When I worked as a wedding planner, I was shocked to witness just how many of my clients hated wedding planning as the pressure from the wedding industry scam sucked them into a stressful and expensive journey of feeling as though their worth, and their relationships worth, was measured against the size of their wedding budget. There was little on the purpose or intention behind the wedding and a lot more focus on the aesthetics.
The bigger the budget the bigger the love, right?
In my 10 years working as a wedding coach and planner, I have witnessed the problematic aspects of planning a modern wedding guided by the materialistic view of what a wedding should be. I have seen how this modern wedding industry scam has stripped the joy out of wedding planning, so much so that couples either hate their wedding planning experience or makes them not want to have a wedding at all.
I’ve spent the last five years exploring this phenomenon and I’ve got a better approach, ready to explore a more more connected and meaningful approach to your wedding journey? Read on!
What’s Wrong With the Modern Wedding Journey?
When you consider that the decision to get married is made in private between two individuals, it’s humorous to think the process of planning a wedding tends to involve an entire committee of the people in your life — all with their own opinions and no regard for your unique wedding purpose.
Utter the ‘W’ word and like magic, comes a flood of opinions and expectations for how your wedding should look. Your parents have an opinion about who should be there; your guests have expectations of the rituals they will experience, not to mention the unwritten code that depicts everything you’re “supposed” to do, even down to your underwear.
“Wait a second,” you might think, “um, since we’re the ones who decided to get married in the first place, shouldn’t the way we celebrate be our decision too?”
But when you consider cutting wedding traditions that don’t serve you, you feel anxious people won’t enjoy themselves. You fear people will judge you for doing something wrong — heaven forbid you deny your guests the opportunity to catch the bouquet. Instead, it seems easier to give the people what they want… Right?
The modern wedding journey then becomes an anxiety-ridden journey of attempting to navigate other people’s opinions and your own insecurities, rather than being a joyful experience. Is this really the best way to plan a wedding? Why would the wedding industry continue to push this approach if it causes so much hate for the process? Because the wedding industry is a scam.
Wedding Traditions Are a Lie
Where do these wedding expectations and traditions come from, exactly? Up until the 1960s, it was typical to host weddings on weekdays — Saturdays were considered bad luck! Wedding receptions were not customary, but those who chose to have one usually did so during the day at their parents’ home. Family members served light refreshments of punch and cake, couples wore clothing they already owned, and brides did not typically wear engagement rings with couples exchanging simple gold wedding bands.
This is a far cry from the details we associate with weddings today. In fact, the customs that we call “traditions” nowadays haven’t been around all that long.
Their origins? Generally speaking, the wedding industry has fabricated many traditions (think diamond engagement rings and white wedding dresses). Others have been resurrected from century-old customs that don’t always have the most honourable of beginnings — the roles of the best man, bridesmaids, and the honeymoon all spring from an era when brides were obtained by purchase or capture.
Besides the fact that we have developed a sentimental attachment to many of the wedding traditions we see today (thank you Hollywood), these customs have no real meaning, especially not to our modern lives today. They have been romanticised to be commoditised because that’s how you sell products!
It’s no coincidence that the appearance of new wedding “traditions” coincided with the rise of consumerism beginning in the 1950s.
What Is the Purpose of a Wedding?
In that era, a wedding marked the transition of leaving one’s parental home to move into their new marital home and therefore signified a big life change.
The purpose of a wedding today, however, doesn’t have the same significance. Most couples already live together before marriage — so the transition from unmarried to married no longer has the same meaning. I’m not saying the decision to be married is without weight (far from it), but it’s unlikely a groom will carry his bride over the threshold of their new marital home on their wedding day anymore. The truth is not much changes after the wedding, but that’s the last thing the wedding industry wants you to know.
To keep making money, brands must continue to promote the idea that your marriage is indeed a significant life accomplishment and that your wedding will be the best moment of your life. They tell you the perfect wedding leads to the ideal marriage. And to prove your commitment to this relationship, you need to throw an uncomfortable amount of energy and cash at your wedding celebration. Sounds stressful, right?
What is Proper Wedding Etiquette?
Rather than being an opportunity to honour your relationship with integrity and meaning, weddings have become a barrage of pressure to present your impeccable taste and talent for event styling to the world.
