One woman in Italy wasn't about to let the lack of a partner to stop her from getting married.
Laura Mesi, a 40-year-old personal trainer, wed herself over the weekend in a lavish ceremony that included a cake, a dress, bridesmaids, bridal photos and over 70 guests.
"I firmly believe that each of us must first of all love ourselves," she told Italian newspaper La Repubblica. "You can have a fairytale even without the prince."
Mesi's self-marriage is not legally binding—marriage is, after all, a contract between two (or more) parties—but the event, dubbed "Sposa Single" ("single spouse"), carried plenty of bittersweet significance for her.
Mesi said she first considered "sologamy" after a 12-year relationship ended when she was 38, telling friends that if she hadn't found a partner by the time she turned 40, she'd marry herself. "If one day I find a man with whom I can plan a future, I'll be happy, but my happiness does not depend on him," she said following the ceremony.
Self-marriage is a growing trend. The concept was introduced into popular culture in a 2003 Sex and the City episode, though Carrie Bradshaw's marriage to herself mostly involved setting up a registry for herself, but several real-life self-marriages have taken place since, spawning an assortment of trend pieces.
Photographer Grace Gelder told The Guardian that her marriage to herself stemmed from a desire to formalize her "journey" of personal development.
"It dawned on me that a self-marriage ceremony witnessed by other people would potentially be this massively powerful means of making [it] stick," she said.
Mesi noted that many of the comments on the Facebook page commemorating her self-marriage were critical, or at least confused, and Gelder, too, said some of her friends were dubious. "A few did comment, in a light-hearted way, that it was a bit narcissistic," she said. "Obviously, if you’ve just announced you’re marrying yourself, it is plainly a statement of self-love, and I was under no illusion how self-indulgent that might appear. But I was completely comfortable with my motivations."
A common reaction to sologamy is that it is deeply, deeply sad. To outsiders, it may come off as a transparent effort to rationalize loneliness, but to those involved, it is an affirmation of their individuality and a declaration that they are not going to let societal norms dictate their happiness. Brooklyn writer Ericka Anderson tied the knot with her own two hands in 2016, explaining to Attn that there are more single women than ever before and that "we don't have to depend on a man for economic benefit."
“I think it’s hard not to adopt whatever society’s messages are, and I certainly think that one of the messages is, ‘You are not enough if you are not with someone else,’” she told The Telegraph.
Sologamy doesn't preclude one from entering into a relationship with someone else or from having sex. Like Mesi, British woman Sophie Tanner, who self-married in 2015, told The Telegraph she often had extra-marital relationships. For her, like for most sologamists, self-marrying is about asserting independence rather than committing oneself to a life of celibacy.
“You can be more lonely in a relationship that’s not functioning than just being on your own, and a lot of people don’t realize that,” she explained. “I hope seeing how empowering committing to yourself is, can liberate people and teach them that seeking solitude is a good thing. You can waste your life waiting for the one, when you are the one yourself.”
Though sologamy still has plenty of critics, there's still one way it's better than traditional two-person marriage: The divorce rate is practically nonexistent.