Wedding Bell Blues

I just got back from a family wedding – my youngest sister tied the proverbial knot on Saturday.

Prior to  my departure, I noticed an alarming trend of reactions from friends, coworkers and random strangers when they learned I was traveling to my younger sister’s wedding. All said and told, I think the reactions can be categorized into 3 types:

Sympathy: You know what I’m talking about. The “Oh, your younger sister? How sad for you, being older and still unmarried having to watch a younger female wed.” kind of reaction that no one ever says out loud, but makes clear by the sad, soft look in the eyes as they look upon you.

What’s Wrong With YOU?: Yeah. The “Holy crap, your younger sister’s getting married before you? What the heck is wrong with you?” reactions are delightful. I actually had someone say it very blatantly to me, making me pretty indignant…which was probably interpreted as me being bitter or defensive and not as the “I’m quite happy being single, thanks” that it was.

No, Really, It’s Okay To Be Single: I got my hair trimmed before my trip, and I told the stylist I didn’t want to go too much because I had a wedding to attend and didn’t want to mess with a drastic change. This led, of course, to her inquiry about whose wedding. When she found out it was my little sister’s, she proceeded to assure me over and over, using various different anecdotes and stories that it was just fine to remain single. This left me with the impression that she really was trying to issue sympathy, not support (which I don’t need, btw).

Does this happen to men? If a guy’s younger brother is getting married before he does, are they made to feel there is something wrong with them because of it or is this an occurrence that happens strictly to women?  I wonder why it’s so easy for people to assume a single woman would be hurt, depressed and/or concerned because someone else is getting married.

Please tell me it really is 2006.


  1. Maartje says

    OK, everyone remember the bit in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (the book) where Catherine de Bourgh is all shocked at Lizzie’s admission that her younger sisters are out before the older sisters are wed. And this was what, late 18th, early 19th century?
    SBG, I fear you have fallen through a timewarp and landed in the wrong century.
    Seriously, what is wrong with people? Aged bachelors are called sophisticated and suave while aged bachellorettes are just over the hill and in need of a man STAT. What am I saying, young single women must be dating or chasing some man all the time as well! Society as we know it will crash around our ankles if women ever find out that marriage isn’t the ultimate goal in life!

    Congratulations for your sister, my sympathy for you for having to live in a world where the only choice a woman should make regarding her own life is wether to choose the chicken or the salmon on her wedding.


  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    So, the only reason for a woman to be single is that no one wants her? And people wonder why women marry vile men and put up with their crap. Jeez.

    What I find most insulting is not that they’re coming at you with an erroneous assumption: anyone can make those. It’s that they refuse to believe you when you politely correct the assumption.

    Which is why I usually go for shock value: “Me, married? Oh, thank god, no!” followed with shudders. That usually just scares them away.

  3. sbg says

    It’s pretty ridiculous, to be honest, to continue to think this way when there are more and more voluntarily single people. I wouldn’t mind a committed relationship and I wouldn’t really mind marriage, but it’s not something I feel I need to make myself a complete person.

    Hell, even the priest’s homily was riddled with insinuations that a person is just useless and empty until they find that someone to make them whole. Ca-ca to that, I say.

    And I have to say – one of my married sisters followed me around the reception/dance, repeatedly expressing her envy that I could sit at the bar and have a cocktail or dance when I wanted to or, if I felt like leaving, leave.

  4. sbg says

    So, the only reason for a woman to be single is that no one wants her? And people wonder why women marry vile men and put up with their crap. Jeez.

    Indeed. One of my (many) sisters married for the sake of being married, I think. I also think they do love each other in some way I cannot fathom or support, but if she hadn’t been 30 and *gasp* unmarried, she wouldn’t have stuck with the guy. FCOL, she had known him for 3 months when he asked her and they were married about 5 months after that. I don’t care what age you are, you should know someone for more than a year before you marry them. That’s just common sense.

    As I said in reply to Maartje, alot of focus was put on how marriage ‘completes’ a person. Two halves of a whole an all that crap. I’m sorry, but to me that sounds like that particular philosophy means that any one person alone is actually only half a person, and I refuse to buy into that.

    As for my example above, my sister’s complete self isn’t herself at all anymore. Whatever he wants, he gets. Whatever his interests are, hers are. Whatever he wants her to wear, she wears. Whatever he wants for dinner, that’s what they get, no exception. Etc., etc.

    That is not my idea of a good life.

  5. Jennifer Kesler says

    Why do you think women are supposed to give up their last names when they marry (and to this day, men are hostile to the very idea of them keeping it)? Why do you think they say “man and wife”? Marriage was originally a propery exchange: I’ll give you 6 wives, ten camels and a goat for that back 40 acres next to where I graze my llamas. You couldn’t sustain a system like that if women thought they were individuals.

    So from early on, girls were taught to fantasize about the day they could sell their souls at a ceremony/reception. Shame was a backup for making sure they’d feel pressured to lose themselves in some man.

    The very essence of patriarchy is: men need women far more than women need men. There is nothing they can do for us that we can’t do for ourselves – except contribute one tiny cell to the reproductive process, at which point they’re once again unecessary. Men, on the other hand, can’t possibly hope to know their children unless they get the mother to stay with them. How better to do that than deny her any other way of surviving in the world, and then shame her for not particularly wanting to become a mere baby vessel?

    Those are the primitive forces behind patriarchy. Even though many individuals have outgrown them, the basic idea will stay with humanity until men develop their own wombs.

  6. sbg says

    Oh, I knew all of that, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it when a sister really is treated more as property than as person.

  7. scarlett says

    Two of my friends (both 22) got married recently. The bride complained she’d gotten a lot of ppl saying ‘you’re awfully young to be getting married’ – I hate to think about the crap the groom got from it.
    There seems to be this social conditioning that women have get married. BF and I have been together four years and it’s all we ever get asked. Uh, did it ever occour to anyone that I LIKE my freedom, thankyouvery much. And of course, it’s always a hoot when I tell them I have no intention of having children…

  8. Jennifer Kesler says

    I knew you knew it – I was just sort of ranting rhetorically, because I do know people who either don’t get it, or refuse to believe it.

  9. scarlett says

    I practically had to be restrained at bf’s cousins’s wedding, when the priest started going on about hyow man was the representative of God and woman obeyed him :p. I figured it was kinda rude to make a scene at the $100K wedding of ppl I barely knew but had been graciously invited to :p

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