Photo: Gül Kurtaran on Unsplash
In the age of #MeToo, there has been an increased focus on equality and empowering sexual harassment and assault victims to speak their truth. If you’re a proud feminist like me, you’re watching events unfold with cautious, but hopeful eyes, happy that the world may be finally experiencing some real change.
However, as a woman who also wants to get married in the near future, I understand how it can be difficult to reconcile your feminist values with the inherently patriarchal and unequal nature of weddings - the institution stems from women being given away by male family members as trade-able property, after all!
Here are six tips for planning a feminist wedding that will help you lead the way to change:
1. Go Dutch
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Although the bride’s family traditionally pays for most of the ceremony, why not split the wedding cost with your partner? Not only is this a more egalitarian approach, it can also be a test run for seeing how you and your partner will deal with financial issues in the future. If you need some help keeping track of expenses, use a wedding budget checklist so that both of you know exactly where your money is going.
2. Embrace colors
Dress: French Knot Couture
Although Queen Victoria started the tradition of donning a white wedding dress, skip the white and go for colors instead! It’s a much more modern approach, with many celebrities joining in on the fun; in addition, it neatly side-steps the whole “white symbolizes purity” issue. Waiting to have sex until marriage is a rare occurrence nowadays, with only 3% of American successfully doing so. Thus, taking away this emphasis on a virgin ideal, which has long been used to shame women, is long overdue!
3. Be comfortable
Jumpsuit: Desert Dreaming, New Galina Spring 2018 for David's Bridal
Does the idea of wearing a big, frilly dress make you cringe? Don’t feel trapped by traditional gender stereotypes. Instead, broaden your options on what to wear, and take a page out of Solange Knowles’s book by slipping on an elegant jumpsuit like the one above or this one. That way, when the time comes, you’ll be ready to break out some serious moves on the dance floor!
4. Honor your bestie, regardless of gender
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If your best friend happens to be a member of the opposite gender, can he or she still be your best man or maid of honor? Thankfully, in this day and age, a new practice has emerged where you can honor your best friend with any title, e.g., “man-of-honor” or “best woman” or “best person.” This ensures that the person who knows you best is the one who makes that killer wedding toast at your reception.
5. Take the plunge your way
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Traditionally, fathers walk brides down the aisle to show a transference of ownership, since women were treated as property for strengthening family alliances and increasing a family’s status. One way you can up-end the tradition, while still involving your parents, is by having both parents walk you, which honors your mother along with your father. Alternatively, you can also walk yourself or walk down the aisle with your partner. Walking yourself emphasizes your agency while walking with your partner puts the two of you on equal footing - both of which suit our modern context much better.
6. Ditch the rice
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Have you ever wondered why wedding guests pelt rice at the happy couple when they’re making their exit? Surprisingly, the original purpose of the rice toss was to wish fertility upon the couple, a clear reflection of traditional gender roles. If you’re uncomfortable with highlighting baby making as the ultimate goal of marriage, get creative with how your guests send you off. Substitute the rice with bubbles, rose petals, or sparklers. Not only will doing so neutralize a touchy issue, but these options photograph beautifully and can make the moment truly magical.
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Weddings have a reputation of being stuffy events full of expectations and age-old traditions with dated origins. However, modern weddings have been going through a bit of an evolution, so planning your special day without sacrificing your values is definitely within the realm of possibility. After all, this is a huge milestone in your and your partner’s life, so go ahead and adapt the ceremony to reflect values important to the both of you!