I am wearing a dress to my wedding. Why? Because my amazing future partner in life likes the traditional clothing (although we have given the axe to just about every other tradition on the prescribed list of wedding rituals). I do care about him, and I don’t care that much about what I wear. So sure, it’ll be a dress (with boots), probably purchased off the sale rack somewhere a month or two before the wedding.
But the deluge of wedding magazines, Facebook pages, well-meaning friends, and other sources of wedding dress angst, ALL seem to indicate that a future bride should be consumed with the cut and style of the garment she wears on her wedding day.
I am here to say, proudly, that I don’t. And it’s okay if you don’t either. And if you do, that’s okay, too.
I would not look down on anyone who has dreamt of their ideal wedding dress since the day they were born. We are all different. Every one of us goes through life with different conceptualizations of dress, gender roles, and different things that make us happy. But what fascinates me is how weddings often turn even people who normally accept diversity of interests into people who express concerns only about a standard of accepted appearance. Because from day one of my engagement, the question that I have heard most frequently has been, “Have you decided on a dress?”
As someone who has been 100% guilty of asking this same Dress Question in the past, I would like to propose the idea that maybe we should stop asking this question. Because, quite honestly, it is stressful and frustrating to explain and defend, over and over again, to others that I really just don’t care about make-up or dresses, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care immensely about my partner. Trying to express that without sounding rude or ungrateful is also incredibly challenging. At times the pressure to conform to the expectations of others regarding appearances (and the feeling that I am every bit justified in resisting that pressure) has left me in tears.
Maybe, instead of encouraging a focus on the materialistic aspects of weddings, we should commit to raising the discourse by asking different questions of engaged couples:
- Instead of asking about particulars, we could ask if a couple has certain elements of their wedding day that they are looking forward to. Some couples would love to have the input or ideas of others on parts of the event, but it would be be polite for us to ask permission before providing our own suggestions and interpretations.
- Maybe we could ask more generally about what a couple hopes their wedding day will be like.
- We could inquire as to how the wedding planning process is going.
- If we don’t know the person’s partner, maybe we could ask more about what makes them tick — their unique qualities, their dreams, their passions; why is this human that we care about willing to make a huge commitment to share their life with this other person that we don’t yet know?
In short, there are so many things that we can ask about to bring us closer to our friends and family who are going through the wedding planning process. Let the couple bring their clothing choices up themselves if they’re excited about them. Many couples do invest a lot of energy in making aspects of the wedding day artistic and meaningful, and they would like to share that… but by focusing on other questions, we can avoid assumptions that everyone wants to talk about The Dress. (Or that there even IS a “The Dress.”)
What questions do you wish people asked you about YOUR wedding planning?