I was flipping through the T.V. channels the other day and came across the program Four Weddings on TLC. In the half hour program, four brides compete against each other to win a surprise honeymoon. Each bride attends the other three weddings and rates the wedding in four categories: the dress, the venue, the food and the overall experience.
On the surface, it seems like a pretty sweet deal. The grooms show up to get married, the brides attend four parties, and everyone gets some airtime; all for a romantic destination for which TLC, presumably, foots the bill.
Essentially, the couples compete for who has the best wedding. The entire foundation of the competition is not about a loving, lasting relationship—it is about which bride can “out-do” the others. It speaks to the perverted way in which our society approaches relationships.
Our society is obsessed with maintaining appearance and creating a spectacle. If things look great and attract attention—positive or negative—who cares about the relationship? Four Weddings creates the appearance of what love should look like and result in: a wedding. The assumed standard is the wedding is not simply an intimate and simple one, but a lavish one; a wedding meant to trump at least three other weddings. It also takes the groom completely out of the picture. He is kind of central to the whole heterosexual-getting-married-thing, and he is hardly featured!
One of the things this says about society is that it is not interested in maintaining a healthy, working relationship; it is interested in comparison and approval. This is not healthy. If anything, it creates unnecessary build up with an inevitable let down. For a bride to create a wedding around the idea that it will be compared to other weddings, as a basis to either accept her or reject her, is awful. This places undue stress on the bride, the groom, and surrounding relationships. Society has taken a singularly defining event and turned it into a pony show. There is a lot of glitz and glamour but very little evidence any of the elaborate services, parties, and munchies purchase a fulfilling marriage. Weddings are treated as if they are a pay off for all the hard work rather than the instigation of a lifetime of hard work.
In our culture, weddings tend to signify the end of all trouble, hardship, and pain in a relationship. Preexisting issues do not disappear just because two people say, “I do” or spend a ridiculous amount of money on some jewelry. Marriage takes work and, unlike a wedding, you can’t expect to throw money and a sexy dress at the relationship with the expectation it will thrive. The emphasis, again, is the show and placing material things in the gap where friendship, honesty, and genuine love should reside.