If You Can Feel What I’m Feeling

A week into our engagement, I’ve learned that I’m still wary of weddings.

It’s not that I’m afraid of the commitment. In a way, Mr. WholeHog and I have been unofficially engaged for years. We’ve long felt that what we had was solid, even if we hadn’t bought rings and said so in front of all of our friends and family.

But I’m wary of what I call the Marital Industrial Complex — the marketing of a wedding as a singular chance to have your every wish come true.

To me, the Marital Industrial Complex is out to sell you an SUV for a trip you could easily do on a bike. It’s preys on our desire to make the day meaningful and unforgettable, when the sad reality is that, at considerable cost, many weddings seem generic. (If I EVER hear another reading of “Love is patient, Love is kind…”)

I know it’s possible to have a wedding that is more personal – a friend was married at a campground in Mammoth, Mr. WholeHog’s sister had a mariachi band at her reception — but I also know how easy it is to hop down the wedding rabbit hole and get completely consumed with centerpieces and save-the-dates.

I don’t believe that a wedding — or, at least, our wedding — has to have the traditional trappings. As we sorting out what feels right for us, I find there’s just so much that I question — the idea being “given away”, for example, when I’ve lived independently of my parents for years. Spending what could be the down payment on a home for a one day celebration. That my parents are somehow responsible for funding this party of my choosing, even if I pay for everything else in my life on my own.

I know my parents understand my desire to have what may end up being a “wedding in name only”; in fact, they’re probably responsible for my contrarian attitude. They were married a month before I was born, in a friend’s backyard. They didn’t call their ceremony a wedding; they called it the signing of the papers. And 30+ years later, they’re still happily married.

I know my future mother-in-law understands, too. “It’s a wedding, not the Oscar’s,” she said, ever-so-practically before Mr. WholeHog’s sister’s wedding. And that’s just it: the Marital Industrial Complex wants you to believe this is your Academy Award red carpet experience.

I picture the Marital Industrial Complex as a fast moving train and now that Mr. WholeHog and I are at the station, moving closer to the expected life track, I feel the wind of it against my face.

I know it’s easy to hop aboard, but I’d rather walk.

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One Response to “If You Can Feel What I’m Feeling”

  1. cuñada Says:

    I whole-hoggedly agree (excuse the expression but i had to try it out). Wedding planning proved to be the least enjoyable aspect of anything at all related to our marriage. Some people are born planners, and to the rest of us it’s just one big maze of overpriced cliches. Luckily you guys have family and friends who understand that there’s no right or wrong way to make that day happen. And i won’t miss the “love is kind” speech… in fact i wouldn’t be able to listen to it and make eye contact with my brother at the same time, because i know we’d both start riotously laughing. What a sarcastic family we come from.

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