In five days my official relationship status will be changing from ENGAGED to MARRIED. I will go from GIRLFRIEND to WIFE. And I'm leaving out the BRIDE part. That’s right, I’m willfully skipping the bride part. You see, I want to BE married, but I don’t want to GET married. This is tricky. Very tricky.
We exist in a bride/wedding dominant culture. Have you noticed? Approximately 2.5 million weddings take place every year in the United States. The whole wedding racket monster is an estimated 40-70 BILLION dollar industry. There are TV series dedicated to brides and weddings and wedding planners, and all the stress and snafus that go along with the typical wedding celebration. And even with people cutting back on wedding expenses due to the soft economy, the average couple still spends over $28,000 on their wedding. Let me repeat that. Average couple = TWENTY EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS. Christ Almighty.
When I casually mention I’m getting married to anyone who doesn’t know me well, as they gaze at my non-existent engagement ring in puzzlement, they ask a bazillion questions like, “How’s the planning going?”, “Are you overwhelmed yet with the planning?”, “Where are you having the reception?”, “Who’s doing your flowers?”, “Who’s doing your cake?”, “What does your dress look like?”
And then I have to awkwardly explain that I’m not doing any of that. And my questioner seems slightly embarrassed, and then I have to lighten it up with inappropriate laughter and a “Yeah, we just, ya know, wanted to keep it simple…see, we just bought a house, and really didn’t want to deal with the…the traditional…hoop-lah, so yeah, it’ll be really simple, oh! but, then we’ll be going to my hometown in August to, ya know…have a little party to, uh, to celebrate… and then in September we’ll be going on a honeymoon.”
And finally, with the mention of “honeymoon” I give them something familiar to latch onto and their eyes light up as they ask where we’re going. When I announce we’ll be going to Cairo and Amman, they smile slightly and inquire, “where?”. And I stammer, “We’re, ah…we’re traveling to…Egypt and Jordan”. In response I usually get a “oh, well that’s…neat”. Yes, not only are we not departing right after the marriage ceremony as tradition dictates, but we’re also not going to Hawaii, Las Vegas, or Mexico. We’re going to Northern Africa and the Middle East.
After that, they give up on the wedding conversation.
I know it’s been said before by others far more trendy than I, but, I truly am missing the bride gene. My private disdain of weddings in general is not stemming from any sort of snotty superiority complex or irrationally misplaced envy. Not at all. If someone wants to have a kick-ass, blow-out, extravagance-be-damned wedding, then more power to ‘em. I certainly wouldn’t begrudge anyone their day in the spotlight. A commitment as huge as marriage is certainly cause for celebration. But one person’s definition of celebration is another’s person’s definition of nightmare.
I guess Daniel and I have known for a while that we would end up sharing a life together. It crept up on us slowly and quietly, unobtrusively settling around us in the most natural way imaginable. Maybe that’s why neither one of us feels the need to participate in the traditional wedding rituals. There was never any need to “pop the question”, never was there a need for him to “claim” me with a ring. We’re fairly private people (she types in her blog…) and our deep, quiet commitment reflects that.
As we were driving somewhere this weekend, it suddenly dawned on me that next week at that time we would be a married couple driving to wherever it was we would be driving to. I mentioned this to Daniel and without taking his eyes off the road or missing a beat, he softly responded with, “oh honey…I married you a long time ago”.
You see, this whole ceremony thing is just a formality to us. Doing it will afford us certain legal rights and generally simplify our life together.
Although, honestly, a part of me is ashamed to be participating in something that not every US citizen has the right to. I won’t go there (in this post), but it is an abomination that some US citizens do not have the right to marry.
Nothing more than that. We are not religious folk. We have both led full lives independent of each other. There is no one “giving” me to him. And I have no need or desire to feel like a fairytale “princess” marrying her fairytale “prince”. And while we are overjoyed to have found each other and are able to be married, in the end it’s not about the ring or the dress or the cake or the first dance or the flowers or the party favors. It’s just me. and him. doing what works best for us. Which means, No Bride.