Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bridezillas and Self-Love

The other day Davie and I watched the TLC show "Say Yes to the Dress." It focused on one very high end bridal store and the "consultants" who work there, trying to match brides with their perfect gowns. Needless to say, it confirmed our idea--shared by many--that weddings these days have truly gotten out of control.

As I watched middle class families pick out $9,100 designer dresses for one day's use, I struggled to figure out how all this fit with the big picture of a woman's wedding day. True love...romance...a celebration of lifelong intimacy...sure, the elements are there for one mighty important day. But the brides on this show exhibited a true sense of desperation, even panic, when it came to choosing the right dress. Why should one little ingredient in the day be so crucial, I asked myself?

Then it hit me. For a lot of women, the thing that sets their wedding day apart from every other day in their lives is that silent, understood contract between the bride and all who attend the celebration: for this day, she is the loveliest, most important person there. For this day, she is a princess, she shines brighter than anyone else, and regardless of how plain or unattractive she feels every other day, at her wedding a woman is beautiful.

And seeing as there will be no other day she can be guaranteed of that, the poor bride is terrified something will go wrong to spoil her only chance at unrivalled beauty. There can be no screw-ups to distract or put off the guests. The party has to be at least as big and fancy and flawless as any other wedding the guests have attended. And above all, the dress has to make the bride look her best.

If she chooses one that doesn't flatter her figure perfectly, or is slightly the wrong white for her complexion, or is too plain, or too gaudy, or too commonplace, could spoil everything. And she has one day, that ONE DAY, to get it right. Every other day of her life, no one may even be paying attention to her, much less entertaining the idea that she is beautiful.

What awful pressure to put on yourself! I can tell you right now, my dress and my hair the day of my wedding to David were not at all the best I ever looked...probably not even in the top ten. I'm putting in this post a photo of my in my favorite dress ever...I bought it for an office Christmas party and I just got lucky. Life can not be planned with quite that much accuracy. We had a lot more fun planning our wedding to be a day that expressed who the two of us are, particularly as a couple, and we shared in all the preparations and had a blast.

Alas, it is far more common nowadays that the groom lays low for the year of planning, hoping at best to placate his future wife and mother-in-law, and to avoid as much as possible the stress afflicting them. Instead of the planning process bringing the couple together, it separates them. And frankly, I don't see how that does anything to make the bride feel more desirable to her husband.

But she will feel, of course, that if she has the right dress, the right hairstyle, the right flowers, he will greet her with joy and adoration at the altar. And I admit most grooms do just that, fortunately. But the sad part is that the bride feels she can never again be the princess, the most beautiful and admirable person in the room.

Truth is, when women focus not quite so much on appearances, and rather work to discover their individual charms and gifts, they can feel beautiful even on some random Tuesday in February. If they expend the effort it takes to plan a wedding instead on nurturing intimacy and shared fun with their partner, that too will bring a more permanent feeling of desirability.

What turns perfectly nice women into Bridezillas is that desperate need to feel beautiful, sexy, and loved. No dress can do that: only we can, by recognizing our great qualities and accepting ourselves as lovable and lovely creatures.


Jen said...

Giggle, so what's the story of that day and the Mother in Law from hell? Is that her way of saying that this is the only day your important? After that I will do my best to suck the life out of you? =)

Diana Laurence said...

My guess? For those who have the Mother in Law from Hell...aka the mom who is desperately jealous of her son's new #1 woman...she had to endure the wedding day because of the "Rules," but after that is free to be as icky-bad as she wants. [shudder]