WOO HOO! The book, The Adventures and Discoveries of a Feminist Bride was recommended on the BelaKharma.com 2018 Summer Reading List by the podcast host of The Public Library Podcast, Helen R. Little! The book is among so many other amazing authors, we’re swooning over here. So before you head out to the beach or the hammock in your backyard, pick up The Feminist Bride book and another (or all of them) from this list.
As a kid, I refused to wear a dress. I just wanted to be comfortable but more importantly feel like myself – the “tom-boy” who’d much rather climb a tree than play with dolls. Eventually as I grew older, I acquiesced on the dress thing, even wearing a bridal gown on the big day. But I understand that there are plenty of brides (or bridesmaid or lady groomsman) out there who, like my younger self, have no desire to wear a dress on their wedding day. So I’ve gathered what I think are ten great bridal tuxedos keeping in mind that it should be something that would be too fancy for work but perfect for the red carpet, are in the affordable range (and by affordable I mean under the average cost of a wedding gown – $1,200 (TheKnot, 2013), is not only white, won’t confuse you with the waitstaff, are cut for women and feels avant-garde bridal.
I never know what to make of Betsey Johnson. She’s kinda like your great Aunt that’s a total wild card, who curiously resembles your thirteen year old niece, who’s currently finding herself by defying convention. When it comes to fashion, she’s a great reminder of how far fashion can go and how much you don’t have to give a hoot about other people’s opinions so long as you’re happy.
Hear ye, hear ye, give a listen to The Feminist Bride on the The Big Wedding Planning Podcast! We talk about my new book, The Adventures and Discoveries of a Feminist Bride (Black Rose Writing), sexism in weddings and how to be empowered to make your wedding more meaningful and supportive for all the people you love and well…everyone else for that matter.
I hope you join me for a cup of cafe con leche for a fun evening of wedding mishaps, fiesty feminism, and eye-opening truths about wedding traditions!
Do your Altar Egos* (a.k.a. bridesmaids, groomsmen, wedding party) need something to wear before the wedding but you are tired of the hyper-feminine and cliche uniforms with outdated, mildly sexist terms written on the butt?
Take your bachelorette party to the next level with a little help from our overseas sisters, the British. Yes, with their pomp and circumstance our sisters know how to throw down both a scone and a party, especially when it comes to their hen parties. Hen parties are the equivalent of bachelorette parties in the US and they like to get all dolled up in fancy dress (that’s British for costume). Costumes are a great way to unite the party especially if there’s a common theme and antics.
Every wonder why best ladies dress alike? It’s not because the bride has a twin fetish or because ordering someone what to wear is part of some sick and twisted mommy dearest game (though who knows, it could be…). It’s actually not for anal uniformity in photos either or team spirit. And would you believe it wasn’t originally so the bride would stand out among her entourage (though it has sorta become that)?
The dressing alike tradition goes all the way back to before the middle ages. It was thought that evil demons wanted to curse the bride with their bad juju. So her maids, nearest or dearest would actually dress like the bride in order to fool the mean spirits. This explains why it was kosher for Pippa Middleton to dress in white like her future-queen sister, Kate. And if you think about it, Pippa did indeed thwart any negative attention away from Kate; although in 2011 the evil spirits where more like the paparazzi and anyone with the Internet who thought it was okay to objectify Pippa’s derriere…
Best ladies are not the only ones who originally dressed like the bride; the flower girl mimics her outfit too. Although a flower girl’s goal is not to thwart the evil eye but it’s still equally superstitious. She is supposed to represent the bride’s future children, who would biologically-speaking physically resemble the bride, hence the matching uniform.
The fact that best ladies still dress alike harkens back to these ancient superstitions, though the efforts of the wedding industry and advertising has oppositely influenced the tradition. Now it’s about making the bride stand out, like a white bull’s-eye among a uniform sea of crimson cocktail dresses. This new age emphasis on the bride is what has created bridezillas, so one could argue that the me-me-me bride has indeed become infected by those demons or become one… Maybe there’s something to this dress-alike tradition after all.
Originally published on In the Powder Room. Reprinted with permission.
It’s not often that penises are appropriate outerwear. They’re weather sensitive, you never know if you’re going to pull out a turtle or v-neck, and they shrink in the wash. Occasionally, they create a pearl necklace.
For bachelorettes though, the dick diadem is standard ware for one night. When asked by a bachelorette (who opted out) why brides wear them and why they attract so much attention, I thought, “What a sizable question!”
