A new online survey by David's Bridal shows that nearly half of brides would (or did) change their Facebook relationship statuses to "married" in between their wedding ceremony and reception.
Yes, that's right. In the wake of tearful vows and the first kiss as husband and wife, the receiving line, the bustling of the dress and the cocktail-hour photography session, brides are unearthing their smartphones from their mini bridal purses to digitally alert everyone -- both those attending the wedding and those were who were not even invited -- that they have indeed crossed-over from Miss to Mrs.
My first reaction is to denounce these brides as ridiculous. Who taps around on Facebook while she could simply be, oh, I dunno, enjoying her wedding reception?
But, as much as I'd like to say that'll be able to fight the compulsion when my own Big Day finally comes, I'm sure that I too will promptly initiate my relationship status metamorphosis.
To put this into context for a moment, the "married" status update is just the icing on the digital wedding cake. My Facebook newsfeed is cluttered daily with friends' marriage-related news, from engagement announcements to professional engagement photos to updates about the bridal shower and bachelorette party shenanigans to alerts that it's one month, one week and one day before the nuptials.
I even have one Facebook friend (we haven't had any "real" contact since approximately 2006) who seemed to live-blog her honeymoon, posting photos a couple of times a day of the places that she and her new husband (whom I've never met) visited. I wondered: Is nothing sacred? Aren't you supposed to spend your honeymoon offline and in private, having really hot newlywed sex?
While I may not go quite that far (my boyfriend, Greg, has already made me promise not to be "that girl" and post a picture of my future engagement ring on my Facebook wall for my friends to gaze at), you better believe that the moment I say "I do," I am going to be fighting a mad impulse to alert the world (population: 692 friends).
As far as I can tell, there are two types of people on Facebook -- those who you constantly see in your newsfeed and those you don't -- and I have long known which one I am (Hint: It's not the second type.) Thankfully, I have slightly evolved since my early twenties, when I'd craft esoteric song lyrics into symbolic status updates (read: thinly-veiled cries for help to get guys I liked to notice me) or post reports about how cool my life was (most often when it was anything but) with an unabashed lack of self-awareness.
But on my wedding day, I will probably enlist my best friend Jenn to hold my iPhone for me -- or, worse, stuff it somewhere in my dress -- before I head down the aisle so that I can ceremoniously mark my rite of passage on Facebook soon after. For some reason, I see myself updating my status alone in a bathroom stall so that no one actually witnesses me doing it -- which is odd given that the main point of updating is for people to see it. (At this, I can hear my mother's voice say "You need your head examined" and I think she might be right.)
Maybe there's a deeper meaning behind this urge. Having divorced parents, I've long-craved creating my own, presumably stable, family. Perhaps the reason I can't wait to make my own digital proclamation is because it's my way of publicly stating for the record, "Yes, I'm lovable! I'm stable! I'm going to be okay!" (Man, I really hope that my therapist is reading this.)
While involving Facebook as part of the wedding ritual might sound unnatural or even unromantic, for women like me who have now been on the site for nearly a decade, it's just what we do. There's a quote that's stuck with me since I first read it from Michael Wesch, an assistant professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University. He told the New York Times back in 2007, in regards to newly affianced couples posting their engagement photos: "It's almost like if it's not on Facebook, it didn't happen."
According to Melissa Barrad, a wedding planner in San Diego, the impulse for brides to grab their smartphones post-ceremony seems almost ingrained at this point. "They're so used to doing it in their daily life, it definitely makes sense for them to update everyone in their world about their wedding and name change," she told the "Today Show."
In any case, for better or for worse, I know that I'm going to be "that girl."
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Follow Natasha Burton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NatashaNBurton