I am getting married at the end of the year to a lovely woman named Jane, and so my life in these last five months has involved an inordinate number of decisions around the height of cakes, the thickness of paper and the width of rings. I have also been informed on numerous occasions, by a wide variety of people, that the wedding is Jane’s ‘special day’ and that all major decisions, including what I will be wearing on the day, belong to her. Thankfully Jane has all along seen our wedding as a joint effort but this very common idea, that the wedding is a day for brides, needs some questioning.
While I am certainly pro-marriage I am not so sure that I am pro-wedding. I do not like the way in which the burgeoning wedding industry has taken the ideas of fidelity and self-giving love and associated them with make-up trials, chair covers and expensive cars. Interestingly the rise of the wedding industry and the amount of money spent is almost in direct correlation with the fall in the understanding of the nature and purpose of marriage.
My ideas about the nature of the wedding industry were confirmed when Jane and I attended a Bridal Expo with everything on show from jewellery to bonbonnieres to teeth whitening and even fitness training. One of the stalls was promoting a new wedding planning app in which the couple enters the basic details about their wedding to receive information showing the approximate cost of the wedding, according to industry averages. We had a go and filled out the few questions asked: date of wedding, style of wedding, number of guests etc. We were informed in no uncertain terms that our wedding, with 150 guests at the reception, was going to cost $105,936.09! This included $20,000 in outfits, $4500 in decorations (including $550 of balloons), $42,000 at the reception and $25,000 of pre-wedding expenses. Maybe this is the ‘industry average’ for a wedding, but if so, we all need to take a good hard look at ourselves and ask when exactly it became acceptable to spend more than a year’s wages on an event that is going to take less than a full day.
Now that I can speak from ‘within’ the world of wedding planning I can report that this is a world that has become overly feminised to the extent that male input is almost considered to be in the way. I assure you that wedding expos would not exist in their scope and size if men were playing a more substantial role in offering opinion. When one particular sex is solely responsible for weddings we find an imbalance in the end result. At one end, with women in charge, we find the costly princess-for-a-day model. At the other end, with men in charge, we see the disastrous results in TV shows such as Don’t tell the Bride.
While it is obvious that men and women are different this difference is meant to complement one another. Life is a not a competition to see which sex is most physically strong (that would be men) or which sex best nurtures children (that would be women). When men and women work together there is a wonderful balance. Where a husband might be happy to eat dinner every night straight out of a pizza box, it is the feminine charm of his wife that will civilise him and help him to see the role of a serviette. Where a wife might like to go shopping every weekend and continue to stock the house with ornaments that only exist to be dusted, it is the masculine practicality of her husband that stops her turning their home into a museum.
I am not blaming the many women who have taken over all aspects of wedding planning. Their leadership is often the necessary result of men who have scoured away like mice only wanting to know what date and time to turn up at the church. Just last week one newly married man was telling me proudly how he had left his fiancé to plan everything, as if this was some act of virtue! Both men and women need to embrace their roles in working with one another and using their natural gifts which at the end of the day will benefit not only wedding planning but life in general.