Working in weddings affords me amazing opportunities to chat with nearlyweds about the inspiration for their upcoming nuptials. Just last week I was chatting with Sarah about her wedding vision -- she will wear a sparkling white dress there will be a three tier chocolate cake with raspberry filling, and the flower girls will drop pink rose petals down the aisle. All of this sounds gorgeous and well thought out -- except for the small detail that Sarah is only seven years old. While imagining the details of your wedding as a child may be part of a healthy fantasy life, part of me wonders if it isn't proof that wedding fever is infecting young girls a little too early.
Disney certainly seems to think so. Take the current hit movie Frozen. The film --which is deemed one of Disney's most progressive -- shuns the classic "love at first sight" cliché. In addition to saving herself and her sister with her own act of true love instead of a kiss from a handsome prince, the heroine Anna originally falls for a handsome prince, gets engaged and immediately starts planning her wedding, only to be admonished by her sister Elsa for moving too quickly. Her subsequent relationship with the goofy, yet adorable, mountain man Hans goes slower, and after she saves the kingdom, he moves into town to continue their relationship (sans wedding). The film seems to be telling kids that love should be about a growing relationship where you really get to know someone well, and not just the excitement of a wedding celebration. I applaud Disney for this paradigm shift.
But who is sending the message to tweens and young adults that they should be planning a wedding before they have even hit puberty? The rising number of "aspirational" wedding boards on Pinterest created by young women who are not in a relationship, let alone engaged, feels like proof that wedding fever is spreading -- and it might not be a healthy trend.
Weddings are gorgeous. Couples looking their best donned in sparkling jewels and surrounded by flower arrangements are hard to ignore -- but the growing emphasis on the wedding itself, particularly by young adults, puts an undue focus on the glam of the day, selectively ignoring what a wedding is truly about. Let's be clear, a wedding is a very expensive party celebrating a lifelong commitment between two people and their families.
Weddings are not the happily-ever-after ending of fairytales, but the (often challenging) beginning of a new phase of life. The danger of wedding fever is not that people will spend too much time or money planning an event that only lasts a day or two, but that the desire to make their wedding fantasy a reality will eclipse very real issues in a relationship that will not be sustainable.
I truly hope that Sarah, and all of her young counterparts pinning their version of the perfect wedding, get to enjoy the celebration of their dreams -- poofy princess gown and all. But I also hope that as they get older, and wiser, they take the time to find the right partner and ends up being much more excited about the marriage rather than the wedding.