Weddings are about women

I wanted to post this yesterday, but I had no internet. Time Warner Cable had yet again misunderstood my attempt to pay them, and sternly cut me off, so that I would learn my lesson. I did. Lesson: Time Warner Cable is bad.

So my amazing friend Emily is here from California to help me with wedding planning. Other than telling me about how much better CA is than everywhere else in the world (which all people who live there are obligated to do. They sign a contract that requires them to constantly use phrases like, “Hmm. Rain. This reminds me of how much better the weather is in California!”), she’s been totally supportive of me getting married here in Manhattan. We’re running all over the city.

Yesterday I tried on some bridal lingerie. It had a little fake diamond buried in sprigs of lace. There may have been pink ribbons. It didn’t fit, which was kind of a relief. When we were telling my fiancé about the day and we mentioned the lingerie, he said, “What’s it for? Is there some special purpose?”

We thought about it. I said, “I think maybe to seduce you.”

“Oh.” He seemed uncertain about how he was supposed to react to that.

I think I’m going to look for something that will prevent me from flashing all of the guests when I raise my arms without being simultaneously covered in satin bows and definitely without the words “I’m the bride!” bedazzled in pale pink plastic stones on the back.

Anyway, all this preparing for the wedding has made me think a lot about how weddings are done, and I’ve come to the following conclusion:

Weddings are all about women.

(click here for image source)

My mother comes into the city every week and we work on wedding plans. I take my friends out to help me choose various things from various vendors. A wedding is a tiny world of women planning, fussing, gathering, and supporting one another. Which is not to say that this is everyone’s experience. There’s probably someone out there who planned a wedding with her professional football player fiancé and the whole team chipped in. What? Football’s been around a while! There are a lot of people in the world! That could’ve happened!

But for me, and I get the feeling for many other women, planning a wedding is all about working with other women.

My dad shakes his head and says something about City Hall. My brother keeps asking if he can wear a yellow tux. I don’t know why. My one good guy friend hasn’t asked about wedding planning to date. My casual guy friends definitely haven’t asked. The only man I’ve met with for the wedding so far is a sort of eccentric Russian florist. And the guy who does the lights at the venue. Roberto. He’s very nice.

My fiancé’s mother wants to know how far along we are with the planning. We video chat with her on the weekend. She’s in California, Land of Beautiful People and Exquisite Happiness, and after we say hi and make sure everyone’s still alright, we dive into wedding talk. My first phone conversation with his stepmother was about our wedding. She’s coordinating the rehearsal dinner. My mom is involved on a daily basis. My local women friends have all done something wedding related with me. And Emily is staying here in the city with me for the sole purpose of wedding preperations.

As stressful as it’s supposed to be, and sometimes is, there’s something kind of lovely about the community of women that emerges through planning a wedding. I can’t help but think that I’ll be a little sad after we’re married, when there isn’t an easy topic for everyone to congregate around. Which does not in any way motivate me to get pregnant, by the way. But I’m just saying. It’s a little bittersweet.

I mean, the truth is, they are there anyway. And they will be there. And after my wedding, I’ll just have to get more creative about bringing them consistently into my life. I’ve already got a conversation tactic worked out for when I call his mother.

“Hi! How are you? I’m good, but it’s raining. So….How’s the weather there?”

*  *  *  *

Anyone want to argue, as my fiance did, that weddings are about fiances? :) My response to this was that if planning a wedding is a game of chess, then the fiance is the king. It wouldn’t be happening without him. But he doesn’t really do that much.

Un-Roast: Today I love the way my pinky toes curl in. They look snuggly. What about you?

AnnaD says: “today I was reminded that I have great legs. I had just gotten to work, after the mile-walk through the woods (yes, really) and was changing my shoes. In doing so I pulled up the bottom of my pants legs and noticed that my calves looked really good! I have strong legs and once had them described as ‘very shapely’. I’ve also received a ‘damn, your legs look good!’ as someone was walking up stairs behind me.”

Rachel says: “I dyed my hair back to its original color, and am loving how strikingly dark that color is.”

Sandy: “I’m really feeling my energy right through my body today, love it!”

Diane says: “I like my hands, especially my fingers. They’re not particularly long, but they are slender and delicate. They feel capable and feminine at the same time.”

Amy says: “I think these are supposed to be more body-image related, but I can’t go there yet. Ummm… I like that my students often really love having me as a teacher, mentor and friend. I must be doing something right!”

notcoffee says: “I love my legs for the first time in my life. I do manual labor for a living and never appreciated just how much work they really do. They’re fierce and could easily kick a hole through drywall. In sum – legs, we’re no longer enemies. Thanks for doing that thing you do.”

P.S. Check out my piece about interfaith families in the Huffington Post, if you’re interested.

Note: Ever notice how the main character is almost always white? Like in the picture in this post. She has a black bridesmaid and an asian bridesmaid, proving that the people coordinating the shoot are definitely inclusive and urbane, but the bride is of course blond and white. Oh well.


