January 24, 2010

A Word (Or Many) About Gay Marriage

In both the wedding world and politics, gay marriage is a very hot topic.  First, there was a the passing of Proposition 8 in California, which had banned gay marriage in the state. Then, Martha Stewart Weddings featured its first ever gay wedding in their magazine. Next, in the world of blogging brides, came a post by The Barefoot Bride denouncing gay marriage and the Martha Stewart Weddings feature of the gay couple due to her Christian beliefs, which sparked a firestorm of over 300 comments to the post!  And recently, the Perry versus Schwarzenegger trial began, to determine whether Proposition 8's ban on same-sex marriage violates U.S. constitutional rights of equal protection and due process. This is an unprecedented court case on the issue, and the ramifications will surely be historical, whatever the final verdict. 

Since creating this blog, I have quietly shown my support for gay marriage by displaying a badge from WhiteKnot.org to embrace marriage equality. 

But now, I've decided to join the ranks and speak out about this issue.  I come from the first state to legalize gay marriage. I have an aunt who is a lesbian. I was raised to believe that all humans are created equal, and discrimination against others is simply intolerable. But that being said, I do not want to make this an argument based on emotion. Just because I was raised in this environment does not mean I have not considered alternative perspectives, or failed to analyze my own beliefs. I have spent a great deal of time pondering, debating, studying, researching, and educating others on this topic. I truly strive to understand the beliefs of both sides. And I am against either side engaging in immature name calling. 

I think at the heart of this issue there is a failure on both sides to understand the other, because in America there appears to be a movement towards what I would describe as belief equaling fact. When one side is arguing based on fact and the other on personal beliefs, neither side is going to understand each other, because it's like trying to compare apples and oranges, so to speak.

To elucidate this trend, on the liberal/pro-marriage equality/Democrat (pick one) side you have individuals who cite the fact that the Constitution guarantees all citizens equal protection under the law, and that the Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal and have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. According to this argument, homosexuals are being unfairly discriminated against by being denied the right to marry, since the fact is that they are guaranteed equal protection under the law.  

The Left's Stance on Gay Marriage in a Nutshell

However, the conservative/Christian/Republican stance tends to gravitate towards the belief that homosexuality is immoral and wrong. The problem here is not necessarily the Right's belief that homosexuality is wrong (everyone is entitled to their beliefs, even if we vehemently disagree with them). The issue is that the Right is taking their beliefs and attempting to morph them into facts. By that, I mean that they are stating that because they believe marriage between same sex couples is immoral, they then (usually) claim it is a fact that marriage is an institution between to unite one man and one woman. I also often hear the argument that homosexual marriages will threaten the quality and validity of heterosexual marriage. The Family Research Council, a Christian organization, claims:

  "Homosexual marriage is an empty pretense that lacks the fundamental sexual complementariness of male and female. And like all counterfeits, it cheapens and degrades the real thing. The destructive effects may not be immediately apparent, but the cumulative damage is inescapable. The eminent Harvard sociologist, Pitirim Sorokin, analyzed cultures spanning several thousand years on several continents, and found that virtually no society has ceased to regulate sexuality within marriage as defined as the union of a man and a woman, and survived."

The problem here is that again, the FRC is taking historical observation and trying to pass it off as valid research, or fact. Basically they are saying that societies that stopped defining marriage (which ones, btw?) as between a man and a woman did not survive, so if we allow gay marriage our society will also end. They are calling this research and trying to pretend it is fact. But as all researchers know, correlation does not equal causation. That means that just because there is a correlation between societies ending and liberal sexual attitudes (assuming this is even a valid correlation) does NOT mean that liberal sexual attitudes caused the destruction of these societies. There could be numerous other explanations, such as war, for the demise of these societies. There are also a myriad of other reasons that people oppose same-sex marriage that I am not going to debate here. I just wanted to make the point with a couple of examples that this side does not view their beliefs as mere opinion, they have elevated them to facts, and fail to see the important distinction between the two.  

In more extreme cases, and I am certainly not saying this is the belief held by all anti-equality individuals, religious conservatives make statements that the other side would view as hate or bigotry as though they are facts. But again, these "facts" cannot be proven through science, and they are really just opinions. Please refer to the image below for a good example of a man who has tried to pass his personal belief off as a fact. In this case the man believes that homosexuals are possessed by demons. However his poster makes it appear that this is a fact, when indeed it clearly is not (though I know he and some others would disagree with me).

To summarize, the issue between those who support same-sex marriage and those who do not is that one side is arguing on the basis of fact, while the other is arguing on the basis of belief.  The key is that individuals who oppose marriage equality do not believe they are arguing on the basis of belief; they feel that the Bible and its teachings are facts, which to them are just as valid as legitimate research studies or tangible evidence. We cannot dispute this belief, because we cannot and will not prove to them they are wrong, just as they cannot prove to us that the Bible is actually fact. To do so would be like trying to convince people that grass is really purple, when they have viewed it as green throughout their lives. It's just not going to happen. Thus, neither side is ever going to compromise or really understand the other side.  

