When Valerie Alexander wrote an article for the Huffington Post titled, “Let’s Ban Weddings and, While We’re at It, Baby Showers Too” she didn’t mean it literally.
“I am in favor of weddings and baby showers as far as celebrations go. I’m not the Grinch who took away weddings.”
But she did mean everything she said in the article. Valerie thinks weddings have spiraled out of control, that in many cases women focus more on finding the perfect dress than on what it actually means to be married.
“I just think that so much emphasis gets placed on the wedding, that people forget to have a marriage. Especially with young girls. Like, they have literally visualized their wedding since they were 8 years old and then they just get to a point where everyone else is getting engaged and, ‘Now it’s my turn!’ You know what? Marriage is work. I love being married. It’s the greatest thing I ever did in my life and I am so happy. But I went into getting married to be a wife. I didn’t get into getting married to be a bride.”
She thinks people would be a lot happier if they got married first and had the wedding down the road.
“I think if people had to be married for 10 years before they could have the big party, we would have many fewer marriages in this country. Everybody would understand what they’re getting into or they’d understand that it’s not about the big party.”
When it comes to baby showers, Valerie thinks they can be dangerous for teen moms. She tells a story of a family she’s very close with.
“Unfortunately, the three older girls got pregnant before they graduated from high school and the youngest one was determined not to do that. So she went off to college but there was no party, no fanfare. The three older ones had these giant baby showers. And the younger one struggled a lot her freshman year of college and she got pregnant by choice. I think it was because college was so hard and she knew she would get all the support she needed if she had a baby and that is exactly what happened.”
Valerie doesn’t want to see a ban on weddings or baby showers, what she wants to see is a celebration of other milestones that girls and women deserve to be rewarded for.
“There’s an organization in Philadelphia that is now starting to have this be their charity. That they’re going to throw college showers for the under-served girls that they work with.”
Seattle’s Sarah Ballard got her PHD from Harvard in 2012.
“Getting my PhD was a feat. Not only mentally for me but also emotionally.”
She now works as an astronomer and Carl Sagan fellow at the University of Washington. Sarah completely agrees with Valerie’s article and said her family celebrated her graduation as if it was a small wedding.
“My parents rented out my favorite bar in Cambridge. I sent out embossed invitations, very fancy. My mom brought decorations. It was very much like a ceremony, a party! I felt very moved by it. The symbols felt really fresh and resonant to me in a way that I’ve never felt looking at the symbols of other kinds of adult ceremonies.”
Sarah thinks it would really bolster a women’s confidence, and motivate her to be successful, if her positive choices were celebrated.
“I think it would be really great to celebrate living on your own for the first time. I think it would be really great to celebrate paying off your students loans. Which is a thing for our generation. It’s a huge accomplishment if you ever do that. I think we should celebrate the fact that you said ‘I love you’ to someone. ‘Wow, I made myself vulnerable. Let’s go drink!’ Maybe, like, I finally took myself to therapy. After five years of suffering, guess what? I finally went. Everyone should be looking toward you and saying, ‘You know what, congratulations!'”
Maybe those milestones don’t need to be celebrated with gifts and expensive parties, but they are often glossed over, as opposed to weddings which we are conditioned to go gaga over as if getting married is the biggest accomplishment in a woman’s life.