Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Find Your People


Oh gosh.

My friend Virginia (whom I was lucky enough to meet through this whole blogging thing) wrote a piece about choosing not to ask her dad to walk her down the aisle. The piece got picked up by the AOL main news page, which means that her "alternative" wedding ideas flowed into the Mainstream. As a result, her inbox was flooded with almost "600 hate-filled comments."

She says, "The working theory is that I'm a spoiled feminazi bitch who hates my father, broke his heart and doesn't deserve to be given away because I already 'gave myself away' by shacking up with my boyfriend before marriage. (Oh and Dan has no genitalia and/or is probably already cheating on me. Obviously.) 'Why bothered to get married at all if you're going to do it this way?' is one of the most frequent responses. In fact, the only way people are considering it acceptable for me to have done this is if my dad was a deadbeat or worst who didn't deserve to be involved in my wedding. Actually...my dad is wonderful guy, we have a great relationship, and he was totally cool with my choice. (In fact, he just posted a comment to that effect because that's how much he rocks.)"

Here is just a sampling of one of the comments (I could only bring myself to read six of them. Seriously.)
"It sounds to me like she has no respect for any tradition as it is. The fact the she has two cats and a P-whipped guy makes me wonder if he sould not be wearing the dress. They shacked up for 10 years and now they want to formalize their relationship. Her dad is probably as ashamed of her behavior as she should be and would not want to "give her away". I certainly don't see any sense in that farcical jesture. I have to think that she'll end up being one of those crazy selfish women who wait until they are forty something before trying to have a child. Let's hope these two don't reproduce."
And the message is clear to me: Find Your People. Yes, find those people who understand you and your perspective and immerse yourself in their support. A few of my wedding people are Becca, Ariel, and Meg. Their words remind me on a daily basis that we must reclaim our weddings from the hands of the Wedding Industrial Complex. Their ideas about weddings echo my own.

I'm not suggesting that we just bury our heads in the sand and ignore alternative viewpoints, but we need to treat ourselves with care. There's only so much onslaught and assault a person can take.

I'm on your side, Virginia!


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38 comments:

Angie said...

I completely agree. Finding your people is the nicest thing you can do for yourself.

I will admit I live in a bubble. I surround myself with friends I worked with in Higher Ed who like learning and teaching. We're encouraging of each other and we hold each other accountable... So sometimes when I step outside of that bubble, it's kind of like a culture shock.

atcindystable said...

Thanks for linking to the article. After reading her story, it is hard to believe anyone could interpret her actions as disrespectful.

Anonymous said...

It's very sad to me when people use the anonymity cloak of the internet to be hateful and cruel to others, especially those as thoughtful and respectful as Virginia obviously is.

Virginia, if you read these comments, you are to be applauded for holding true to your own beliefs and values. Thanks for sharing your story. And thanks to Sara for sharing it with us.

Anonymous said...

I am appalled by the comments made in regards to the article. Very short sighted and uneducated.

Sophie said...

Some of the comments left a bad taste in my mouth. I get the same ones on Yahoo Answer every time I mention my no-family wedding. In a way, I'm glad I wasn't featured in any mainstream media, OBB was enough of an honor and it makes sure that only like-minded people know about my wedding.

The way I made it up to my dad is that, when my husband and I went to the courthouse to meet with the officiant and pick a date, we had to bring a witness who knew both of us, and this witness was my dad.

Emily said...

Good grief. Women are people, not their fathers' or husband's posessions. As a newly-engaged person, I have made a commitment to myself to read blogs like this one, and to solicit ideas from "my people" rather than getting sucked into wedding magazine craziness. I may decide to walk my own grown-up self down the aisle, or have both of my parents accompany me, or one of them if they don't both feel like it. And it's not really anyone's business but my family's what I do. I applaud brides who share their non-traditional choices - you embolden the rest of us.

kel[E] said...

Thanks for posting the link! Initially I wanted my mom AND dad to walk me down the aisle - they're divorced and although my mom mainly raised me - I still visioned my wedding having both of them giving me away. Buutttt.. my mom has a PPO [personal protection order] against my mom and he's not allowed to be within her sight or within so many feet of her - so. it's not really going to work how I want it. I'm still having issues deciding whether to still have my mom walk me - but that's not really fair to my dad - in my eyes. my sister and brother offered to both walk me down and give me away.

but. I'm contemplating just walking myself down the aisle.

Afterall, we do have a two year old daughter - we've been living together for almost four years & I've been pretty much 'on my own'. So I don't really see the whole 'giving away' thing. now that I can't have them both give me away.

Jen said...

