After my parents gave us a generous donation towards our wedding budget, I'll admit that I added some things that I had previously crossed off, like professional hair and makeup, or hiring an Etsy seller to do paper flowers rather than doing them myself. I don't wear a stitch of makeup in everyday life save for some tinted SPF and maybe red- or pink-tinted Chapstick if I know I'm going to be photographed. So upon hearing that I want my hair and makeup done, people say, “but you're so low-maintenance.”
So I have invented a term for what I'm going through: “maintenance-shaming.”
Here's the thing about “maintenance”… It has locked arms with “one-lowmanship,” and they are happily skipping off to see the Wizard.
You see this a lot in the beauty world: The “natural” face made with heaps of product you can only get at Sephora. The “bedhead” that took three heat styling tools and hair products made with unicorn tears. The hours spent making it seem like you don't care how you look. You definitely see it in the wedding world, where some people believe being anti-Wedding Industrial Complex means snarking on people who do make a big fuss about their big days: “Why not just get a white dress from Forever 21, go to the courthouse, and be done with it?” This, I think, is why a “rustic” aesthetic is so popular with weddings right now. It keeps weddings from being too girly, too glamorous, too… high-maintenance.
Maintenance-shaming is essentially telling a woman that she should not make a fuss about traditionally feminine things, or really that she shouldn't make a fuss about anything. It is seen as “cool” for women to be low-maintenance, the girl who is down for anything and chill about everything, as described quite colorfully in this infamous passage from Gone Girl:
“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don't they? She's a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she's hosting the world's biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size two, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don't mind, I'm the Cool Girl.”
I am partly this “Cool Girl,” this Millennial version of the “women should be seen and not heard” housewife. I live with three male roommates and my partner. They will readily admit to you that I drink more beer than they do and have the most raunchy, sarcastic, “Cards Against Humanity“-esque sense of humor. But I also love to go shopping, can bake up a storm, and will readily stop a woman on the street to tell her that her shoes are out of this world. I was a camp counselor for four summers in college and, though I lived in my Chacos, I also liked for my nail polish color to match the design on my Chacos.
That's the thing: my wedding is complicated because I'm complicated. It's not Wedding Industrial Complex, it's me complex. We're having a curated playlist in lieu of a DJ, and barbecue for dinner because I'm the Cool Girl, but I'm also wearing heels and getting my hair and makeup done because I am a Pretty Pretty Princess. More than one personality type can fit within a person—revolutionary!
Now, I understand that having a low budget kind of forces your hand in being low-maintenance (“maybe I WANT someone to do my hair and makeup but I can't AFFORD it, geez gah, Grace!”), but this philosophy still applies. If you want the “charming” pink teacups from Goodwill rather than the “cool” Mason jars marked down at Michael's, get the damn pink teacups. They sound bitchin'. My point is, you are not Maru the cat — you do not need to fit into a box someone puts in front of you.
You don't have to pretend that you're so cool that you're “over” your own wedding if you want to be excited about centerpieces and shoes. As Ariel said in this article,
“Engaged women don't need another voice telling them they're failing. It doesn't matter if it's a voice of tradition telling them they're wrong for wanting to have their wedding in the round, or a voice of non-tradition telling them they're wrong for wanting to wear a white dress — brides need encouragement and support.”