Weddings may not be everyone’s cup of tea (er, glass of punch?), but I’ve loved them ever since I was a little girl, clomping around in my mom’s high heels and long satin nightgowns. I would drape whatever was handy – a dish towel, a t-shirt, a curtain – over my head as a veil, clutching a fistful of dandelions as a bouquet, and glide down an imaginary aisle toward my imaginary groom, who looked just like Ralph Macchio. Don’t judge.
I find that there are two types of people: those like me, who adore weddings, and those who can’t roll their eyes hard enough at the mere thought. Those who smile when they pull an invitation out of their mailbox, and those who scowl. But for those of us who fall firmly into the pro-wedding camp, the allure of that invitation is irresistible, because we absolutely love …
1. Getting dressed up.
Unless you live some sort of glamorous lifestyle where you’re always attending a black-tie event, there just aren’t that many chances to spiff yourself up. You might wear slacks and heels or a pencil skirt to work, or to a job interview, or to church or something, but occasions where you really get to pull out all the stops and look your fanciest are few and far between. Weddings are a perfect opportunity to look your best, even if they do involve Spanx.
2. Seeing the creative ideas.
Back when I got married, we flipped through bridal magazines and used our imaginations. But now, thanks to Pinterest and Etsy and the Internet in general, everybody has access to the most awesome ideas. Live wedding painters? Special Instagram hashtags? Handwritten notes from the wedding party (or the future spouse) on the bottoms of wedding shoes? There’s something at every wedding that makes me say, “OMG, WHAT A GREAT IDEA!” (And it’s not always the reception champagne talking.)
3. Feeling the excitement in the air.
For the bride and groom, it’s possibly the most nerve-wracking day of their life to date, but in a good way (I mean, let’s hope). Their parents are nervous, in the way parents are when they watch their children do something big. The wedding party is hoping they’ve rehearsed everything to a tee and nobody drops the ring or flubs a poetry reading, because everyone there wants the day to be perfect. Emotions are running high, and you can always just feel how important this day is. The group excitement is literally palpable.
4. Seeing the absolute love.
There is nobody in love like a newlywed couple. They’re still learning about one another, still finding one another irresistibly attractive, still idealistic and full of hope about how marriage is going to be. And there’s nothing quite as priceless as seeing the looks on their faces as they spot each other for the first time from the other end of the aisle. Swoon!
5. Reminiscing and reflecting.
If you’re married yourself, chances are that your newlywed phase is over, and the sparkle has dulled a bit. Sure, you still love your spouse, but after you’ve seen so many nights of going to bed in tattered sweatpants and paying stupid bills and sharing adult responsibilities and pooping with the door open, partnership tends to lose a little of its luster. But there’s nothing like a wedding to remind us of the day when we too were totally, blissfully in love, and suspected our relationship was just a little more solid than most. And a reminder of why you married who you married is always welcome.
6. Critiquing the dress.
A bride never looks more beautiful than on her wedding day, and that’s due in large part to the one thing everyone can’t wait to see: the dress. Will it be traditional or trendy? Sleek or poofy? Will the amount of cleavage have all the great-aunts clutching their pearls? We only get to see once we turn around to watch her walk down the aisle.
7. Catching up with people you haven’t seen in a while.
If you’re at a wedding, you’re likely either related to half the people invited, or you have mutual friends. Either way, it’s a good opportunity to see – outside of Facebook – what these people have been up to (and whether they’re really aging that well or if they’re just super good at picking filters).
Even if the wedding itself bores you to tears, and you’re just there for the free hors d’oeuvres and cocktails at the reception, you can’t deny that a wedding brings some fabulous people-watching. You can start at the ceremony, guessing who else is bored, whose shapewear is cutting off their circulation, who might be an ex still harboring feelings. And after the ceremony, when everybody is tipsy, it gets even better.
9. The reception.
Even self-proclaimed wedding haters can’t help but enjoy themselves (at least minimally, the grouches) at the reception. Food, drinking, and dancing on somebody else’s dime – what’s not to love? If you’ve got a babysitter for the evening, even better. It’s like a date night. WITH CAKE.
As it turns out, my future husband would be nearly the physical opposite of Ralph Macchio, and there wasn’t a single dandelion in my bouquet – but somehow, it was exactly what I wanted. Are there things I would change? Absolutely; I was 19 when I got married, and 19-year-old girls aren’t exactly renowned for their stellar wedding planning skills.
But almost two decades later, I realize that the importance of my wedding day didn’t lie in the flowers or the songs I chose or even my dress. The important part is, I would have married my husband without any of those, and I’d do it all again. At the heart of every wedding is that hope, and the promise of a new adventure, and those are beautiful things to celebrate.