• Bullshit-free bride: Post wedding thoughts

    post wedding reflections - nzmuse bullshit free bride

    I want to talk honestly about the journey to this point. Specifically, I want to talk about expectations, disappointment, reality.

    The whole dialogue around engagements, weddings, and marriage is imbued with notions of magic and happiness. Life, however, is far more complex and sometimes uglier. As humans, our dreams often don’t quite match up. Relationships are messy. When money and other people and popular culture and expectations become involved, there are bound to be moments far less than ecstatic. And that’s normal.

    The ring

    For one, I didn’t love my engagement ring. I didn’t even particularly LIKE it at first. It’s a family ring that has untold emotional value, very old-fashioned, and for a long time it looked as if I wouldn’t even be able to wear it, as we couldn’t find anyone who could resize it to the extent I needed. As I was about to give up, though, I found a boutique jeweller who took on the task with aplomb, and started wearing it.

    You know what? It grew on me. It’s gold, and old, but has a lovely silver filigree, and the three-stone bridge is super cool and has an awesome side profile. I love that it’s unique, and that it has so much history and meaning.

    The people

    You might remember how I agonised over whether to have a bridal party at all, and if so, who should be in it.

    I’m glad I did ask my girlfriends to be part of it (even if only one ended up being able to come), and I’m glad I also asked two of my guy friends to be bridesmen. Friday was girls’ night (my first mani/pedi ever) and Saturday boys’ night (food, food, and more food), and instead of doing my own makeup I was powdered, lined, and curled by friends in the morning. It was a ton more than I would have worn on my own, but it looked good in pictures, I think…!

    It wasn’t completely smooth sailing, but I have no regrets.

    Sweating the small stuff

    Despite being very certain about the kinds of things I did and didn’t want at this wedding, as the day got closer, every little thing started to weigh on my mind. Would I be judged for having cheap table covers/no centrepieces/no fancy vehicle/a kickass shabby-chic rustic reception nook that is about as far from a typical pristine wedding venue as possible? OH, THE DOUBTS.

    Do you want to know what nearly broke the camel’s back? Flowers. Yes, fucking flowers. Everyone was on my case about flowers; apparently not having flowers is un-wedding like and absolutely unthinkable. I do not like hewing to tradition for tradition’s sake, but it got to the point that I asked a coworker – who edits a bridal magazine – for ideas. She had some great ideas for alternatives, but assured me I didn’t have to carry anything if I didn’t want to.

    In the end, I did the flower thing, though ended up ditching my bouquet over a bridge toward the end of our couples photos. Speaking of which, I’m hoping there were a handful of good ones. This face was not made to smile. I reserve the right to exercise bitchface for the rest of the month to make up for it.


    Our proposal story isn’t anything incredible. There is no grand gesture here – no tale of an elaborate operation designed to broadcast a proposal upon descent from a skydive. Just us, doing something we love (travelling for a music festival), in the privacy of the bathroom of a Wellington B&B. It’s a story we are both more than happy with, but there was definitely a slight twinge flavoured with a hint of envy whenever I heard about other people’s epic proposals, despite knowing how embarrassed I would be in such a situation.

    And despite being one of the first couples we know to get engaged, we were beaten to the altar by a few others. I wanted a long engagement, but yeah, I felt a little usurped at times. On one hand, I was glad to NOT be the first to actually tie the knot. On the other, I worried that those other weddings set a standard that we wouldn’t measure up to.

    Cold feet

    The most heart-stopping part of all came less than two months before the big day.

    There’s nothing harder than hearing someone you love voice soul-shattering doubts about the way forward. It cuts to the bone.

    It’s doubly hard when that person has always been the one who loved more, the one who pursued you, the one who pushed for marriage, the one who patiently waited for you to catch up. When, after several years, you’ve finally reached the stage where you feel ready to take the leap, to hear that person retreating. To watch the tissues pile up in the middle of the bed, to put aside your own feelings, to try to determine whether that fear is simply cold feet or stemming from a much deeper problem that you didn’t realise existed. To envision a million alternate paths for your life in the silent spaces between words.

    No matter how busy you are and how happy you think you might be, pre-marital counselling is probably a damn good idea.

    With all that said …

    I don’t know about everyone else, but I had a cracking time overall on Sunday.

    I mean, I did not have high hopes to start with. Saturday dawned bright and clear, then dissolved into some serious rainstorms by mid-morning, with forecasts for more of the same until Monday. Things looked amazing on Sunday morning – I was overheating on the way to the venue – but by the time we arrived, a sullen grey drizzle set in. Yet, unbelievably, it more or less cleared by the time we started, stayed sunny throughout photos, and didn’t return to hardcore rain until later on (it hailed at one point after we left).

    Nothing went too badly wrong: everyone managed to find the place; I got to see a few people I hadn’t seen in months; friends mended a rift in the course of the afternoon; nobody got out of control; I didn’t cry or suffer dire hayfever symptoms; I only caught my feet in my dress a handful of times (another one of those things I gave in on – having a little bit of a tail on it).