However, history has shown that when we discriminate against groups on the basis of belief, in violation of the Constitution, that eventually, the majority of this country will come to the consensus that there does need to be a separation between personal beliefs and facts. And that we have to run the country on the basis of facts (the laws outlined in the Constitution), because to do otherwise is unfair, since all humans deserve to be treated equally. This has certainly been the case for women and African Americans. 

I remember asking my parents when I was younger what it was like to grow up with Jim Crow laws or be apart of the feminist movement, and why discrimination was so tolerated in society. They said that really, there was no good answer for why society tolerated such bigotry, and that fortunately, these groups succeeded in attaining their Constitutional rights to freedom and equality.  Someday, I know I will be able to tell my children the same answer when they ask me why when I was growing up homosexuals did not have the right to marry. I have faith that that day will come.

January 13, 2010

Are Wedding Blogs the New Vogue?

You may have no idea what this post is going to be about from the title.  Before I clarify, let me explain that I have been super ecstatic to continue to share the professional pictures of our wedding in the form of recaps and DIY projects.

For me, choosing a wedding photographer was one of the most important decisions in the wedding planning process. I wanted a photographer with a unique style that would be able to create images of the wedding that I would consider proper art. Picking a wedding photographer was so difficult for me, because there are so many photographers out there whose work I admired. However, unfortunately for me (and my groom, who had to listen to me lament over this issue incessantly), I have expensive taste, and most of the photographers I wanted were way out of my price range.

Looking back, I can definitely say I got what I wanted in the photographer we chose, Seth Kammueller, which is fantastic. But now that the wedding is over and I have hundreds of wedding images to obsess over, I have begun to analyze why a photographer was so important to me in the first place. At the time, I told myself that a photographer is important because other than your memories, which may fade over time, images are the only keepsake you may have from your wedding. I wanted a photographer who would capture one of the most important days of my life in a way that would preserve the memories for a lifetime. At least, that is what I told myself. And to be honest, I still feel that way, and consider photography to be art, which is an investment.

So how does any of this have anything to do with wedding blogs being the new Vogue? Well, I also think that the reason that I wanted a great photographer is due to the social pressure from wedding blogs to have a "storybook wedding." When you look at the wedding images featured on professional sites like Style Me Pretty (don't get me wrong, I'm still a big fan), everything featured looks too good to be true, like the weddings come straight out of a magazine.  I recently wrote blog post about a winter wedding I saw on SMP, and as one of my readers commented, the couple are "impossibly good looking."

And you know what? My reader was totally right. That's when I realized that reading wedding blogs and only seeing picture perfect weddings featuring couples that look like models sets an unrealistic standard for the rest of us. Just like when I read Vogue or any other fashion magazine, and see page after page of malnourished models. Even though I don't want to compare myself to the women featured in the media, and with a psychology background realize that is unhealthy, I still cannot help but feel that there is something wrong with looking like a normal person. That sad thing is that I will continue to read fashion magazines and look at wedding blogs that continue to perpetrate this standard. And I'm not saying that that is necessarily a terrible thing. I still get lots of inspiration from wedding blogs, and hey, looking at pretty things is fun. But at the same time, reading these wedding blogs can subconsciously create an enormous amount of pressure to go on a diet, blow your budget, and highlight, wax, and powder your way to wedding day perfection.

I cannot tell you the number of blog posts and tweets I've read where brides state that they want to lose those "last 10 pounds" not due to vanity or wedding pressure, but because they will "feel healthier." While that may be true, brides need to stop kidding themselves and just admit that white is not a slimming color, and really you want to lose the weight so that when you walk down the aisle, guests don't secretly think "OMG she looks chubby in that dress," or so you don't look back on your photos and feel disgusted by your back cleavage. And even if you are fortunate enough to be naturally slim, there are still so many other ways in which wedding media has insidiously created self doubt in brides over everything from finding the perfect shoes to purchasing the trendiest centerpieces and favors. It just seems like we can't win.

I do not want to end on a pessimistic note. Just because there are a plethora of perfect wedding images in print, does not mean there are not alternatives.  So I want to say kudos the the bridal bloggers out there who do not perpetrate these standards, who embrace diversity and uniqueness (you know who you are) and who make me feel good about myself and my wedding even though it does not resemble a staged photoshoot! I look forward to sharing the rest of my wedding photos with you :)

January 12, 2010

Going Against the Grain (literally!): DIY Sand Ceremony

I am so excited to share another one of my wedding DIY projects now that we have received our professional wedding photos!

I had always liked the idea of incoporating a unity ceremony into the religious service, and had often seen this done with the lighting of unity candles. Since we were getting married on the coast of Cape Cod, and the beach has always been special to me, my fiance and I decided that we preferred to do a unity sand ceremony instead.

