Forget about having a big wedding. We should all just elope. So argues Torie Bosch in Slate, explaining why she chose to tie the knot with her husband the quick and dirty way, rather than having a formal ceremony.
The obvious reason to elope is the money. Over the summer, Brides magazine reported that, even in these tough economic times, the average couple spends nearly $27,000 on their nuptials. I have some doubts about that figure—the respondents were readers of Brides magazine and its website, a group already inclined to go veils-to-the-wall for a wedding. But there is no question that weddings, even those done on the cheap, cost far more than many couples can afford. While I have no qualms with the well-off (and their parents) shelling out for a classy affair, I did not want to go into debt or decimate my hard-earned savings for a party.
My primary objections to a “real” wedding go beyond the financial, however.
Her first reason basically boils down this: She doesn’t think a wedding is worth the time and effort it takes to plan. She would rather veg out after a tiring week at work than deal with wedding planning:
There’s the time it takes to plan a soiree for so many people. The travel to and fro to evaluate venues, the endless phone calls with vendors, crafting the perfect guest list—and, if you’re a modern bride, plain old crafting to capture that chic Etsy vibe. It’s not that my time is so valuable. My normal Saturday routine is Zumba followed by some mix of Bravo reruns, Netflix marathons, and reading. But I cherish, even need those hours of vegging after a full work week. Planning a wedding, in extreme cases, becomes akin to a job, one that costs money instead of bringing it in.
Second, she argues that the wedding is about us (the couple) and not them (the family and friends):
But perhaps the best reason to elope is that a wedding should be about the marriage. It wasn’t my day, but our day—mine and Chris’ alone.
Many men and women have told me that their weddings were so frantic—worrying about whether the caterer was late, whether a simmering family feud was about to boil over, whether everyone who should have been thanked was acknowledged—that it felt like a blur. We all know people who were too busy on their wedding day to eat the food that they so carefully selected—and if that isn’t a demonstration that a wedding is for everyone else but the couple, I don’t know what is.
Her description of her wedding–-the five-minute ceremony, the sandwich shop, the taxi-cab ride–-reminds of the famous and very modern wedding depicted on the show Grey’s Anatomy. Grey’s is about a bunch of career-obsessed surgeons, and the show mainly focuses on the relationship of two doctors, Meredith and Derek.
Their relationship starts as a series of hook ups, progresses to something like dating, continues on to an unofficial “post-it note” wedding (they declare their non-binding vows and commitment to each other on a little sticky), and two years later–-after they decide to adopt a child–-their relationship culminates in a no-frills ceremony at City Hall, at which Meredith wears a black suit.
This picture of marriage is self-consciously modern (and feminist): Who has time for a real wedding (let along nine months of pregnancy)? Why bother with a white dress? We are all too busy for such petty concerns. That’s the message we get from Grey’s and from Bosch’s piece, which appeared on Slate‘s women’s blog, Double X.
Like Bosch, I’ve never fantasized much about weddings or white dresses. And I agree with her that there is a virtue in humble weddings, given how some brides–bridezillas–can overdo it, making everyone around them miserable.That said, I love attending weddings and think that they are beautiful and necessary ceremonies.
But for Bosch and the writers of Grey’s, marriage is a self-directed and utilitarian affair. This is where they miss the point about what the purpose of a wedding truly is.
The wedding is not about the bride and the groom–-and never has been. It’s about the community–-the friends and family–-who supported the bride and groom throughout their lives, and, in that way, made their marriage possible. Weddings everywhere are community affairs–-sometimes, even very public ones, as in the case of Will and Kate in England. That’s because, by getting married, the couple is entering into the community of adults and citizens formally, and that’s an important step which must be acknowledged, celebrated, and ritualized for the sake of the community and its continuity.