Facebook is really good for about four things: passively keeping up with the lives of your friends from college, stalking everyone you’ve ever found attractive, posting embarrassing photos of your friends, and judging the wedding to which you weren’t invited (REAL TALK: Strapless dresses only look good on about five percent of women, and yet 90 percent of brides wear them! Why! Ladies, straps and supportive bras are your friend!).
Which leads me to this: There’s a troubling trend in today’s wedding culture that’s hitting both former high school classmates and Kardashians alike: the obsession with a “fairy tale wedding.” From horse-drawn carriages, to tiaras, to Disney-inspired bridal gowns (like, I can’t. I just can’t), when it comes to wedding days, we seem to lose our touch with reality in exchange for a pre-packaged honeymoon plucked straight from our childhood bedtime stories.
If you’re about to legally commit to loving and sharing things with another person, you’re either a cast member on “16 and Pregnant” or an adult (and more of an adult than say, me, whose most adultish thing in the last two weeks was when I actually got my life together in a way that I remembered to get a flu shot and I was so proud of my own coordination that I walked up to everyone I know and showed them my band-aid just so they see that I’m proactively taking care of my health like a GROWN UP).
I can understand why a 16-year old would attribute a lasting romantic relationship to a fairy tale: it’s their only point of reference. But if you’re an adult and still going through your life comparing the men you meet to those locked away in the Disney Vault (how does that work, by the way? Is it an actual vault? And who has the keys? Where is the vault? Was there ever a break-in?), then there is something deeply flawed with your understanding about how life and actual love really work and it should come as little surprise to anyone that your marriage lasts all of, say, 72 days.
Over the past few years I’ve found myself not only voyeuristically looking into the photo albums of people on facebook, but standing in front of many an alter, supporting my friends as they make the commitment to end all commitments. One wedding (and relationship) in particular stands out in my mind as a couple who seems to get it all right. Married for a few years now, their low-key wedding took place on a barge off the coast of Maine. It was simple and fun and filled with love and family and friends. They didn’t focus on creating “a perfect day,” but rather on the very big promise they were making to each other. The day, like their relationship itself, was fraught with little upsets (dirty barges and white flower girl dresses do not mix well) and they approached these problems like they do the ones they see in their own marriage. With respect, humility, empathy and a pretty amazing sense of humor. Their wedding and their lives together won’t ever be written down in a storybook, but few stories as complex and beautiful as are used as tactics to lull children to sleep.
There’s a reason fairy tales stop at the wedding. Because “happily ever after” takes work, tears, arguments, sleepless nights, a fair number of inside jokes and compromise. And that is far too unglamorous for the pages of a children’s story.
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Joy Engel lives and works in Portland, Maine where she tweets far too much and solves the occasional murder-mystery while riding around on a bicycle. Everything she writes is her personal opinion and does not necessarily represent the views of her employer or its clients.