Kate on June 23rd 2010 in life, new york, relationships, wedding

17 Responses to “Weddings are about women”

  1. San D responded on 23 Jun 2010 at 9:19 am #

    Rituals in societies are set up to add to the continuum, to meld matriarchal families together, to ease the anxiety of the young woman going into the unknown (back in the day, when marriages were arranged, the companionship of women in the ceremony eased the transition from the father’s house to the husband’s house). Marriage is first and foremost a ritual, then a party where everyone celebrates love. Men, generally, get to sit back and watch the show, then show up in tuxes and look good. The planning, the lead up, the acoutraments, the dress, are all part of the sizing up of both families’ ideas of love and marriage. Do you love less if you have a modest wedding? Are you less enthusiastic about your future with your new husband if you don’t invite your second cousin once removed? Would it be rude to just ask for the money for a downpayment on a condo, and get married by the town clerk? Why should you settle for less than your perfect wedding? Each of us has an ideal (including our husbands), and we should have whatever makes us happy and invite our blended families to join in, dance, eat, and sing.

  2. Kate responded on 23 Jun 2010 at 9:24 am #

    Beautifully said.

  3. Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday responded on 23 Jun 2010 at 9:57 am #

    I got married in Italy. All I knew about was the church and the priest; everything else was a surprise (the food, the flowers, the venue, the photos, etc).

    It seems to me like weddings are about everyone BUT the couple getting married. Every detail is about bending over backwards to impress the wedding guests so the parents of the bride and groom can flaunt their wealth/pride/extravagance/whatever… The bride and groom are all just part of the show.

    That’s why I went away to get married. When there are no decisions to be made then you can never make the wrong decision.

  4. Wei-Wei responded on 23 Jun 2010 at 10:00 am #

    I think weddings in Asian communities are less focused on the bride. That may be changing now, but I still don’t think conflicts like the one seen in “Bride Wars” (highly disliked that movie, btw – maybe I just didn’t get it?) would be very common here in Asia. I certainly was not one of those little girls who dreamed about a huge wedding… In fact, all I wanted to do was to get registered and use the money saved from the wedding on my honeymoon. Yes. I was a practical little girl, but the idea still stands. I do understand the joy of weddings and how much effort goes into planning them, but I’d hate to see people getting obsessive about it.

    Just my personal opinion! Oh, and unroast: This is kinda gross, but I shaved my arms today. I love how smooooth they are after getting rid of lanugo. Okay. Sorry if I grossed everyone out here :S


  5. Kate responded on 23 Jun 2010 at 10:23 am #


    Ha! I shaved my arms once, too! It was sort of a secret. And now it’s not. I thought they looked pretty good, honestly.

    I’m interested to learn more about Asian weddings! I’m constantly forgetting to be culturally sensitive. Tell me more!

    Also, Bride Wars was an awful movie. You’re not alone. And there’s no way the Plaza could be booked in under three months. Oy. And all the emphasis on spending money=stupid.

  6. Cindy responded on 23 Jun 2010 at 12:20 pm #

    sorry, but I totally find the shaving of the arms much more fun to talk about!

    I wax mine. I’m part sheep dog. I like not resembling a monkey.


    weddings. we went easy. me and my husband planned the whole thing ourselves. My mom shopped with me once. If I could do it over again, I would have gotten married on the beach in Hawaii and brought a nanny.

    and why YES the weather is just about perfect here…and the 20 gazillion other inhabitants of California agree. That’s why it’s like a zoo here.

    I would love to visit NY.
    have a great day and enjoy your woman bonding. You’ll never forget this time in your life!

    Unroast? I am wearing a hula skirt over my work clothes today and a big hibiscus in my hair. I like flowers in my hair. wavy messy hair and flowers go good together! :)

    oh, it’s my birhtday tomorrow. that’s why. I don’t typically horrify our office general manager with plastic clothes normally. I am just that classy.

  7. rachel responded on 23 Jun 2010 at 12:36 pm #

    I think it’s probably true that for most couples weddings are about brides. When we went shopping for my husband’s wedding suit, the salesman recommended simple white shirt / white tie, so as not to distract from ME, because he said, weddings are really about the bride. I didn’t agree, but white on white looked nice, so we listened.

    Wedding culture reminds me that we haven’t gotten very far from traditional gender roles. (funny that you mention having a baby as the next possible way to get attention.) There’s this residual idea that weddings aren’t about the grooms because men’s lives aren’t defined by finding love in the same way. Little girls are taught to dream of their prince charming – little boys are taught to dream about sex. And men are supposed to find their self value and recognition in their careers, which will only grow. (Or worse, men don’t need attention on the wedding day because they’ve always gotten it.)

    Of course, these roles don’t reflect contemporary life very well, and those ideas of masculinity I mentioned really only ever reflected the lives of certain classes of men, but it seems like weddings are about the fantasy of that imaginary time past – you know when people through elegant banquets and everyone wore fancy clothes – and too often not about the people marrying each other.

