The topic of weddings rarely comes up in my life, but every once in a while, I watch shows like Say Yes to the Dress with people, and we’ll start talking about what we would want our weddings to look like.
I find that lots of my friends, like many others, dream of princess weddings with flowy white dresses. When they describe their ideal weddings, which they have planned out at a mere nineteen years old, it’s easy to find myself being pulled into that fantasy.
But the truth is that as appealing as these types of weddings are to imagine, I can’t dream of anything but a courthouse wedding.
If I’m being honest, there are several reasons why I believe that the courthouse route is best for me.
For one, the average wedding in the United States is exorbitantly expensive. In Texas, my home state, the average cost of a wedding is around 24 thousand dollars, with each guest costing about 180 dollars. I’ve been to weddings that have cost over one hundred thousand dollars to host.
I entirely understand the appeal of having large, expensive weddings. A person’s wedding day is often romanticized as the best day of their life so why wouldn’t you want to spend money? But I’ve never been one for indulging in capitalism, so courthouse weddings provide a significant advantage here.
One of the main reasons that I find myself increasingly attracted to courthouse weddings is the fact that it allows me to subvert what I believe to be problematic elements. I think that most weddings today don’t follow tradition entirely, and usually, even historic elements of ceremonies are done without much thought.
But it’s undeniable that traditional wedding ceremonies have problematic undertones.
For one, consider the tradition of giving away the bride. I’ll admit that this tradition, like many, is often of personal significance to many brides. Some brides will have someone other than their father walk them down the aisle because they have a more intimate relationship with them. Some brides are quite close with their fathers and want to share this moment with them. And honestly, I think that in many cases, it’s a beautiful activity.
But I’ve never been able to overlook the patriarchal nature of this specific tradition. The idea of giving away a woman heavily implies that women are property. Through these traditional ceremonies, she essentially stops being the property of her father and becomes the property of her husband. It’s an overtly sexist, dangerous idea that I hesitate to endorse at any level.
Even the use of white dresses, which symbolizes purity and innocence, is a patriarchal idea. Sure, you could subvert these traditions within standard wedding ceremonies, but to me, courthouse weddings are the ultimate alternative to these elements of a wedding.
So, I’m not a fan of either the patriarchy or capitalism. But when it comes down to it, I’m just drawn to courthouse weddings. Ultimately, it just works for me.
My family is split across three different continents and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Based on how difficult it’s been for some of my cousins to work around our family’s distance, I know that there’s a low chance they’d all be there, so there’s no need for a large ceremony.
I’m not religious so I hold no stake in the importance of the Church at my wedding.
And most importantly, courthouse weddings are beautifully intimate and personal. On the surface, it may not seem like the most romantic idea of a wedding, but to me it is. When the only thing on your mind is the day you have to be at the courthouse, there’s so much space to relish in what a wedding means. A promise, a hopefully undying love.
Some people do still love the traditions of wedding ceremonies, or like to inject their ceremonies with personal importance. But I find myself seeing all that significance in courthouse weddings. I once told my friend that I would only ever get married in a courthouse, if ever. She was shocked and told me that weddings are meant to be big, dramatic, and beautiful. My reply to this was, “for you, maybe.”
A wedding is meant to be one of the most important days in a person’s life and each person has different ideas of beauty, love, and intimacy. For some of my friends that might mean melting into a flood of roses and tulle. For me, it means signing a document with the few people I hold closest to my heart.
I’m not trying to convince anyone to agree with me, nor am I necessarily against traditional weddings. I’m just against them for me.