Mona is a veteran writer, educator, and coach. She is presently affiliated with Enrich Magazine and Pressenza
Sologamy on TV
Have you ever thought of marrying yourself? Sologamy (marrying yourself) is being practiced all around the world. It’s a true celebration that includes the engagement ring (most sologamists are women), a white wedding gown, flowers, bridesmaids, a wedding band, guests, a banquet, wedding cake, and an officiant. Sologamy isn’t illegal, and neither is it legally binding. No contract is signed, and one can be a sologamist whether one chooses to remain single for life, has a partner, or gets married in the future.
A sologamy wedding was performed in the TV series “Glee”, when Sue Sylvester decided that no one was good enough for her but herself. Another sologamy wedding was almost performed in 2003 in the program, “Sex and The City,“ when the leading character, Carrie Bradshaw decided to marry herself in protest of the stigma against single women. However, the wedding didn’t push through and years later, Bradshaw married Mr. Big.
Ideal happiness as a solo individual
California-based clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly describes sologamy as “self-partnering, focused on the ideal of being happy and complete as a solo individual.”
Manly said a self-partnered person would feel whole and wouldn’t feel compelled to seek fulfillment by having a partner. A sologamist doesn’t stop dating. She’s simply working on herself and her own personal development.
Actor Emma Watson, (formerly Hermione of the Harry Potter movies) is a sologamist who had a beautiful wedding on a clifftop, with seven bridesmaids. As she said her vows, she also changed her name, and defines herself as self-partnered.
In 2017, Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima, 35, married herself and announced it on Instagram, complete with the flashing diamond ring on her left hand. Lima wrote: “WHATS UP WITH THE RING? ITS SYMBOLIC, I AM COMMITTED TO MYSELF AND MY OWN HAPPINESS. I AM MARRIED WITH ME. LADIES LOVE YOURSELF AND YES I AM SINGLE [sic].”
Five years later, Lima married film producer Andre Lemmers, and they are adding one baby to their family. That's not atypical for celebrity sologamists. American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino married herself, vowing to let go of all the things she used to do, and promising to focus on herself. She said she did so because she felt that she needed to love her true self again. In 2015 she married businessman Kendall Taylor. Their family includes two of Fantasia’s children and a third that she has together with her husband.
Sologamists around the world
Nneka Carter, a master cosmetologist and fitness instructor, was isolated from friends and family due to COVID, and was forced to navigate her own life. This made her become a sologamist. She had 40 guests. Her wedding was an affirmation of her personal strength.
In New Zealand, massage therapist Stephanie Crampton married herself in 2020 in an intimate “self-love ceremony” with five guests. A mirror was placed beneath a driftwood altar as she said her vows.
In France, visual artist Éva Ostrowska, 32, was the first person to marry herself online before the ‘metaverse’ (the collective virtual world), wearing a virtual-reality headset to enter the metaverse as a 3D character, and doing the entire ceremony herself.
In Italy, fitness trainer Laura Mesi, 40, married herself after a 12-year relationship ended. She had a three-tiered wedding cake, the wedding gown of her dreams, supportive bridesmaids, 70 guests, and a honeymoon in Egypt.
Businesses around the world cater to sologamy. In Japan, Cerca Travel in Kyoto offers a self-wedding package that includes the bouquet, hairstyle, wedding gown, hotel, limousine, and photography for $2,500.
In Canada, Marry Yourself Vancouver offers consultation, personal styling, bouquets, menu, musicians, officiants, photography, and venue, among others, for $200. Its co-founder, Tallulah, is self-partnered.
A DIY marriage kit is sold on I Married Me’s website. Prices range from $50, (for a sterling silver ring, ceremony instructions, vows, and 24 “affirmation cards”) to $230 (for a 14k yellow gold ring, [or rose gold or white gold] ceremony instructions, vows, and 24 affirmation cards).
Millennials and marriage
Today, the oldest millennials are 40 years old. A Pew Research Center report says more than four-in-10 millennials aren’t married and are refusing traditional marriage in very large numbers.
Instead, they’re revamping marriage in a history-making way for their generation, the research paper, “Going Solo, A Study on Singlehood and Views on Sologamy in the Contemporary Philippine Society'' says.
The authors of the paper, Nikka Garriga, Anton Sandoval et. al. say one reason marriage is changing is that women have greater access to higher education, and the job pool is larger.
