Weddings are joyous, celebratory moments in most individuals’ lives. The joining of two individuals who can bear to sit through never-ending sermons, mountains of paperwork and reels of cheesy videos is surely something commendable. However, it is an indisputable fact that (most) weddings are no walk in the park. Whether you choose a backyard DIY wedding or a luxurious ballroom setting, weddings take a lot of work. As I navigate my way through my own wedding planning, I have made quite a few observations. For starters, regardless of whether your wedding is American, Pakistani, or both- a lot of the work is focused on one person alone: the bride.
Now, of course, everyone acknowledges that weddings are, more or less, about the bride (whether or not that’s legitimate can be argued over separately). However, what seems entirely unfair is the emphasis placed on the bride’s appearance over all else. From the minute a girl is engaged- the stress begins. For many women, much of the stress of the wedding (besides logistics) has to do with her looks.
I have noticed that ever since I have gotten engaged, I have been on the receiving end of hours of unsolicited advice. I’ll take it, of course, since much of it is well-intentioned. But a lot of this advice is what baffled me enough to write this post. From “Your teeth are a little crooked, are you going to get braces?” to “Curls are great, but you ought to chemically straighten your hair,” I have never been so self-conscious in my life. And you know the toughest part? I gave in. I got braces, my hair straightened (not chemically) and my gym membership- all for an event to take place once in a lifetime, inshallah. I literally had my teeth pulled and my hair yanked straight for what is meant to be a humbling and heartfelt ceremony.
There is no doubt in Islam that marriage is intended to be a monumental occasion in the life of a believer. It is a day that should be filled not only with joy, but also with intense reflection and faith in God’s plan. Instead, I’m afraid I’ll be thinking of that YouTube video which detailed the absolute perfect way of posing for your wedding photos so a potential double chin doesn’t show.
As a Muslim woman who already fights the daily struggle of every female: battling unrealistic beauty stereotypes and balancing the desire to look good against how much it really matters, I question the need for this added burden. Surely, God does not care what I look like on my wedding day. And thankfully, neither does my fiancé. So why should I suffer for it? And if I do give into all of society’s demands, does that make me a weaker feminist?
No. The fact of the matter is that I do want to look my best on my wedding day, and there is nothing wrong with that. It is an excellent excuse for me to eat healthier, hit the gym and take better care of my myself. However, I do believe that preparing for life after the wedding is far more important.
The focus that society places on the wedding over the marriage is pitiful. This reality is reflected in multi-million dollar weddings where the marriages don’t outlast the planning process. Very few young couples put the same amount of energy into preparing for their marriage as they do into preparing for their wedding. The number of guides on “How to Get Wedding Arms” far outnumber any guide on financial (or emotional) planning for a young couple. Financial or emotional preparedness is not a popular topic on any wedding blog that I have come across (and trust me, I’ve seen plenty, for better or worse!)
At the end of the day, I do not fault those who want to spend time and energy on their wedding day (or wedding week, if you’re South Asian.) However, I do believe that there is a real problem with fixating on the wedding as the end goal. We pour time, energy and money into something which marks the beginning of two lives together, but we focus solely on the first day, and not the lifetime to come. Personally, I hope to shift my focus from preparing for the wedding day to preparing for married life. Whether maintaining healthy eating or focusing on a healthy married life, I think it deserves the same, or actually much more, time and energy.
Hafsa Ahmad is an Editor at altMuslimah.com. This piece was originally published for the blog Matter of Cause, and edited for altMuslimah.com by the author.
(Photo Source: stylesatlife.com)