That makes me so sad that hateful, close minded people can attack a person so viciously. Their comments say way more about them than they do about Virginia, who obviously gave thought to the decision.
I don't know how they can be so offended by someone elses decision for such a personal thing as a wedding. But from how riled up they got, I think we can be sure that Virginia was doing something right! Way to push the barrier, Virginia! (Even though that barrier should have been busted long ago. They'll catch up.)

Heather said...

Wow... I'm kind of shocked at just how bad some of those comments were. Maybe I'm naive? I just don't see why some people would be so bothered by someone's choice to not have a traditional wedding. Good grief!

Gollum said...

Whenever I experience a crazy coincidence, it's usually a sign that I'm on the right path. I woke up this morning and spent some time writing in my journal about reaching a decision- I think- about my dads and the aisle. Then I came to the computer and read about Virginia. My situation is different but my decision feels right and Virginia is definitely my people.

I have to laugh at all of the hate people spent their energy posting- it reminds me of some of the research Elizabeth Gilbert does in "Committed" on Christianity and marriage. Mostly it's the uninformed who like to pass judgement in the loudest way possible.

So grateful for my people.

Virginia said...

Thank you Sara — and all of you kindred spirits for the lovely, supportive thoughts here! After over 650 comments on AOL (the majority of which are, well, you read Sara's post...), this is such a delicious breath of fresh air.

I do think it's important that our alternative wedding ideas reach the mainstream, because that's how progress is made. But I'm sure glad I didn't write this essay while I was in the midst of planning my wedding, and feeling that constant mix of anxious/thrilled/worried/delighted about the whole process and the "non-traditional" choices we were making. I would have been far too vulnerable to withstand this kind of criticism. (It still stings — but my wedding is now a beautiful memory for my husband, myself and our whole family. And internet critics don't change that!)

So this experience has filled me with so much admiration for Sara, Meg and all the other fabulous indie wedding bloggers who have shared their personal journeys towards marriage. They invite us into their lives and create this wonderful community, which is the perfect antidote to the internet haters, and which offered me so much wisdom, sanity and support as we were planning our day. Thank you! xoxo

Anonymous said...

I think what disturbed me the most about the negative comments was the idea that kept being presented that fathers look forward to their daughters wedding from the day they're born and that it's their right to give them away.As if finding a man is the highest accomplishment a woman can achieve. Definitely not my people! Even the more conservative folks in my family said nothing about me walking myself down the aisle.
I'm all about honoring traditions that you believe in and making new traditions that fit for you. Good for you Virginia, and thatnks for posting the link Sara!

midwesterngal said...

I love the message: Find Your People. In the last year or so, I feel like I've been surrounded by people who constantly put down our beliefs (about our non-traditional wedding, politics, life choices...) and that message rings so true to me. Finding a community of people who are supportive of our relationship and our choices and beliefs in life (even if they are different!) has been such a saving grace for us. It's so rewarding to find a blogging community that feels the same way!

Courtney said...

How terrible. Perhaps this is one of the side effects of making like SUPER public by having a blog. It comes with consequences like ignorant people sharing their ridiculous opinions.

Lauren said...

I think walking each other down the aisle sounds really nice. We're not having an aisle, b/c that's a little too formal for us, but I do like the idea of being able to share the anticipation and excitement with my future hubby.

Sarah said...

Oh my goodness how heartbreaking! I've got her back too... whatever happened to live and let live? Such snark is so damaging and inappropriate, but it's important to remember that those people may be loud, but they are not the majority!!

alyia said...

Hooray for you, Virginia, for having the wedding you wanted. It was meaningful to you and your family-- that's what counts. It saddens me that there are so many people who really have nothing better to do than this kind of spiteful, judgemental crap about something that has ZERO effect on them... but it warms my heart that on this site and others, there are plenty of people for us to 'find'.

~Milena~ said...

Major props to you, Virginia, for remembering that you don't have to follow traditions and that sometimes life is about making your own traditions. If everyone followed tradition, there would be no invention, no cretivity in any part of life. Also, remember that many times it's the people that are really angry about something that take the time to comment. I am willing to bet there are twice as many people out there who applauded your decision and just didn't leave a comment. Also, I believe that a wedding is the start of a marriage. A lot of times people get so caught up in their wedding, that they forget to put work into their marriage.

lill said...

I loved her post too much, so I just ignored reading all the negative comments & jumped straight to reading her Dad's, which made me feel warm & fuzzy inside.

We're each walking in with both of our parents (me with mine, and him with his).

Thanks for sharing.

Ms Bear Cub said...

wow.
That's so incredibly cruel!

Virginia, I'm with you! I also didn't ask my dad to walk me down the aisle, and not because I don't love him. In some traditions (remember how the US is a melting pot of traditions?), the bride and groom walk down the aisle together to symbolize their shared responsibility of their choice to enter into marriage.

