The Unconventional Bride: Can You Be A Feminist And Still Have A Traditional Wedding?

The Unconventional Bride attempts to wrestle the patriarchy out of matrimony

Kate Middleton wedding

by Lizzy Dening |
Published on

So, weddings are weird, right? Let’s just say it. I mean, aside from the union of two people who love each other, they are essentially about the transference of goods (the bride) from one bloke to another. Traditionally with a big wodge of cash given to the groom’s family for the inconvenience.

I know that’s not what they’re about these days (although many celebrity weddings seem somewhat transactional) but it’s funny that the traditions of being ‘given away’, wearing white to imply virginity, being spoken for by your dad and husband while you sit there quietly, changing your name to your hubby’s, and a hundred other misogynist motifs are now much-loved parts of the day for most brides.

My version of feminism (and I’m aware that this subject isn’t so much a can as a shipping container of worms) is: consider both sides of everything, and go with what makes you happy. So it’s not necessarily about following your principles, but more about weighing up morals, tradition, and, the barometer of everything from relationship to savoury snacks – how your gut feels.

For example, the issue of being ‘given away’ by your dad gets my hackles up. I can’t even write it without putting it in quotes, because it’s so ridiculous – I haven’t lived with my dad since I was 14, and I’ve been co-habiting with my fiancé for the last seven… oh yeah, and the small matter of the fact that no one owns me in the first place.

However, I’ve acknowledged that the concept makes me a bit queasy and weighed it up with the various plus-sides, namely time with my pop before the madness of the day, when we can have a glass of fizz and a chat in a fancy car. Added to the fact that I think walking me down the aisle would make him really happy, and I’ve made the decision that I’m cool with the concept overall.

The issue of speeches, however, plays out very differently. I just can’t see any advantage to a room full of silent women (although anyone who’s seen my friends and me a few bottles of Merlot down might disagree). I’ve always been chatty and met my fiancé because we both perform at poetry readings – I’ve got no problem whatsoever with holding the mike. In fact, I’d be too jealous to enjoy his speech knowing I wouldn’t get my say. And besides the whole gender issue, I think it’s nice for the bride to say a few words about why she loves her partner. I just hope we don’t get too competitive over whose speech produces more tears.

Wearing a ring? I’m cool with it (especially as mine is a beautiful heirloom from his great-great-grandma) but I’d feel a bit funny if he refused to do the same with a wedding ring. Wearing white? I’m looking at both colourful and white dresses – although could be swayed by the huge price difference (especially considering my innate clumsiness – white is destined for mascara smudges and wine stains).

But really I’m just telling you my choices, as an FYI, not because I think I have the answers. I can barely complete a Sudoku, let alone resolve feminist issues with roots more tangled and darker than my own (mental note: get highlights touched up pre-wedding).

My wedding philosophy? You do you (when you say ‘I do’).


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