On one of the blogs I read, there was a link to photos of a full-on steampunk wedding. As I looked through the pictures, I felt regret that we didn’t have a steampunk wedding 16 years ago. Of course, I’d never HEARD of steampunk 16 years ago, but it wasn’t really about the steampunk; I regretted that we didn’t have a Star Trek wedding, or a Renaissance Fair wedding, or a Viking wedding or some other kind of wedding that involved elaborate costumes and copious amounts of fun from the get-go, instead of the extremely conventional wedding we did have: white dress, matching bridesmaid dresses, and matching tuxes on the men. We did it by the book, all the way down to the little guest book that half the guests didn’t bother to sign with the specially decorated guestbook pen, and by the magazine, one of those big bride-related magazines that cost 10 bucks apiece and tell you how to have a perfect conventional wedding. (There is no Groom magazine, you’ll notice. There’s a lot of sociopolitical import to that fact, but that’s for another post.)
As I was reminiscing less than fondly on the plain white flats I wore with my dress upon beholding these awesome wedding shoes of the steampunk bride, I had to ask myself why we didn’t have a more interesting, unconventional wedding than we did. It’s not the first time I’ve lamented my wedding choices; the link to the steampunk wedding was on a post by a blogger who wore the most gorgeous red dress for her wedding, a dress the likes of which I will wear the next time I get married; it will (I hope) be in my next life, but by dog, I’m committed. The regret reared its head when I saw Sarah’s wedding togs, too; she was resplendent in pink.
And I realized it was because we, and especially I (by virtue of being the bride and therefore the chief wedding planner), were not that interesting or unconventional when we got married. In fact, I was a pretty conventional 22-year-old. I was opinionated, but my younger self was pretty interested in the rules and living by them and doing things “right.” One mostly innocuous, yet obnoxious, way this manifested is that I always changed the toilet paper so that it came out over the top instead of from the bottom. At other people’s houses, no less (because of course it was “right” at my house). There was a right way to do things (which I of course had learned, or knew, or understood through my youth-induced superiority complex), and a wrong way to do things, and it was my job to bring light to the benighted, even when it came to TP. Because that’s how I rolled.
I was always a nerd, but I had yet to recognize and embrace my inner geek; that would come post-nuptially. I would’ve mocked anyone who had a Klingon wedding. I would’ve snickered and guffawed and other derisive verbs at anyone who got married in any costume that was not a white dress and a tux.
When I was 22 and planning my wedding, and my life, I was pretty rigid, like a lot of young people are. We think of kids as these free spirits, and I think that’s true of little kids, but if you think back, you’ll no doubt remember that there is no group of people who so brutally enforce social hierarchy and contemporary convention than young adults, from adolescence to maybe their mid-twenties. I cringe at the million and one judgments I laid on everyone, all the time. If you want someone who truly doesn’t give a damn what other people think, you need to search the older crowd; it is extremely rare to find such a specimen among the young. I can’t say I ever have; I’ve met many who claimed to, but their actions said otherwise.
So the reason I couldn’t have a funky wedding at 22 is because I was totally incapable of even envisioning one. I was entirely without funk at 22.
Now, I’d be totally down with a Klingon wedding, and would be transported with infinite delight if they conducted the service in Klingon, and in full regalia, right down to the ridged brows. If I could do it on the replica bridge of the Enterprise at that Vegas casino, I would be in cheesy heaven. The only thing that could make it better is having the service presided over by an Elvis impersonator.
Now that I’m older, I appreciate funkiness and whimsy, and generally have more fun and less angst than I ever did as a twentysomething. I’m over the delusion that this life is anything I should take seriously; experience will do that for you. I suppose, though, that I have to let my 22-year-old self off the hook for a wedding, and any other things I did, that primarily attempted to meet expectations I imagined society held for me, and which, at that point, I totally bought into. I was that society, too. If I had it to do over again, I’d choose differently, but if I truly were doing it over again, including the being 22 part, it’s entirely probable that I would be unable to do other than I did. That’s who I was then; I was just a kid, and eventually, we all have to forgive ourselves for that. Besides, the part that matters I got right.