Cassie Mary said...

Virginia, I'm not sure if you'll read this, but if you do, I just wanted to say a few things. Please stay strong and know there are many of us here who support you.
I was appalled at how ignorant so many of the comments were, and it goes to show how insecure these people are about change. Many of these comments are made out of fear, fear of the progress happening in the world. Some people only know how to express their fear of this change by spitting out whatever flimsy retort they may have. And if they can add some insults into it, they feel like they can have the upper edge. It's just plain bullying.

Honestly, sometimes you have to find humor in darkness. And I certainly got a laugh when I read a comment that said, (and I quote!) "This is what you get when you let a woman have too much thought."
Ha! Like people can prevent others from thinking. Or as if someone said, "Virginia, you may have today to just sit down and think." Boy, the world better watch out now! ;)

Sending many positive thoughts your way!

A Los Angeles Love said...

Sara - this is so true. Every time I step away from "my people" (online or in real life) I'm genuinely shocked by the insensitivity. And it reminds me that these conversations are truly important all over again.

Virginia - stay strong. You have the support of so many people who never made it into those comments. It was a lovely article full of genuine sentiment that I really connected with. And all those commenters can take their cruelty about other peoples' personal decisions and shove them. Your People (most importantly, your husband and parents) have been Found and love you and that's all that matters.

*sshole commenters. I have some anonymous rage to direct at their personal lives now. Grumble.

katie joe said...

ugh. i couldnt make it further than the second comment. these messages/ideas frustrate and hurt me in a deep, resounding way. though i'm a sociologist, with much exposure and practice to this way of thinking/responding, i'm still stunned nearly every time.

sara, thanks for being one of my people!

Meg said...

Great post, Sarah. This story saddens me, even though I know that "feminist" is often still a dirty word in our culture. Sigh...

I'm on your side too, Virginia. I applaud you on sticking to your guns despite unwarranted and/or ridiculous criticism.

Marie said...

You know, with people like this, at some point, we just have to laugh. They are responding to something that is way beyond Virginia and her personal choices. They are responding to their own life experiences, which have rendered them bitter and emotional about somebody else's wedding. They are expressing their own irrational insecurity and fear. They can't understand how something that has thus far defined their manhood and womanhood could mean very differently to someone else. If they were truly concerned about her Dad, they wouldn't use such words about his daughters. They are concerned about themselves.

The world around them is changing so fast that it is beyond their capacity to comprehend, let alone respect and embrace.It is natural for them to be scared, and for many, fear is often expressed as anger.

It takes intelligence, humility, and compassion to truly understand and respect other people's choices. I hope that they can one day reach that stage. In the mean time, I hope Virginia realizes that their opinion should not in anyway lessen her choices.

Lastly, while I firmly believe in Free Speech, especially on that public forum, I think it only reflects poorly on them to speak in such an uninformed and cruel manner. Free Speech gives you the freedom to be a jerk. But it doesn't make you any less of a jerk for speaking so about others.

Erin said...

Virigina, this was an awesome article; huge props to you for putting together a ceremony fitting for you and your husband. My fiance and I are going to be doing the exact same thing, walking in together, because that's how we are entering our life together.

I also agree with anonymous (above) that the most depressing thing about all the comments was that fathers wait with bated breath to walk their daughter down the aisle. I'm sorry, I'd much rather have my parents at my college and grad school graduations. Or there to celebrate the purchase of my first house. A wedding is about a lifelong commitment, but it means nothing if there's nothing of substance after it. Too many focus on the day, and that's ridiculous.

I made a comment on the article, and I see that there are more positive comments following :)

Brite Lines said...

Virginia, you rock for having the courage to post this. You may have put seeds of change in the heads of people being pressured to do things just one way. Maybe now THEY will have the courage to have the wedding they want to have rather than what society tells them to do. Sara, you rock too -thanks for posting this! Its so funny to me that this is even an issue - in planning our wedding even HAVING an aisle didn't even cross our minds, letting alone being "given away" - just the term makes my skin crawl. Anyway, botom line is that mean people suck. Also - Virginia I LOVE YOUR DRESS!!

Tamara said...

Wow people need to not criticize other's decisions so much. I don't want my dad to walk me down the aisle either! Or my mom. Or my brother. No one. Just me. I am giving MYSELF to my FH, no one else. Why do people have an issue with this? And also, I have a blog and got a whole bunch of hate comments to. It's hurtful, but that's the internet for ya.

carly said...

