Season 1, Episode 3: Weddings
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Labels of Love logo designed by Jen Sung.
Show notes photography by Jonathan Ichikawa.
- "Labels of Love Jingle Music" by Carrie Jenkins. All rights reserved.
- "Wedding Dress" by Howie Mitchell. Creative Commons License.
- "Smoker Wedding March" by Black Twig Pickers. Creative Commons License.
- "Bright White" by Podington Bear. Creative Commons License.
- "Making A Change" by Lee Rosevere. Creative Commons License.
Labels of Love is a research creation outcome of the Metaphysics of Love Project, supported by The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Additional financial support for the project comes from the Canada Research Chairs program and the University of British Columbia.
I am grateful for help, guidance, feedback, and support from:
Drusilla, Ariel Meadow Stallings, Ray Hsu, Jonathan Ichikawa, and Mezzo.
[Speaking in this episode you can hear: Jonathan Ichikawa, Carrie Jenkins, and Ariel Meadow Stallings.]
Jonathan: You’re listening to Labels Of Love.
Carrie: Hi, and welcome to the podcast. I’m Carrie Jenkins, a philosophy professor at the University of British Columbia, and the author of What Love Is and What It Could Be. This episode features music by Howie Mitchell, Black Twig Pickers, Podington Bear, and Lee Rosevere, and as always you can find more details and lots of information and links in the show notes. Today, I'm talking about weddings with Ariel Meadow Stallings. Ariel is a writer, a famous wedding blogger, and a business owner. Her first book and her best-known blog are both called Offbeat Bride. I spoke with Ariel about what a wedding is, what the phrase "offbeat bride" means to her, and how she's come to be writing a new memoir about her recovery from divorce.
Ariel: People love to debate what the word "offbeat" means, and then they also get concerned about the word "bride." It gets into some complex identity issues. It can mean different things to different people, and I've had certain points of feeling like really it should have been called Authentic Weddings. But no-one says "I'm having an authentic wedding. That's boring. I liked the way the syllables played together, and the alliteration of "offbeat bride" with the Bs. There were times when people would take it as almost an encouragement to like ... "My wedding needs to be weirder." And that was never the point. You shouldn't have a wedding that looks more normal than you are; you also shouldn't have a wedding that looks more weird than you are. Your wedding, dear readers, will look nothing like mine, unless you're just like me, in which case, call me, let's be friends. But the reality is we're all different people. The wedding industry and wedding planning is heavily dominated by women: a lot of women business owners. So in some ways it's really great because here's finally a corner of the media and of business where women are at the top. For some women, planning their weddings is the first project management and empowered role they've ever had. It gets into some more complex issues when men feel excluded from their own weddings, when vendors assume that grooms are just along for the ride. The way we've started to talk about it is that anyone who wants to identify as a bride can. I think for me what makes a wedding a wedding is that there is a public statement of intent about the relationship. And when I say "public" that doesn't necessarily even mean that the entire community is there to bear witness to it. Maybe it's just a Justice of the Peace, or maybe it's two hundred of your friends and families and weird aunts and uncles that you don't even remember having. Part of even those private weddings is that they're being documented. And for many of us, a wedding is the only time in our lives that we will hire a photographer to come take our photo. I see this a lot with elopements, you know, people will have ... essentially the only budget they have for their wedding is a photographer to capture it. So there's a million different ways that people can structure these layers of commitment. What that structure looks like, and even what those commitments are, of course can vary greatly. But ultimately it's a statement of intent about your relationship in a public sphere. My marriage pretty abruptly collapsed. That has been a pretty transformative process for me. Not that I identified as a bride any more, but certainly I identified as a married woman, and that was not only my identity but my work, and all of a sudden that was no longer relevant. It was, for me personally, the most harrowing, emotionally annihilating experience I've ever gone through, and my hope is that by sharing that process of growth from it--the book is not about the divorce at all, it's just about my emotional recovery from the divorce--it will empower more people as they move through their own processes of loss, whether it's divorce, or miscarriage, or, you know, all the other tragedies that life tosses at us. The ethos of my company, and kind of the guiding values and mission, has always been to empower other people by offering my ridiculous experience as an example. With this new work it's very different: it's less advice how-to, and much more visceral emotional memoir. I don't hope that anyone needs it, but I hope that if they do they find it.
Carrie: Many thanks to today's guest, Ariel Meadow Stallings. You can find out more about Ariel at offbeatbride.com, or on Instagram: @offbeatbride. Or you can learn more about my work at carriejenkins.net, and you can follow me on Twitter where I’m @carriejenkins. Thank you so much for listening.
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