Not sure what to do with your wedding dress collecting dust in your closet taking up precious square footage OR those bridesmaid dresses the bride swore you could wear again but never will? Consider donating it to one of the ten charities below. It’s important to note that, overall, donating your wedding dress will most likely come at an additional expense to you – many of the shops require dry cleaning or at least an additional monetary donation; that also doesn’t include the cost for shipping your dress to the non-profit if you don’t live in the area and some even want a self-addressed stamp envelop to send you a tax donation receipt. The upside to the extra financial burden is that your dress will eventually make someone very happy and the sale proceeds will go towards various causes, plus you’ll be practicing eco-feminism because you won’t be sending your dress to sit in a landfill.
We all love the wedding toast, mostly because it can either go amazingly awesome or terribly wrong. I don’t really have much to offer in the way of feminist words or suggestions, though recognizing both people and not just the bride or groom is important.
The history of the wedding toast comes courtesy of my spouse from a speech he gave as a best man once. In ancient times, when people were most likely at war with their neighbors, many would come to a truce by marrying the leaders’ children. At the banquet table, the bride’s father would be the first to drink from a communal wine pitcher to show his guests that it was not poisoned. My spouse, being a good best man promised to all the guests at the wedding his own self-sacrifice by sampling all the beer and liquor behind the bar for their safekeeping. Feel free to borrow this one, it went over well.
And speaking of toast, we call it a toast because wine was not always a tasty libation. To cure the spirit of its rancidness, a burnt piece of toast was placed in the pitcher to absorb some of the acidity. The host would also eat this piece after everyone had drunk from the vessel as a sign of graciousness to his guests.
But here’s a feminist toast – “ To friends and foes, it doesn’t matter who you know, feminists will unite, and always fight the good fight!”
What does it take to be a truly modern and feminist bride? I come across a lot of proud brides proclaiming to me how forward thinking they are. For example, a bride might explain how she explored all the equitable options before taking her husband’s surname…but forgot to ask him to consider taking hers. Or a bride will explain how she is going to trash the dress to stick it to the wedding industrial complex not realizing the wedding industrial complex doesn’t care because it already got her $1,500 for the designer gown.
Super excited to be interviewed on the #1 wedding podcast, Save The Date. It was really fun sitting down with the host, Aleisha McCormack to talk about some of the most sexist wedding traditions out there and what “bridechillas”‘ and “groomchillas” (bride/grooms who are chill) can do to make them more feminist and respectful for all. So please check out and listen to Episode 169, which by the way, is a totally appropriate number considering how much we discussed the role of sex in wedding traditions! To all the feminist brides (and grooms) out there, I hope it’s an eye opening listen and as fun for you as it was for me in recording it!
Does a bear shit in the woods? Yes. Will a bride take a big one on her big day? Probably. How the bear drops a deuce, thankfully, is not my problem. But if you’ve been a bridesmaid, you’ve probably had an up close encounter with a bride doing her business on the porcelain throne (which might explain why they insist on wearing tiaras sometimes). It’s because most brides select cumbersome wedding gowns, begging the question, “How do I pee in this?”
Of all the traditions associated with weddings, bridal showers might be one of the most obsolete traditions remaining. While there’s hope with the new trend of “Jack and Jill” showers (both sexes), it remains narcissistically sexist, greedy, outdated, and well, cheesy.
Most brides would not consider anything other than a white wedding dress.; alternatives like cream, beige or winter winter doesn’t really count as breaking with tradition. While the connection between a white wedding dress and virginity is dying a slow (but rightful) death in bridal culture, there’s still plenty of people who will make making passive side remarks about the bride and her vagina like, “Looks like she decided to wear white after all.” Gone should be the days when wearing white or any other color for that matter should indicate what the bride’s sexual status is, but there’s plenty of bridal culture precedent to still work against. The politics of a white wedding dress was firmly shaped by religion, class and consumerism, though weirdly enough one of the big enforcers on such bogus color politics was poetry…which, might explain why brides stick with the white wedding dress.
Can’t wait to become the new “Mrs. His Name?” Ever think about why men never change their title of “Mr.” when they get married, ever stop to consider what it means for women to only change her title?
Hollywood reporter, Camille Paglia is taking umbrage against Taylor Swift’s girl squad, which she describes as a “Nazi-Barbie routine.” Paglia reflects on Swift’s appropriation of girl power squads from the 1990s, e.g. The Spice Girls, Def Squad, to promote a sense of women-empowered camaraderie through social media, in-person staged appearances and the pervasive selfie. After reading her fair but also pretty scathing review where she ultimately describes Swift as a “fascist blonde,” I can’t help wonder if there are lots of similarities between Swift’s posse power and bridal parties?
Nothing is better and sexier than a feminist burlesque dance. Here’s why…
UK comedian, Nadia Kamil does a perfect job of showing how awesome a feminist burlesque can be. Her routine is inspired by a Margaret Thatcher burlesque act, and thought she could one-up the Iron Lady and her patriot pubes. (By the way, doesn’t Kamil look like Tina Fey and Molly Shannon’s long lost British sister?) So next time you’re looking to book a bachelor or bachelorette party think about tracking down a feminist burlesque show, you will never regret it.
