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.