Wedding days: Childhood dreams vs. adult realities
We’ve been thinking about how our wedding plans change as we grow up. The common assumption is that little girls fantasise about a Disney princess wedding and boys are too busy playing with their G.I. Joes to even think about getting married at all. But is that really true?
Here at PW, we’re all pretty close to the typical marrying age. Some of us are married and some of us aren’t. And we have a pretty even split of boys and girls. So we decided to compare our own experiences and see if we really are the neat little culture-shaped stereotypes we’re supposed to be.
Each of us answered three questions:
Q1. When you were a kid (any age), did you wonder about what your wedding day would be like? If so, what did you imagine?
Q2. What do you think were the main influences that led you to think like this? (Or not think about it.)
Q3. Now you’re all grown up, what do you want your wedding to actually be like? (Or if you’re already married, what was it like?)
Kerry (Co-Founder. Married.)
I wasn’t one of those kids who ever thought they’d get married, so I never really thought about it. But I did get engaged when I was 14 (I know!). It didn’t last, but even then a wedding wasn’t something I could see happening so never planned it.
My nan and grandad were never married and they lasted, plus we were always told marriage isn’t the be all and end all of a relationship. In our family there wasn’t much importance put on getting married.
As I didn’t have a wedding in mind, I didn’t really know what to expect or what I really wanted. I just knew from TV shows what I didn’t want. To be honest, my plans changed throughout the two years we were planning it. By the end, it became more about practicality and cost over likes and desires.
Laura (Writer. Unmarried.)
If I ever imagined my wedding day as a child it was only ever about the dress. White, with puffy sleeves and a puffy skirt – basically just your average 80s/90s meringue bride.
Influences? Barbies. And Disney. I was enamoured with two dresses my Barbie had. One in white lace, the other in a crispy pearl iridescent foil fabric with a stretchy pink bodice.
I don’t think I want to look like Barbie now. Or an 80s bride. A more streamlined approach would be nice. And now I’m older, I do actually wonder about who I’m going to marry, rather than just what I’ll look like on the day.
Jo (Writer. Unmarried.)
Nope – I never wondered about what my wedding day would be like. Maybe it’s because my parents got divorced when I was young, or because I’ve always been a free spirit; I just was never wowed by my own wedding.
Despite being in an 11-year relationship (and counting), we’ve decided not to get married. We’re happy as we are. And, apart from a big party with our loved ones, we don’t see any benefits to us being married. But that doesn’t make me a cynic. I love going to weddings and watching others declare their love; it’s just not for me.
Alasdair (Co-Founder. Married.)
As a child, I didn’t imagine I’d get married. Influences? I dunno, maybe Michael Knight or MacGyver or others of their ilk. (Oh dear.)
Our wedding was a fantastic party with everybody there, and I got to marry somebody because I intend for us to spend our lives together. I wouldn’t have minded if it cost a bit less though. Romantic, eh?
Paul (Writer. Married.)
As a teenager I dreamt of marrying Natalie Portman – with or without the Queen Amidala getup. (Beggars can’t be choosers.) Not sure about influences – I think it would take several thousand pounds worth of psychiatry sessions to understand the depth of my delusions.
I didn’t marry Natalie, but I found the next best thing. And it was on a beach, which was pretty nifty.
Samuel (Web Developer. Unmarried.)
I clung on to the idea of Cooties™ for far too many years. ‘Wedding day’ was synonymous with ‘nightmare’ throughout my childhood – probably due to bad parenting and too much sugar.
If I got married it would be because my significant other really wanted to. I have no desire otherwise. So main goal: massive grin on the bride’s face for the whole event.
Matt (Writer. Unmarried.)
I honestly never gave it a thought. I think when I was very young (like 6 or 7), I might’ve proposed to a few girls, but only as an empty gesture of affection to gain access to exclusive tree-houses, hedge-bases and such.
Nothing that influenced me as a child was wedding related. Doom, Sonic the Hedgehog, Thunderbirds, Power Rangers, Football – not many wedding convo-starters in there.
When I do get married, it’ll probably be quite a small, intimate affair, followed by lots of booze and dancing. Me and my fiancée are both all about close friends and family, and don’t much like being centre of attention.
Bonus fact: when my fiancée, Lisa, was a little kid, she wanted to be a prostitute. She didn’t know what it meant, she just idolised Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and thought “sign me up”.
Well, it looks like we’ve comprehensively reinforced the assumption that boys don’t think about getting married. That is, aside from teenage Paul fan-fictioning himself into one of the worst blockbuster movies of our lifetimes.
But two of the girls don’t fit the stereotypes at all. And Laura’s Disney and Barbie inspired visions were specifically dress-related. So this could just as easily be evidence of her growing passion for fashion (she went on to study at London College of Fashion), rather than wedding-related commercial brainwashery.
Here’s something notable though – even though none of us ever really thought about getting married as kids, we ended up forming a team of folks who help people plan their weddings.
So what does this tell us?
We think it shows that romance isn’t really something you can define, package and sell. Disney and Barbie might have tried to sell it to us as we were growing up, but rejecting a commercial vision of romance doesn’t mean you’re destined to never be a romantic.
If anything it means the opposite. Commercial depictions of weddings are always materialistic – they’re designed to make you want expensive things. And we reckon being immune to such things as a kid makes it more likely you’ll grow up with a sense of romance that springs from your own personality.
And when you find a person who shares that sense of romance, you can have a Disney princess wedding, a quiet little wedding or no wedding at all. Whatever works for the adult you.
Do you agree? Did you dream of getting married as a child? Let us know in the comments.
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