First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes… a honeymoon, career advancements, real estate, travel, personal growth, advanced degrees, a deeper understanding of life together, new jobs, pets, infertility and literally just the joys and trials of every day life.
There is something that I witness at nearly every single wedding that I photograph. Almost every wedding, including my own, has a delightful first dance and a dinner blessing. Nearly every one also has someone nagging the couple to have children.
INSTEAD: What if we all just encouraged the couple to love each other deeply, every single day? What if we asked them simply what they envision for their future? What if you asked them how they chose their first dance song or decided on what flavors to include in their wedding cake?
Let me tell you a few stories…
At a wedding that I was acting as the second photographer for, the Catholic Priest, during his homily, talked about how marriage is the start of a family between the bride, the groom and God. He then starts to talk about how important it is to grow that family for the sake of the church while peppering in some verses about love and some advice for the young couple. He rounds out the homily with a final reminder… “I fully expect to be presiding over a baptism 9 months from now!!!”.
During the toasts portion of another recent wedding, each set of parents gave a little speech to the couple and the guests. The father of the groom proceeded to tell the couple that he expected to become a grandpa “very soon” in front of 200+ of their family and friends. He then stared at the couple in complete silence waiting for them to acknowledge his demand that they procreate quickly. I watched the bride shift uncomfortably in her chair for quite a while without making eye contact with her father-in-law.
At my own wedding, a family member of my husband’s who I had just met (literally, this was our first conversation), asked when and where we would be honeymooning. When I told her that we’d be delaying it until November because of wedding season (ie: I have to work), she told me what a bummer she thought that was since I’d hopefully be pregnant by then and that would mean I wouldn’t get to drink in Mexico.
Why am I writing a blog post about this?
In September I was diagnosed with PCOS and told that we are officially struggling with infertility. So yes, that suddenly makes me a lot more sensitive to this entire topic. But this is something that has annoyed me for the entire six years that I’ve been shooting weddings. It has only recently, because of my own relationship with having children, become more apparent how damaging, rude, painful and personal these questions and demands can be for a couple.
My heart now imagines the internal thoughts behind their awkward and uncomfortable facial expressions.
I think that it’s time that we stop chalking this up to an older generation that isn’t aware of how inappropriate their questioning can be because I see people of every age asking questions or making statements at weddings about the couple getting pregnant. I am not even remotely kidding or exaggerating when I tell you that I overhear inquiring conversations or witness bold speeches with demands at almost every single wedding.
It’s not 1944 anymore. Why is it still “normal” to so boldly and plainly ask a couple something so immensely private? Why do we so publicly pressure couples to jump to the next big thing literally while they’re still in the midst of celebrating a huge commitment?
At the risk of sounding crude… if you’re not involved in the process of making that baby, then you shouldn’t be asking about it. Even couples who plan to immediately start their family could feel embarrassed by that line of questioning, pressure and expectation. No one is required to discuss or disclose their reproductive plans with you.
What if the couple cannot bear children for medical reasons? What if they have always dreamed of adopting? What if they have no interest in having children? What if they just want some time to enjoy life as a family of two before they consider the idea of kids? What if they will struggle with infertility? What if financial burdens keep them from being able to grow their family? What if…
What if we all just encouraged the couple to love each other deeply, every single day? What if we asked them simply what they envision for their future? What if you asked them how they chose their first dance song or decided on what flavors to include in their wedding cake?
A wedding day already has an immense amount of joy and things to celebrate. It’s time to stop asking, encouraging and demanding that couples get pregnant on your timeframe and for your benefit.
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