You may have noticed that the 2020 wedding season has not got off to the best of starts. Unsurprisingly, with a wedding scheduled for 5th September, I have noticed this as well. Alongside the tears and the anger (not from me, for once – we’re still quite optimistic), there are some interesting things afoot as people start to shift their perceptions of what their wedding means. I was going to write something about my own musings around this point anyway, but Covid has added an interesting dimension. Here are my thoughts and observations through this process:
- A marriage and a wedding are two different things.
I had always used the two words synonymously until we got engaged, but I’ve decided that the two are very different things. In my view, a marriage is two (or more, if that’s your bag) people saying to each other “I’m awesome, you’re awesome, and our specific types of awesomeness go together really well. That’s awesome.” A wedding, on the other hand, is you (plural) saying to all of your favourite people “It’s awesome that we are awesome together, please celebrate this awesomeness with us.”
The whole Covid situation is making a lot of people question which of these two parts are more important to them. Where weddings are being postponed, a lot of people are starting to think about eloping and ditching the big party altogether, or postponing the big party for a year or two to make sure that everyone can be there. Each to their own. We’re lucky in that our day neatly falls into two anyway, with a small legal ceremony and a bigger humanist ceremony and party – we can do one now and one later, or both later, depending on how things go.
- There are no rules any more.
When we set out on this whole conjugal adventure, I was very clear with myself that I would not be buying any bridal magazines. But I slipped up – I bought a copy of Brides. It was dreadful, utterly unrealistic with our budget and OH SO BORING. White dress, fancy hotel, honeymoon on Lake Como. £35,000, please. Yawn. Instead, we thought through all of the weddings that we’d been to (yes, that means yours) and thought about what stood out to us for each of them. I’m afraid to say, we can’t remember a single centrepiece (sorry!) so we decided they weren’t important and ditched them. Food on the other hand, muy importante – quick, filling and sociable dining is a priority. Receiving lines, excruciating. Get thee hence. Singing with gusto, an absolute must. We are pretty confident that we’ve ended up with a day that has all of our best bits with minimal fuss and aggro.
- This is a huge chance to be at your most creative.
Back in the day, a wedding was just the two of you in your best clothes, the local church and the people who happened to live in your village. It was very much about what was available and to hand at the time, with people lending skills to dress things up as best they can. I sort of wanted a bit of that back (and also we’re not millionaires), so we are doing as much as possible ourselves. Sure, some of the writing might be a little uneven, and the cake is very likely to be wobbly, but the sense of satisfaction is enormous (as are the savings!) Even without lockdown, if you’ve got a year or two to plan your wedding, why not learn a new skill along the way? (Though we have now ditched the pyrography plan, which is a shame.)
- Normal ethical boundaries still apply!
There is still a tendency to think that wedding = new and shiny and expensive. Firstly, see above. Secondly, we all still have an ethical obligation to use our money in a positive way. Sure Amazon is cheap, but what happens to that single use plastic after? And what about where it came from and the people who made it? It might be one day to you, but everything you buy has a past and a future, and that deserves consideration. We decided that anything we couldn’t make ourselves, we would try and source second-hand or from independent local suppliers, which has so far been really successful. The cost of going independent is easily balanced out by the large amounts of DIY.
- Destroy the Princess Myth!
Oh man, this. Women of the world, why are you still doing this to yourselves? Weddings are where capitalism and the patriarchy just explode! Ok, sure, they’re more less one and the same thing anyway but never have I seen it so clearly. This day is not about you (singular), it is about you (plural). There are loads of ways to celebrate you (singular) – birthdays, successes at work, cool things you’ve done in your free time. Your life has not been building up to this one day, it’s just one important part of life’s great jigsaw puzzle. Tell Disney where to get off and see the bigger picture! And guys, what is going on with you? It seems to be normal for men in heterosexual relationships not to really be involved. Roll up your sleeves, grab a paintbrush, bake a cake, whatever. Creativity is not the exclusive realm of women, and nor are organisational skills. Who knows, it may be the start of a beautiful new era of domestic equality.
So there you are, some thoughts and musings on 16 months of wedding planning. I have to say, I think that our decision to go maximum DIY has but us in the best possible position at the moment. Should we have to postpone, we’re tied into very few suppliers and we haven’t handed over thousands of pounds months in advance. We’re lucky in that we have a freely available space in which to have our very flexible, homespun wedding, not everyone will have that, but I would totally recommend taking this approach. It’s been remarkably stress-free – if we want it, we have it. If we don’t, we don’t. Fingers crossed for September!