In the past two months, I've attended four different weddings of close friends, with each one beautiful in their own distinct ways and styles. But what has been common in each ceremony is the moment the wedded bride blindly tosses her bouquet to a group of slightly inebriated, opened-armed women behind her. And it's this moment I hate the most.
I'm in an amazing relationship with a man I have loved since I was 18. That's more than seven years long. And I'm not going to lie - we're great together. We are both Christian, we love the idea of marriage, and we're not uncertain about what we want in our futures. However, he understands me when I say to him "You know I love you, but I'm not going to catch that bouquet."
Bouquet catching is an old tradition that I Googled originated in medieval times. Back then, single ladies ripped off pieces of the bride's wedding dress in order to receive good luck. It's good that's not the thing anymore; I hate it when I get a hole in my clothing, let alone the idea of having my expensive wedding dress ripped up.
I know in this day and age, the toss of the bouquet is not meant to be taken seriously. But as I am pushed and forced to stand behind the bride with the other single and unmarried ladies in the room, all I feel is I'm being made a spectacle of in the worst way. 'Behold folks, see the gathering of unwed women on the dance floor...' Why is my unmarried status something that needs to be fixed by a magical bouquet that will bestow upon me the right of becoming the next bride?
It used to be a lighthearted and slightly irritating question, but I actually dislike constantly being asked: "When are you getting engaged/married?" I love the idea and thought of marriage, of having my own beautiful wedding, and the symbolic meaning behind it all, but I hate the pressure and questioning others give me about it. Often when I respond with a "when it happens" or "when it's the right time", it leads on to discussing and justifying all the reasons I am not currently interested in creating a Pinterest board for my ideal wedding ceremony. No one says it outright, but to be a 25-year-old Christian woman in a long term relationship who doesn't want to get married tomorrow - there is some unspoken assumption that maybe there's something wrong with me.
As I receive the playful jests and jabs people give me about becoming a bride, the expectation and pressure of marriage from others are frustrating from my standpoint. Being constantly pressured about the status of my relationship also takes the shine off what is meant to be a beautiful image of marriage. It is like being reminded to practice my musical instruments or attend my sports practices - I'll do it anyway but it feels more than a chore I'm being forced into, rather than a joy I chose to participate in.
And when it does happen - trust me, I'll tell you myself. Though quite frankly I'm also tempted in telling no one and just surprise everyone that they all missed it.
Being single or unmarried isn't a long-term sickness that needs to be cured by another bride's baptised bouquet. Nor should marriage be a decision made by other people for you. So while the symbolic wedding bouquet is tossed towards the hands of unwed females - do not expect my own arms to catch it. Let my partner and I make the decision between us. Because I don't need to spend the rest of someone else's wedding night being asked when my own ceremony will be.