wrong-footed weddings

Nicoline - Ellicott City, Maryland
Entered on July 18, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: love, question

The daughter of a woman I know is getting married. Meeting for coffee has come to mean hearing the continuing saga of the bridesmaid who won’t show up for fittings, the dresses that cost a fortune to have professionally hemmed, tuxes with two buttons versus three buttons, or the other way around, I forget. You get the picture. She has always struck me as an eminently level-headed person, so I’ll give her daughter the benefit of the doubt. I don’t believe she is a bridezilla. But I believe that the way weddings are conducted, as well as the event immediately preceding a wedding, the proposal, are seriously flawed. It starts things off on the wrong foot, literally.

It is fully expected that when a man pops the question, he does so on bended knee. Most likely, the couple will have known each other for quite a while, so they know or should know each other well enough to be on an equal footing, even if one of them currently makes more than the other or has more student loans or what have you. Once they marry, their relationship is supposed to develop into a partnership to which each contributes to the best of his or her ability. So why this farce of placing the lady on an imaginary pedestal, as if he comes to her as a supplicant? Is it supposed to foreshadow the way he will from now on be expected to defer to whatever HRH the bride decides?

Most brides get so caught up in wedding trivia that a groom who values his sanity readily defers to his fiancée when it comes to the color scheme used at the reception and whether or not his tie is the exact same shade of chartreuse as the napkins used at the rehearsal dinner. Even my level-headed mother of the bride is not immune to the hysteria. The groom wanted the wedding cake to feature a sports item. She graciously acceded to this request. However, since the marzipan sports equipment apparently clashes with the wedding’s theme or color scheme, this end of the cake will be turned to the wall when it is time to cut the cake.

What does it say about the partnership bride and groom will be forming, the platform on which they will build their family, if a marriage proposal symbolically elevates one partner and demeans the other? If wedding preparation is about honoring one partner’s wishes above the other? If things that mean something to the groom are edited out? Will the husband now spend the rest of his life deferring to his wife, or will there be give and take? For the record, although my husband and I ended up in a pretty traditional role pattern, I was the one who proposed. By email.