Monday, October 25, 2010

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better: When Brides Compete

Choose any random Friday night, and you’re most likely to find me entirely exhausted after a long week, relaxing on the couch with one of my favorite reality shows, Four Weddings.

If you’ve never watched the show, it features four brides who attend and score each other’s weddings as they each compete to win a dream honeymoon. Every aspect of a bride’s wedding is put on display and is open for critique, including her gown, the venue, the food, and the overall guest experience. This show is utterly entertaining and fun to watch, and I’m the first to admit that I’m hooked. But at the end of the day, I also worry that shows like this perpetuate the strong pressure many brides feel to be the “best” in the eyes of family, friends, and even strangers.

As for me, I’m as guilty as anyone. From the very beginning, Stephen and I told ourselves that our day was not a competition, and that as long as we stayed true to ourselves and to our desires, the wedding would be perfect. But after months of planning, blogging and reading, a bevy of competitive thoughts slowly began creeping into my head. Would our photos be as beautiful as some of the others I’d seen on my favorite blogs and websites? Would guests who'd previously attended weddings with much larger budgets and at more elaborate venues consider our celebration “cheap”? Would I look thin and fit enough in my gown?


Admitting these moments of weakness was embarrassing and difficult, especially since I am someone who strives to live in a very positive and accepting way. But let’s be honest. These types of thoughts often come with the territory in the wedding world, and I bet just about every bride has had them at one time or another. Recognizing them and trying to get past them is half the battle, but sadly, some brides never seem to reach this stage.

For example, just a couple weeks ago, my colleague told me the story of a friend who had moved up her wedding date so that her celebration would be sure to outshine that of a friend getting married later in the year. And everywhere I turn, I hear more stories about brides who undergo plastic surgery, liposuction, and any number of other crazy procedures in a struggle to appear beautiful in the eyes of others. Stories like these make me very sad, and that’s why, given the chance, I would never want to appear on a show such as Four Weddings.

Planning a wedding that pleases the bride and groom while also providing a great experience for guests is already challenging enough, without the added pressure of having every aspect scrutinized by TV cameras and accented with catty comments by brides who are quick to rattle off everything they "hate" about the gown, venue, vows…you name it. Instead, I would much rather remember my day just as I perceived it – as being beautiful, authentic, and true to our personalities, finances and beliefs.


What do you think, ladies? Do you view your wedding as a chance to compete with friends and relatives, and have you felt pressured to make your day “the best”? Would you ever want to appear on a wedding reality show?

(Photo Credits: Alex Neumann Photography) 

11 comments:

  1. I personally planned my wedding on what we wanted and envisioned. Thankfully, I had no friends or family going through the process at the same time - I think that gave us a lot more support and minimized any chance of competition.

    Phew, I'm glad it's over now though! I get to go to every wedding for the rest of my life and think to myself "Well, this is beautiful - but I still believe we had the perfect wedding."

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  2. I never felt the need to compete , being pregnant and working full time I was to exhausted, even to think! lol. Luckily, having my sister as my planner, she knew exactly what I wanted and it was better then I even imagined!

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  3. I am addicted to Four Weddings, too, but agree that it does perpetuate a sense of competition that is not healthy. I don't think it's really ever possible to compare weddings. All of them are so different and representative of the couple, it doesn't make sense to compare, though I think we all struggle with these feelings from time to time.

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  4. I love the show 4 Weddings. I am also competitive by nature so we'll see what happens when the time comes. Yikes!!! ;)

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  5. I LOVE that show but would never go on it. I would hate to hear someone critique my wedding. Even though I know my wedding wasn't perfect and I more than anyone could point out it's flaws I wouldn't want to hear someone else critique it.

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  6. I haven't seen the show but wow talk about pressure! I wouldn't want my wedding to be judged or be on a reality show. It's all about the couple and shouldn't be about showmanship or who has the prettiest cake!

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  7. I definitely have no desire to compete with friends and relatives regarding our wedding. However, I have felt pressure to make our day "the best" after getting hooked on wedding blogs such as Style Me Pretty, Once Wed, Southern Weddings Magazine, etc.

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  8. Ugh, I am not a fan of that show; it's just not healthy to encourage the judging of others weddings against your own!

    I feel like that really has a negative impact on society (the need to be "better" than your friends/family) as well as contributes to the increasing trend of couples spending outside their means on their wedding. I'm so glad you seem to have a great outlook on this issue!

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  9. Great post! I agree, I went through the same process. I started out as saying, no matter what anyone else's expectations are, I'm not going to compare my day to anyone and am just going to make mine all my own. But the more I researched and found things other brides did, the more I thought, I want that too!! Now, I wouldn't dream of moving my day up to outshine someone else's, nor would I totally change my wedding personality just to match or exceed someone else's, but I'd be fibbing if I said there was no persuasion in planning my day after seeing other girl's ideas. I think it's only natural to compare ourselves, but in the end, as long as you stick to your own style, that's all that matters. :)

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  10. I LOVE Four weddings but I would never go on a wedding reality show. (mostly for professional reasons).

    I am very competitive and quite a perfectionist, however I don't really compete with other B2B. For me the pressure is really self-imposed. Now I find myself planning a mega- villa destination wedding in Costa Rica, on a VERY small budget! Sigh.

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  11. I would never go on Four Weddings. there are very few, if any, reality shows I would want to be on. While I do enjoy watching Four Weddings, I hate it at the same time because I do think it really sends a bad message and promotes, not even competitiveness, but cattiness.

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