Jumping the Gun, Jumping the Broom
By Alice Deters
It is easily one of the most important days of a girl’s life, and rightly so. It is something we dream of from the time we are little girls playing dress up and fantasize about at every stage throughout our lives. It is our opportunity to have our very own fairytale, if only for a day. We get to wear a beautiful white dress and let our Prince Charming proclaim his love for us in front of all of our friends and family, and then throw a really amazing party where we dance the night away. Weddings—they’re awesome.
Recently, though, I have noticed an epidemic sweeping through the ladies of my generation. What I first thought was just the actions of a select few overly-excited senoritas is apparently now the “norm” among twenty-somethings, although I am failing to see how this new behavior is “normal” at all. In fact, I find it to be the opposite. Earlier and earlier, girls are jumping the gun when it comes to jumping the broom.
Let me give you some examples. I will begin by writing about one of my acquaintances. She has been dating her current boyfriend for about 10 months. Obviously, she is in a serious, committed relationship. They are not, though, engaged. Despite the fact that her boyfriend has not yet popped that all important question, she continues to plan her wedding. And by “plan” I mean plan. She already has the date of August of 2014 set in stone—nonnegotiable. She is getting married at a state park in her hometown. She has told her entire family and all of her friends about all of these details and talks about weddings non-stop any time she can. This past weekend, she told me she had “some pretty big news.” I instantly glanced to her ring finger, hoping that the proposal had finally taken place so I could stop marking all her wedding planning actions as crazy only to find it as bare as when I had left. “I got my wedding dress,” she told me, walking out of the room, carrying a white dress that was “just like she’d always dreamed of.”
“That’s crazy!” I replied, and I meant it.
“Now I just have to hide it from (Boyfriend’s name omitted to protect the guilty) until we are engaged.”
I have no doubt that she will in fact marry her current boyfriend. They are good together, and I think they will go the distance. This is not my issue. My issue is the fact that she has already done all the planning for her wedding before her man has even had the opportunity to propose. She is doing things out of order, and that order is there for a reason. To be honest, I think it is sad. To me, one’s engagement is supposed to be one of the most exciting times in your life. It’s like that feeling of extreme excitement that you feel as a child on the night before Christmas, extended over many months. My roomie isn’t going to get this, at least not to the extent that someone who waited until an actual proposal took place to begin the planning process.
My roommate is not the only girl to fall victim to Jumping the Gun Syndrome. I see it everywhere. One girl I work with calls her boyfriend of a year and a half her “hubby” any time he comes up in conversation, even though they are not in fact betrothed. Another girl at my second job signs her name as “Mrs. Kaitlyn” even though her wedding is not taking place for another year and a half. I met a girl one night at the bars through mutual friends that showed me pictures of the wedding dress she had just purchased for herself. I asked her when her wedding was and she replied “Well, I guess I should get a boyfriend first, right?”
To be honest, I just can’t even bring myself to understand this mentality, no matter how hard I try. Perhaps it is a product of the instant-ness of our generation. Everything is high speed—it’s the 21st century. And when it comes to text messages I send or the shipping on a new to-die-for-dress I buy online, I am completely fine with this speed. But it doesn’t have to apply to every part of our lives. It shouldn’t. Some things are worth waiting for, and I think planning a wedding or getting to write “Mrs.” in front of my name or referring to a man as “my husband” (because I would never use hubby, that just sounds tacky) are some of those things. Things like Pinterest take our wedding daydreams to the next level. We have the ability to plan out literally every detail of our wedding, complete with pictures and links to where to purchase all of these items, no matter how menial. This idea is so foreign to me. I have two details of my wedding set as of now: I will wear my mother’s wedding dress and my Catholic wedding will have an open bar. Other than that, I am waiting until the ring finger on my left hand isn’t looking so bare before I get crazy with the planning. One reason I can’t bring myself to do this is because I like to think that at least some of the details of my wedding will be joint decisions between the lucky guy and me. If I turn on TLC, there is a 98% chance the show that is on will have something to do with weddings. We have turned weddings into something so commercial, so produced I can’t even deal. Maybe it is the writer in me that prevents me from getting caught up in this new trend. I can’t bring myself to write an ending to a chapter whose rising actions are not yet complete.
This new trend also seems to be having negative effects on the relationships that these ladies find themselves in as well. All week, I haven’t been able to shake my acquiantance’s statement about keeping her dress purchase a secret from her boyfriend. Shouldn’t the fact that she is being forced to keep something from the man she usually tells everything to enough to raise a red flag, offer a sign that this is wrong? What about the pressure that is put on relationships that shouldn’t be there in the first place? I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be the man in one of these relationships. Not only is there immense pressure to propose, but once you do, your opinion is all but lost, since the wedding details have already been decided on, maybe already booked and purchased. Why can’t the time you spend dating someone seriously be just that—a fun time you spend getting to know and make memories with the love of your life? When I look at these girls, weddings and marriage seem like a goal, just another challenge to complete: get a degree, find a job, get married. This to me is not the point. You marry someone because you love them and you want to be with them forever, not just because it seems like what you are expected to do. Sure a wedding is great, and a marriage fantastic. But so is dating. And being young and in love and letting things be easy.
If you have found the man that you are going to spend the rest of your life with, I congratulate you. I am genuinely happy for you and can’t wait until I’m in the same boat. I just wish that if you are one of the lucky ones, you take the time to stop and smell the roses with your man, letting things happen in the order they are supposed to. Overplanning too early seems a lot to me like peeking at your Christmas presents before Christmas morning—the magic is gone. And if the magic is gone, what kind of fairytale is that?[divider] [/divider]
Alice is an American Studies & English Double Major at the University of Alabama and aspiring Homes Editor for Southern Living. When she’s not reading, writing, or volunteering with elementary school children, she enjoys spending her time catching up on SEC athletics, perusing the humane society website for possible four-legged friends, or watching PBS documentaries on various historical topics, particularly those related to the American South. Alice currently resides in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where her passion for elephant figurines flourishes at a rapid speed.[divider] [/divider]
What do you think? Chime in and tweet us @litdarling[divider] [/divider]
This article has been edited after publication to protect the identities of the parties involved.
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I appreciate your frustration. But I would argue that much of the blame lies with the culture in which these women are raised. We are bombarded by the wedding message. Many are still raised in traditional families where this is the norm and what is expected. It sounds like you were lucky enough to grow up with a progressive background. But often women still face tons of pressure to “get a husband” and if that’s what you grow up with it can be hard to break away from that mindset. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/04/01/princeton-mom-letter-to-female-students/2041903/)
Also seriously- of course you’re going to keep the dress a secret! It would totally freak him out. Speaking as someone who bought her dress 5 months before the proposal because I knew that it was coming down the line- there’s no way I would have told my future husband.
Once again- I totally understand and respect your opinion. I just think that perhaps there’s a bit more complexity to the situation than this articles black and white view presents.