Food & Fitness

The problem with weddings

bone china

A weekend of weddings.

This past weekend was full of wedding “stuff”. I spent Friday evening with The Bride, enjoying a girls’ night and making wedding favours. Then, on Saturday, it was another friend’s wedding (someone that I’ve known since birth), so the ceremony was in the afternoon and the reception was in the evening. On Sunday I woke up early to decorate a hall for The Bride’s surprise bridal shower. We held the shower itself early in the afternoon.

It was a fun weekend (if slightly stressful), and I couldn’t be happier for my two friends – both The Bride, for whom I will be maid of honour in her wedding party in March, and for my other childhood friend, whose wedding was this past weekend. They are both wonderful women that I adore.


The bridal shower favours I made: a Cinderella shoe filled with a cherry chocolate Hershey's kiss, and with a bow (the ribbon says "Happily Ever After" for our princess theme) glued to the back of the shoe.

But. (You did know there was a “but” in there, didn’t you?) I have a tough time taking “weddings” seriously. Don’t get me wrong, I love the concept of marriage. It’s a lovely idea, to share the rest of your life with one person, someone that you love and who loves you, and who you share a mutual trust and understanding with. The problem with weddings is that in today’s society, weddings aren’t really about marriage at all.

Why I don’t understand weddings.

Weddings have been blown so out of proportion that it’s gotten to the point of insanity. The mother dear likes to tell the story of her mother, who received a single china teacup from each of a few friends and family at her wedding. She ended up with a lovely set of six teacups, each from a different person, that all had different patterns and colours. I’ve inherited the teacups and they’re beautiful. I like drinking tea from them regularly.

china cup

Nowadays, it’s “the norm” to throw several elaborate bridal showers and to spend hundreds of dollars on a gift. The guest list for the shower that I hosted this past weekend consisted of one list from each mother (mother of the bride and mother of the groom)… and I actually received a call from one guest who didn’t know who the bride was. It put me in a fairly awkward position, seeing as I was the person receiving R.S.V.P.’s. Why are people invited to bridal showers when they don’t even know who the bride is? This particular person didn’t know who the groom was, either!

The most important day of your life.

When I throw a party – a big house party or a smaller dinner party – I typically prepare for it maybe a couple weeks ahead of time if I’m really organized. But weddings… weddings are planned a year in advance. Sometimes more. Dresses are bought and ordered months in advance. People spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on the ceremony and reception. They get consumed with wedding planning and become stressed-out “bridezillas” (not that The Bride is a bridezilla at all – she’s actually a very laid-back bride, which is awesome).

I get that weddings are important, but why are they supposed to be “the most important day of your life”? Does that mean that everything just goes downhill from there? A wedding no longer represents what the marriage will be like. A wedding nowadays is a way to spend too much money on extravagant items that the groom doesn’t want and the bride will never use. And all those little details at the ceremony and reception? They’re nice. Really nice. But you know what? The guests probably don’t notice them at all. In fact, the only reason that I paid attention to things like the pew bows and the ribbons on the table numbers at the wedding I was at this weekend was because I have been spending time with The Bride looking at things like that… and it felt very odd to know that at any other time of the year, were I not helping to plan a wedding, I wouldn’t have even noticed if those things were there or not – just like every other guest.

This probably makes me sound cynical, and maybe I am. But I’ll tell you right now that the mother dear and the father dear have the most amazing marriage of anyone I have ever known – so it’s not as though I’m jaded from a troubled childhood or anything. But I have known a lot of divorcees and unhappy marriages, and that just makes me wonder… do people marry so that they can share their entire life with one person that they are truly, madly in love with? Or do they get enthralled with the idea of being married, and the excitement of a wedding, and miss the whole point of getting married?

Maybe the whole point of getting married has merely changed over the years. And it’s all up to the two people getting married, as to if they want a large wedding or a small wedding or any kind of wedding at all (or rather, it should be just up to those two. It seems as though it’s more about pleasing everyone else instead of the two people getting married, which I find odd). I’m not saying that a wedding “should” be small or “should” be large or anything like that. But I do think that it’s really sad how much goes into the wedding, without as much thought about what will go into the marriage.