Most of us learn about wedding culture from our parents, peers, religion, businesses, media and pop culture. It’s very easy to feel like experts on the subjects since we’re inundated with lessons of how to buy the perfect wedding dress, get him to propose, what to say during the wedding ceremony, how to pick out a flawless diamond ring and how women can easily change their last name to his. When it comes to weddings and marriage, people have always been told what, when, where, how, but few ever think for themselves - ‘why?’
Allegedly, trashing the dress became a thing circa 2001 courtesy of Las Vegas wedding photographer, John Michael Cooper. Cooper may have gotten the idea as early as 1998 when he watched an episode of Sunset Beach, in which Meg Cummings threw a massive tantrum and her bridal self into the ocean after her wedding was interrupted. And from there an idea was born, “I can make this type of crazy, sexy.” With the average wedding dress costing $1,211, it’s hard to imagine why a bride would want to demolish a dress that Oscar de la Renta described as “the most important dress in the life of a woman,” so the question remains, why destroy it?
What it means to be a bridesmaid these days has run amuck. Once upon an ancient to Victorian time, a bridesmaid’s main job was to dress like the bride as a divergence to evil demons who wished to dispel bad luck on the bride (think how Pippa Middleton diverted everyone’s attention). Nowadays, the duties of a bridesmaid are endless. It includes being a shoulder to cry on, party planner, envelope licker, penis paraphernalia collector, moral compass, yes-woman, Mother of the Bride interference runner, 24/7 on-call support, mind reader, errand girl, attention giver and wine supplier at every occasion. And to boot bridesmaids get to buy their boss multiple presents, spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on travel and buy their own work uniform that they will wear once.
Wearing white is difficult. You gotta wear matching colored underwear or none at all. You can’t get caught in the rain, especially if you chose not to wear that underwear. As women you gotta be extra secure when your Aunt Flo is in town or when you’re eating a meatball sub. You can’t wear it after Labor Day because some snobby rich, white people in the 19th century said you can’t, but never elaborated when that rule is lifted, meaning technically you can’t wear it all year. But you can wear it if you’re part of a private tennis club, in a cult, getting baptized or a bride…
Ladies, if your best friend is your brother, or that awkward college guy who naively explained that Beirut is a place, not a beer game, or your male coworker who loves afternoon Hot Pockets almost just as much as you and you’re getting married to…someone else, why not put that best friend in your wedding party?
Gentlemen, if your best friend is your sister, or cousin who encouraged you to embrace your affinity for knitting infinity scarves, or your former high school prom date who danced so awkwardly to House of Pain’s Jump Around that you found a platonic, kindred spirit and you are also marrying someone else? Then you, too, should feel free to put them in your wedding party.
I love parties. I love dressing up for parties. I love being the hostess with the mostess. I love playing bartender. I love mingling. And I love themed parties. So if you asked me whether or not it’s worth having an engagement party, I would clearly answer, “meh, it’s not really necessary.”
Here’s the thing – weddings are never singular events. There’s the shower, the bachelor or bachelorette party, the rehearsal dinner, the ceremony, the reception and maybe there’s an after party. It’s like asking if you really need a sixth finger; I could…but it’s not necessary. Not to mention, that if you’re involved in the wedding…forget having a social life until the fiancés say. “I do.” Each event requires time, energy, money and travel. Everyone is happy to celebrate this new stage of your life, but after awhile it’s like seeing the same Broadway play for the 11th time – getting up to give a standing “O” for the umpteenth time is not going to have as much energy as it did the first.
Oh yes there’s more! In addition to the 10 The Feminist Bride has already covered, here are 10 more wedding traditions worth skipping. Don’t worry there are solutions for all of them! And yes, that’s a bride throwing a cat…and no, it’s not on this ten list. Sorry cats.
I know that by saying I’d rather be a groomsman over a bridesmaid, it sounds like I’m confirming the old Freudian theory that feminism is nothing more than penis envy. Don’t worry Freud, this has nothing to do with penises or mommy issues. I’m merely trying to bring attention to that fact that the role and responsibility of being a bridesmaid has completely turned to the dark side. Bridesmaids used to enjoy the minimal involvement that groomsmen experience today. Nowadays the difference in the responsibilities of the two are a lot like the wage gap; both sexes enjoy the same status and title but bridesmaids are expected to do a hell of a lot more for the same job! I’m campaigning that bridesmaids and groomsmen responsibilities be on par with each other.
