• Charlotte Dallison

The Anti Bride

One of the biggest reliefs the lockdown has brought us is that bridezilla’s have been put back in their cages. Now of course, if your wedding plans have been postponed or drastically altered thanks to COVID19, I am genuinely very sorry for you… But can we all admit that weddings being put on pause for the foreseeable is a bit of a relief?

My love-hate relationship/slight obsession with brides and weddings started at an early age. I spent every preschool playdate with my best friend (and fake husband), Freddie, playing “weddings”. A game which was really about dressing up and being centre of attention, and forcing my poor younger sister into being a bridesmaid… Of course, Freddie has since given me the flick and come out as gay and my sister still resents me for making her the bridesmaid every time. Other than that though, I was never the girl who fantasised about her actual wedding day.

Marilyn as a young model. Posing in her own first wedding dress. A reminder that you've gotta start somewhere!

When I went to my first real wedding I was rather underwhelmed. I was a flower girl and hated my dress. Even at eight years old I knew that cream was not my colour, and being told what to wear by my mother was like being given another school uniform. Since then I’ve been to many weddings, some seriously great, some rubbish, and many that were in between. In saying this, my last hoorah before lockdown was the most fantastic, flawless, big, posh wedding in New Zealand. And as I live in another country now I didn’t have to endure any penis-shaped straws or hysteria in the lead up.

I am currently at that age where half of my friends are engaged and the other half are freely shagging whomever they please (lockdown permitting). Anything goes really, and depending on where you live, and what circles you move in, there isn’t a universal model of what’s to be expected from a woman in her late 20s. What bothers me though is how nobody is safe from the all-consuming takeover which planning a wedding creates. Even your most free-spirited and cool-bitch friends are prone to falling madly in love, quickly getting engaged and then taking a year off of being themselves to devote their life to planning their ‘big day’. Which highlights the fact weddings really are full of contradictions. For example, how is it that the most exquisite wedding dress designs come from a brand that is rooted in punk and anarchy - I’m obviously talking about Vivienne Westwood.

If you're gonna get married, do it in Westwood.

As a Leo and eldest sister, I am always determined to be the centre of attention. And really I do love the thought of hosting an extravagant party, with an outrageous budget, and being the most overdressed person in the room. But I can already see now that planning a wedding would be a huge black hole for me, and I’m not really sure it would bring out my best self. Despite having dabbled in event planning and having worked as an interior designer for the past few years, even with my floristry contacts and obsessive eye, I don’t think planning a wedding would be wise for my wellbeing or my wallet. Now the appeal of the registry office and a bottle of Bollinger is something I’ve been thinking of more seriously, as I am in a relationship with a man with whom I really do want to spend the rest of my life with.

Which begs the question, why even get married now? Is it still necessary in 2020 and beyond? Who can ignore that the foundations of marriage are utterly sexist and rooted in the Piscean, patriarchal age? The days of the dowry may be gone in western culture, but many other suppressive ancient rituals are not. For example, being expected to shed your surname in the name of love doesn’t seem particularly woke.

The oldest trick in the book: ensuring your bridesmaids look as ridiculous as possible so you can look as fabulous as possible.

Though we mustn’t forget that occasionally weddings are for relaxed people too. A good friend of mine, who epitomises cool, organised her wedding in two months, invited 30 friends via a Facebook group chat and wore a see-through dress to walk down the aisle in. The weather was not in her favour, being that one rainy day in an otherwise perfect Sydney November, but she didn’t complain for a second. Overall it was a day filled with love, laughter, loads of booze, sexy groomsmen in linen suits and deliciously fresh food. Another friend had a beautiful backyard wedding on the first day of summer in 2018. She and her now husband invited everyone they knew and essentially had a cool and casual summer party - complete with loads of summery cocktails, scoops of paella for dinner and the bride wearing a 70s-style mini dress. I would go to either of those weddings again in a heartbeat.

Aligned with that casual wedding ethos, one of my favourite wedding brands is Stone Fox Bride. A brand which defined themselves as being a destination for ‘anti-brides’. Their business model was all about wearing something bohemian and off-the-rack (which you carried out of the store in a reusable tote back that had ‘Fuck Weddings’ written on it). I remember working for a fabulous evening wear designer in Sydney a few years ago. When I asked her why she didn’t venture into bridal gowns she looked at me in horror and said: “I DON’T do brides!” Whilst I wrote this post (and procrastinated plenty by scrolling through my Instagram feed) I saw that Alice Temperley had posted this heavenly snap of some of her bridal designs, which nobody could deny aren’t inspiring. I follow a lot of jewellers on Instagram too, so am privy to images of beautiful engagement rings almost daily. A sign, an algorithm, who knows?

Bridal heaven via Alice Temperley's Instagram.

Maybe this lockdown and “these strange times” will reset wedding culture for good? And isn't that a great thing! The fact is weddings had gotten way out of hand up until recently. The rather sad reality is many friends of mine who have been brides say that they didn’t enjoy their weddings at all, that it was the most stressful event of their lives and that they wish they’d spent the money on something substantial instead. Normal people do not need to spend a house-deposit type sum on a relatively boring event inspired by the Kardashian’s. Equal to the fact that normal people don’t want to spend their life savings constantly having to attend these events either. Maybe weddings will become totally redundant, but personally I hope that soon the cool, 60s-esqe registry office jaunts will rule once more.

Stone Fox Bride - for the ultimate anti-bride.

Regardless, as we venture in and out of lockdown, let’s all be grateful the divas like me aren’t able to plan a thing right now, and that we’re all being forced to consider what really matters in our relationships - true love and romance.... oh, and sex - something I’ve heard marriage isn’t particularly great for!

All images via Flickr, Pinterest or Instagram.

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