“Why are you trying to politicise your wedding?” a friend asked me. “Just because you’re a feminist, do you really have to make a statement?”
It’s a good question. As well as trying to make our wedding feel like ‘us’, to make it original, fun and different and to make all the elements feel right and fit together, in the back of my mind I’m also trying to be a good feminist.
Yet I’m doing something – marrying – that feels decidedly unfeminist by its very design.
So in order to make myself feel better about getting married and signing up to this institution that has historically kept women down and passed them from one man to another as property, I feel it’s important to inject some of the modern equality that will be part of our marriage, into our wedding day.
So CAN you have a feminist wedding? 👰
Of course you can.
[Essential (NOT ESSENTIAL) wedding grooming I'm scared of]
[I've already become a wedding bore]
Weddings today aren’t about property, and very, very few women agree to ‘obey’ their husband while taking their vows. Plus modern couples are signing up to a partnership situation rather than ownership. So far so good.
But there is still a fair bit of grating misogyny embroiled into standard wedding day practices, hidden under the guide of ‘tradition’. And when I’ve suggested I’m ditching them, I’ve been told not to be such a spoilsport.
Wedding traditions that feel unfeminist:
Engagement rings. Why do only the women wear them to represent their changed status? I didn’t think I’d wear one but then I fell in love with one and turned into a total, well, girl. Not all lads are as happy as Johnny Depp to sport a huge sparkler before the wedding. Tradition 1, Feminism 0. 💍
Doing all the planning and making the wedding the epoch of your life. It’s hard not to. (Especially when you blog about it.) But a very bridal trait seems to be extreme wedding planning.
I’ve noted in the past how incredibly bride-centric wedding advice and information out there is, and how expected it is of the bride and not the groom to do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to wedmin. But if this is to start out as an equal partnership, the planning will have to be split fairly. Which may mean a difficult process of relinquishing control freakery on my part.
Similarly, there are other things in life, not just weddings. As hard as it is, I’m determined not to let it take over and feel like my whole raison d’etre is to bring this wedding to reality. I guarantee Adam will continue to use more brainpower computing Crystal Palace’s chance of relegation than he will on planning the day we will begin our future together.
Being given away by your father. I don’t think my dad would disagree when I say he does not own me. And my future husband won’t wither. Yet most (all?) the weddings I’ve been to have kept this tradition in some guise or other. Either it’s been explained (the bride’s dad ‘accompanies’ rather than gives away) or it’s just shrugged off/ignored.
Much as I love my dad and don’t want him to feel he’s missed out on his chance to take part in this historic tradition, I just don’t think I can be ‘given away’, however it’s dressed up. As a compromise I’ve asked my mum if she’ll join me and dad on our way up the aisle. Afterall, if anyone truly owns me, it’s her. We’ll see what actually happens when the time comes.
The speeches. The entirely male nature of the traditional speech trio – groom, father of the bride, best man – is so irritating. In very old school weddings there are no female voices at all. Granted, it’s changing now with increasing number of brides and girl friends stepping up to the mic, but that tradition is rubbish and needs to end.
Needless to say I will be making a speech.
Changing your name. Still no update on this I’m afraid.
But back to my friend’s original question, do I NEED to politicise my wedding?
Well, yes. I live my life in an equality-loving, feminist-friendly way, as does my fiancé. So when thinking of one of the major life events we’ll be going through, why wouldn’t we do it in a way that reflects our believes?
It’s important to start making new traditions, to turn the old patriarchal parts of weddings and marriage into modern, fun and future-facing habits that future generations will adopt without thinking. Just as former brides agreed to obey their husbands, and former fathers of the bride had to deliver a dowry.
Will I get stick for it? Yes. Do I care? No.