Now, back in MY day…

There have been many times in my life that I’ve felt out of step with my peers. I was already married and a mother when I finished college, and since I did that on the conventional post-high-school timetable, I was still in my early 20’s. When many of the people I knew were still unmarried in their mid-30’s, I had a son in high school and a marriage that was on its last legs. At 42, when most of my friends had kids in preschool or elementary school, I was the mother of a college senior – and a new bride. Both my new husband and I brought kids to the wedding.

But I was glad that the his-and-hers kids were going to be it for us, and very glad not to be pregnant at my wedding – since I did that the first time. Even in the mid-’80’s, that was still a source of embarrassment at the very least, and sometimes far greater shame and scandal. Apparently, times have changed, and I’m out of step again.

According to Broadsheet,

Apparently, “Saying ‘I do’ while eating for two” has become a “trend,” made ever more popular by the plethora of celebrities tying the knot while expecting. Or, at least that’s what A Pea in the Pod and Mimi Maternity would like you to think, because they just announced the most recent additions to their maternity-wear bridal gown line…While picking through scientific and cultural studies, journals and trend data didn’t turn up any statistical information to confirm or deny the claim that getting married while expecting has in fact become more common, an informal survey by Maternity Bride, an online business that designs wedding gowns for pregnant brides, suggests that nearly one in six American brides is expecting.

Personal experience tells me – and probably many other people – that there is nothing new about pregnant brides – they’ve been around as long as marriage has, I daresay. What is different is that they feel more comfortable – perhaps even entitled to – having the same sort of big, splashy wedding celebrations as brides who won’t be giving birth before their first anniversaries (although I hope they stay away from the champagne – sparkling cider works just fine for toasts). Recently, we’ve seen more brides who want the wedding enough to wait until after they deliver the baby to walk down the aisle – doing a complete 180 on the traditional order – and maybe maternity bridal gowns would move those dates up a bit.

At Girl With Pen, Deborah Siegel wonders whether “…this is another way to glamorize the baby bump in our newly MILF-focused culture, or a long overdue acknowledgment of the fact that weddings and babies don’t always happen in that order.” There’s probably some truth to that second part, and if there is, that’s probably a healthy thing for society and families. (Truth to the first part might not be such a positive statement about our culture.) I suspect many of these weddings aren’t in the old “shotgun” mode – they’re often couples with a long-term relationship who were already considering marriage. (For the record, that was my Wedding #1.) In some cases, especially for brides past their mid-’30’s, it’s a deliberate choice to “get started” on the baby before the wedding takes place – in others, there may have been less planning.

In a society that still supports two married parents as the best environment for raising children, it’s a positive step – and one consistent with that belief – to see pregnant brides become more accepted socially. But my more cynical streak suspects this is just another marketing opportunity for the wedding industry, aided and abetted by all of those “celebrities tying the knot while expecting.”

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  • Also a possibility: journalists desperately looking for a catchy lead for their story will often invent “trends” where in fact none exists.

    This is just Working Girl’s opinion, though. She’s feeling very cranky and old-fashioned today.