Four women in my office eloped. My friends are eloping tomorrow and my best friend from middle school eloped several months before her ceremony took place. Weddings have always been traditional but now it seems that a new tradition has taken its place.
When it comes to marriage, there is only one important factor: love. When you love someone, you want to be with them. It’s that simple thought process that has become monotonously complicated as the years have gone on. And why? It’s more than our parents to blame.
The cost of a wedding has crept astronomically high. For our venue, catering and alcohol, it was $22,000. This excluded the dress, the tux, the cake, the hair, the makeup, the honeymoon, the decorations, the photographer and the gifts. We’re not swimming in debt from too many shopping excursions at Old Navy; we’re in debt from being bullied into a wedding based upon tradition as opposed to one we actually wanted. For $22,000, we could have bought a house; we could have had the honeymoon of our dreams; we could have paid off my husband’s college debt. Instead, we have a stack of photos buried in a photo album in our closet and memories of growling bellies from never having a chance to eat our food.
It’s much more than the cost of a wedding that is luring millennials toward elopement; it’s the familial pressure to conform.
When I helped my best friend prepare for her wedding, her mother was adamant that she wore a cathedral veil — a style that my best friend hated. At her reception, she wasn’t allowed to have an open seating plan.
Little girls supposedly dream of their wedding since childhood. In reality, it’s their mothers who dream of that perfect wedding, attributing expectations of what they had — or desperately trying to make up for what they lacked — onto the couples’ head. That drive has pummeled and pulverized the couples’ wishes. So, instead, they’re turning to elope.
I asked close friends of mine about their biggest regret from their wedding day and the consensus was all the same: they spent too much money or it wasn’t the day they always wanted. For the parents of the respective bride and groom, the fusing of two worlds together combines a little bit of tradition here and a little bit of tradition there. But, in actuality, it’s the melding of the couples’ ideas and wishes as a unit that takes precedence. I never spoke to a bride who was thankful she color-coordinated her cloth napkins with the centerpieces she later posted onto Facebook Marketplace. What I have heard from brides is that they regret not having the day they wanted.
You can’t forget about your parents’ neighbors or that cousin you’ve never been that close to. They deserve a seat during what should be an extremely intimate moment of your lives. You can’t have a honeymoon fund because the older people in your family would rather shop, so it’s better for them to waste their money on something you don’t really want, to avoid the “tackiness” of asking for cash.
You can’t wear a black dress or a pink one. Those aren’t traditional colors. Your tattoos must be hidden because it’s not lady-like. You have to have a rehearsal dinner. You must spend the night apart the evening before your wedding. You must buy flowers for your extended family to wear. You must opt to buy yourself a photo book, despite the feasibility of Facebook. You shouldn’t have a wedding on a Friday, because it’s not fair to ask people to take off work or leave a couple hours early. The same goes for Sunday, because people shouldn’t worry about not breaking loose before work the following morning. Forgotten, is the fact that Saturday is the most expensive day to host a wedding. Can’t. Not. Can’t. Not. Can’t. Not.
Those are the words exchanged as vows in a traditional wedding. But that’s all going to die off with our parents’ generation.
A wedding isn’t important; your marriage is. As a child of the 90s, I grew up with the majority of my friends’ parents getting divorced. The puffy white sleeves and exorbitant headdresses that defined the 80s were a nostalgic nod to the past as the same couples signed their name in cursive on their divorce papers. We learned, early on, that the perfect wedding doesn’t play a bigger role than the perfect marriage. Thus, adherence to traditional weddings is beginning to melt.
Why have a bridal shower when you’ve lived with the person you’re about to marry for years in a house with a kitchen that’s fully stocked with cutlery, pans, and dishes? Couples, nowadays, aren’t waiting for their wedding day to start their lives. Prior to my wedding day, my husband and I had already dealt with my mother’s cancer diagnosis, her death, two surgeries, FMLA, being unemployed, learning we had difficulty staying pregnant and two car accidents. We weren’t a couple waiting to start our lives; we were already swimming in it. We felt more like a married couple than most seasoned relationships.
The new standard of our children’s generation will face is that love plays a more important factor than what money can buy. The misconception is that the wedding is about family; that’s wrong. The wedding — just like your marriage — should be about you as a couple. You have my permission to have the day you want.