6 ways of having a feminist wedding
Today I’d like to talk about what it is to have a feminist wedding. Don’t run off, this isn’t a heated social debate, it’s just a few ways to make your wedding day a place for equality.
My parents have been together for 43 years and never got married. Growing up I didn’t think I’d want to get married, much less plan a wedding. Yet here we are, I changed my mind and had the best time ever.
With this in mind, when Stephen – my other half – and I started thinking about our wedding there were loads of “traditions” that didn’t feel right, especially since we’re both feminists and equality in our relationship is something really important to us. I use quotation marks because having been born in France but grown up in Argentina and now having lived in England for 8 years, the only traditions I follow, are my own anyway.
The point is, in many cultures, the traditions surrounding weddings are – yes, even today – patriarchal. So here are a few ideas on how to get slightly political and have a modern, non-sexist, feminist wedding.
This is only my opinion and you should do whatever you want on your wedding day. I would never judge anyone for wanting to follow these or other traditions. Having a feminist wedding – or not – and to what degree is a personal choice that we’re all – or should be – entitled to.
The wedding industry, and probably most of the people who surround you, will be making certain assumptions based on years of social conventions and it can be hard to break away from all of that. Especially when marriage and feminism are sometimes considered to be mutually exclusive: as if by choosing to get married you were giving up the right to be a feminist – and that goes both for women and men!
You might want to start by telling your suppliers during the consultation meeting that you’re thinking of having a feminist wedding or that you’d like the day to be about equality, that way they’ll be able to help you and will check with you before making assumptions.
It felt right for me to marry the love of my life and to celebrate with a party, my way. If equality is important to you and you’re considering having a feminist wedding, here are a few things that can help.
WEDDING PHOTOS YOU WILL LOVE
1 – Walking down the aisle.
My father didn’t feel comfortable giving me away because, in his own words, I’m not his to give away. I didn’t feel too comfortable with that either and I definitely didn’t want him to do something that goes against his principles. I also really really didn’t want to walk alone because I don’t particularly enjoy having everyone’s eyes on me.
Stephen and I decided to walk up together. Even before getting married all of our decisions had been joint, we were making this commitment together and we were embarking on this new adventure as equals so it felt absolutely right to walk hand in hand.
The options are endless, you could have your parents walk you together or even ask a friend, it doesn’t have to be a man who walks you up the aisle.
2- The dress.
White for purity. What that implies is: women must be virgin and pure or no one will want them. The men on the other hand, can do whatever they very well please.
Thankfully nowadays no one will expect the bride to be a virgin just because she’s wearing white at her wedding, but the original meaning of it still popped into my mind when I started looking at dresses.
Truth is, I wasn’t particularly bothered about the color of my dress and I did end up going for white because it was utterly beautiful.
The point of all this? Do what you want! Black, red, purple, short, long, sparkly… there’s endless choices out there. You don’t even need to get a bridal dress, by going for a prom dress or a bridesmaid dress you could also be saving yourself lots of money. And that money could go towards the booze, just sayin’! Have I convinced you of having a feminist wedding yet?
I love Lina’s style: short dress and a pop of colour! Or how about an explosion of colour with a bright pink dress like Nikki’s? Helen chose a gold sequin dress that glittered so beautifully in the sunlight!
3 – The speeches.
Have you noticed how, traditionally, only men do speeches? Presumably because women should keep their opinions to themselves, or better yet, not have any. I find this particular tradition also puts a lot of pressure on men. Maybe they don’t want to talk, and why should they be forced? There are many ways to tackle this.
Include the women around you – I asked one of oldest female friends to say a few words about me and our friendship.
Do a joint speech – one of my couples this year asked the groom’s dad and the bride’s mum and sister to do a speech but they finished it up by doing a joint speech. It was one of the most emotional speeches I’ve heard. They talked about their friends and families, about their adventures and they also told each other how much this day meant to them.
4 – The surname.
My surname is Pauffin de Saint Morel and I am the very last one on this earth. My dad has a sister who took her husband’s name and I have no siblings so this great surname that comes from the French bourgeoisie will die with me. Unless we have children, which we don’t plan to.
Not in a million years would I change my name because I think it’s beautiful and I love how memorable it is, it’s definitely helped me stick out – which isn’t always a good thing at school, but I won’t go into that.
Not taking Stephen’s name doesn’t mean I love him less but it definitely says “I married for love but I’m still my own person”.
If you like the idea of taking your other half’s name then by all means, do it!
There are other options too. You could double barrel it and combine both your names – not an option for us, can you imagine how long would that be? – or you could both take a different name together. I met a couple who decided to take the groom’s stepdad’s name. He wasn’t particularly close to his father and they were looking at options to get around the traditional name change so it made perfect sense for them.
5 – The wedding party and the hen and stag do.
Personally, I’m not a fan a hen dos in the first place and since half my friends are in Argentina or scattered across the globe I chose not to have one.
If you want to do one or both of these though, why not invite everyone you’d like to go rather than women/men only? Or why not have a joint hen and stag do with all of your closest friends?
You might also ask your friends to try and find gender neutral activities and games.
6 – Throwing the bouquet.
I love this moment at weddings and I usually get fun photos. However, the thought of making a display out of the unmarried women and have them fight over a bouquet to see which one will be lucky enough to get married next… well, it’s just completely sexist.
So why not invite everyone to join in and have a little present to give away to whoever catches the bouquet? A bottle of whisky, a voucher for a massage, a gift card for the cinema… so many possibilities!
To finish off, I’d like to repeat that the most important thing, feminist wedding or not, is to DO WHAT YOU WANT and whatever feels right for you. Don’t let anyone judge you or drag you down a path you don’t feel comfortable with.
WEDDING PHOTOS YOU WILL LOVE
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Hi, I'm Manon - documentary wedding photographer capturing love stories in Brighton, London and destination weddings worldwide.
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