“You will definitely be a bridesmaid,” I told a good friend a few weeks ago while talking about getting married.

We also discussed other details of our future wedding including venues, guest lists, and color schemes.

This friend has a longterm partner and the two of them plan on getting married one day. While I do talk about my future wedding, I don’t think that I will ever actually get married.

There are a few reasons why I doubt I will get married.

For one, I don’t know if I want a longterm partner. I am ridiculously picky about potential partners and I actually enjoy navigating life while single.

While I am happy with this, society doesn’t seem to accept that single women can actually lead a fulfilling life. Emma Watson recently coined the term ‘self-partnered’ to describe herself—largely because of all the flack she has received for being single—despite being a successful UN Ambassador and award-winning actress.

There are a few reasons why I doubt I will get married.

I also don’t fully agree with marriage as a construct. Historically, marriage served as a business contract for men rather than a union based on love. Today, in heterosexual marriages, women are often still subjected to ‘traditional’ roles of homemaking, childbearing, and ignoring their own emotional and physical needs by putting their husbands first.

After witnessing my parents’ frustrations over their divorce, as a child, I also wondered why people bothered getting married if it was so difficult to end one

Despite everything, I have always dreamed of a wedding.

When my parents’ partnership ended, it took them almost seven years to get their divorce finalized. They didn’t have any serious disputes over custody, property or assets. In fact, for the most part, my parents were pretty civil about their separation. It was simply administrative issues and complications with lawyers that led to the delay in their divorce.

Despite everything, I have always dreamed of a wedding. My parents’ divorce made me question the point of marriage yet I never questioned the purpose of weddings. I just didn’t understand why the two had to go together.

Society has deemed marriage as one of the biggest accomplishments in life—particularly for women. As a result, a wedding is seen as a huge (if not the biggest) life celebration in many cultures. I grew up reading fairytales that told me happily ever afters meant marrying your prince charming. In my teen years, most of the pop culture I consumed was directed at falling in love and having a grand wedding. 

I mentioned earlier that I am content on my own. But I am upset that not finding and marrying a partner means I probably won’t have my dream wedding.

My brother has a wedding planned for later this year. While he and his fiancé’s wedding plans may be affected by coronavirus, family and friends from around the world have planned to travel for the wedding. He and his fiancé have carefully planned their venue, guest list, catering, and a range of other details. Basically, it’s a big deal, as it should be. 

I grew up reading fairytales that told me happily ever afters meant marrying your prince charming.

I daydream about weddings because, in many ways, it symbolizes a significant rite of passage into adulthood. To celebrate this rite of passage, I don’t necessarily think society should expect us to find a long-term partner. My career is a big part of my identity. I’d love to host a life celebration if I reached an important career milestone like publishing a book. Yet I doubt this would evoke the same kind of response as a wedding.

However, I am lucky that I wasn’t raised in a house where getting married was an expectation placed on me. For me, wanting a wedding is simply about having a grand celebration. My family will love and support me regardless of whether I get married or not.

Unlike me, many of my female friends experience a lot of pressure from their families to get married. My best friend told me that nothing would make her mother prouder than if she got married. This friend will be finishing her second degree soon and has job offers lined up. She expressed that while this pleases her mother, getting married would trump all these accomplishments in her eyes. These kinds of pressures, which increase for many women as they get older, can come from family, friends, strangers, and colleagues. 

Weddings should be authentic life choices rather than something people feel pressured into having. And perhaps, it’s also time we start taking other big milestones and achievements more seriously—because there is so much more to life than getting married. And those of us who may never get married, like me, would feel more justified in hosting our big life celebrations.

  • Alice Draper

    Alice Draper is a freelance writer based in South Africa. When Alice isn't behind her laptop or book you may find her experimenting in the kitchen, trying (often in vain) to keep her garden alive or drinking wine with a friend.