    It was by no means perfect, but I didn’t expect it to be. As everyone told me: “Enjoy it while you can – it goes so fast.”

    Most of all, I’ve been so surprised – and so touched – by the support and generosity of others. I’m so grateful to everyone I know, from those who helped pull things together to those who sent messages from afar and yes, even you, internet friends, who liked my Instagram pics/favourited my tweets/sent good wishes.

    There might even be a tear in my eye as I write this. What a sap.


  • Bullshit-free bride: On marriage and name changing

    bullshit free bride nzmuse

    I struggled with deciding whether or not to write this post. While the changing-your-name thing has never been up for debate for me, I do have some strong feelings on the matter. And, troublingly, I know some of those feelings are wrong (inasmuch as an opinion can be wrong, which by definition it can’t).

    Intellectually, I get that choosing to change your name isn’t any less of a feminist choice, and is in fact an active choice, whereas you don’t get any choice when you’re lumped with your family name at birth. But as I’ve previously written,  I am secretly disappointed when I hear a woman I know is taking her husband’s last name. This is a bias that I keep to myself; I would never presume to judge anyone else’s choice, but deep down a definite pang is there. It’s one of those things that I know logically doesn’t make sense. How do you overcome that?!

    I’ve been surprised at the fact that I’ve been asked about whether I’m keeping my name at all. Asking a woman whether she plans to change her name after marriage? I suppose it depends how close you are, but to my mind, it doesn’t feel like an appropriate question – I wouldn’t ever ask this of anyone. I suppose this is one of my personal quirks. What can I say? I’m very private.

    Even in the 21st century, this still seems to be very much the exception rather than the norm. To me, the whole practice of changing your name after marriage feels very archaic. (This post by Bitch PhD pretty much hits the spot for me.) Let’s face it – changing your name is a bullshit patriarchal custom, a hangover from the days when women were no more than property to be sold off to husbands by their families. With that said, I do plan to have our kids take T’s name. I don’t have strong feelings about that, despite being adamant about retaining mine.

    One of my friends used to say “I never want to be a [very common Indian surname]”. And what do you know, she found herself a nice boy, who was of course saddled with that accursed name. Funny how things turn out. Despite that, I’m almost certain that NOT changing her name was ever an option.

    People who decide to change their names seem to do it for one of two reasons:

    They prefer their husband’s name – fair enough. I despise my surname; it’s caused me plenty of grief. But at least it flows, which is more than I can say for slapping T’s last name next to my first name.

    Or because, you know, it’s tradition. I don’t buy that. I’ve never considered the name thing an integral part of marriage. Perhaps it’s because my mother didn’t. When I was in primary school, a friend once saw a letter addressed to both my parents by name. “Aren’t your parents married?” he goggled. “Yes – she just kept her own name. And?” was my reply.

    This is such a dealbreaker for me that when we butted heads over this pre-proposal, I was prepared to simply scrap marriage altogether. Eventually T realised how important it was to me, and accepted it.

    Heck, I’ve gone 24 years without ever bothering to change my first name to the name I use (my Christian name is not my legal name), partly because it feels like I’d be culturally rejecting a choice my parents no doubt put a lot of thought into,  but mainly because of the cost and hassle. (I’m finding it hard to pin down what it actually costs, but it looks like nearly $130, plus all kinds of extra fees for name changes on various documents.)

    It’s not just the IRD. It’s the NZTA for your driver’s licence. It’s your bank/s. Your investment fund providers. Your insurance company. Your cellphone provider. Your ISP. Your power company. Your place of work. And no doubt dozens of other important places where your name is on file.

    Another biggie for me is that I’ve been published for years under my name. But I think that name changing can be professionally detrimental no matter what your field. It’s insanely unfair, but there are studies that have found women who take their husband’s names end up earning less. Possibly those women are also more likely to take time out from work and raise children, accounting for that – or maybe it’s genuine bias in the workplace that penalises them. Or some other factor. /shrug

    (When I first read that, I thought ‘how in heck would anyone know if you’ve changed your name? DUMB QUESTION – unless you get married at say, 20, and start off your professional career under it. Women who get married at work change their email addresses – thus announcing their new marital status to the entire office, which men never have to do – and then obviously have to deal with things future employers calling up past references who know them as somebody else.)

    Unfortunately I don’t really see any way to smashing that barrier, aside from soldiering on, choosing to change your name, and kicking ass in the workplace – I just won’t be a part of that, I suppose.

    And now, after writing this, I’m more conflicted than ever – not about my personal choices, but just by all the social and cultural norms and ramifications involved in a wider context.

    Again: I’m not here to bash on you for changing your last name. I’m genuinely trying to reconcile my feelings on this matter.

  • Guest post: The day after the big one – what spouses should expect from each other

    Goldie Spivey is a full time staffer at a wedding invitations company and a freelance bridal make-up artist.

