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.)


Caitlan said...

I would agree to a point, and I think the authors do too. They described questioning whether they actually pulled off an anti-wedding for days until someone asked about the rings. That part rang true for me. I think they pulled it off.
On the other hand, you're right. The majority of the time you're influenced by something you're trying to avoid just as much as if you were trying to follow it.
And thanks for posting the article! I loved it!

Bride in Exile said...

The part about how the couple didn't realize they forgot the rings rang true for me as well, Caitlan -- but I would argue that it says more about the couple and their priorities than it does about the planners' attempt to create an "anti-wedding." I think this couple would have had an "anti-wedding" (one that reflected them and their wishes instead of a preconceived notion of what a wedding "should" be) regardless of whether or not the authors got involved. I know the piece was intended to be tongue in cheek but the way they took complete credit at the end kind of bugged me.

Bride in Exile said...

Oh! Speaking of credit, I can't take credit for finding the article -- a reader on Manolo for the Brides posted it a few days back :-) I should've said that in the original post.

apricot said...

this is why everyone hates hippies.

and their hipster offspring.

I did a lot of eye-rolling when I saw this news item. Don't they know that they're just reifying the dominant paradagim?! Gosh!!

Apologies for using the verb "reify" on your blog.

Bride in Exile said...

Apricot, the fact that you used the word "reify" on my blog is just another reason I adore you!