Looking back over all the weddings I have been lucky enough to witness, both as photographer or guest, the most memorably uplifting ones are those that flowed with joy. The Debbie Downer who sometimes shows up to turn the party down, she arrives as the plus one to Mr Perfectionism. And to quote Ze Frank – “Perfectionism may look good in his shiny shoes, but he’s a bit of an asshole and no one invites him to their pool parties.” So how do they end up crashing a wedding?
Social media has made our lives very performative, and the addictive natures of our devices means it’s pretty difficult to avoid the steady stream of perfect lives and moments, everything all beautifully lit, perfectly arranged and sprinkled with avocados, #instagoodness & #blessed (vom). We know it’s all heavily curated, that scene was actually photographed fifty times, sprinkled with tears of frustration, and someone has a sore neck from the weird head angle. We know this but it still seeps in under our logical brain to undermine our sense of worth and connection. Everyone does it.. gosh I do it. Maybe I should start sharing some photos of my working desk covered in half drunk cups of tea, ancient toast crumbs and notes that make no sense. #ikillsucculents #whatdoesmakestrindedmean?
Studies have shown that perfectionism disproportionately affects women. We are socialised from a young age to be rule followers and people pleasers, this pressure leading more and more of us towards anxiety and depression. Following the exact rules of what a ‘perfect wedding’ should look like can easily send the most steely-minded down the path to anxiety and throw open the doors to the aforementioned wedding crashers Mr P and his +1 DD. And here’s the thing, after attending many, many weddings – of all the wonderful people you will have at your wedding, hardly anyone cares what a ‘perfect wedding’ looks like. All they care about is how happy you are, and after that emotional & social need is met the rest is purely physical. Is there good and abundant food, plentiful liquid refreshment, and is there a comfortable place to relax, dance and catch up? The rest is window dressing. Beautiful window dressing, but no-one goes home complaining about the colours of the flowers (and if they do, they are seriously not worth worrying about).
Of course a lot of pleasure can be had in creating and enjoying an aesthetically pleasing event. My wonderful sister in law has had a wedding scrap book since she was a little girl, she had the time of her life planning and pulling off her spectacular wedding. The whole thing brought her immense joy and we were all thrilled to share in that happy beauty. That’s the key, does it bring joy? Is that joy spreading outwards? Awesome, then continue as you were!
But if you are feeling your joy evaporate in the face of competing wedding and life pinterest boards, it’s time to hit the brakes. Delegate. Set fire to that beast of a craft project that seemed like a good idea at the time but now haunts your dreams and made your fingers bleed (hint – if it’s going to take 75 hours of work and people will look at it for 15 minutes.. here, use my flame thrower), invite your friends around to watch it burn while you drink beers and cackle at the bonkersness of weddings. And now, like RIGHT NOW – delete any and all ‘thinspiration’ that may have snuck into view. F*** dieting to fit into a wedding dress, or pressuring others do the same to fit a narrow version of beauty. You are beautiful. You are beloved because of who you are and all the great things you do. As the wonderful, gorgeous Tess Holliday says, @effyourbeautystandards!
Being a human is being imperfect. Loving someone is loving their imperfections. Enjoying your wedding day means focussing on the important bits – the love – and laughing into the wind together.