Looking to get hitched, just not yet
Growing Up to Be a Kid
It snuck up on us like a cat through the night. It was reinforced through print, computers, television and all other mediums put together. Once the words dropped from one person's lips they ran like wildfire through the eyes and ears of the local population, consuming us in a wrath of ribbon, satin, lace and taffeta. We were getting married.
Not any time soon, mind you, but when the four of us first logged on to the Modern Bride Web site, the gleam in all of our eyes could not for the life of us be dulled. We all wanted to get married right then ... well, not actually married per se, but more we all wanted to plan a wedding of our own, to have all the attention focused on us in our long ball gowns and diamond rings, hair done in pin curls and honeymoon in Barbados. It was set. We dreamily set our sights on a last minute lipstick touch up, fluff the train, open the doors and .... ahhhh ...wedding ... me ...
Me? Married? There's a thought that ... well, yes, I have thought about it, but right now I'm 21. I have always thought that being married by 24 or 25 would be ideal. What I didn't realize, however, is that the age of 24, at my present state is oh my God, that's only three years away. I don't even have a boyfriend. I don't even have any prospects. Now, realistically, the young women and even young men for that matter, in my same predicament, could set themselves on a quest for a partner and make this a whole ordeal, because really, in my mind it is becoming an ordeal, but do I have the time? Frankly, no. At the moment I have tests to study for and errands to run, neither of which force me to compromise my intelligence or emotional capacity, and both of which are a hell of a lot easier than marriage.
But imagine, as I described before, five or six 20-something girls sitting around in jeans and sweats, faces glued to the computer screen, not furthering their education in anyway except to learn the many intricacies of certain matrimonial Internet sites and possibly the psychology behind creating ideal wedding situations in one's head based solely on a whole lot of hope. It is a far cry from the bobby-socked ponytail days of yore when girls really did marry Bobby the football captain a week after high school graduation. Nowadays marriages seem to come much later in life and even by the two's and three's. According to the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCAP), 14 million Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 have never been married. And in 1998, 56 percent of U.S. adults were married. A pretty high percentage, right? Not really, considering that it is down 12 percentage points since 1978.
It has got to be an unconscious, undiscovered section in the female brain that at some point or another clicks on to weddings, then maybe shuts off after awhile and possibly (if ever) clicks back on at a later date. I'm pretty sure that this self-indulging wedding talk proves only to satisfy one's ego. Face it, your wedding is a day devoted to you. All eyes on you. Bridesmaids' colors, accent colors, what dish to serve, the script used on the invitations, flowers, the church — it is all up to you. You, as the bride, the mother of this child called a wedding, get to choose every aspect, with some help of course, from mothers, friends and the husband-to-be. But in essence, you, as the bride, get to play God. "Power unto me!" you may exclaim in a booming voice as the first picture book of wedding cakes is set in front of you.
According to TheKnot.com, 80 percent of Americans consider marriage part of the "good life." And this piece of the "good life" pie will cost only cost you about $19,000 — a mere pittance compared to the fairy tale weddings of celebrities we are bombarded with on television. So not only can thoughts of weddings consume every atom of our beings, but they can also physically consume every aspect of our wallets. Maybe it is because I am neither married nor engaged, but I cannot fathom spending what for me right now is a year's worth of education on a huge one day party. This is not to say that I wouldn't do it, I just can't see myself doing it right now. Maybe that's because I only have $43.67 in my checking account.
A wedding represents a lot in America's culture: love, friendship, family and a really big party. And there are worse things to which our thoughts could be devoted. The best part about fantasizing about our future weddings, though, is that it is always a happy story, despite what realistic outside factors there may actually be. The pressure seems to be on, now that my friends and I are officially out of our teenage years, to find that man (or woman), zip up that long white dress, pin a veil to our heads and march ourselves down the aisle. But as the group Green Day once sang, "You can't go forcin' somethin' if it's just not right." And marriage is not for everyone. I, personally, enjoy the thought of being married and having a wedding, but not right now.
Although I have heard of a new website that will coordinate my entire wedding entirely on-line as long as I put down a date and my husband to be's name. The hunt is on.
Molly Strzelecki is a new columnist to the Viewpoint page. She is a senior English major at Saint Mary's College. Her column will appear every other Tuesday.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Viewpoint Stories for Thursday, September 21, 2000