The wedding itself was picture-perfect: the bride’s dress with its long train curved behind her as she was photographed by a window. In another picture, the back of her gown cascaded down an elegant stairway. Hair, nails, make-up: all exquisite. The minister’s message, the groomsmen’s posture, the bridesmaids’ bouquets – the wedding had been planned down to the detail and nothing went wrong. Until the honeymoon. After arriving in a tropical paradise, she began texting her bridesmaids, “You guys, I can’t believe the wedding’s over. I can’t stop crying.”
Post-wedding depression. It is now a real phenomenon.
Post-partum depression I understand. I understand the physical, hormonal changes that happen with childbirth. I know firsthand how a change in sleep cycles can affect body chemistry and mood.
But researchers say that many people now experience a letdown after a wedding. Brides, grooms, even some parents who were so intensely focused on planning the wedding feel a void in their lives when the event is over. “There’s nothing to look forward to anymore,” one person exclaims. The calendar that once was full of appointments with caterers and other vendors now seems achingly empty.
As someone who has participated in hundreds of weddings, I can’t help but think that the phenomenon of “post-wedding depression” is the signal that we have reached a tipping point. The “Wedding Industrial Complex” is a 70 billion dollar sector of the American economy.
Throughout history, in all cultures I know of, weddings have been important community events, celebrations for family and friends, times set apart for music, dancing, feasting…for joy. Where is the joy if wedding planning creates extreme anxiety?
(Photo I took this January in Israel – mosaic of the wedding at Cana)
One of the reasons I insist on premarital counseling when I officiate a wedding is because I want to be sure that the couple is thinking about the marriage and not just the wedding. If the focus stays on the marriage, and on what kind of celebration will create joy for the guests, chances are it will be a more simple occasion.
But too much time on Pinterest leads to an almost competitive frenzy with no detail or added event becoming too much. The vows, “in sickness and in health,” should not have to be enacted on the honeymoon as one spouse tries to cure the other of the post-wedding blues.