“3 Timeless Tips For Creating The Perfect Wedding” By Mic Points Out The Huge Cultural Double Standards Surrounding Brides & Grooms — VIDEO

In our culture — and, indeed, in a lot of cultures — weddings are A Big Deal. But as fun as they can be, there's also no denying the darker side of the whole thing, and the numerous double standards surrounding brides and grooms are one of the most insidious ways those darker moments make themselves known. But that's where Mic's "3 Timeless Tips For Creating The Perfect Wedding" video comes in: It skewers these double standards in an absolutely magnificent way, imparting upon us some incredibly important reminders in the process.

Starring a talking Barbie doll, the video walks us through “tips” pertaining to three different aspects of the standard, modern wedding: engagement photos, wedding parties, and “looking perfect.” (Literally — that’s the heading of the third tip. "Looking Perfect." Awesome.) For each of the three segments in the three-minute-long video, the majority of the time is spent on the bride, with a mere couple of seconds focusing on the groom at the end of each one.

For the engagement photos section, for example, the bride is cautioned that, because of the time frame in which engagement photos are taken (that is, months before the wedding), “there’s no way your ceremony bod will be ready yet.” As such, obviously she’ll want to hide her body: Underneath layers of clothing, behind rustic tractors, and so on and so forth. Her outfit choice is essential for disguising how hideous her pre-ceremony “bod” actually is.

The groom, meanwhile, is told, “Men, if you remember the date and show up wearing that same thing you wear to every job interview and funeral, you’ll look adorable.

You can probably guess what the tips in the other two sections are like; similarly, they give the bride laundry lists of things they should absolutely be worrying about, because everything depends on perfection, while the groom is basically just told to show up.

I don’t think the video is perfect; in fact, I think it actually goes wrong in one major respect: It comes across as a little shame-y to brides who do get engagement photos, spend a lot of time figuring out exactly who to include in their bridal party, and/or decide to implement a fitness plan. As such, I think it’s important to acknowledge that if all that is the way you roll, that’s totally fine. However you want to deal with your own wedding is completely up to you, and no one should be shaming you for the way you do it or the decisions you make. No matter how strong someone else's opinions about you or your wedding might be, it’s not up to them; it’s up to you. Basically, the only rule to follow when planning your wedding is, you do you.

At the same time, though, I get what the video is trying to do: It’s holding up societal expectations for brides up against societal expectations for grooms and pointing out not only the huge gap between them, but also — and perhaps more importantly — just how absurd that gap is.

And it accomplishes that goal successfully. The “tips” it lists for brides — and the reason I’ve stuck “tips” in quotation marks is because they’re presented more like unshakeable, unbreakable rules — are the same ones that our culture always imposes on women: That we must look a certain way, that our worth and our success depends on our looking that way, that we have no other option than to attempt to shoehorn ourselves into this narrow, highly specific, and completely arbitrary definition of “beauty.” The “tips” for grooms, meanwhile, are similarly based in what our culture teaches us: that all men have to do is show up and the world will be handed to them on a plate. The whole video is a pointed dig not only at the wedding industrial complex, but also at the larger issues of gender equality in our culture as a whole.

Also, it's hilarious, so the fact that it makes these very important points through comedy is an added bonus. Watch the full video here:

If it seems like I have an awful lot of thoughts about a video that’s a mere three minutes in length, well, there’s a reason for that: I’m getting married myself in the fall. Neither my partner nor I have been enormously stressed by the planning process; we’re paying for it ourselves, and we decided early on that neither of us wanted a Wedding-with-a-capital-W. All either of us really wants out of the whole thing is to hang out with a couple of our favorite people, wear some snazzy outfits, eat some pastries (I’m pulling for wedding doughnuts), and end up married to each other at the end of the day. Functionally, our relationship isn’t going to change, and ultimately, all we’re doing is planning a party to celebrate the signing of a document. It’s supposed to be fun, so that’s kind of our guiding principle.

But I have been noticing some odd things about myself as we’ve been planning: I’ve been down on myself about the way I look a lot more than I usually am. And I’m honestly not sure if it’s because of the looming wedding or not — but after watching this video, I suspect that the fact that I'm planning a wedding might be having more of an effect on my body image than I thought.

I’m a relatively healthy human being; I’m not a total fitness fanatic, but I eat pretty well and work out a few times a week, just because I generally feel better when I do so. (No judgment if you're into the whole "get fit" thing more or less than I am; of course, that is A-OK, too. This is just me.) I'm also body positive, because seriously, you guys, the things our bodies can do are amazing.

My body has been changing a little over the past year, though, which might simply be due to the fact that I’m getting older: Your metabolism changes as you age, and I’m about to turn 31, so the bottom line is that my body just doesn’t function in quite the same way it did when I was in my early or mid-20s. And that’s fine! It’s an adjustment, and the part of my brain that worries about stuff it probably doesn’t have to worry about is just having a harder time catching up to the part of my brain that knows everything is completely A-OK.

But what I haven't quite been able to figure out is whether I’m feeling this way because I’m just feeling this way, or if it has something to do with the pressures our culture puts on women in general and brides in particular. It’s probably a little of both… but if I’m honest with myself, there’s a part of me that keeps thinking, “Seriously, Lucia, you need to lose at least 5 pounds before your wedding.” And then there’s another part of me that is so angry with myself for thinking that.

Even for the most body positive person in the world, it’s not easy to be body positive all the time ; furthermore, the times it can be the most difficult to remain body positive happen when you’re looking at your own body, rather than someone else’s. We’re our own worst critics, and a lot of that has to do with all of the stuff our culture has been telling us for so long that we’ve subsequently internalized it.

It’s hard, is what I’m saying. It’s hard to cheer for ourselves, to support ourselves in the same way that we support other people — but we owe it to ourselves to do so. And we owe it to ourselves to be kind to ourselves when we’re struggling with doing so. And all of that is probably a piece of self-care I should get in the habit of practicing more.

As much as my partner and I are trying to avoid getting sucked into the whole Wedding thing, it's apparently rearing its head a bit regardless, purely because this is the kind of culture in which we live. But that, ultimately, is why Mic's video and the discussion it might inspire is so important: It reminds us that our culture does have a lot of double standards, and that it does put a lot of pressure in unnecessary places, and that it is unfair — and that we don’t have to go along with those conventions if we don’t want to. We always have the freedom to say, “No, I don’t want to do that,” and we particularly have the freedom to say that when the “that” in question is simply “The Way Things Have Always Been Done” — whether we’re talking about wedding traditions or about our own bodies.

That’s an important lesson, I think. It might even be one of the only lessons we really need.

Images: Unsplash; Mic/YouTube (3); Giphy (2)