Bridezillas aside, a bridal meltdown can happen to anyone. It will undoubtedly be over something worthy of emotion or either a tantrum over nothing. (Though please know that being a bride or groom does not give you the right to have one or be a bridezilla.) Meltdowns can come in all shapes, sizes and reactions. Regardless, as a best lady, mother of the bride, fiancé, wedding planner or consultant, it’s best to brace yourself for the storm. Like any hurricane, no one can predict with accuracy what class it will be and how much it will huff and puff until it tries to take everyone down. As a bridesmaid (Best Lady) or whomever though, contrary to popular belief, there’s no reason to go down with the ship.
One of the amazing things about living in New York City is that there’s no point in fretting about what you’re wearing or how you’re wearing it; there’s always someone else that took a much bigger fashion risk. For example, I was at an art exhibition opening at the Brooklyn Art Museum for Killer Heels. One patron was wearing a purple cape, another dressed like Colonel Sanders and someone else was wearing wire boxes for a hat. In New York City, anything goes when it comes to fashion. And so should it be as a bride, even if you’re not in New York City. For all the pomp and circumstance and Benjamins that go into dressing for the big day, why not take a leap of faith with your footwear? After all, most people won’t see your shoes underneath that long gown. And it’s a little extra fun knowing you’ve bucked the traditional white satin. Heels? Forget about them! They’re just going to come off eventually anyway as you dance into the night. Here are some awesome alternative wedding shoe ideas so your feet and your fashion can be footloose and fancy-free on your wedding day.
Not to leave you hanging with how to give the worst wedding speech, here’s some good advice so you can give the most kickass speech ever.
“Being a bridesmaid has always been a coveted spot for women. It’s right up there with the titular role of BFF. But what if I told you being called a bridesmaid was really the linguistic equivalent of frenemy? It’s hard to believe, but hear me out.”
I looked up “mooning,” “photography,” and “wedding” in my Miss Manners book in the hopes that Miss M would provide some civil insight into the recent wedding trend of the bridal party baring their derrières for a photo op. Surprisingly, she had no personal opinions on the matter.
I love City Slickers (1991) with Billy Crystal; so when my engaged friend and I decided on a ranch experience for her bachelorette party I said yeehaw! Having a bachelorette party where chaps were more appropriate than ChapStick was a wonderful reprieve from the standard b-parties at bars. They still have a lot in common too, so don’t think you’ll be missing out. Still a festive b-party, we naturally wanted to ride some animals – though this time is would be of the four-legged variety.
From Suffragette to Bachelorette, believe it or not, but Rochester, New York is where you can have the most feminist bachelorette party imaginable. It’s true. Ranked as one of the US cities with the best quality of life, it is also home to the women’s rights movement. Any bachelorette party can be feminist because a b-party is really just about women congregating together to celebrate a sister and womanhood in general, but with so many special women’s activities and locations this is the quintessential one. Having always known of Rochester, I was overwhelmingly impressed with the city during my first visit. From its adorable Victorian era neighborhoods to the Genesee River High Falls, from the preserved architecture to the plethora of museums and the general geniality of the city and the super wealth of American history, needless to say, I have never fallen in love with a city so quickly (then I remembered how cold it gets in the winter and immediately reconsidered my moving there). It also offers a tons of adventurous fun (I covered some options) to balance out its intellectual side – i.e. the perfect place for a feminist bachelorette party. Here’s a list of cultural, feminist and generally fun activities as ideas for your next bachelorette party (you’ll need to rent a car). As a small disclosure, I haven’t done everything but I look forward to one day!
In honor of Throw Back Thursday, here are a selection of bridesmaid dresses which in retrospect may not have been such a good choice.
1. Cuz nothing says metallic like the 80s.
If you’re looking for some real advice as to what type of wedding traditions you should skip, look no further. Other lists give fluffy advice and are usually limited to things you buy. This top 10 list gives you wedding traditions that are ripe with unfair conditions like sexism or consumerism which can either be thrown out like a garter or bouquet (#8 & #9) or modernized so it treats everyone a little bit better.
Amy Schumer and The Feminist Bride both have a lot to say about bridal showers! Here’s a hilarious bit on the type of ladies that love their bridal shower and all the insane and risqué games they like to play at them.
To read more about feminist bride stuff on wedding showers;
From the Golden Girls to Sex and the City, groups of women bonded by breasts, baggage and biology come together to celebrate being women. This celebratory sorority is most evident when a bride calls together the most important people in her life to be a bridesmaid. Bridesmaids gather to offer advice and support when needed, and laughter and levity when required; yet, brides’ egregious demands have formed the monster called Bridezilla. Suddenly, she treats her nearest and dearest with behavior that borders on verbal and monetary abuse, in what is mistaken as bridal entitlement.