    Today, flash mob weddings are becoming more and more common among couples. They say that this type of expression is one of the grandest ways to tell the world how people love each other. One of the most famous and memorable flash mob wedding proposals happened on April 21, 2012, in Westlake, Seattle, where almost 1000 flash mobbers gathered to celebrate the third
    Annual Glee Flash Mob. It was the biggest Glee fan event in the US and spectators were surprised when, in the middle of the mob, there was a marriage proposal.

    The show lasted for 7 minutes and 30 seconds where the guy, Tim, proposed to Emily, his girlfriend during the half part of the show. Everyone was quite happy and inspired with the event as it depicts affection and diversity as the couple announced their love with people from different parts of the world.

    Most people think that the proposal itself is the happy ending. What they fail to realise is that real life happens after the big day. After the wedding, a couple is no longer how they were before. They have to go through several changes and adapt to different scenarios in life. There are things that people should keep in mind when getting married. Expectations should be established prior to tying the knot as most marriages fail when they set the wrong expectations.

    First of all, marriage is not a magic pill that can resolve anyone’s problems in life. When you marry someone, you need to face the odds and other things that may happen in the future. This includes tough times such as losing a job or incurring an illness. It is not about thinking negative thoughts about the relationship but rather being emotionally prepared as a couple.

    Another important thing to keep in mind is that change is constant. Many things can change through time and this includes sex life, career, health condition, and other things that are subject to age. It is vital to understand that changes can happen through time and as a couple, you are expected to accept your partner’s vagaries when certain situations arise.

    Marrying someone can be something that most many dream of as people are naturally moved by love and romance. On the other hand, what people should focus on are the responsibilities that lie ahead after the ceremony such as the likelihood of being parents, the ups and downs and everything else that can happen as a couple.

    Overall, what spouses should expect from their partners is very simple. For instance, if you want your partner to be a responsible person, you should ask yourself if you are the same. Always set realistic goals so you are not frustrated with the things that you want to see in your partner. If you cannot be the type of person that you want your partner to be, then it is not healthy to expect him or her to be that ideal person.

    Have you ever struggled with mismatched expectations in a relationship? What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever experienced as part of a couple?

  • What’s in a name?

    I believe in doing things the ‘traditional’ way – getting hitched, THEN getting the house, kids, dog and picket fence. Nothing against people who don’t, it’s just how I’d like to do things for myself. I want a couple of years being married and child-free, and I want a place of our own to bring them up in.

    But I have NO intentions of changing my name. The few people around my age I know who are married changed their names (surprising? I don’t know. One of them is religious, so maybe that was a factor). But I’ve never wanted to take on a husband’s name…I see no point! Like I told BF, people can refer to us as Mr and Mrs. I’m just not going to officially change my surname because I got married.

    I may legally change my first name, because nobody calls me by my given name – the only reason I haven’t already is the cost/hassle/feeling bad for rejecting the name my parents chose. Names are definitely a part of your identity. I don’t particularly like my first or last name, but it’s mine. I’m used to it. And I’m going to keep living with it. Why should I have to give it up for anyone?

    BF isn’t stoked about that – he sees it as a key part of being married (otherwise what’s the point?) and a sign of love/commitment/partnership. I told him people could call me by his name, I just wouldn’t be bothering to change it with the IRD/banks/work/government, etc. The cost, hassle and paperwork are just prohibitive. And frankly, my name is not the most melodious of names. It doesn’t go with many different last names. It tends to sound better with a single syllable surname (most people who share it do have monosyllablic surnames). BF’s name certainly does not ring with mine.

    Anyway, I guess we’ll have to hash it out further. There’s got to be a compromise…no point discussing marriage if we can’t even get past this!

  • Hmmm….

    chocolatesApparently NZ women want flowers and chocolate just as much, if not more than, increased intimacy. WTF? (the guys surveyed overwhelmingly voted for more intimacy – go figure).

    Oh well, I don’t really like flowers. They’re pretty, but I don’t really appreciate them. They die. I’d rather have something lasting. Not jewellery either; I don’t wear any, just can’t be bothered anymore. Hence, I do not want an expensive engagement ring. I just KNOW I would lose it down the toilet/during an exuberant wave of the arm/over a bridge somewhere. I especially don’t want a diamond one. I’m thinking a coloured stone, actually, almost any colour would do.

    Diamonds are forever, my ass. Love is, or it should be – maybe that’s why our divorce rate is so high? And I can’t believe the average wedding pushes $30k. that’s half of a house deposit! Almost a year’s salary! It almost makes me ill to think of blowing that much on a single day (because I don’t think the figure includes the honeymoon! And that’s what I’d consider worth putting more towards). I’m so highly strung and have such a close relationship with Murphy, that I know it’s a bad idea to pin so much down on one day. There’s no way it could live up to expectations, despite the fact that I literally have none of my own. I’m proud to say I’ve never envisaged what my wedding would be like, but eloping sounds like a pretty good idea!