New Secret to Staying Young: Skip the Wedding

I count myself among the lucky: I’m getting married in July to the love of my life. But preparing for marriage has one drawback that stands out beyond the frenzy of families, caterers, and dresses. Passing months add up in wrinkles and gray hairs. I’ve aged more in these last eight weeks than in the previous seven years. I’m 27, which, I realize, might seem a bit too young to fully experience the onset of old age. But while by day I happily plan my wedding with my groom-to-be, living partner and resident bike mechanic (conveniently all one person), at night I find myself peering nervously into the bathroom mirror, gazing past the winter pale and dried-out hair, looking at the wan eyes and fine lines.

Maybe I just need more sleep. Or maybe the gray hairs come from the heavy dose of growing up that comes with preparing for marriage. After all, it’s a mortality-confronting activity. “Till death do us part” is not a phrase to be taken lightly; it could turn anyone’s hair gray. But my fiancé hasn’t aged a bit, and he’s had to do just as much mortality-confronting as me. Most likely my new wrinkles are the product of mundane-sounding bridal worries: “Which caterer can I afford? Wait, which caterer will be good? Now that I think about it, which caterer will show up? Oh my god, what’s that new line stretching across the entirety of my forehead?”

These thoughts were on my mind the other day as I loitered in my local mall, hoping to pick up some discounted socks. (I told you bridal worries were mundane.) A big display greeted visitors, advertising an upcoming beauty pageant. I picked up a brochure, thinking I might attend just to pick up some tips on walking down an aisle in a big dress. Imagine my surprise when I noticed that the oldest section was defined as Girls, ages 16-27. On one hand, I was happy to still be considered a girl. The mere thought erased a crow’s foot or two. What was I doing confronting my own mortality, anyway? I was too young! On the other hand, this was now officially the last year of my youth. That’s a sobering thought. Despite having never been in a beauty pageant, I wondered if I should enter this one just to celebrate the final days of my girlhood.

But then I realized that having a wedding is probably not unlike being in a pageant. You get into shape, buy a dress and worry about hair, makeup, and the perfect manicure. In either case, the goal is to be the prettiest girl there, which is exhausting enough to add years to anyone’s face. Entering the pageant could mean twice the wrinkles and gray hair.

In the end, I decided to skip the pageant, and celebrate the impending end of my doomed girlhood with a happy summer wedding, where I expect to look older…and wiser.

By Cedar Pruitt