Sunday, March 4, 2012

Feminist Relationships: White Wedding?

In this week's installment of Feminist Relationships I would like to talk about un-traditionalizing the traditions of weddings.  There's nothing wrong with having a big, fun wedding and being a feminist, no conflict there.  But there are a few things about traditional wedding ceremonies (and receptions) that could use some Girl Power.

Let's talk pretty dresses for a second.  The wedding industry makes millions of dollars a year off of those big, poofy white confections that brides glow in as they walk down the aisle.  The traditional gowns are white or off-white (a choice that's becoming increasingly popular) and come in a variety of styles, though they're most commonly a little on the lacy and taffeta-y side.  Nothing wrong wit that, if that's what you feel most beautiful and bride-like in.  But the white wedding dress does carry some pretty hefty baggage, and not just in that giant bustle.  White wedding dresses imply virginity, which is why the off-white is becoming more and more common for second marriages.  It's a way to prove that the bride hasn't been defouled in the bedroom as she's being delivered to her new husband.  Seeing as premarital sex isn't exactly uncommon these days (nor has it ever been, for that matter) these pretty poofy packages are often concealing a lie.  I don't need to announce my sexual status to the world anyway--my husband sure as hell won't be hanging any bloodstained bedsheets in the window after our wedding night--so I don't feel the need to broadcast my virginity with my wedding dress.

There's nothing wrong with breaking with tradition and wearing something colorful, like blue or purple, on your wedding day.  For me, it comes down to this: if your wedding day is a big enough deal that you want to wear something spectacular, wear your absolute favorite thing regardless of style or color.  If that's white, awesome for you.  If that's something else, go for it!  It's your day, after all.

Then there's the person that's going to be delivering that pretty package.  I use that kind of objectifying language intentionally--historically, the bride was pretty much transferred as property from her father to her new husband.  That's why fathers walk their daughters down the aisle.  It's called "giving the bride away" for a reason.  I don't know about you, but if I'm getting married it's going to be my choice and therefore I'm giving myself away.  No one has the right to do that for you.  If it's important to you to have your father, or mother, or some other important figure in your life take part in the ceremony in that way, that's totally up to you.  But for me?  I'll be walking down that aisle solo.

Then there's that whole "man and wife" thing.  This is less common these days than it used to be, but I can't understand why it couldn't be "man and woman" or "husband and wife".  But since us ladies used to be considered property, I guess it made sense for the times.

Lastly, that bouquet toss.  There's a scene in a crappy romantic comedy from the late '90s (pretty broad genre there) that had an interesting metaphor about the bouquet toss.  Girlfriend catches the bouquet, her boyfriend gets roped into marriage.  The girl who catches the bouquet is supposed to be the next to get married, and us ladies are supposed to fight tooth and nail for a bunch of half-dead lilies so we can be next to get a ring on our finger.  I don't feel the need to perpetuate that kind of stereotype.  Plus, flowers are expensive and if I paid for them I'd want to hang onto that bouquet, thanks very much.

Sure, you can find half a dozen other things wrong with the traditions of marriage and weddings if you dig deeper.  There are plenty of them.  But, in the end, weddings are supposed to be fun.  They're a chance to eat, get hammered, get free cake and dance like an idiot.  Everything else is up to you.  Though, ladies, your fiances should really have some say in this, too--we aren't the only ones who like weddings, and that sitcom trope is pretty tired by now.  It's really about who you are and what you want for your wedding, whether it's a big deal or a quiet thing between you and your soon-to-be spouse.

I'm going to write about engagement rings next week because of this new trend in mangagement rings (that piece is just a teensy bit problematic, so you know).  It's an interesting topic to delve into, so I hope I'll see you back this time next Sunday.


  1. I heard most of this post before it was written, and it tuned out pretty good.

    The only thing important about weddings is getting married. PERIOD
    Getting married includes the going to church part.

    Everything else is just extraneous.

    Walking down the aske can mean that you are property, or it can be sn occasion to honor your father (or your mother, or both). If you are not property then it doesn't make you property.

  2. I hate your blog host because it keeps freezing my iPad input before I am walki down the AISLE