What do you think? Am I just a cynic and/or old-fashioned? Or do you think that weddings are yet another form of consumerism and blown a little out of proportion?


  1. Mary Anne in Kentucky

    I am just amazed and horrified by the amount of money and stress people put into weddings. The one friend I was a bridesmaid for had a very small wedding, very inexpensive. I made her wedding cake (and was pleased to watch people bite into it and look surprised, and say “Oh, it’s GOOD!”) Another friend spent $50 dollars for a wedding dress (in 1974, when the average price was around $300) and my mother did her flowers.The wedding was the week before Christmas and the church was already decorated for that. She had two sisters to be bridesmaids, and I was the organist. The photographer was a friend of the groom. Her mother made the wedding cake. I can’t imagine spending lots of money on a wedding when the point is to have people who care about you present for the ceremony.

  2. Andrea@WellnessNotes

    I think many weddings these days are totally exaggerated. And there are so many expectations from family members, etc. I think planning your wedding should be mostly fun and enjoyable, but when you try to make it “perfect” and live up to unrealistic standards in magazines and all around you, I don’t think that’s possible. And, as you said, it doesn’t allow you to focus on what’s really important, the person you are going to marry. Plus, how much fun is it to start your married life in debt, as many do.

    While I have been to my fair share of “blown up” weddings, I have also been to a number of very low-key yet very special weddings. I think it’s hard to not get caught up in the wedding craziness, but there are people who manage to escape and make their wedding truly unique and their own without a lot of money and without too much stress.

  3. Vered

    “Weddings have been blown so out of proportion that it’s gotten to the point of insanity.” I agree. I also agree with Andrea, that the key is not to get caught up. Just as in many other areas, trying “to keep up” can lead to a lot of unnecessary waste.

  4. JavaChick

    My Mom has a bunch of teacups like that from her wedding!

    I think a wedding should be about the couple, but all too often it’s not. I’ve seen friends get married where the wedding was all about what their families expected. And sometimes it is the bride getting carried away. πŸ™‚

    But it doesn’t have to be that way. I loved Husband’s and my wedding. It was upstairs at our favorite restaurant with all of 20 guests. I had my dress made by a seamstress for somewhere around $180 (including fabric), and we got our cake and flowers at the Superstore/Loblaws (they did a lovely job). And I was happy because I was marrying my husband. Nine years later I’m still happy. But everyone is different and I know not everyone would be happy with a small, quiet wedding.

    I think it is an important day because it symbolizes a big decision – however you chose to celebrate it. But I agree that the extravagance has gotten out of hand.

  5. Dr. J

    I like your column very much!

    Yes, it’s out of control! The commitment between the two people getting married is everything, the rest is a legality for economic reasons.

    I hope for you, Sagan, that the best day in your life is a continually updated event πŸ™‚

  6. Holly

    Oh, Sagan – I agree with you so much! And I do feel like a cynic for thinking that way sometimes (because some people tell me I am). πŸ˜‰ But my point is always this: I want the best day of my life to be the day I have my first child, or the day I meet the “one” – NOT a party (essentially, it’s what it is!).

    I feel like so many of my friends get so caught up in their weddings only to go through a somewhat serious depression afterwards….and of course I can understand why they do – when it’s consumed all of their thoughts/dreams for who knows how long!

    Maybe I am just more practical, but I would much rather ALL that money be spent on a house, or paying off debt, or something long-lasting, ya know?

  7. Pubsgal

    We had a wedding, but it was on a fairly modest budget, wholeheartedly enjoyed, hosted by my husband and me. It was a wonderful day, and pretty amazing to have almost all of our family and friends in one place, given how spread out we all are geographically. But I think the label “happiest day of your life” is a bit much pressure to put on ANY one day. (I think he’d agree with me that there have been some pretty equally amazing days mixed in there during our 13+ years together.) That said, I got overly focused on the planning, because it’s in my nature to want to do a good job with any project. I wasn’t a Bridezilla by any means, but I stressed about it WAY more than I should have done.

    I don’t think weddings are the only vehicle for party-gone-overboard. I think you’d see the same trend in children’s birthday parties and adult “major milestone” birthdays.

