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January 29 2015

My Big Fat Wedding for One

Melissa Langsam Braunstein

Must weddings join two adults by definition? One Houston woman, it seems, is on a mission to prove it doesn’t.

In honor of her 40th birthday, Yasmin Eleby just married herself. As Cosmopolitan coarsely explains, “Yasmin Eleby was fulfilling a vow she had made to herself that if she wasn't married by the age of 40, she'd go ahead and do the damn thing solo. My San Antonio even announced the unique event in its Life Weddings and Celebrations section:

Yasmin Eleby married herself at the Houston Museum of African American Culture on  January 3 in a lavish ceremony with10 bridesmaids in attendance, plus family and other guests on hand to celebrate the event. For this ceremony, Eleby’s minister sister performed the spiritual service, as it’s not legal to marry yourself.

Reporter Craig Hlavaty also interviewed “John Guess Jr., the CEO of the complex . . . [who] thinks that once potential suitors see how Eleby treats herself that she could have some competition (for herself).” Is this wedding for one the next stage of online dating, or an end in itself?

The Huffington Post headline about the nuptials refers to Eleby as a “badass woman.” However the article sounds a sadder, more Eleanor Rigby-like note:

The happiness that Eleby says she felt during her wedding -- and the fact that it's so newsworthy -- highlights just how frustratingly few built-in events exist for unattached  women (and men). There are baby showers and bridal showers and bachelorette parties and weddings, but what about single, childfree people who still have life milestones that are worth celebrating?

What makes no sense here is why Emma Green at HuffPo ignores birthday celebrations. Everyone has birthdays, whether single or married, and this wedding was in fact inextricably tied to Eleby’s 40th birthday.

While I usually cheer most forms of “empowerment,” marrying oneself seems like the height of loneliness and isolation. Why couldn’t Eleby have thrown herself a festive 40th birthday party and luxuriated in the love of her friends and family instead? That would have been cheerier and more life-affirming.



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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