The Case for Elopement.

I’m one of those girls that has had elaborate dreams of what my wedding day will be like. I have had everything planned in my head down to the finest details. I read wedding blogs and revel in the plans of my friends who are planning their own weddings. But the more I think about it, the more I think that it’s fun to imagine a wedding day but not something that I want to become a reality. And here’s why.

It’s a performance for other people. People you know come from far and wide to see it, and they arrive early to get prime seats. People come with expectations of greatness. You get to memorize your lines and follow your stage cues and even safely improvise if the occasion calls for it, but a wedding is essentially acting the part. I’m not a performer, nor do I want to be. And weddings are so intimate that I wouldn’t want to share it with anyone but the person I’m marrying really. Family is one thing, but inevitably there are people that you don’t necessarily want to invite (like your parents’ friends that you barely know, etc.) but have to invite out of obligation, and you’re letting these people who are strangers to you be part of what is meant to be the most sacred and intimate event of your life. I just think about having a hypothetical wedding and having to invite some of the people that I work with, people that I interact with everyday but who hardly know me, and I just think I would feel awkward.

It’s expensive. Have you ever seen Say Yes To The Dress? There are women who spend thousands upon thousands of dollars for a dress that they’re only going to wear once. I always wanted to wear my mom’s wedding dress because 1) it’s beautiful and meaningful and vintage, and 2) because it would be free. But even with a free dress, there are still so many elements of a wedding that end up costing an arm and a leg: reserving the venue (for both wedding and reception), flowers, entertainment, large quantities of food to feed all of your guests, centerpieces, bridesmaids’ dresses, groomsmen’s suits, alcohol, all things decorative, and the list goes on. I know the goal is happiness on your wedding day, but it just seems like a fleeting happiness to spend so much money on things that will only continue to exist in your memory. Instead of a wedding, even if it was the smallest, quaintest, most inexpensive wedding I could manage, I would rather have the money to spend on travelling, or paying off my debt, or making a down payment on a house: something that could be for me and my spouse that would last for more than a day.

It’s a dressing-up of a commonplace event. Marriage is not this other-worldly extraordinary thing: it’s something that a lot of normal people embark on, and often fail at, that becomes a small part of their everyday life. A wedding is a romanticization of real-life, with all of its twists and turns, that attempts to smooth over the complexity of relationships and what being married will actually be like. I think the illusion of the whole spectacle tricks people into thinking that everything will be perfect when it never will be. I think I would rather dress in my normal clothes and get married in front of a judge, or have a marriage performed by a friend who could get ordained online, so that it doesn’t feel like such a monumental occasion and so that the crash back to reality from the high of a traditional wedding isn’t as harsh.

Granted, I was broken up with by someone I thought I was going to marry, and though that may color my opinions, I feel certain that it’s only slightly. I lean more and more toward practicality as I get older, and I think that elopement fits the bill. And I’m not an exhibitionist; I’m a private person and it almost gives me a panic attack just thinking about putting my life on display in a such a manner as having a wedding requires. I absolutely believe that family is integral to a marriage, but not necessarily to a ceremony. I can appreciate tradition, but sometimes it can be stifling to follow that path and I want to do something unconventional, like elope and not let anyone be part of my getting married so that it is just for me and my spouse. But that’s what you have a reception for, and I am a firm believer in receptions. And lots of dancing.


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