Critics have called sologamy narcissistic and conceited.
“It’s completely selfish,” admits Joelle Bourdeau, who is organizing the final details for her dream wedding later this summer. “I’m completely fulfilled, all the other boxes in my life have been checked, but now I want to be a bride.”
Sologamy is the act of marrying oneself and the growing relationship trend has seen more and more women in the U.K., Australia, Japan, Taiwan and the U.S., walk down the aisle by themselves to give themselves away to themselves.
A 2003 episode of Sex in the City was one of the first introductions to the idea, when the show’s main character mused about marrying herself. Carrie Bradshaw made the declaration after complaining that her married friends never celebrated her decision to be single.
The trend has become popular enough in recent years that Policy Horizons Canada, a government agency that projects public policy implications on cross-cutting issues, has taken notice.
“As more people choose to live single, ceremonies and rituals to reinforce the legitimacy of this choice may continue to emerge,” Horizons suggests.
“It was totally fringe 10 years ago, but a few years from now, it will totally be mainstream,” predicts Alexandra Gill of Marry Yourself Vancouver, a company that helps single women make their dream weddings come true.
Gill founded the company, along with her business partner Tallulah, after they were among seven brides who made headlines in 2006 for marrying themselves.
They realized that marriage often represents an individual’s maturation into adulthood and identified that women who didn’t get married were stripped of this “marker in life.”
“By marrying themselves, women can celebrate their independence and personal growth while making a sacred commitment to whatever responsibilities and promises nourish their uniquely singular lives,” a statement on the company website reads.
Bourdeau says that can be true for women like herself, who are in relationships, but don’t want an official union with a partner.
“Years ago, we would have been seen as desperate women, but it’s not like that anymore,” she says.
“There is no desperation in this. It’s all about empowerment … I’ll be happy to be Mrs. Bourdeau for the rest of my life.”
“I see it as an act of feminism,” Gill says. “But not all women see it that way.”
She says there are many reasons why people get married to themselves, including to make fun of the exercise of marriage.
“Self-marriage gently pokes fun at a dying institution and the overwrought pretensions of modern bridal culture, while allowing women to indulge their childhood fantasies and be a princess for a day,” Gill says on her website. “Essentially, you can have your wedding cake and eat it too.”
That is precisely what’s motivating Bourdeau to have a sologamy ceremony. As a divorcee, a single mother and a professional in her 30s, Bourdeau wants to fulfil a dream she didn’t get from her first marriage.
“I have the luxury of throwing a wedding for me … I want to have that fairy tale wedding,” she says.
According to Bourdeau, many of her friends and family support her decision.
“My dad who is absolutely against marriage thought it was the most brilliant idea.”
But, not everyone agrees, including those left wondering what the etiquette of a sologamy ceremony is.
“Every single wedding is different,” Gill says.
Just like traditional weddings, it’s up to the individual.
“Some may want gifts, others may not want to ask for them,” she says, adding that she received humorous gifts like self-help books and mix-CDs at her ceremony.
For those completely against sologamy ceremonies, Gill has a simple solution: “They don’t have to go.”
As for Bourdeau, she’s excited to have her closest friends and family help celebrate her next stage in life.
“It’s going to be the event of the summer,” she laughs. “It’ll be grand.”