As a self-proclaimed late bloomer in life, I will undoubtedly be among the last in my core group of high school and university friends to get married.
And I am totally OK with that. In fact, I kind of love it.
It seems other people are the ones who have an issue with it. I get the question of why I am not married yet on the regular, as if I had committed a crime and wasn’t actively choosing an extra few prime years of freedom, self-growth, and adventure before the white picket fence and diaper bags.
But apparently 30 is not the new 20 if you’re single.
Admittedly, being a single lady isn’t always easy – or cheap. All of my single girlfriends in the arts will tell you that.
I spent my 20s dishing out thousands of dollars that I didn’t have on destination weddings, bachelorettes, and showers (but did have a ton of fun in the process).
It does seem a little ironic to many of my pavement-pounding, penny-pinching single girlfriends to have to go broke supporting someone else’s life decisions.
Remember the episode of Sex in the City when Carrie Bradshaw, fed up with spending thousands on the weddings and showers of others, decided to take matters into her own hands to reimburse herself for a pair of designer shoes stolen at a baby shower? After being shamed for spending her hard-earned dollars on luxury goods instead of on the children she didn’t have, Carrie announces that she is marrying herself, registers with Manolo Blahnik, and throws herself a shower.
“Hallmark doesn’t make a congratulations-for-not marrying-the-wrong-guy card,” said Carrie, one of her more memorable Sex and the City quotes.
Like so many times before and since, real life mirrors a SATC plot – a growing number of women are actually throwing themselves weddings.
Self-marriage is definitely a ‘thing’. It began in Northern California and the U.K. over a decade ago, and has made its way to Canada. Canadian women are not only beginning to marry themselves, there’s also a new service in B.C. that will even help plan their big day.
It all started 10 years ago when seven single women got together for a picnic-filled “goddess party” in Vancouver. One thing led to another, and all seven were married by the end of the day in a beachside ceremony – each vowing ‘I do’ to themselves.
Now, a decade later, the original group is celebrating its 10-year anniversary by renewing their vows. To celebrate the occasion, Marry Yourself Vancouver has launched. As the name suggests, it’s a wedding planning and consultation service for solo brides looking to get hitched to themselves.
Unlike Carrie’s shower, however, the movement is more about empowerment than a need for material things and go tit for tat over wedding gifts. It’s about the perpetual stigma and inequality faced by single people in society – predominantly women.
The idea behind the rise in self-marriage among women is to celebrate independence and a commitment to oneself. It’s about celebrating your choice to be single – a choice we didn’t always have.
It’s important to remember that many of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers couldn’t choose to stay single. Those who were were considered “spinsters” and were usually economically disadvantaged.
Naturally, the movement has its critics, many of whom call the whole thing a narcissistic spectacle that highlights the self-important society in which we now live.
I am 100 per cent an advocate of celebrating oneself and of female empowerment. And I appreciate the desire of women to not only challenge societal norms, but to define marriage the way they decide to. It’s the whole act of a ceremony that leaves me a little uneasy; it seems to defeat the purpose.
If the idea is to counter the societal norm of marriage and opt for a life of solo self-love and respect, why is an elaborate wedding ceremony even necessary? Deciding on a fancy ceremony and a marriage to oneself seems to support the concept of marriage as a defining rite of passage into adulthood, or an institution that is necessary to make love – whether of yourself or another person – “official.”
It’s one thing to throw a fabulous party to celebrate your single status. But throwing yourself an elaborate wedding, complete with bridesmaids, wedding cake, and gifts almost supports the notion that love and marriage is about the wedding.
Most couples I know will tell you that the actual wedding ceremony and exchanging of vows is secondary to the foundation of their relationship.
Though I know I will get flack for saying this, the whole concept – while undoubtedly forward-thinking and empowering – does seem a little, well, sad to me. I understand it isn’t setting yourself up to become an isolated nun, and that many of these women are in fact open to love. But marrying yourself almost seems like you’ve accepted the fate that you’ll never find love and romance in another person.
But, hey, maybe that’s just me.