Couples must check lists, wear this, purchase that, and register here. They end up convinced that any divergence from this blueprint means they’re doing it wrong.
They’re tricked into believing they have to do these things because it’s proper wedding etiquette. But what even is “proper etiquette”? Not to be confused with manners, etiquette tells us how we should act. Etiquette is about keeping things orderly, and as a result, it is constricting – especially to the bride.
Fuck etiquette, I say.
It’s All About the Bride
The bride is the prime target for all these marketing messages. From the initial prize of a diamond ring to the social encouragement of spending a small fortune on a dress that’s worn once, it’s The Bride who carries most of the pressure—the pressure to plan the perfect wedding but also the pressure that she too is perfect.
She is told the wedding marks the transition from her drab, unmarried existence, to the far more elevated status of married. She is coerced into believing that her wedding will be the pinnacle of her life, the time that she will be at her happiest, skinniest, and prettiest. Cue the pre-wedding facial regimen and 6 AM bridal boot camp classes — all in the name of perfection.
It can leave you wondering which part of the wedding is actually for the bride?
What is an Unconventional Wedding?
You are not blind to this, of course. Ads litter your screen while browsing online, from sweatshirts to champagne flutes, printed with the word “bride”, “groom”, or “Feyoncé”. (My favourite is the personalised M&M’S because who doesn’t want to eat candy with your face on it?) It feels as though every industry imaginable is looking for a way to get a piece of your paycheque, all preying on your insecurities to manipulate you into spending more money. You “only get one chance” to do this, after all.
To take a stand, you resolve to have an unconventional wedding, to create something significant to you without being swept away in the production or pressure of it all.
But how do you untangle what is truly meaningful to you from what you are taught should be meaningful?
When you pull up a Google or Pinterest search for an “unconventional wedding”, you’re served up images of wedding ceremonies that included llamas or brides who wore white jumpsuits instead of white ball gowns. Sure these elements add a level of quirkiness to the event, but do they add meaning?
When I was a wedding planner, I saw this play out one wedding after the other. Though the individuality of each couple was apparent, the details of their wedding and ceremony rarely differed. There was a different colour scheme and a different menu, but they all shared an undeniable sense of conformity.
And yet, when you decided to be married — it was not an act of conformity.
There are core values behind what marriage means to you and why you decided to make the transition in the first place. These values are unique to you and your situation.
Why then, does it feel like your wedding must look a certain way? Why can’t you plan the wedding you want to have?
How To Plan A Meaningful Wedding
I often wonder what weddings would look like if we stopped calling them weddings. What would happen if you stripped away the visions of flowers, first dances, and bouquet tosses and instead designed a celebration that embodied your unique story? What if, instead of beginning your journey with a generic wedding-planning checklist, you defined your purpose for having a wedding at all?
In fact, let me ask you that right now: why are you having a wedding?
I can hazard a guess as to why you are getting married, but why the wedding? Is it because you love parties and want to celebrate with your friends and family? Perhaps you’ve always dreamt of having a wedding?
… Or maybe it’s because you feel like you should?
After getting engaged, it’s easy to slip straight into a wedding planning mode that blindly follows the path laid out by those who have gone before you. If you haven’t determined the purpose of your wedding day, you might find yourself planning a wedding that looks exactly like the last five you attended.
Attempting to present your individuality in any aspect of your life can be a challenging one. If you don’t know the why behind your reason for doing something out of the ordinary, it can feel somewhat intimidating.
What Is Your Wedding Purpose?
So, before you continue any further with your wedding planning journey, you must determine your wedding purpose.
This is the process of consciously uncovering why you are having a wedding in the first place. Once you know what your wedding is about, what it truly means to you, then you can design a celebration to embody that.
Without a purpose, it can be difficult to ignore the influence of others as they try and convince you that your wedding needs to look a certain way.
On the other hand, when you are clear on your purpose, you will notice that you’re better able to handle these situations, comfortably manoeuvring around the influence of others. You will feel free to plan the wedding you want to have.
That’s why I created a free guide to help you define your wedding purpose — The Un-Checklist.
It’ll help you figure out what your wedding purpose looks like, and how you can get there from start to finish.
Ready to get on the path to clarifying your vision and planning your wedding with ease? Download the worksheet now.