    1. Sagan Morrow

      GREAT point. Yes, there are many other parties that go ridiculously overboard. I don’t know, I think that people can still have just as amazing of a time if every bow isn’t tied the exact same way and if the tablecloth/napkins/cups/dresses aren’t all the exact same shade of colour.

  8. Andrea (Off Her Cork)

    Sagan, I totally 100% agree with you (I also feel the same way about engagements but that’s another topic for another day. πŸ˜‰ ) I really dislike weddings which is why I eloped. Ha! But just think how much money goes into that? I mean, people are in debt afterwards, it’s ridiculous. It’s also ridiculous for those who still expect their parents to foot the bill. Um, hello adulthood, you can pay your own way. It makes more sense to save money and maybe put that towards a house or some other kind of future investment.

    Also being a bridesmaid, goodness is so expensive! Dress + shoes expensive. Plus throwing a shower, buying a gift for that. Then the bachelorette party, footing the bill for that. Then the actual wedding and having to get a gift for that! Crazy. I honestly could talk about the silliness of it all for ages but I’ll stop. πŸ™‚

    1. Sagan Morrow

      Yes to engagements – and what’s with engagement photos? That one is completely beyond me.

      So funny that you eloped! Awesome.

      It really is such a huge amount of money. I’m fairly lucky because the mother of The Bride paid for everything for the bridal shower, and our dresses aren’t TOO crazy expensive, but all of it really adds up to ridiculous amounts. I estimate that by the end of it I will have spent somewhere around $400 or $500… can’t imagine how much it costs the family!

  9. anony-mum

    I don’t see any comments contradicting/criticising/disagreeing with your blog today Sagan. Seems you are preaching to the converted!

    Your observations regarding “the parents dear” marriage are sweet….thank you for that. And just for the record for everyone, don’t think that our marriage is most amazing simply because we are 1/2 world apart (literally: Canada & Cambodia); we really do have a great one, ESPECIALLY when we are together. We are almost 1/2 way through our 28th year together so we must be doing something right….besides having very awesome daughters.

  10. Cat

    I have to agree with you here… 99.9999999% of wedding seem to be totally blown out of proportion and not about the couple. As a bride to be, I’m currently feeling the stress of this since I didn’t want a big wedding, just a small gathering of friends who actually KNEW us. However, my fiance’s family has mandated that we have a huge wedding and I don’t even know half of the invitees which is ridiculous. I’m not even taking his name, so why do I need to have a huge ceremony to make it “official”? In my mind, he’s already my family. If it were my money I’d be puttig it to good use somewhere else… sorry, guess I needed to vent a bit!

    1. Sagan Morrow

      Vent away; you’re always welcome to do it here πŸ™‚

      That’s really unfortunate that you don’t have much of a choice about it, though. Much more emphasis should really be placed on the bride and groom and what YOU want.

  11. FatFighterTV

    I LOVE the teacup story – that is so sweet and meaningful. I agree that weddings are out of control these days. But it’s whatever the couple wants it to be, right? As for me, my husband and I got married on a small boat with only our parents attending. We had a reception a few months later. I loved my wedding day way more than the reception!!!

  12. Geosomin

    I think a wedding is what you make it. I haev a few close friends whom I know will be together forever, but will never marry, and some who have and will as well. I also have friends who married for the wrong reasons…and aren’t anymore.
    I know for me – I am glad to be married. We tried to have a smaller wedding and it was blown up a bit by our families, but in the end we found a balance. It was modest by most standards. Our families kept making it int osomething else and we kept pulling it back. People go crazy on things that really don’t matter…we invited friends, broke students, and told them no gifts. That their presence was enough. I find more and more I get invited to a lot of weddings or wedding showers that I feel like I’m there for a gift more than my presence. I don’t quite get it…
    The sad thing is I know people who think marriage is just another part of life. Something that should happen…and so people get married because they feel they should. That they’re less of a person if they’re not with someone or married. That their wedding has to be “perfect”…I honestly think sometimes an elaborate wedding is a way to avoid problems…if their relationship is rocky they have ages of something else to focus on instead of the more important things in life.
    A marraige is a public declaration and promise…to me, everything else about the day really is optional.

    I love the teacup idea. My grandma had the same thing – 8 teacups that were all different.Such a simpler time…

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