This gives women a choice to delay marriage to focus on their careers. Also, more educated women are often reluctant to marry less accomplished males. By contrast, highly educated men were more likely to choose marriage over singlehood.
A second trend noted in the Garriga & Sandoval study was that highly educated and accomplished African - American women had fewer choices of suitable male mates who match their level of achievements.
Education and marriage
The study noted that education and personal wealth influence marriage choices, causing millennials to opt for cohabitation. This is true regardless of educational attainment, ethnicity, and race.
The same trend is evident in East, South-East, and Asia East, Garriga & Sandoval said. Scholarly Southeast Asian work showed that education and the economy are giving rise to new trends in marriage and singlehood.
For example, singlehood has increased among women in Japan, amid corporate practices, work constraints, and culture. Many corporations require long work hours daily, as much as three hours past the 9 to 5 normal working time. This has replaced time to form relationships.
In Thailand, singlehood prevailed among women who had high educational achievements, and who were successful professionally. These women nurture high expectations of a partner, making it hard for them to marry, Garriga & Sandoval said. Similar trends towards singlehood were seen in Indonesia and Singapore.
Clarissa Sawyer, professor of adult development at Bentley University, said women in the Western world are delaying marriage to focus on their education and careers. In some cases, they choose not to marry at all.
The Pew report noted that millennials with a bachelor's degree or more tend to marry at a higher rate than those with less education, but they either delay parenting or don’t want children.
The Evolution of Marriage
History has shown that money has always played a role in marriage. In the 18th century, marriage in Western culture was an economic arrangement. With the industrial revolution, marriage was based on love.
Debora Spar, author of “Work, Mate, Marry, Love: How Machines Shape Our Human Destiny” noted that agricultural technology led to monogamy. The couple needed to have children who would inherit the family farm.
As American marriages evolved, the ideal became marriage by mutual consent with the primary goal to build a relationship. Daniel Everett, Trustee Professor of Cognitive Sciences at Bentley said, "In American marriages, as they have evolved, the ideal is to marry by mutual consent and build first and foremost a relationship.” He adds that the American rural model can fluctuate from economy first and relationship second, to relationship first, and economy second, “with a clear division of labor and the added sanction of religion."
Everett’s remarks were evidenced in 2004, when more women chose to delay marriage, and tap abundant job opportunities amid escalating industrialization and urbanization.
The same was seen in East and Southeast Asia, where family arrangements are more diverse despite prevailing cultures and values. More people were allowed to stay unmarried or to consider different marital arrangements, according to Garriga & Sandoval.
A 2011 Pew Research Center study noted that 51% of all adults in the U.S. are married, versus 72 percent (aged 18 and older) in 1960. The median age for brides is 26.5, and for grooms, 28.7.
Sologamy as meaningful celebrations
One officiant who has performed sologamy ceremonies since 2011 said the experience is oftentimes cathartic. Some women shed tears as they vowed to forgive themselves, and promised not to believe they were “ugly”.
The officiant said sologamy weddings are characterized as therapeutic, and enriching in self-love. In some cases, women left abusive relationships and as sologamists learned to say, “I am enough”.
It is time:
- Time to fully live your one wild and precious life.
- Time to untie the stories, distractions, and illusions that keep you small and lean into the life that is waiting for you.
- Time to live what you long for.
- Time to honor your innermost values.
- Time to forgive yourself and be gentle with your innocent heart.
- Time to stand firmly in what you know to be true and make a bold, lifelong commitment to love.
No matter what.
~ Self-marriage ceremonies website
Today, new markers define singlehood such as autonomy, achievement, and self-development, rather than calling single women “old maids” and “spinsters”.
Sologamy in the Philippines?
Sologamy hasn’t penetrated Filipino culture, but the 2017 Philippine Statistics Authority shows a 20.1 percent drop from 2005 to 2015 in newly registered marriages.
Six respondents in the Garriga & Sandoval study said they preferred singlehood to marrying someone whose achievements are below theirs. Other reasons cited for singlehood were immaturity, finances, personal development goals, prioritizing education or professional success, prioritizing financial support to parents and siblings, and family values that require that one is well-prepared before marriage.
Four respondents said they’d consider sologamy, but most respondents saw no purpose in it. One could be single and content without sologamy, although they recognized its therapeutic value.
Some respondents surmised that because sologamy is associated with Western ideals, Filipino millennials, who are generally open to western practices, might go for it. More so if famous, influential Filipinos become sologamists too.