  8. Justine responded on 23 Jun 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    You’re so right, it is nice the way weddings bring women together. I loved the woman who assisted me when buying my dress, I loved the girl I met this weekend at The Hat Shop who helped me order my custom headpiece, and most of all I love having a reason to get my bridesmaids together. Cousins and college friends, sisters, future sister in laws—it’s a group that might not come together otherwise.

    What is with bridal lingerie? I find it very intimidating, and also expensive, I’m not sure what to do about it.

    Also, Bride Wars, what a horrible, insulting, film that perpetuates the stereotype of the crazy, wedding-obsessed woman. Why do studios think we want to see that kind of stuff??

  9. zoe responded on 23 Jun 2010 at 1:44 pm #

    it’s always a white woman in the center of the ad. and she always has her black friend and her asian friend and her one other white friend. i hate advertisements. and there attempt at “diversity,” especially when they all end up looking like the white girl in the middle anyway.

    anyway, wedding planning sounds stressful! i’m only 20 and so far, none of my close friends have tied the knot. but weddings do bring people together, particularly women. it’s almost like a right of passage, the whole helping someone plan her wedding thing. good luck with everything! i know (at least hope!!) it’s just as much fun as it is overwhelming!

    unroast: is unable to be a physical one today. i’m proud of myself for getting a job interview though! fingers crossed — it’s today!

  10. Maya responded on 23 Jun 2010 at 3:45 pm #

    I never really gave much thought to weddings. I always kind of liked the idea of a destination wedding, something small. But I’ve been reading wedding recaps on blogs lately and it all sounds very lovely. Thing is that I can be a perfectionist and, though I am in no way artistically inclined, I am somewhat of a discerning aesthete. So I think if I had a big-ish wedding I would be so stressed about details and get caught up in everything. And I don’t want to lose sight of the purpose of the wedding and start saying things like WHY ARE THE LILLIES ORANGE RED. THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE RED ORANGE. But we’ll see how it goes. I’m only 20.

    I love your un roasts but I’ve never contributed one, but here it goes!

    I like how muscular my legs are. They don’t look like sticks, and my thighs are definitely thighs, if you know what I mean, but you can see the muscle definition. I realize I prefer that to stick legs. My legs do a lot for me and they show it.

  11. San D responded on 23 Jun 2010 at 3:48 pm #

    Just an ‘arm shaving’ note…LOL…my hair never came back on my arms and legs after chemo over 22 years ago. I feel like the cat with all the wrinkles and no fur!

  12. Kate responded on 24 Jun 2010 at 11:25 am #

    I hope the job interview went well!
    And good point, they all always do somehow look like the white girl.

    Ha! You’re hilarious. I love your impression of someone getting way too involved in the details of planning a wedding. That’s exactly how I picture it, too. Flipping out about the color of the flowers. Thanks for un-roasting for the first time!

  13. janetha responded on 24 Jun 2010 at 5:29 pm #

    HOLY CRAP. my favorite post on ETDC to date.


    i died laughing. and i can relate, of course.

    “if planning a wedding is a game of chess, then the fiance is the king. It wouldn’t be happening without him. But he doesn’t really do that much.” god. i love you.

    i have had fun seeing more of my ladies in my life due to wedding plans, but i must admit i have not gotten real wrapped up in the details. i keep just saying “i don’t care, whatever is cheapest”.. i think my mom loves me for that one. but we have had a ton of fun planning it together. my mom’s best friend’s daughter is getting married a week after me. she is 6 years younger and is the epitome of a wedding diva/brat. she is making her mom’s life a living hell and isn’t even being sweet to her (and her mom is forking over tons of money).. i feel really bad for her mom, this should be a time you get closer to your mom and have fun and make memories. not be a total bitch because your mom suggested the wrong color for something.

    ok, sorry to ramble.

    unroast: all of the muscles in my shoulders. looooove.


  14. Kate responded on 24 Jun 2010 at 5:33 pm #

    Aww! Thanks! Means a lot coming from someone who is so fantastic and funny herself.

    When I was looking at veils the other day I literally just said, “What is the cheapest veil you have here?”

    She was like, “Um, well, the shorter ones are over here… This one is $150…”

    I said, “I think I could probably get this material in a craft store for $5.”

    Then I felt bad because she looked really startled, and I tried to be really nice to her for a few minutes before escaping.

    Anyway, you rock! <3

  15. andi responded on 30 Jun 2010 at 6:33 pm #

    just stumbled on your blog and love it. just got married myself and i thought that the biggest unexpected part was the outpouring of love and support from all the women (and men really) in my life. i say unexpected because well, i did think that people would do stuff with and for me, but the actual experience overwhelmed me in a great way.

    lots of really interesting thoughts. hope that you’re thoroughly enjoying being a bride! being a wife is pretty cool too. :-)

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