Since 60% of couples live together before marriage and have all the wondrous as-seen-on-tv stuff already, I find the household giving gift stuff redundant. That’s why I give a nice gift certificate from Victoria Secret and something else sexy to the bride (cuz the groom is barely at these things, lame) with a card that reads, “Pots and pans won’t make a marriage, but good sex can.” Because it’s true and is a lot more fun to give than a butter dish. Seems Comedy Central star, Amy Schumer feels that same!
To read more about feminist bride stuff on wedding showers;
If you’re willing to take risks and stand out, walking down the aisle to your own tune can really set in motion a lifetime with someone full of exciting risks and solid rewards, like the JK wedding in 2005 who created a YouTube viral video sensation.
In a church ceremony, the wedding party of fifteen, carrying Gerber Daisies and decked out in sunglasses, broke into a fever of dance moves to Chris Brown’s, Forever. By 2013, the video had received over 82 million views and sparked the TV series, The Office to copycat it in an episode. Best of all, after hearing about the devastating domestic violence Chris Brown inflicted on singer, Rihanna; newlyweds Jill and Kevin decided to put their viral video to good use. From 2010 to 2011, the video managed to raise $34,600 for the Sheila Wellstone Institute that helps to prevent domestic violence. Traditions don’t always have to be broken, but look what good can come from those who do break from it.
But there are always those who may not always chose wisely. While you may be capturing a personal joke, sentiment or feel like you’re being totally honest about who you are – there is such as too much. Checking the lyrics is also really important. It seems the bride below must have known the lyrics to Buckcherry’s Crazy Bitch song as it’s hard to miss the bride air humping down the aisle: “You’re crazy bitch, But you fuck so good, I’m on top of it, When I dream, I’m doing you all night, Scratches all down my back to keep me right on.”
Everyone loved the dirty wedding band in Old School, but it’s a different story when it’s real life, especially when parent’s have to earmuff their children at the ceremony (as seen in the video below). Though if you’re super into this idea, The Dan Band tours and might just be able to come play at your wedding. Just put a parental advisory rating on your wedding invitation.
A stag (bachelor) and hen (bachelorette) party are something to behold, but in feminist bride fashion first: Why do men get to call their parties after a noble animal, and women get to name theirs after one that poops eggs? Better than naming a group of women after a brood of cackling hens, let’s rename them lioness parties.
On a 2011 summer trip to Edinburg, Scotland, my spouse and I celebrated our one-year anniversary. What we thought would be a magical weekend full of castles and becoming famous by discovering the Loch Ness monster, ended up being caught in an endless sea of stag and hen parties. Little did we know, Edinburg was party central for them, and little did we know, the romantic room we booked over a pub would be on top of were they all congregated from 10am till 2am (Yes, 10 AM).
What is unique about stag and hen parties is that one; they seem to include people of all ages – your mom’s mom, your aunt, you, all the way to your local librarian it seems. Wondering what all the ruckus was that made our anniversary bed vibrate (it wasn’t us), we wandered into an underground club blasting Katie Perry to Lady Gaga while grandpa got jiggy with it next to some bride-to-be in her 1.99£ tiara, veil and sash.
The second amazing thing is the dedication to costume these groups have: from sexy sailors to sexy witches to something else sexy. Every hen party is decked out in an outrageous costume. Equally amazing is that while, the stag parties don’t seem to dress up as much there were a lot of men who looked liked they had found an equally drunk girl to pull a phone booth clothing swap. There was always a barely coherent guy in a tilted wig, a mini skirt, trying to balance in high heels on cobblestones while trying not to spill his ale. The next blight, post plague, for this little medieval part of Edinburg seems to be hen and stag parties because many pub doors had written warnings on them reading, “No fancy dress allowed.” For an international b-party, dust off a Halloween costume and head to Edinburg. It was such a sight that on our one-year anniversary, my spouse and I starred at others more than at each other, but we made wonderful memories anyway.
As a way to both celebrate and mourn turning thirty, my best friend and I took off on an on epic adventure together. Camping in the desert seemed like a great way to remember our passed youth, set our sights on the future and commiserate with an old friend. However, while most people hope to reach Zion one day; after four day there, we were ready to leave. Perhaps it was the 100-degree heat, the swarm of attacking ants our campsite rested upon or the cozy one-person tent my friend brought for both of us (she insisted it was a two-sleeper). Or maybe it was the screaming night terror she had at 3am from which I could not shake her from and from which I had a mild heart attack that characterized our amazing trip.
After four days of not showering and watching our neighbors camp with their portable generator and shower stall, we decided we’d had enough communing with nature. It hit us as we hid from another severe thunderstorm in our parked rental car sipping from our birthday champagne bottle…we’d rather be drinking…in Las Vegas. So on our last night in Zion, we broke camp, gave our spoiled neighbors one last dirty look and raced off to Vegas!
