Last week, I had my bridal shower. It was a tea party planned by my fabulous little sister (sure, she’s in her mid-twenties now, but she will always be a little sister to me). My aunt and mom were there, and so were about sixteen of my closest girlfriends. We sat around, drank sparkling wine, ate scones, and discussed everything from our careers to our favourite new TV shows. And of course, what bridal shower would be complete without some mention of sex? I laughed, I learned, I got teary-eyed! The whole afternoon was like Steel Magnolias meets the Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey.
Ultimately, my bridal shower experience was a privilege. I feel grateful and honoured my friends, family and even my high school guidance counsellor came out to mark the occasion. It’s interesting that even though I’m marrying a dude, so much of these traditional marriage rituals centre this sort of female bonding.
The truth is, in many ways, getting married has been a godsend to my friendships with women. The older and busier I get, the harder it can be to make time for my main girls. This makes me sad, because I’m the type who likes to surround herself with strong women. Now that I’m thirty, however, I find that between my very demanding jobs and finding time to nurture the relationship with my fiancé, I’m struggling to spend as much quality time with my female friends as I would like. We’re all busy, and sometimes we literally have to schedule a dinner date two months in advance – even when we live in the same city. My wedding has been a fantastic excuse for us to get together!
Yes, my marriage is first and foremost about committing to my fiancé in a formal, legal way. Having said that, a happy byproduct of this process has been the opportunity to reinvest in many of my platonic relationships. Wedding planning provides lots of chances to hang out with friends and family at showers, bachelorette parties, and so much more.
As a student of Gender Studies, the homosocial nature of what were historically heterosexual wedding rituals fascinates me. I mean, until the wedding night itself, so much of these old traditions are about ladies having alone time. If my wedding were a movie, it would definitely pass The Bechdel Test. While doing the actual work of wedding planning, I’ve spent at least as much time with my girlfriends and family as with my fiancé. For example, superstition dictates my partner is not allowed to see my dress before the wedding, ergo dress shopping provided me with an excuse to take time off work to hang out with my mom and my sister at Kleinfeld’s. It also gave me a reason to drink sparkling wine before noon. Ditto for bridal shoe shopping, and innumerable other tasks for which you aren’t supposed to bring the groom along. I wonder if that old wives’ tale that it’s bad luck for the groom to see the bride’s dress before the wedding came about because some ladies really wanted a reason to go shopping without their women folk!
Last week, as I surveyed the sea of friends and family dressed to the nines and assembled for my bridal shower, it occurred to me how freaking lucky I am. While my fiancé and I love each other dearly, he’s not my only ride-or-die. Over a pot of green tea and some miniature sandwiches, I realized I have more life partners than just the guy I love; my girls are precious to me too. I’m grateful that getting married has afforded me the opportunity to spend more time with them.