A crop of wedding news articles and blog posts appeared in July discussing “feminist weddings” – and I wondered if I’d gone completely mad. Never mind the content of those articles for now, what is a feminist wedding?
What is feminism anyway? Wikipedia says:
The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.
And the new trend for feminist weddings?
Apparently it’s all about non-white wedding dresses, keeping our maiden names and not being given away by our dads. That’s it. Which implies that ivory dresses, no name changes and walking ourselves down the aisle are as revolutionary as burning bras was in the 1960s. Or so WeddingDays.co.uk would have us believe. It’s nice to hear from Time Magazine that a much larger survey on facebook this spring came out with very different conclusions – but the notion of “feminist weddings” does raise some interesting issues…
Do we need to make weddings more feminist?
Way back when, marriage was a family contract agreed by men. There was a dowry – the bride was accompanied by some money, sheep or other property to sweeten the deal – and marriage was no more than a transaction.
The marriage part of it all now pales in comparison with our focus on weddings. The wedding industry, the popularity of wedding magazines and the rise of blogs, our obsession with celebrity weddings all mean that our priorities have changed.
It’s not until the day after the wedding that marriage means everything to many a bride and groom. For most of us, a quick and meaningful ceremony follows months of planning, coordination and design – and for all of this process there is rarely a whiff of testosterone until the happy groom turns up at the altar, oblivious to the hours his bride has spent negotiating chair sashes, flower arrangements and making sure the bridesmaids’ knickers match the ushers’ buttonholes. Perfectly.
Equality isn’t about traditions and symbolism any more – it’s about planning and control
Yes, marriage in the 1800s was a chauvinist concept. But where’s the equality now? Weddings are way too feminist for my liking, with many brides taking control of almost everything, whether they want to or not. The industry works hard to convince us all that weddings are all about the bride:
- Consider how much is spent on the average wedding dress vs. the groom’s outfit – does this reflect equality or a bias towards the bride in modern weddings?
- Who takes most responsibility for allocating the wedding budget?
- Who usually chooses a wedding theme, researches cakes and flowers, orders invitations or spends hours making them?
- Who spends a fortune on wedding magazines, reads the top wedding blogs etc. etc?
All of the above suggest to me that the bride has a LOT of power and control over the wedding day. Feminism clearly isn’t a problem – I’d just love to see a little more equality in weddings.
Restoring the balance – will the feminist wedding trend begin to reverse?
Over the past four years I’ve been writing the English Wedding Blog I’ve seen some lovely grooms who’ve shared the responsibility of wedding planning equally with their brides. It’s not uncommon for grooms who are designers by trade to create the wedding invitations and stationery.
It’s still too rare for grooms to be as involved in all the wedding planning as their brides. I’d love to see a sea change in the wedding industry, where couples begin planning weddings together and leaving out all the frills which they don’t both have their hearts set on. I think we’d see fewer colour coordinated chair sashes and more classy, sophisticated stationery along with really good wedding photography. And that would be amazing!
Maybe in years to come, and with more debate on wedding blogs and online wedding magazines and forums, we’ll see brides and grooms making their weddings truly personal to them both – and omitting the traditional fluff the industry is so keen to sell.
I’d love to see an end to “the bridal industry” altogether – it’s a phrase I hate more than any other. But it does sum up the state of equality in weddings rather neatly.
Further reading on feminist weddings:
- The rise of the feminist wedding – Daily Mail (the original article with research from WeddingDays.co.uk)
- Some cracking comments on the Feminist Weddings Trend – Refinery 29 blog
- The real feminist issues with marriage – by the author of SexyFeminist.com
- More reaction to the feminist wedding debate by Time magazine