meaningful, and the reception to be fun! “Tradition” is (in part) intended to ensure that, but it’s not necessary.

  4. Not pretentious – frustrated! How many weddings have you been to where you were a captive audience being shuffled from one canned moment to the next (time to cut the cake – time to throw the bouquet – time to be here for this pic – time to…). I feel her pain and no judgment that she vented.

    I think Ariel’s point is dead-on though. The easy part is deciding what you DON’T want at your wedding – but you do have to identify what you don’t want so you can focus on the things that you DO want. Give the craiglist venter a break and let her clear her head. Now it’s up to her to think about what she’d like to do to have a meaningful, authentic event.

  5. I think there may be something positive in deciding what you DON’T want. My biggest problem is that my list of “oh-my-god-that-would-be-awesomes” is a little overwhelming. If you’re able to, in a constructive way, weed out the parts that AREN’T important or part of your style, it makes the “I-have-to-have-its” easier to decide on. I guess the key here is to do so in a positive, contemplative way instead of tearing down other people’s different, but equally valid, ideas of what they want for themselves.

  6. I actually read this craigslist post a long time ago (I admit I did a search for “wedding” in the best-of section) and I enjoyed it. But I also agree with Ariel. But before I read Ariel’s response, as I read through the post this time around, I was thinking, “Ah, I’m not into churches either. That’s why we selected our special offbeat venue! Ahh, we don’t want 300 guests either, that’s why our guest list is down to 80 and hopefully going lower! Oh, the single table is awful, I’m glad my wedding and the reception is structured in a different way…”

    So Ariel, thanks for making me realize I have already been taking some constructive steps, but thanks even more for the reminder. I attended a “WIC-inspired” wedding this weekend, and I admit that afterward my FH and I whispered, “Yikes! We won’t be having THAT or THAT at ours!” It’s not necessarily healthy, and it’s not necessarily nice, either.

  7. Maybe she was just venting…sometimes you have to do that, you know? Get all the negative stuff out at once so you can focus on your other thoughts.

    It’s always risky posting your personal thoughts on the internet!

  8. “…but you do have to identify what you don’t want so you can focus on the things that you DO want.”

    I don’t think this is necessarily true. While thoughts similar to those of the Craigslist poster certainly went through my head, when my fiance and I actually starting figuring out what we wanted our wedding to be, we just started from the ground up. What things are important to us? Friends, family, good music, good food, good beer, etc.

    The “I definitely don’t wants” really only come into play for me when someone (fiance, mother, caterer, etc) brings up what people will be EXPECTING from the event, and that’s what I see in the rant, too: it’s not just about bucking tradition, but also about not meeting people’s expectations. THAT’S what’s truly frustrating for me.

    Not that building a wedding from the ground up is a free an easy process, of course. =p

  9. I soooo agree about the negative approach being wrong in life as well. It reminds me of Loyd Dobler (John Cusack in Say Anything) answering the question of what he wants to do with his life:”I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed…”

  10. I agree, I liked the post, didn’t think it was pretentious, yes it was a rant and rants aren’t don’t really help acheive much (apart from stress relief) it was a rejection of tradition, and as it was anonymous it was probably her way of releasing the frustration of what a traditional wedding can pose to someone who doesn’t want one.

    But then having said that of course Ariel is right! It’s very easy to say what you don’t want, I think I did that before deciding what we did want. The hard part for us (and I bet for the Craigslist writer) comes after and is the creation, like Ariel says, of what you and your partner want your wedding to be.

    I read the post at a good point in wedding planning when I was pretty much fed up of it and it gave me a chuckle. I saw it as a take what you want from tradition and don’t worry about not having what everyone else has.

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