"Um, did you know that someone has bred rice grains so that they're both heart-shaped and crush underfoot (so they can be safely thrown at weddings and not harm birds' digestive tracts)? This is insane. I can't believe people make and buy this stuff!!!"J gave me a long hard look. He obviously agrees that genetically-engineered wedding rice is silly, but he pointed out that if someone's buying it, then presumably they want it and think it adds a special touch to their wedding. He was then wise in pointing out that there's a fine line between disgust with the WIC for its insidious overwhelming pressure on brides and with looking down on the brides themselves who are making active decisions to buy details I may think are silly. In other words - their wedding, their choices, no judgment.
He's right, of course. But the issue is more that I feel many brides don't have a real choice. They get engaged and jump into planning a wedding that's only a year away, complete with extreme emotional excitement, family pressure, societal expectations and logistical panic attacks being thrust on them all at once. Most aren't event planners, so they turn to resources that provide information on wedding checklists for "the way things are done." So no, while we're all certainly free to make choices about our own weddings, many of us are pushed immediately into a world where the important decisions are all about the look and stuff associated with the big day - the dress, the flowers, the favors, the candy buffet, and yes, heart-shaped grains of rice.
After letting me rant on a bit about free will and marketing, J turned to me and said,
"It seems to me that wedding planning is a bit like going to the supermarket without a list. If you haven't planned and thought about what you really want from the market beforehand, you'll end up with a basket full of junk food or produce that will go bad before you figure out what to do with it. The sensible thing for your budget (and waistline) would be to plan your meals ahead of time and stick with your shopping list when you're at the market (making sure to include an occasional a bottle of wine and ice cream, of course). With wedding planning, if you haven't thought about the marriage or what you want from your wedding day before jumping into venue/catering/decor/guest list battles, you're liable to end up with heart-shaped rice, staring at your credit card bill three months after the party, wondering what on earth happened."And yes. That's it exactly. (Although I'd add that an immediate post-engagement jump into wedding planning is more like shopping without a list, when you're ravenously hungry at 7pm and just want to get home already, and then realizing you've been locked inside Costco for the next nine months. )
Oh how I love my wise partner. And oh how happy I am that we have a long engagement to do some serious thinking about our own wedding list.