It all started innocently enough. You were flipping through the channels on a rainy Sunday when you settled on a marathon of "Four Weddings."
A few days later, while eating lunch at your desk, you pin a few DIY wedding ideas to your "Future Mr. and Mrs." board. Then, the issue of People Magazine you pick up at the grocery store has a full-length feature on Kimye's wedding ceremony.
Indulging in your happily-ever-after fantasy every once in a while can be a fun motivator to keep a positive attitude about dating.
Planning your fantasy wedding makes your choice to look for “The One” instead of settling for “someone” seem like a worthwhile effort if it ends in lifelong happiness and a day dedicated to your dream come true.
However, when women start living in a world designed to look like a four-tiered tower of sugar and smiles, the line between planning their futures and fueling an unhealthy obsession can often get lost under piles of tulle and stacks of invitations.
The wedding industry has found new ways to become the subject of the modern female's fascination by taking advantage of the growing social media and television markets, turning what once stood as a symbol of undying love between two people into a warped party of one: the bride.
All you need is... an unlimited budget.
No matter how much money a bride-to-be (whether she has a ring on her finger or is still awaiting a man to put it there) intends on saving with all of her crafting ideas and suggested budget lists, the wedding industry finds ways to nudge her to spend more to make her wedding worth her own and her guests' time.
Shows like "Say Yes to the Dress" have women convinced that it's not only normal, but also obligatory to spend astronomical amounts on a dress.
Viewers scoff along with the dress consultants when a bride mumbles her budget of $2,000, knowing her wardrobe choices will be limited to the most undesirable of the designer frocks.
The wedding stakes have risen and the modern bride feels forced to spare no expense.
Meet your fairy god-salesman.
The loveable shopkeepers on your favorite TLC wedding shows and the smiling faces of Internet wedding specialists can often feel more essential to your big day plans than your bridesmaids.
However, contrary to the media portrayals of these salesmen as your wedding-day BFFs, they aren't the minions of love we characterize them to be, but rather, salespeople marketing a fantasy of romance in an effort to make a quick buck.
Perhaps the most famous example of pedaling the happily-ever-after mindset is the De Beers "a diamond is forever" advertising campaign. Spoiler Alert: Diamonds aren't actually the rarest of rare gemstones. In fact, they're quite abundant.
But after establishing a monopoly among the world's diamond mines, De Beers was able to capitalize on the stones and market them as a beauty equally irreplaceable to the love shared between a man and a woman (or a man and man, or woman and woman).
Selling the bridal fantasy is all in the marketing, and when it comes to doing business, helping you find eternal love is the farthest thing from the wedding industry's priority list.
Getting your hopes up and your priorities wrong.
The combination of imperceptible marketing and impressive price tags adds up to a loss of perspective when it comes to planning your big day.
On average, a wedding in the United States will cost up to $25,200. However, while this mind-blowing total offers the average cost, the majority of couples will spend less than $10,000 on their nuptials.
As a result of brides' tireless attention to what society tells us is "average," what we can actually afford often takes a backseat to our unrealistic expectations of what a wedding should include.
In our modern age, a woman will start calculating the bank account damage even before a diamond finds its way onto her finger.
And while a small percentage of families can pay to help a bride's reality live up to her Pinterest board, most women feel pressure to dig between the couch cushions for spare change to pay for the catered reception they know they can't afford.
A show of love vs. showmanship.
A tradition that once centered upon the exchange of vows between two lovers has become a wrestling ring for battling brides who are vying for the titles of Best Dress, Best Venue and Best Menu.
What's next? Best Groom?
The competition between brides to come out with the Best-In-Show Award on the big day is what continues to drive up the price of weddings and further trivialize the meaning behind the celebration of love in favor of raising the bar on what constitutes a successful wedding.
Not only is the emphasis on the showmanship behind the crumbling wallets and broken budgets, but the continually fading focus on love as the heart of the celebration itself encapsulates the demise of what used to be a wholesome tradition.
Maintaining enthusiasm in the face of searching for eternal loyalty and partnership can never be considered an inherently bad end goal on your quest for love.
However, fueling this mission with swanky parties has produced a toxic relationship between those looking to celebrate their search and those looking to make a profit off the celebration.
Nothing about modern love is black and white, so when it comes to how we choose to express it, it can be easy to get caught up in trying to break barriers and thus, budgets.
If you're en route to saying “I do,” don't forget what those words really mean for both people making the vow. Plan your big day in such a way that does justice to your individual expression of love — not what your Pinterest board promotes as appropriate.
Photo Courtesy: Fanpop