27 August 2010

I Went to a Wedding Website and All I Got Was This Stupid Checklist.

I went to a major wedding website recently when it came to my attention that I only had nine months left to start planning this wedding. After printing off their checklist and subsequently ranting about it via video, I wanted to take a moment to specifically point out items that irked me on this list via my own checklist. Yes, I see the irony. One useless checklist deserves another.

[ For copyright purposes, I did not duplicate their checklist items but instead rephrased them to avoid violating any laws. Words they used specifically are in quotes. ]

5. Wherein brides are instructed to follow an exercise regime and eat well in order to get into "wedding day shape".

While I see the importance of good physical, mental, and emotional health, what is this “wedding day shape” standard? Was the shape I was in when we got engaged somehow not good enough? You mean he proposed with the hopes that I would eventually buckle down and achieve this bridal shape? And note that it says “wedding day shape”, not “marriage shape” or “lifelong good shape”. Further note that it says “shape”, not “health” – because let’s face it, the two are not always natural bedmates (as the daughter of an anorexic can tell you – a skinny figure does not a healthy mother make). Making positive life changes for a lifetime is one thing, but making these changes on the basis of a single day is not likely to last and more likely to deprive us of much needed confidence… and sleep…

8. Wherein brides are urged to find the "perfect" reception site.

I promised myself when I was attending a Liberal Arts college that I wouldn’t become one of those people that got all hung up on semantics, but here I am getting all bitchy and Birkenstocky and about to dissect use of the word “perfect”. The idea that there is a perfect reception location is as ludicrous as the notion of “the” dress, or “the” soulmate who was put on Earth just for you. The word “perfect” can be damaging, and it can add unnecessary pressure and imply an impossible, unachievable standard of flawlessness that threatens to overshadow the truly important aspects of your wedding day. What makes a perfect reception location, anyway? Who is to say what is perfect? Words like “ideal” or “suitable” would be more effective and empowering for brides, and just a wee bit less ulcer-inducing.

10. Wherein brides are told to plan for their engagement party by creating a guest list, setting a date, and ordering another set of invitations.

Wait, wait, wait… one set of invitations wasn’t enough? Now I have to think about two sets? And another location, menu, guest list, and kitschy favors or decorations? Where’s the checklist for this party? Maybe I should hire an engagement party planner… hmm…

16. Wherein brides are told to begin researching wedding dresses via magazines and websites.

There’s this psychological phenomenon known as “exposure effect” which suggests that people become fond of things they find familiar. In reference to advertising (such as you might find of wedding gowns in bridal magazines and on commercial wedding websites), the exposure effect tends to be most powerful when the product or company is unfamiliar and fresh. To a first-time bride, these images would be rather attractive, no? After all, these dresses are new to her - and once they stop being new, they become familiar by virtue of the fact that they are dominating print and online wedding media. The ads set the standard or the norm – the brides see it and love it for its newness and simultaneous familiarity – and a quest to find the perfect big white dress is born. Nevermind that white makes you look washed out, or a $500 gown isn’t in your budget. You’ve been shown the norm. You now must grapple with forcing yourself into the standard, or defying it at the risk of pissing off friends and family who want you to have a “real” wedding.

… and this is just the 9-11 month checklist. We have so many more to go! Weeeeeeeeee!

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