Being the researcher that I am, I instantly began scouring the Internet for where I could purchase the nicest sand ceremony set for the lowest price. However, I was quickly dismayed, and rather taken aback, by the ridiculous prices for these sets. "Are you freaking kidding me?? $65 for a couple of vases? Sand NOT included?" I said to myself.

I decided that there was no reason that I could not make a sand ceremony set myself, for a fraction of the cost. So when my then-fiance and I were on Cape Cod in October doing some last minute wedding plannning, we stopped at Michael's to see what we could find. We were pleased to discover the small heart jars pictured below to hold the sand, and bought 6 of them (2 for my sand, 2 for his sand, and 2 for my dad's sand, who was also our officiant), for only $0.99 a piece!

Next, we needed a large vase or jar into which we would pour our creation. Since I knew we would want to take it on the plane back to Chicago, we decided to purchase an apothecary jar with a lid so our sand wouldn't spill. I also like apothecary jars because they are pretty and have a vintage vibe, which was also one of our wedding themes. We found one that fit the bill for less than $10.

We then purchased some white and dark blue sand (our wedding colors) at Michael's for only a few dollars a pound. Since we still needed sand for my father, we thought we'd go to the beach and collect some local sand for free, which would incorporate a more sentimental touch as well!

Here is the final product:

Photograph by Seth Kammueller

And here it is after the unity sand ceremony:

Photograph by Seth Kammueller

Overall, we were very pleased with how our DIY project turned out, and many of our guests commented on how unique and special the unity ceremony was. My father also gave a nice speech before we poured the unity sand to explain the symbolic meaning behind it, and our pianist played "Claire de Lune" by Debussy to add to the ambiance of the moment.

January 8, 2010

Top Ten Blogger Brides Posts of 2009

I was recently perusing Get Married and came across an article reviewing the top ten Blogger Bride posts of the year. As you may or may not be aware, I am a Featured Blogger Bride on their blog. After viewing the article, I was shocked and thrilled to see that one of my posts came in 5th! See the complete list of top ten Blogger Bride posts here.

The Blogger Bride post of mine that was listed in the top ten was called This Is YOUR Wedding: Do Things Your Way, and it received such a great response that it inspired a series I started called Going Against the Grain. This was the first post in the series in which I wrote to remind brides that their wedding is a special celebration of the union between them and their future husband, and it's important to remember to do what makes you and your groom happy when planning your wedding. I found that when families get involved and begin to share (or in some cases, demand) their opinions and ideas be included in your wedding, that it can be really easy to succumb to the pressure and lose sight of the vision that you and your groom had for your wedding. So this post served as a reminder for myself, and hopefully other brides out there, to remain true to yourselves and do things your way, even if they include some unconventional ideas!

And finally, congrats to all the ladies who made the top ten this year! I'm looking forward to more great posts from them and everyone else in the New Year!

January 7, 2010

A Blog Makeover & A Big Announcement!

Happy New Year! I know I have been MIA this past week, but now you can see why! Instead of making a New Year's resolution that I probably won't keep, I decided to update my blog to a new template and background/color scheme.  Now I will also have more room for pictures, which is great because I have TONS of wedding recaps and DIY projects from my wedding to share with you.

In addition, since the wedding I have been internally debating about what to do with my blog. On the one hand, it seems a bit silly to keep a wedding blog after one is married, and I really want to start blogging about life after you say "I do." In retrospect, having been married nearly 4 weeks now (eek, I can't believe how fast time flies!!!), I think that brides, and probably grooms, put so much time and energy into the wedding day, that it can be really easy to gloss over what happens after your big day. It's like you have this hugely important day in your mind, filled with so much anticipation and excitement, that you never really stop to think about the fact that life will actually continue after you become an official married couple.

When I started this blog, I needed a place to vent, share my thoughts and feelings, and gain support and inspiration from others, as well as hopefully provide the same to other couples out there. I didn't expect that I would enjoy blogging as much as I have. When I was younger, I used to enjoy creative writing as a hobby. Being in graduate school for the past 4 years had pretty much wiped out the passion that I once had for writing, as well as reading, since when someone else orders you to do it it feels like a chore. But this blog has revived my excitement about writing, and it has been really great to connect with all of the other wonderful brides out there in blogger land!

Thus, I am not ready to give up this blog now that I'm married, for sentimental reasons as well as a want to continue to share ideas and hopefully inspire others. Hence, I have decided that I will keep this blog and focus solely on weddings, and for the meantime my own.  But, since I also want to focus on life after saying "I do," I will be creating a second blog for this purpose.  So stay tuned for more announcements regarding my new blog and my first post on there as well!

This debate and decision to create a second blog has also made me wonder what other brides do once their wedding day has passed. Did you give up your blog, continue to post about other weddings, or make it a personal blog of your daily life? What do you current brides-to-be plan to do once your wedding is over?
Related Posts with Thumbnails