“Bride and Gloom,” pretty edgy name for a wedding blog, at least that’s what I thought. My plan was to cut through the romance, disengage from the bride-centric language and question tradition to reveal what weddings say about our society.
Basically, I planned to hijack the language of weddings to serve as a social critique. The fact is, when it comes to hijacking the meaning of wedding traditions, I have been one-upped. Twice.
Two new divorce trends have taken activities traditionally in the realm of weddings and completely changed their meanings. They are the divorce show and the re-bachelor party.
The divorce show
DNA testing companies, lawyers, counselors and private investigators were selling their services at Warsaw’s first divorce show yesterday. The show is similar to wedding shows, except instead of establishing marriages, vendors are offering services to help dismantle them.
There have been five divorce shows in Europe since 2007. The shows are the brainchild of Anton Barz. Ironically, Mr. Barz also makes a living organizing wedding shows. Even with high divorce rates, turn-out was low with only 4,000 people coming out to two shows last years. Compare that to the 5,000 people expected to attend the Ottawa Wedding Show, which is only one of hundreds of shows in Canada.
Although divorces are reaching wedding-like proportions, it’s ironic that one year you can be at a convention centre planning in eager anticipation of your wedding and the next you can be at the same convention centre planning for divorce. It seems this kind of show would make it easier for people to leave the commitment they made in marriage by giving them all the tools to do so.
The re-bachelor party
After attending a divorce show, newly-single men might want to indulge in the other new divorce trend–the re-bachelor party.
Bachelor parties are the “one last hurrah” before men put their “sowing wild-oats” ways behind them. Before men enter into blissful matrimony, they are entitled to one last night of debauchery, often characterized by heavy drinking, gambling, sports events or more illicit activities.
Nowadays, half of the men who get married find themselves bachelors again. To celebrate their new status, men are throwing re-bachelor parties.
Again, the irony of the re-bachelor party is striking. At the wedding, couples celebrate committing their lives to one person. With all the hype around the wedding, it seems odd people would have parties to celebrate ending their supposed lifelong commitment.
Both the divorce show and the re-bachelor party take activities associated with weddings and lifelong commitment and reposition them as things to celebrate the end of that romance and commitment.
The rise of these anti-wedding activities leaves us with a reeling critique about how society views weddings, and relationships in general. Weddings and the associated marriages are disposable. Of course there are always circumstances were relationships have to end, but the rise of these trends both facilitate and celebrate the pain of broken relationships instead of trying to restore them to a mutually-empowering partnership.
We don’t have to take marriage too seriously. After the romance has fizzled and we get irritated by our partner, society will be there to help us escape and then celebrate it afterwards.
It seems to me that marriages would be better served if we adopted marriage shows and spouse parties. A marriage show could display all you need to strengthen your marriage: counseling, fun couple activities, babysitters, parenting classes and conflict resolution classes. As for the spouse party, why should the wedding be the last time you celebrate your love and commitment? I say take a day every couple of years and throw a party to celebrate your love and commitment.