Self-marriage promises love and fulfilment – but is it a radical act or a depressing concession to self-absorption?
This summer I got married for the second time. Unlike my first wedding, in a town hall 11 years ago, this one was strictly informal. The ceremony took place at the Karaoke Pit in Berlin’s Mauerpark, a dilapidated concrete amphitheatre in the middle of the former no-man’s land between East and West Berlin. There were some 500 guests in attendance, most of whom I’d never met before and would never see again. My dress was black and I kept my sunglasses on. There were no bridesmaids, no public registrar, let alone a priest or rabbi, and no papers were issued at the end. Moreover, there was no bridegroom: I was, as it happened, getting married to my own self – with my husband and our two children watching from the front row.
I formalised my vows with karaoke, offering a musical and performative statement of intent in front of the assembled (and mostly unwitting) witnesses. This improbable 4.5-minute ceremony was the way I capped off a 10-week online course on self-marriage, which I took this spring. I was motivated three-quarters by what C W Mills in 1959 called the ‘sociological imagination’ – the capacity to discern the link between our everyday experience and wider society – and one-quarter by unbridled curiosity about the intricate workings of modern love.
‘Sologamy’ is the latest relationship trend not only in Europe and the United States but also Japan. A budding industry of self-marriages promises to make us happier by celebrating commitment to the only person in this world truly worthy of a relationship investment: our precious self. A variety of coaches worldwide offer self-marriage courses, including guidance through preparatory steps (such as writing love poems and composing vows) and orchestration of the ceremony itself.