Dear E. Jean: I’m engaged to the love of my life, but every time I start to plan the wedding, I feel suffocated! So much of the traditional ceremony is rooted in sexism (“giving away” the bride, wearing “virginal” white, and so on). So though I said “yes” to the wedding I always thought I wanted, now that it’s time to finalize everything, I just want to hide!
My fiancé is fine with a small wedding or a big one, and right now we’re heading toward a 200-person day. I don’t know if it’s the guest list, the church ceremony, or an inner aversion to traditional weddings that bothers me most. A lot has been planned by my parents, and I do feel obligated to make them happy. I just wish I could be a little more drawn to the whole “bride” thing, but the more weddings I attend, the more distant I feel from all those women in big white dresses. How do I make my family happy and not lose my sanity? Should I just pop a Xanax and get on with it? Or is there a way to create a day that I will look forward to instead of dread? Thank you, thank you! —Must I Be “Given Away”?
Given, My Gladiolus: A church wedding! How divine! But where’s the sacred rule that states you must be “given away”?
God, Herself, is obviously bored with it, so when the pastor says, “Who giveth this woman?,” hug your father and mother (who, perhaps, have both walked you down the aisle) and answer, “Reverend Larry, I give myself!”
As for the whole “virginal” business: Fashionable brides, as you know, wore red until February 10, 1840, when in the Chapel Royal, at St. James’s Palace, Queen Victoria flabbergasted the world by wearing white silk satin to marry Prince Albert. (She also proposed to him, by the way.) It makes you wish Her Majesty were still around, just to show her that you can give tradition a witty spin, too. Wear what hue you choose, but if you ask your 200 guests to don white—zounds! The church on your wedding day will shimmer in shades of Ivory Creamsicle, Cosmic McQueen, Saltine Cracker, and Quantum Oyster. (Plus, white still looks good when sprayed with champagne.)
With regard to your “sanity”: Brides always lose it before a wedding, always. But when the day arrives, and the minister has pronounced you husband and wife, and you turn around to see all the people who are there to support you, you’ll understand that it’s not about the trappings. It’s about the 200 smiling persons twinkling away tears and loving you—that’s what will make your wedding so wonderful!