So you’re a feminist and you’re getting married?! Good for you! I love that modern feminism and modern marriage have now come together to give people the choice of entering in to an equal marriage contract. I’ve asked around and linked to some helpful articles that will go a little way to help you to plan your ideal feminist wedding.
Inform yourself about wedding traditions
The best place to start is to get informed about what the general wedding traditions are, where they come from and make some decisions about how you want your day to unfold. I’ve included lots of useful links at the bottom of this post for further reading. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and there is no committee ready and waiting to declare your wedding feminist approved. Go with what feels right for you knowing that you have made an informed decision.
Create an inclusive wedding
Whilst your wedding day is primarily about you and your loved one celebrating your relationship, ultimately you will have family and friends that have some ideas, and will want to be involved in your wedding. Ask those people early on how they see themselves involved in your wedding. If there is something that you are really not comfortable with, your research can explain why that is the case. Be prepared to negotiate and compromise with some creative alternatives.
Change patriarchal wedding traditions to work for you
This is the fun bit! Now that you probably know what you don’t want, you get to make the rules on what you do want. Some ideas for a feminist wedding that I have seen, or read about are:
- Have a mixed gendered wedding party; best woman, man of honour, wedding squad, usherettes and bridesmen all work the same.
- Walk down the aisle together as a couple
- Walk down the aisle with both of your parents
- Walk down the aisle by yourself
- Have your guests sit in the middle of the room with an aisle at each side rather than down the middle, and walk down the opposite aisle to your partner and meet in the middle.
- Write your own vows with personalised promises
- Let any parent give a speech, or ask both parents to collaborate
- Both parties in the wedding couple give a speech
- Don’t have any speeches
- Sign the paperwork and celebrate in the pub with your friends and family
- Split the cost of your wedding 50 : 50
- Crowdfund your wedding instead of receiving gifts
- Have a half’n’half wedding cake, one side for you, the other side for your partner
- Have two cakes and cut one each
- Wear whatever colour you like, plain or patterned, the big trend for 2017 is floral print wedding dresses
- Don’t wear a dress, wear a jumpsuit or two-piece outfit
- Keep your surname
- Make up a new joint family name
Ideas from other feminist brides
As an avid listener to The Guilty Feminist podcast I recently asked my fellow listeners, and presumably feminists, what they did when they got married. Here are some ideas:
Lizzie: “We didn’t do anything traditional we didn’t want to – first dance, cutting cake etc. My husband doesn’t like being the centre of attention. However when other people really wanted to be involved we let them; my dad gave a speech because he wanted to. I did a speech because again, my husband didn’t want to. When I spoke about my bridesmaids, I said more than just how pretty they looked, but also why they were awesome people and friends. The biggest thing for me was that we planned our wedding together- my husband has much better taste than me and was much better at the design side of things. He also made all the favours (which people kept giving me credit for!) We both love hosting people and celebrating. We had a really lovely party with all our favourite people. It was ace “
Jen: “I felt uncomfortable with the idea of being “revealed”, or staying hidden until having to walk in … so I arrived early (driven by mum!) and my husband and I were both there to greet guests and hang out before the ceremony. It was great because I got more time to chat to people and it took some of the pressure off. My dad did walk with me down the aisle (more like a little path as it was outdoors), because it was something he really wanted to do and it was important for me to give him that moment.”
Katie: “I had the least feminist wedding ever! I did the whole catholic mass, with 200 people invited, all the traditional elements and made the traditional vows. Our mothers made it very clear the wedding was for the family. This was fine with me because i was there for the marriage, not for the day.”
Katie S: “We eloped because he is a muslim and my family are devout christians and both of our parents were very disapproving. So we didn’t tell anyone and were married in a private ceremony in a garden at night with just the celebrant and two witnesses. I didn’t wear a white dress, I wore a pink sun dress. I do have a ring but I hardly wear it, my husband has no ring at all. He bought me a ring because I asked for one, because he works away 8 months of the year and I like it to wear it when I’m missing him. We had a dinner afterward, which was the best steak of my life! We both danced a bit in the evening. Then we had a two day honeymoon in a cottage in the country. It was great. My husband and I are not romantic people at all, but when I read that back it actually sounds quite romantic! Haha.”
Sarah: ” I wore a big white dress because i wanted the chance to spend a grand on a dress and look amazing. The promise is what matters and it was a feminist wedding to me.”
Final note on feminist wedding ideas
I hope that after reading this you have some more ideas for your feminist wedding. Ultimately I hope that you realise that having a feminist wedding means picking and choosing what you want as a couple, and what you’re both comfortable with as individuals. There is no benchmark or approval committee. What I love most about feminism is that it is striving to give women choice.
If you’re planning a feminist wedding and looking for a photographer who is sympathetic to your principles then get in touch!
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