Outsized Wedding Expectations Miss The Point

Delusions of nuptial grandeur permeate social conceptions of marriage

I’m going to deviate from my normally politically-driven articles this week and direct my attention to a different territory: love and relationships. I recently got engaged, and the emotional bliss involved was sweet and cute at first, but evolved into a discombobulated frenzy for a short time.

Many people dream of their wedding day and fantasize about its infinite possibilities in regards to venue, décor, theme, food, attire, guests, etc. What they don’t typically fantasize about, however, is the rip-your-hair-out stress of actually sitting down and planning it. In true fashion of being newly engaged, I immediately started researching all things wedding-related. Holy shit, a wedding demands a lot of things.

The first couple of weeks of planning weren’t bad. In fact, I treated it like a research paper for a class (which I take very seriously). I researched. I researched the research. I laid out my findings to analyze. I concluded that wedding planning was too much, and that I couldn’t afford any of it. Yet, I became addicted to virtual window shopping of all things weddings.

My fiancé and I are on our own as far as financing our big day, and unfortunately, how we envision our wedding day doesn’t align with our budget at the moment. We ultimately decided to do the ceremony and reception exactly how we wish, meaning that we’ll wait to do the wedding when we can afford to do it how we want. I was satisfied with the agreement, but started to think deeper about how our society treats weddings and marriage.

As victims of materialism, our society has placed higher standards on wedding days than it has on maintaining a healthy, loving marriage itself. The Business Insider reported that the average cost of a U.S. wedding is $29,200, with 28% of couples going into wedding debt. Being that the site also reported the average yearly individual salary to be $59,160, it’s insane to think how the average person is willing to spend half their yearly income on a single day, in a country where there is a 50% marriage failure rate.

Besides the irresponsibility of acquiring massive debt to celebrate for only a few hours, weddings have become overblown because of the assholes that it can bring out of people. Shows like Bridezilla may be scripted, but there are many brides in real life who depict similar unwarranted tantrums over petty things that people can only laugh at since they can’t strangle them. The relationships between relatives and friends, and the bride and groom can change for the worst over fall-outs during wedding preparations.

If most of us can agree that it’s ridiculous to lose relationships with people over petty wedding preparations, or that it’s silly to indebt yourself and partner for what’s essentially just a party, then why does it continue to happen? In the age of social media where many people have become obsessed with portraying themselves to have more than what they have, our society is at risk of experiencing an upward trend of overspending money on weddings and underspending time and love with significant others.

The strength of a marriage cannot be measured by the price tag attached to the wedding. Even if you can afford the most extravagant nuptials, it will be all for not if you find out you married the wrong person. Or, if you lose a good friend or relationship because of a spat over something wedding-related.

Although I’ve slowed down on the wedding research, and understand that I won’t be able to make my dreams a reality for a little while (hopefully this Wake Forest degree will pay for itself in due time, as it’s been advertised), I’m still just as excited as I was on Christmas Day when he proposed to me. Why? Because no matter when the wedding will be or how much will be spent on it, I know that my marriage will last well after the big day because it’s built on true love between best friends.