While we had originally sought seclusion in nature, we were eternally grateful for the excellent phone service we had in the middle of the desert. With the help of AT&T and Priceline, we headed to the cheapest hotel with the minimum amount of stars that, to us, implied that we weren’t headed to the worst hotel and part of town. $40/night, we thought, would buy us some respectability in sin city.
As we drove down Las Vegas Boulevard, we started to worry our logic had failed us as we passed seedy strip club, tattoo parlor, pawnshop, liquor store, adult video and book store in incredible frequency. Then I saw it, my feminist bride blogging Zion. Among all the XXX signs, bail bondsmen and gimp masks in the windows rested three important buildings. The first, our hotel with an air conditioned room, two double beds and a shower; the other two, nestled on each side of our hotel were the two most famous wedding chapels in all of Las Vegas: A Little White Wedding Chapel and the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel.
To say I was slightly exhilarated is an understatement. I had unexpectedly hit the jackpot in all the most appropriate and unlikely of places, Las Vegas. After a shit, shave and shower, a quick trip to the iron-barred liquor store where I’m pretty sure there was a shotgun hidden behind the sales counter like in the movies, we headed out to conduct some Feminist Bride research!
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Rain on Your Wedding Day Is Good Luck: It’s raining on your wedding day, neigh torrentially down pouring with lightening and thunder with potential hail. The swans you ordered are taking refuge in the bathroom, those fireworks specially-ordered from China will have to be 4th of July pyrotechnics, forget about taking that everybody jump photograph at sunset outside and worst of all you’re wearing white. It is true rain can be a downer when what was suppose to be an outdoor wedding is now indoor in a less then ultimate space. The guests sopping wet from their run from the car to the venue, give you a weak smile despite nature’s wrath and offer you their condolences, “At least rain is good luck on your wedding day.”
The funny thing about wedding book guides is that it suggests the bridesmaid and Maid of Honor plan and pay for the shower and bachelorette party. The question is – is that really good and fair advice? Fiances are now financially independent, living on their own or cohabitating; gone are the days when brides had to ask mom and dad for a loan or an allowance. If brides have more financial autonomy, if they expect a party in their honor and want to dictate the details of it, shouldn’t they step up as party leader and payer?
If the party is given as a surprise with the bride sitting in the passenger planning seat, then it seems more reasonable for the cost to be covered by others. In the grand scheme of things though, at what point does another financial burden begin to break a bridesmaid’s back? She is already paying for a dress, shoes, alterations, gifts, maybe make up and hair and overnight or travel accommodations. Her hangover after a bachelorette party might be the least of her concerns after she gets her credit card bill.
The difficulty, as a bridesmaid, if knowing when and how to say, ‘enough spending’; and as a bride, to understand that there are limitations to everyone’s budget and that her own expectations can’t be met by everyone’s balance sheet. This current wedding party financial etiquette leaves brides and bridesmaids open to awkwardness and trouble. The tradition stems from times when women didn’t have their own cash influx, but this is not the case for modern women. It’s time to update this tradition – to accommodate different budgets, expectations, responsibilities and be open and nonjudgmental about it all.
If the bride is really running the show, she should be open to paying her way. Party guests can also choose to chip in for something special and fun like that lap dance, a nice bottle of champagne or a massage with Sven. Bridesmaids should not have to worry about forgoing certain events or services at the expense of not feeling a part of the group or worry about subsequent ostracism. The party will be much more enjoyable when people aren’t obsessing over whether or not they can afford the next round of shots they feel pressured into reciprocally buying. Bridemaids will feel better knowing they can share their feelings that buying matching penis hats for the bachelorette party is a waste of money, instead of knowing such opinions will only get them dirty looks from other bridesmaids who feel it’s a good investment.
At the end of party, it’s not about who pays that makes a good bridesmaid or bride, but the sincerity given in toasts, the genuine happy smiles captured in pictures and the honest effort executed in making everyone happy. It’s true that it’s the thought that counts, but everyone has different ideas on what’s thoughtful. The problem is current wedding etiquette entangles party expectations and friendship support with financial obligations and that is not a healthy mix.
 I hear massages by guy’s name Sven are always good…
At a wedding, not only do you celebrate the love you have for someone else, you also ask friends to celebrate this love with you! In today’s wedding culture, there’s this unspoken pressure to make a wedding and a wedding party a big family and friends affair. The size of a wedding party mythically indicates how rich in relationships a couple is; sort of like the more friends you have, the more popular you seem; and the grander the processional, the more seemingly expensive the wedding. Since society values relationships above all else, the number of bridesmaids and grooms is considered a sign of a person’s or couple’s emotional and relational success. However, what if quantity does not always imply quality?
