It is one thing to wince at the glow of a Real Wedding staring back at you from a blog, to scroll through—one eye closed, the other wide open—the documentation of a Real Day That Really Happened for One Real Couple. In most cases, behind the curtains of hanging moss and curls of calligraphy, you can almost see glints of the Real Love that made this whole $96,000 barn dance “necessary,” and at least that makes it bearable. Kind of.

Between clicks, you try to let those loving looks between bride and groom, captured by a high-price photographer, mollify the deep, dark hate brewing in you: Click, an entire suitcase of peonies, but I’m sure the bride’s father is a cardiologist, oh well. Click, a diamond the size of my ear, but perhaps it’s been in the family a long, long time, since it was just a ball of dust, can’t be mad at that. Click, oh my, a five-day affair in and around an ancient Italian castello. There has to be some rational excuse behind that, I won’t let it get to me.

But wedged into the HTML patchwork of every wedding blog is a much more sinister form of content: fake, synthetic weddings, imaginary affairs pieced together using an intricate system of ropes, sandbags and pulleys, filtered through Valencia and colonized by just one, maybe two, maybe no, living souls. Spend just a few moments on any of the big bad blogs and you’ll see these cloaked imposters within a few flicks of your scroll fingers: They are brides, but not just any bride. A special kind, one who is porcelain-stiff with dead eyes. Alone and unsparkling without the familiar light that follows real brides when they’re surrounded by friends, family, and of course, husbands. This strange bride might be perched at a desk in tall grass, writing a letter in white calligraphy to her fictional betrothed, or maybe standing in a boat whose parched old bow is overrun with fanciful blooms grown unchecked from a garden in a universe that isn’t ours.

These are the lonely brides of the “Inspiration Shoots,” a ridiculous product of a wedding industry that is full of more crap—I mean, inspiration—than it is actual weddings. Inspiration Shoots happen when wedding professionals like photographers, florists and event designers come together to create and photograph the Most Perfect Fake Wedding They Can Think Of. It is an endeavor of pure vision, a dream wedding without the pesky old tastes of actual brides and grooms getting in a designer’s way.

I get it: You’re creative, but serving clients can be suffocating, so every now and then it’s great to get together with all your industry pals in Downtown Denver, call up the hottest girl in your guys’s graduating class, rip your galactic bong together, and go fucking spiritual on this shit. You want to do everything you wish brides would ask for, but never do. I feel you. But there has to be a line drawn somewhere, because this is getting out of hand. I spend enough time worrying about keeping up with the real-wedding Joneses as is; the last thing I need is to also worry about keeping up with Aphrodite and her hand-hewn dowry canoe that she only paddles through ancient fields up there in paragraph two.

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What I’m saying is, all this Inspiration is driving me fucking crazy. Can you tell? Does it show? Is my left eye bulging so far out of my head that you can’t even see the rest of my face from three feet away? Is my nose bleeding into the pile of failed DIYs growing mold before me in the damp bathtub I’ve been living in the past few weeks because I’ve been sucked so far into the world of Inspiration Shoots that I don’t think I’ll ever get out? In an age where traditional wedding planning anxiety has been driven into psychotic-break territory thanks to the Internet and its ever-refreshing feeds of Real Romantic Southern Weddings, Real Industrial Chic Weddings, Real Chicago Art Gallery Weddings, and Real Enchanted Cave Weddings, do we really need no-holds-barred fake weddings making everything that much more difficult?

Are there no limits?

What’s next?

Quantum weddings that exist only in theory?

If you still don’t understand what’s bugging me (and that’s fine, many of you won’t, no matter what, and you’ll tell me to elope, which is a fiery hot take that I have never thought of, so thanks in advance), let’s look a little closer at the Inspiration Shoot, shall we? First of all, consider the parameters. Surprise, bitch: there are none. The limitations that apply to real weddings (as impossibly generous as those limitations may be) do not apply here. Fantasy is the rule. The fantasies, specifically, of addled wedding professionals, so scarred from the horrors of Mothers of the Brides past that they’re shoving all the hydrangeas in their power into every vintage claw-foot bathtub they can find, all so that they might enjoy just one precious moment of inner, creative peace before they die. Limitless, fantastical, and based solely on the whims of people who live, breathe, and panic-attack WEDDINGS: Great recipe for a cool thing!

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Next up there’s the exxxcruciating fact that since the rich gals in Charleston, Long Island and Palm Fucking Springs keep upping the ante with their over-the-top weddings, these wedding professionals have to keep upping their own antes with these Inspiration Shoots. So to whatever bride out there that decided to rent 50 crystal chandeliers and cover them all with living moss: Thanks a lot for doing that, you are literally responsible for this, this actual fantasy escort card display that uses actual giant precious stones the size of my actual fists, and it’s making the rest of us feel like garbage. And as soon as a Real Bride does this with her escort cards, the Inspiration Shoot to follow will just eschew escort cards altogether, and hand out giant diamond rectangles with guests’ names and table numbers on them! Yup!

Of course I am not really advocating for the abolition of all Wedding Inspiration Shoots. Of course I cannot really get enough of impromptu flower-water bridal foot baths, Mr. and Mrs. chairs draped with realistic side-profile sketches of the bride and groom, gorgeous, roughed-up old furniture thrown into nature and covered with wily floral arrangements, and, duh, a retro-Cuba-inspired bride driving around in a vintage car with a tropical bird on her shoulder. Of course! The more inspiration, the better! OF COURSE THERE IS NO CHANCE THAT THIS SHIT HAS GONE WAY TOO FAR AND I NOW HAVE TO START PLANNING FROM SCRATCH BECAUSE I TOTALLY DIDN’T EVEN CONSIDER THE COLORS AND FLAVORS OF FESTIVE CUBA FOR MY INSPIRATION.

Keep the inspiration coming, wedding folks. Because the insane pressure to build myself the most beautiful day as humanly possible has not at all rendered me completely unmoored, screaming and skittering through an empty abyss, with nothing at all to grapple at because all the fucking furniture is outside in the sun, becoming weatherbeaten and peeled and rooted in the earth.


Watch this space weekly as Lauren Rodrigue shares the victories and freakouts of planning her 2016 wedding and the marriage that’ll follow. Tweet her at @laurenzalita.

Image via Shutterstock.