For reasons I still don’t understand, the moment someone gets engaged, the kinds of etiquette guidelines that make everyday life a little more pleasant for all of us go right out the window. The result of this incredibly odd phenomenon is a wide array of weird things people say to you when you’re getting married. By “etiquette,” I don’t mean which fork you’re supposed to use for which course (because honestly, who the hell cares?); I mean the respect with which you treat other people on a day-to-day basis — essentially the minimum requirements for being a decent human being. After an engagement is announced, however, it's suddenly seen as absolutely OK to ask a lot of questions of the engaged people which, honestly, aren't really that OK when you think about it.
Why are these common questions and comments weird? Because for the most part, no one would even think about saying them to you if you weren’t getting married — and yet, when you are getting married, they’re pretty much the only things people say to you. It’s like we’ve been so conditioned to accept these things as What You Say To An Engaged Person that it’s if we’ve actually been programmed to say them — and the second an engagement announcement appears, the program starts running, whether we want it to or not. And it’s not limited to what other people say to engaged people, either; I’ve found myself thinking a lot of these things inside my own head, too. Then I get really mad at myself for it. It’s a vicious cycle.
I realize that I’ve been writing a lot of “RAWR! WEDDING INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! RAWR!” pieces lately, and as a result, it might seem kind of like I’m not at all looking forward to getting married. This is far from the case: I am of course excited to marry this super cool person who adds a whole lot of awesome to my life; I’m actually quite enjoying the wedding planning process; and, y’know, there’s a reason (a number of reasons, really) we decided both to get married and have a wedding in the first place. It’s just that now that I’m in a position where I'm getting up close and personal with the whole wedding thing, I’m seeing it all from a whole different perspective.
So-called wedding “traditions,” the wedding industry, our cultural expectations of what weddings and marriage are… there’s so much baggage attached to them, and it’s all largely self-imposed. If any of it is useful to you, of course go with it — you do you and all that. For me, though, there’s such a huge disconnect between all of these things and what my partner and I know are right for us that I can’t help but puzzle over it. And I think we owe it to ourselves to be critical of social norms; just because something is typically Done A Certain Way doesn’t mean that it has to be done that way, and learning this lesson is arguably one of the most important things we can do in order to continue growing — both as people and as a society.
Come to think of it, it's actually probably a good sign that my first reaction to myself after asking myself these sorts of things is to get angry at myself; at least it means that I’m aware of what’s going on, which is the first step to being able to change the behavior. Eventually, I’ll (hopefully) be able to "reprogram" myself, so to speak, such that I don’t follow those narrowly defined parameters automatically anymore. The same goes for others, too; often, even your closest, most positive and feminist friend will say one of these things, and then follow it up with, “…Wait. What am I saying?” And that's all for the fo
There’s hope for us all — as long as we realize how incredibly bizarre saying these kinds of things is and make an effort to break ourselves of their habits.
1. “Do You Have A Dress Yet?”
At no other time will anyone be quite as interested in your wardrobe choices than they will be when they know you’re having a wedding. Except maybe if you are a celebrity and make regular appearances on the red carpet. I am not a celebrity, so obviously that is not the case.
Possibly even weirder, though, is the fact that I am occasionally struck by a strong desire to show pictures of the dress to other people. I would never do this for any other piece of clothing, or in any other situation. It’s like I don’t even know who I am anymore. Please send help.
2. “What Are Your Bridesmaids Wearing?”
Similarly, at no other time will anyone be quite as interested in your friends’ wardrobe choices than they will be when they know they’re going to be in the wedding that you’re having. Bear in mind that it is a statistical probability that most of the people asking this question will have never met your bridesmaids, bridesmen, or bridespeople before in their life.
3. “Are You Going On A Wedding Diet?”
Why would you ask me that? Would you ask me if I were going on a diet if I weren’t getting married? No one ever needs to go on a diet, whether there’s a wedding happening or not. All bodies are good bodies. Period.
See also: “I need to lose five pounds before October.” Why would you say that to yourself, Self? You do not deserve that kind of treatment, even if it’s coming from yourself. Especially if it’s coming from yourself, even.
4. “What Color Are The Napkins?”
Who the eff cares.
5. “Are You Having A Signature Cocktail?”
Yes, it’s called Let’s Talk About Literally Anything Else.
6. “What’s Your Budget?”
Look, I’m all for having transparent conversations about money, but there is only one reason people ask you what your wedding budget is, and that is so they can judge you. Either you’ll be spending too much by their standards or not enough, when honestly, the only people who should be concerned with the budget of a wedding are the people who are paying for it and the people who are getting paid to deliver services for it.
This one is also doubly weird when you consider the fact that people usually go out of their way to avoid talking about money in literally every other situation. No one wants to talk about their salaries; no one wants to talk about who owes what when you’re splitting the bill at a restaurant; no one wants to talk about a debt that really, really needs to be repaid, because seriously, you lent Jeff $50 six months ago and you need your money back now. Weddings, though? Apparently it’s fair game. That is messed up.
7. “Congratulations On The Ring!”
Unless you are Frodo and Sam and you just managed to deliver the One Ring to the fires of Mount Doom, I feel like maybe a piece of jewelry is not a thing to congratulate. An engagement, sure — but not a ring.
8. “How Many Carats Is The Ring?”
This question is what happens when you combine “What’s your budget?” with “Congratulations on the ring!” For some inexplicable reason, the assumption that the size of the ring is equal to how much your partner really loves you persists, year after year, despite the fact the size of the ring has pretty much nothing to do with how much your partner really loves you. Furthermore, people are rarely as interested in the size of a ring’s gemstone in cases where the ring isn’t an engagement ring.
9. “What’s Your Theme?”
Uh… Getting Married?
10. “Are You A ‘City Chic’ Bride, Or More Of A ‘Boho Beauty’ Bride?”
If you are asking me that question, clearly you don’t know me very well, because my answer will always be, "WTF does that even mean?"
11. “I’ll Be Looking For My Invitation!”
We’re generally all aware that it’s the height of rudeness to invite yourself to a party, but for some reason, that awareness mysteriously vanishes when the party in question is a wedding. I’ve touched on this subject before, but let’s just take a moment to remind ourselves that no one is ever entitled to an invitation anywhere — whether it’s a spur-of-the-moment hangout or a fully-planned wedding with a cast of thousands.
Images: Bryan Miguel/Moment/Getty Images; Giphy (13)