Senior citizen bingo can be cutthroat, bridal shower bingo where I mark off squares filled in with bridal shower-type gifts not so much. It is the epitome of boring and lame. I recommend turning gift opening into a drinking game instead, every time the bride opens a domestic present – take a sip. Every time she opens up something sexy – give a drink to someone else. Everyone would be having an awesome time then. Bingo!
Word Games are the rock bottom of un-fun at showers. Predicting what a bride will say when she opens up a gift…makes me speechless. Who thinks this is fun? This is the best game people can come up with? There is something endearing about the advice marriage game though – so long as there are funny and charismatic guests in attendance. The best advice I heard was from someone’s granny, “Don’t fart in bed.” Granny knows a fart joke is appropriate at anytime.
Guessing games never go off well either, there was one bridal shower where the bride got two out of ten questions about her fiancé and relationship right (they are now divorced). Another game form is to have the guests fill out a questionnaire about the couple. This is really awkward for the guests who are there out of courtesy or blood and don’t know the couple at all. It also can’t be an ego boost for the couple that invited a “close” group of people to find out, they ain’t so close to them.
Then there’s the recipe collection game, where all the invited women bring in a recipe for the bride – so she can start cooking good meals for her husband when he comes home with the bacon. Not too spoil this game too, but this too just reinforces the stereotype that wives belong in the kitchen.
I do like the underwear game where everyone brings a pair of panties and the bride has to guess who brought which pair. (This, too, can be turned into a drinking game or played at the bachelorette party.) It’s good because one the bride can donate the underwear afterwards if she chooses. Underwear is often needed at women’s shelters and many forget such types of donations. Secondly, if the party is about building a life together it reiterates that bakeware and kitchenware won’t make a marriage, but good sex (with the help of sexy underwear) can.
I get it though; these games try to bring together a room full of strangers together. It’s earnest in its attempt but I have found few who truly enjoy them. The one time I actually connected with new people at a shower was when I had no other choice but to use my Emily Post greeting skills. I was at a luncheon (at the Boathouse in Central Park, NYC, which was breathtaking) with tight family-style seating, which forces you to talk to the person next to you when you know no one else. And I have to say, I had a really nice time and the group solidified without the game crutch, in fact, the games actually interrupted our bonding.
 I can play a mean game of Scrabble and I can gracefully lose at darts, but not Connect Four for some reason
Bachelorette (2012): The Hangover and Bridesmaids, this movie, is not (but it tries really hard to be). Despite featuring actresses and actors I really enjoy and my doppleganger, K. Dunst, there’s little brilliance they could bring to this script. To start, this is a good example of how good-hearted humor goes much farther than mean-spirited humor and there was a lot of the later in the movie. From making fun of the bride for being fat, calling strippers skanks, and calling bulimics messed up in the head just to name a few feel-good gems, it got really good with the profuse use of calling just about everyone the C-word. Then there was the scene that pretty much encouraged one groomsmen to take advantage of an inebriated bridesmaid. And he should get over his moral anxiety by taking a Xanax so he can take advantage of the drunk girl who was G.T.G. (good to go). There was one redeeming moment when the bridesmaids start arguing with a strip club doorman about how misogynistic it is for women to need a male escort in order to enter the premises, but that was short-lived. I’m all for raunchy comedy, but the degenerate humor just came off as…degenerate, unlike its predecessor movies that managed to take off-color comedy and make it fun and clever. Director: Leslye Headland
In the universe of TLC wedding shows, it seems they’ve reached the limit and are scrapping to discover and produce new hit shows. I introduce to you, “Four Weddings,” where four women attend each others weddings and rate them on venue, dress and catering. Unlike other aggressive judgmental shows, the ladies opinions are fairly passive since it seems they don’t want to rain on a bride’s special day – immediately (they wait until they’ve eaten wedding cake and go home with a souvenir). Their ratings post-weddings, however, are so particularly low that they would make any bikini contestant cry and go on another crash diet. Oh right, this is another yet unnecessary TV show were we cast subjective bias and pit otherwise friendly individuals against complete strangers and then we videotape this feedback for posterity. Missing from the cast members are the grooms, making this show another perpetuation of the heterosexual, traditionally feminine wedding chimera that riddles all wedding shows. The show is boring and unoriginal. If TLC wants to stir the pot and highlight the outrageousness of weddings…how about a feminist bride TV show? Something tells me I’d watch that.
A lot of brides like to tell me how unique their wedding will be. I smile and politely shake my head, but I’m secretly thinking that this is what the last bride I spoke to claimed about her own wedding. Call it a coincidence but she too was proposed to on one knee, is wearing a white dress, registered at Bed, Bath and Beyond and will also have a flower bouquet made with seasonal flowers. If you’ve been to enough weddings, it’s hard to experience something completely out of the ordinary. Weddings are sort of like all inventions post-wheel, nothing is truly original.
