Let's be real, like really, really real. When I found out about Serena Williams' adorable engagement, I about died from happiness. In the past year I got so used to tragic headlines about black women like Korryn Gaines that I was excited to see one about our joy. I needed it in an odd way. Forever a lurker, I quickly upvoted the Snoo-drawn announcement on Reddit and went about my day. But I should have known better than to think most people would have the same reaction.
We can get into the politics of race and interracial relationships in this country, but I will leave that for a writer with the emotional endurance, wherewithal, and nuance I left in 2016. After reading too many comments (I know!), I was worn out. Serena Williams is a living legend. Despite her many accomplishments — and I mean there are plenty of them, people decided to take issue with who she decided to choose as a partner. REALLY?! Which brings me to my main point. Why are we so obsessed with the choices women make?! Pssst...the answer is patriarchy.
If she had chosen someone black, someone wealthier than her, someone, or anyone, else, there would still be commentary about it. There would still be outrage. The longer I've worked in this world, the more I realize that the wedding industry has little to do with weddings and everything to do with a public pronouncement of a woman's worth. Most wedding media enforces it; the whitest, slimmest, blondest, most feminine women deserve the gigantic rings, the most lavish productions, and most deserving partners (usually your run-of-the-mill dude-bro). That's who graces the covers and the ads that drive what I consider unnecessary hype.
The longer I've worked in this world, the more I realize that the wedding industry has little to do with weddings and everything to do with a public pronouncement of a woman's worth.
But surprisingly, it works. How could we pretend it doesn't when queer, plus size, people of color, and differently-abled couples are all but non-existent to a large majority of the industry? It doesn't just marginalize these people, it capitalizes off of their invisibility. It depends on us allowing our industry-induced insecurities to sway our decisions. When we comply with industry pressures and norms, our obsession seems nearly invisible, but when we don't? Suddenly our choices are up for discussion by everyone. Input you didn't want and feedback you didn't ask for hits you from the left and the right. Every choice you make morphs from a period into a question mark. It's not like we're not used to having our choices questioned by everyone from our petty Aunt Gladys to the highest courts (don't get me started). But it would be nice if the choices we make for the big day when we get to declare our love were actually supported by the industry that pretends to care about our love the most.
It's an unfortunately profitable problem (to the tune of $50 billion) that needs to be reconciled. I've seen far too many women lose their collective sh*t about things that don't actually matter to them. On a normal day, pintuck or shantung linens wouldn't be life or death. But when weighed against the backdrop of what other people may say or think, it suddenly matters much more than it should. The wedding hype is like a giant clothing store mirror, amplifying all the things we hate about ourselves. The decisions go from being based in love to based on fear. Every choice from apparel to program format becomes a reflection of our value instead of a celebration of a union.
Where does some of the unrelenting criticism come from? Guests, or the people you invited to a fully funded dinner, bar, and party. Those ingrates. I've overheard plenty of things like the following:
"So sad they couldn't afford the real china."
"Did you see that dress?! She's certainly brave."
"That diamond must have been invisible because I barely saw it."
"Those arrangements are so tacky."
Those comments were the nice ones, too. We've all been guests at weddings and overheard the chatter — or worse yet — participated in it. We don't want to have that wedding. So we buy into elevated standards while the industry continues to confuse, condition, and trick women into thinking that in order to prove our worth, we need to meet a certain set of requirements. You don't. It's a load of bull as big as the state of Texas and as bright as our legislators. There's no need for you to slip in it.
So whether you just announced your engagement or are months away from tying the knot, screw inessential people's opinions. Wear that dress, walk down the aisle to Migos, take a shot at the altar, and marry whomever you want. Someone's bound to judge you regardless, so you might as well enjoy it.
Jordan A. Maney is a San Antonio-based wedding planner and owner of All The Days Event Co. She's a sucker for love in all its forms and a fierce defender of it. Wanting to do more than just supervise cook-cutter weddings, she started her company as a planning haven for all the couples the industry chooses to ignore. Instead of just making a brand, she's building a community. Find more of her sass, humor, and Southern hospitality at All The Days Event Co.