Battle of “The Bride” and the Authentic Self
While watching my sister-in-law walk down the wedding aisle, I noticed guests pulling out their phones and snapping photos, as though she was an object needing to be captured and shared beyond the limited audience. It bought me back to my wedding day, walking down the aisle, a strange disembodying experience itself, but further complicated by dozens of faces obstructed by flashing phones and camera clicks. Being a bride is a strange struggle between trying to assert one’s authentic self with the expected role of “The Bride.”
As soon as I became engaged, my first name was replaced with “The Bride.” While relatives imparted on me their experiences and expectations, I tried to maintain my personality by ingesting numerous wedding blogs, websites, and magazines related to unique wedding experiences. Aside from providing so-called inspiration, these media prescribe what a bride should be thinking and feeling during the wedding.
Despite the personal touches brides make to their weddings, these readings consistently point to the bride as the one in control, whereas she is the one losing grasp of her true identity. Whether or not it is of interest to her, she is the one in charge of choosing the flowers and linens. Learning the necessity of a charger and deciding on seating arrangements, “The Bride” becomes the ultimate hostess. Before becoming a wife, she must pass a series of tests and judgements proving herself worthy of becoming marriage “material” that results in the loss of her name as she “takes” her husband’s.
Time is an abstruse concept during a wedding. The process of planning typically spans over the course of a year, for a one-day event, which results in a lifetime commitment. The time and effort spent ensuring that the day is memorable for everyone involved becomes more complex when the idea of documentation is introduced. To watch oneself on a wedding video after the event takes a personal memorable experience and replaces it with the audience’s point of view. The authentic self is replaced with a white dress and veil, interchangeable on anyone. The same ceremony is performed as so many ceremonies before it, bleeding into a continuous bride/groom/ceremony loop.
While trying to maintain all the feelings one should experience when walking down the wedding aisle, I recall the violating flashing phones and my internal conflict of being disgusted by the objectification. The photos and video from my wedding, however, show only the smiling bride.