In São Paulo this month, there was a rather interesting wedding ceremony. Cris Galêra, a lingerie model and influencer, married herself in the name of “self-love”. After issues with previous relationships, Galêra opted to carry through with her recent nuptials, noting: “I like to be a priority and I am my priority.” As the story of the ceremony hit the news, it reignited a discussion over the comparatively recent trend of sologamy, in which single people wed themselves in the spirit of not needing a partner to find happiness. Is the idea simply attention-seeking and daft, as many critics have claimed, or is it a wonderful way to celebrate our self-love?
Sologamy has existed ever since at least 1993 when an American woman named Linda Barker married herself. Her one-person wedding had seven bridesmaids, 75 guests, and no groom – as Barker said at the time, “it’s about doing things for yourself and not waiting around for someone else to make it happen”. Since then, a number of other women (and it is almost exclusively women) have staged their own weddings. In 2014, the photographer Grace Gelder married herself and described creating a wedding on her own terms as “incredibly empowering”, while Italian fitness instructor Laura Mesi held a “fairytale” event after the collapse of a 12-year relationship in 2017. It was also a big plot point in an episode of Sex and the City, where Carrie Bradshaw married herself after being annoyed that single people get no special occasions.
Sologamists don’t have to divorce themselves if they find someone
What does a solo wedding actually consist of? In many ways, it’s the same as a traditional wedding – guests, cake, outfits, a reception. But there are some key differences, even excluding the absence of a groom. The ceremony can be performed anywhere, and the person officiating needs no credentials. The marriages also have no legal status (indeed, you can’t legally marry yourself anywhere in the world), meaning sologamists don’t have to divorce themselves if they find someone else.
Unsurprisingly, businesses have leapt on board to cater for sologamists. A website called IMarriedMe.com sells a ‘create your own ceremony’ kit, including a self-wedding ring, vows and daily affirmation cards. Dan Moran, an LA-based jewellery designer, has reported receiving calls from clients after sologamy rings and, in 2014, the Japanese travel agency Cerca Travel reportedly offered a two-day package for solo brides which included a gown, bouquet, hairstyling, make-up, a hotel stay and photos. A number of people have gone into business as sologamy wedding officiators.
One of these people, the New York-based performance artist, explains the appeal of a sologamy ceremony: “The ceremonies are usually very cathartic and all about self-love. 80% of the people whom I married to themselves shed a tear reading their vows. They usually say things like “I forgive myself” and “I will no longer call myself ugly”.” Dominique Youkhehpaz, who officiated at her first solo wedding in 2011, agrees that these ceremonies can be very therapeutic: “I have witnessed people leave abusive relationships, step more fully into their life’s work or meet their beloved after marrying themselves.” For Erika Anderson, a New Yorker who self-married, the point of sologamy is simple – it’s about saying that “I am enough”.
These ceremonies help people feel in a better place with their self-worth
The trend has faced some criticism for two main reasons – the lack of any legality to the proceedings, rendering it essentially pointless, and the idea that it is narcissistic and self-aggrandising. Karen Nimmo, a clinical psychologist in New Zealand, says: “Self-dislike is at the root of so many psychological issues, so where marrying yourself is about healing from past trauma or relationship issues it can be helpful. But it’s important to make sure your other relationships are healthy. If you rely too much on yourself and constantly put your own needs ahead of everyone else you may be slipping into the narcissistic territory – and that’s an unhealthy and lonely place to be.”
The practice may seem absurd right now, but there was a time when many of our contemporary wedding traditions would be seen as equally strange. I can’t claim that I’m fully sold on the idea of sologamy, and it’s hard to imagine it really taking off and reaching the popularity of traditional marriage, but if these ceremonies help people feel in a better place with their self-worth, that can’t be a bad thing.