This year, we have friend L. from grad school marrying in May, friend J. from undergrad marrying in July, and cousin K. marrying in November. I am in all of them. As in, I am a bridesmaid. I wear a fancy dress. I make speeches and read poems. I travel a day early (at least) to be there for the rehearsal.
Yes, and when I say travel, I mean travel. Phoenix in May, L.A. in June (for a bachelorette weekend), Vermont in July (do you know how expensive it is to fly from Sacramento to Vermont?), and Las Vegas in November. Whew. I'm already tired, and I haven't even gotten started yet.
All this is just a prologue for Thousand Dollar Dress, an amazing, thought-provoking art project by photographer Sonya Naumann. Growing up with a healthy dose of wedding cynicism (like me...like many of us born in the '80's...but not enough of us [see above]), Sonya did finally decide to marry, but balked at the price tag of the dress: $1000. A desire to keep the dress from moldering in the back of the closet, and curiosity about the beliefs and attitudes other modern women have about modern marriage, Sonya began photographing other women wearing her aforementioned dress.
The result is, as I said, thought-provoking. Which women love being married? Which shun traditional relationships? Which dream of a fantasy wedding, and which would rather get it over with at the court-house? And which, because of outdated ideas of sexual morality, can't get married? Though I found myself wishing for bios of each woman at first, I soon realized that bios are often unneccessary. Since each woman is photographed in her natural habitat, whether it is an apartment, a yard, a museum, a workplace, the clues to her personality and politics are clearly discernable.
Is marriage right? Is it neccessary, either culturally or economically? Is it real? Is it just an excuse for a big party? While Sonya's exhibition doesn't answer those questions, it does give women a safe space to explore. And if further exploration is desired, Sonya is looking for more models. Her goal is to eventually have a thousand pictures of women in her dress. So visit the site, read and view the project, and send Sonya an email. Tell her what you think. Keep the dialogue going.