Wedding tips for a feminist – tradition with a twist!
You don’t have to be female to be feminist. Feminism isn’t about marching with a placard or burning your bra. It’s about men and women having respect for each other as equals. So having a feminist wedding is about choosing to have the kind of wedding that you and your other half want. Celebrating your relationship as a couple who love and respect one another. It’s about having any traditions you want (even if you don’t like the reason they were originally introduced) and not having any you just don’t want. That’s how you can arrive at a wedding that reflects tradition with a twist. If you are a busy feminist you will find some tips below for doing just that.
Arriving at your wedding ceremony
I’ve known feminist brides who have walked down the aisle with their dad because they knew it would make him happy – not because they were their father’s property to be handed over to be someone else’s property. I have never asked the question “Who gives this woman to be married” but if the couple wanted this I would love to hear the answer that my friend’s father gave – “No-one, she comes of her own free will”. Usually the “Father of the Bride” kisses his daughter, shakes hands with or kisses her partner and goes to his seat, having accompanied his daughter to an important event in her life.
I’ve also seen feminist brides who have walked down the aisle on their own, accompanied by their mum, both parents, their Grandma, their child or their “tribe” of friends. Some couples arrive together and make a big entrance as they do. In the end it’s important that you do what feels right to you.
I don’t think many brides today promise to “honour and obey” their spouse. Wherever you get married there is almost always an alternative to this. One of the joys of a Celebrant led wedding is that you can write your own vows reflecting who you are. And of course, for a groom, there is no need to stick to the traditions of saying his vows first before the bride. Look to quotes and poetry if you need a bit of wedding inspiration for your content. But then think about you and your partner and what you really want to say to them.
Wedding ceremony etiquette
Over recent years I have seen more Best Women, Best Mates, Bride’s Men or Brides Mates and similarly titled people holding roles in weddings which were traditionally only ever gender specific – Best Man and Brides maids. The clothes that people wear have changed too with flower girls dressed as Wonder Woman, Page boys as Batman and vice versa as couples want their wedding party to be comfortable with what they wear.
The feminist bride can still wear a white dress if she wants to – in fact she can wear whatever she wants. It is said that the fashion for a white wedding dress popularised by Queen Victoria was more a demonstration of wealth than the label of purity which tradition has set out. I have read that in the middle ages bridesmaids all wore the same colour dress as the bride to fool evil spirits so that the bride was not cursed!
When inviting a couple to kiss in their ceremony I always invite them to “seal your vows with a kiss” rather than giving the groom permission that “you may now kiss the bride”. A kiss should be a mutual expression of love and care.
What’s in a name?
Until the middle of the 19th century a woman became her husband’s property when they married and anything that she owned became his. So changing her name to his was a way of showing this. Now it is a choice. Often both people keep their own name without either of them changing. Many couples now double- barrel their names. I have had a few couples choose a new name that they both adopted as theirs. It’s up to you what you want to do.
At the end of a ceremony I am very happy to invite those gathered to welcome “the happy couple”, “Mrs and Mr”, “Mr and Mrs”, “Mrs and Mrs”, “Mr and Mr”, by their first names or any way that they would like to be addressed.
It’s up to you!
So the choices are yours – you can still have as many traditional elements as you would like in your wedding. But as a feminist you can take those traditions with a twist, or abandon them altogether. Whatever you do – enjoy!