Saturday, September 20, 2008

Yes, I'm engaged. No, I am not a lunatic.

I've noticed a funny phenomenon since becoming engaged: some people assume I'm a nut.

By "people," I mostly mean vendors. I've noticed that when I call to check up on something wedding-related (e.g. the venue contract that was five, count 'em, five weeks late), I get a little chuckle and an assurance that everything's fine, delivered in a soothing voice, as though the vendor is talking to a stroke victim.

By contrast, if Econo Boy calls, the reaction is "I'll take care of that right away."

I am beginning to suspect that by virtue of being a) engaged and b) female, I am being put into the dreaded "Bridezilla" box. If I call to ask a question, or express a concern, I *must* be overreacting or worrying my pretty little Bridezilla head. I am engaged and female, and therefore not to be taken seriously. Econo Boy, however, is gifted with masculine rationality and perspective, so if he thinks something's amiss and calls to check up, it must be a real issue (as opposed to one of my silly girl issues).

I thought of this today as I was reading a Weddingbee post by a recently married blogger: When Bad Things Happen. The blogger, who goes by the pseudonym "Mrs. Cream Puff," hired two day-of coordinators to set up the ceremony area, organize the hired trolley from the ceremony to the reception, and manage the reception so that things ran smoothly. Well, the coordinators messed up the ceremony setup that they'd been given weeks in advance. The trolleys got most of the guests (and the bride and groom) to the reception after the cocktail hour due to poor organization. And during the reception, the coordinators decided to hit the bar.

Now, these sound like pretty legitimate complaints to me. The bride and groom hired these people to perform certain services. They either didn't perform those services or did them badly. And since it was part of her wedding, and she's a wedding blogger, the bride blogged about it (without ever mentioning the names of her coordinators, I should add) -- and a couple of commenters called her "anal" or said she was overreacting and whining.

I can't help thinking those comments were a result of the same mentality that any woman who is getting married is by definition a high-maintenance bitch, and that therefore her complaints aren't valid. And frankly it's a sexist attitude and it bugs the shit out of me. Yes, there are some of the legendary "Bridezillas" out there, but I doubt there are enough of them to justify this blanket assumption that any woman planning her wedding is automatically a lunatic.

I am now making a pledge to myself: I will not give money to anyone who treats me as though I must, as an engaged female, be missing 75 IQ points and any sense of perspective.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The "Anti-Wedding"?

I just read a very interesting article in the Washington Post about two friends' attempts to plan the "anti-wedding." You can read it here: The Anti-Wedding.

In a nutshell, Caitlin Gibson and Rachel Manteuffel, two frequent bridesmaids who were fed up with the insanity of the typical modern wedding, decided to offer their services to plan an "anti-wedding," one that would buck all of the conventions of the Big Bad Wedding Industrial Complex. They solicited submissions from couples willing to let them plan their wedding, and ended up organizing an event where their clients/guinea pigs were married on public property while the guests protested against the Big Bad Wedding Industrial Complex.

The article shone an interesting light on the assumptions our society holds about “weddings” – for one thing, it’s kind of disturbing to know that the Washington DC city government considers a wedding more disruptive than a protest!

But ultimately, I think Gibson & Manteuffel’s attempt to plan an “anti-wedding” was a resounding failure. A wedding ceremony held during a protest against the wedding industry is definitely unusual. But Gibson and Manteuffel's “anti-wedding” seems just as much shaped by the Big Bad Wedding-Industrial Complex (BBWIC) as the mega-celebrations featured in Martha Stewart Weddings. Their version of the “anti-wedding” seems to consist of saying “no” to anything that even hints at the BBWIC. You think it would be fun to get married in a botanical garden? Nope, sorry. Flowers are part of the BBWIC. Oh, you want to send out invitations so people know the time and place? But that’s so BBWIC! Let’s make them do a lengthy scavenger hunt in the rain instead! Frankly I’m surprised they let their bride purchase any kind of new dress at all (a new dress being part of the BBWIC) – from the tone of the article I half expected them to have both bride and groom say their vows while wearing old, stretched-out swimsuits and/or garbage bags.

In my opinion, if you’re structuring your entire wedding around saying “no” to what the latest issue of Modern Bride suggests, you are just as controlled by the BBWIC as the bride who thinks she has to copy those suggestions to the letter. Either way you’re letting other people define what you will and will not do instead of just going with the things that matter to you, whether or not they’re typical.

Furthermore, the Gibson & Manteuffel “anti-wedding” seems to have involved just as much stress, frustration, and detailed planning as a smallish “traditional” wedding in someone’s backyard. They investigated multiple "anti-wedding" locations only to be told that they needed permits or that weddings were forbidden on that particular property. To be honest, it sounds like they spent way more time finding a place to have their anti-wedding than Econo Boy and I did finding our venue! How is arguing with half a dozen city officials supposed to free us from wedding-planning madness?

I think a much more interesting, fun, and moving anti-wedding is this one that Manolo for the Brides blogged about last week: "It's a Nice Day for a Wet Wedding?" An Oregon couple said their vows underwater while scuba-diving. They planned the whole thing in 5 days. It centered around a favorite shared activity. It was small, intimate, free-spirited, and probably just what the couple wanted. Now that is an anti-wedding! (Even if the bride wore a veil.)