I just wanted to say that I am also on your side and I also choose not to have my dad walk me down the aisle. I really don't know why this personal decision offends people who have never and will never meet you. This anger reminds me of the anti gay marriage rants I hear and it makes me sad that our culture perpetuates these restrictive and exclusive ideals.

Anonymous said...

Go girl. You rocked your Day your way. I'm sure you and your partner had an awesome day, and thats what matters.

I don't want a traditional wedding either, I want a civil ceremony surrounded by those who are near and dear to me. And I want to say my vows to my fiance. I can't do that at a wedding registry. While my life may not be about tradition and religion, it is about love and family!!!!!!!!!!!

Stef said...

I'm sure the haters would have griped about our almost-30-years ago Episcopalian wedding, where my husband and I walked down the aisle together in procession - first came the cross-bearers, then the priests (a husband-wife couple, BTW), then us, then the choir. (No Lohengrin wedding march either.)

Mary said...

Good lord. When did having children late in life become "selfish" (not to mention using late-life child-rearing as an insult...)? Selfish to wait until you can better financially provide for your children? The horrors! I can only imagine what they have to say about people who remain child-free.

My mom was 39 when she had me. My grandmother was 40 when she had my mom (and 47 when she unexpectedly had her last). I probably won't end up waiting that long just for reasons of impatience, but "at least 30" has generally been my ideal timeline, from a standpoint of stability, financial security, maturity, etc. I've loved having older parents. They were so much more -with it- than my friends' young parents.

Sophie said...

Mary, you are so right. I have always wanted to stay home with my children, because I don't trust the government-funded daycare system we have here. When I was kids, I want them to be raised according to my value, not those of some government textbook. And if I have to wait until I'm 40 to be able to afford that, then so be it. It is not selfish, quite the contrary, it's because I want the best for my children. And putting them in daycare from 7am to 6pm so I can go sell show tickets for minimum wage, is not what I call the best.

kahlia said...

In reference to what Anon. (#3?) said about fathers just waiting to give their daughters away ("As if finding a man is the highest accomplishment a woman can achieve."), I just wanted to say that it makes me so happy when I see/hear my dad being proud of the (other) things I've done in my life. It reminds me that this wedding/marriage is just one of many great things to happen in my life.

Congratulations, Virginia, for doing what was right for you and that made you happy.

la ragazza svedese said...

The whole thing is ridiculous. For what it is worth, where I am from (Sweden) it is AGAINST churchlaw to be walked down the aisle. You are, according to LAW, not someones property to be "given away". So I guess all Swedes are whoremongers in the eyes of the good conservative Americans that wrote such lovely mails to Virginia?
Uh huh. Whatevs. You do YOUR thing, and that is all that matters.

jodie said...

wow...i so wish i would have known you two years ago when i was going through this nightmare alone. ariel was my only true friend and allowed me to hold my ground throughout the nightmare of planning.

oh, and my husband and i walked down the aisle together. and my dad watched proudly from the front row.

mehgan said...

I can't believe some people say such awful things. what does it matter to them if others do the things differently?

i'm newly engaged (!!!) and i know for a fact neither of my parents will be walking me down the aisle. my sister wanted both of them to walk her down (they divorced when we were babies) and it was a fight. my dad, who's more traditional (but very hypocritical about it all), insisted he walk my sister alone. my sister made it clear taht my mom woudl be included too (as she raised us alone most of the time). my dad felt that b/c he was paying for part of the wedding that he should get his way. my sister kept her ground and they both walked her down the aisle.

i, on the other hand, woudl prefer neither of them to give me away. i have a love-hate relationship with both of them, a lot of resentments and really just tolerance at best for both of them. it's not fair to me, my future husband, or them to walk me down the aisle when the feeling isn't really there. so i decided to have my sister walk me down. i asked her if she woudl, and she was touched. she did ask "why me?" and i told her there was no one better to do it. i'm closer with her than with my parents.

so long story short, do what you want and what will make you happy. anyone who disagrees with you or tries to rain on your parade is just noise that you need to drown out.

Anonymous said...

What a fab piece of writing Virginia, it made me laugh and cry!I love that you walked down the aisle with your husband for lots of reasons. You sound like a lovely couple who have a wonderful life together! Why does being non traditional have to translate into having no values of worth with so many people? I'm having a wedding that is very non traditional including wearing a sage green dress.....I can imagine the comments from some already.....but I'll tell you what, I'm marrying my best friend and we already have a wonderful 'marriage' of a life so I don't care what people think! Hurrah for you.....and p.s I LOVE the Swedish law!!!! Think we should adopt this in England....oh and in case you're wondering,I've asked my brother to walk with me because I don't want to trip and he'll stop me crying and sadly our dad died a long time ago.....my inner feminist is struggling slightly though!!! x

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