A few days after I finish writing this article, I’ll be enjoying what lovers of cliché like to term ‘the big day’.
I’m marrying a man whose kind, smart and Christian character goes before him. That’s what they’ll say, in between all the well-trodden jokes (“aisle, altar, hymn”) in the Best Man’s speech: that he’s a great guy. I love that people love the person he is. And I’d love to be afforded the same appreciation.
Don’t reduce me to a tottering empty vessel caked in expensive make-up and strapped into an implausible costume. Yes, I’ve lost a bit of weight. No, the pins aren’t too bad. But that’s what I look like; it’s not who I am. If I see you on this day of days – as he and I are transformed from two to one, and catapult ourselves into the rest of our lives – I’d really quite like it if you said something meaningful about it.
I’m not looking for Shakespeare, but perhaps you could tell me how happy you are for us; how excited you are about the future. Or tell me that you experienced God in the service, or something moved you emotionally. A bride’s role at her own wedding is that of a butterfly, and we’ll probably only have a few seconds together. So don’t waste it by complementing the dressmaker, Jimmy Choo, the make-up company, or my personal trainer (on which, more in a moment). None of those people will be present.
It’s true that like almost every other bride, I’ve been seduced by the lie that I have to look perfect in my wedding photos. I’ve spent more money than I’m prepared to admit on preparing for them; I’ve sweated pints at the merciless hands of a demented woman in spandex with a minus score on the body fat index. And do you know what? I’m repentant. I’m remorseful. Nothing that matters has changed, aside from my bank balance, and I still look a bit fat in the hen-do pics. I wish I’d worried less about it.
Weddings are one of the few places in our otherwise progressive society where women are expected to buy in to a Dark-Age concept of femininity. Where a bride is judged entirely on her appearance, and a mysterious and beautiful ceremony becomes hijacked by consumerism. Well do you know what? That’s not the sort of wedding I want to have.
I want to marry a wonderful man who loves me, (as Bridget Jones once said) just as I am. I want to do it before the God who we both submit to and worship. I want my closest friends and family around me, not for show, but so that they can share in this holy, life-defining moment.
So please, don’t call me beautiful on my wedding day. Tell me what a great couple you think we make, or you know, something real. Because maybe if everyone does that, it’ll help me, on the biggest day of my life, to focus on what really matters.
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