Saturday, July 16, 2011

One (Good Enough) Day

I just threw away three bridal magazines my mom bought me.* We had flipped through them and mocked them to pieces back in March, but they've been collecting dust on top of my sump pump since then.

Bridal magazines are not designed to be helpful, unless you need help spending a crazy amount of money. I guess their checklists are also helpful if you need to laugh until you cry. I've had to turn elsewhere for real wedding help. It's handy that my mom has planned plenty of weddings, but I've also explored books and blogs lately.

I devoured the book One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding. It is not about how to plan a wedding; it's about how planning weddings got insane.

Here is a short interview with the author, Rebecca Mead:

Here is another (audio only) interview with Mead, in which she talks about why weddings have gotten so huge in the last generation: It's at least partially because getting married isn't as big of a deal as it once was. It used to be that a wedding marked the day you moved out of your parents' home, the first time you lived with and slept with your spouse, etc. Now that people are getting married older and so many couples live together already, we throw extravagant parties to make marriage feel like as big of a transition as it used to be. 

Mead's book helped me think through whether any given wedding detail was something Blade and I actually wanted or just something that wedding companies have poured untold amounts of money into marketing to us.

While I was reading One Perfect Day, I was also reading Good News for Anxious Christians, which is about manipulative trends within popular evangelical culture. I couldn't help but see parallels with the wedding industry.** Both the wedding industry and the more wishy-washy evangelical churches put pressure on you to feel certain emotions, and if you don't feel those emotions, there must be something wrong with you. I don't do well under that kind of pressure. I get all panicky and resentful until I understand what's actually going on.


The blog A Practical Wedding has been the most helpful resource for actually planning my wedding (as opposed to helping me understand why wedding stuff makes me crazy). Though I frequently disagree with the blog's politics, I appreciate that the posts are full of thought-provoking, tongue-in-cheek writing rather than just collections of stylized pictures. If you're involved in a wedding anytime soon, I recommend exploring the site; I've especially enjoyed the posts: Bride in Exile, Lazy (and possible cheap) Girl's Guide ..., The Slavery of Choice, and Wedding Overexposure.

So Blade and I aren't going for a perfect day. We're going for a good enough day. And if we're married by the end of it, that is plenty good enough.

*I've kept one magazine, mostly because my mom shoplifted it from a bridal salon. She claims it was supposed to be free, that it just looked free, but there's definitely a price tag on the front cover. I can't seem to throw it away just yet due to its shoplifted hilarity. (Seriously? It just looked free? Who thinks like that?)

**My friend Steve saw me toggling between both books and said, "I like that about you." What? "That when you get mad you find a book about whatever's making you mad so you can figure out why."


Greg said...

I think you're swell.

And do you recommend the anxious Christians book you mentioned? I realize a mere mentioning isn't an endorsement.

Alyssa K said...

Yes, Greg, I very much recommend that book. I would say not to read it by yourself, though -- it's a good one for discussion. I read it for a small group at church, which I think is the best scenario.