While the little details might be customized with the newlyweds’ monogram or their personal inside jokes and tastes, a big wedding picture shows that our wedding planning choices are not really all that unique. Like call this crazy, but I predict most weddings at some point will play Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing and/or Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl, clink glasses to encourage newlywed PDA, show that one old Aunt and Uncle have some serious awkward, but awesome dance moves, and end with dessert. This homogenity is the nature of partaking in a cultural event. To participate in it means following certain rules and suggested guidelines. And guess what, many others like you are also following them and only changing a little. This means a lot of weddings, no matter how customized the color on the wedding invitations are or how high a cake, someone probably had one just as high as you and they too got their crafty, hipster invitations from Paper Source.
Culture is not the only culprit to cliché wedding practies. Consumerism plays a huge role too. Weddings are commercialized events. Culture tells us what we need to have a proper weddings and then for-profit companies provide those products on a mass-produced scale that are easily affordable and accessible. That crappy plastic tiara you got for your bachelorette party that made you Queen for a night (because that’s what you are, clearly) is the same one the bride-to-be last weekend wore to hers. Aren’t princesses supposed to be rare?
The electric slide and the funky chicken were fun wedding dances until they became overused. Now they are extinct rituals because people find them tacky and cliché. The cutting and the feeding of the wedding cake, the garter and bouquet toss are now facing extinction as well. Does a ritual have to be bad to be considered cliché? Maybe clichés are subjective or a taste of our time, because people still propose at sunset, on the beach, in air balloons or hide rings in dessert. It seems contradictory for people to want to participate in shared culture but then go to lengths to make it unique.
When it comes to planning, I get the sense that fiancés like to think that personalized means unique, personalization makes a wedding unique, and a unique wedding is considered more emotionally memorable. Unless you’re breaking from the macro traditions and rituals, little customized details does not make a distinct wedding. At some point we all get ideas from the same sources: friends, family, other weddings, media, TheKnot, magazines and other how-to’s. Our riffing on these handed-down ideas might provide some ownership to, say, your centerpieces, but I’m worried we’re confusing personal meaningfulness with a one-of-a-kind wedding celebration. If wedding rituals and customs are really nothing more than one big cliché and our specializing of the event not as pungent in setting itself apart from other weddings, can we still get meaning from participating in a cliché?
Click here to check out cliché wedding photography. (BTW, I love number three. The guy seems more like a photo-bomber than groom.)
Muriel’s Wedding (1994): Yet another movie that revolves around Abba (someone please explain the Abba/Wedding phenomenon) but set in Australia. This movie is what one would expect the adult follow up to Welcome to the Dollhouse would be like. Muriel is awkward, talentless, painfully unfashionable and dateless. As the movie unfolds it becomes apparent that Muriel’s obsession with weddings and marriage stems from being surrounded by an unsupportive network of friends and family. Until she breaks away from her hometown via theft, does her life begin to change for the better when she meets Rhonda Epinstock. As Muriel pulls her life together she begins to relinquish her attachment to Abba and weddings, though when things sour it all goes terribly wrong. In the end she learns that marriage and a wedding is not the solution to her problems nor will give her value. Despite the painfulness and awkwardness of its characters and storyline, there are some really good lessons about our obsession with weddings and marriage worth paying attention to. Subject: Wedding, Marriage, Abba. Director P.J. Hogan.
Represent yourself and the ne0-traditional, feminist bride that you are (or a friend you may know) with a Feminist Bride t-shirt! Wear it on your bachelorette party, to the Post Office, a feminist rally, to your Jack n’ Jill shower, maybe to go get coffee, who knows. I say wear it all the time.
Current colors are cerulean blue, pink, purple and black! Don’t see a size or a color you like, just ask! Custom orders can be made too.
I hand printed these in a screen print shop, so there’s feminist sweat that went into them. Proceeds go to supporting website costs. Your support is much appreciated (and needed…)
To make your purchase click here.
The New Yorker’s June 25th cover features two “June Brides,” by the artist Gayle Kabaker’s. The magazine’s art editor, Françoise Mouly, found the image through her Blown Covers blog. (Click here if you’d like to see the runners up to the Blown Covers wedding contest and click here if you’d like to see my own feminist bride art (no harm in a little self promotion!) It’s unclear if there are any related stories in this week’s magazine, but the fact that that subjects are featured sweetly and beautifully over being portrayed as overtly political is a nice change of pace. When images like that happen it becomes more about capturing life than directly commenting on it (though acceptance of gay marriage is legally lagging any representation is important).
The Kabaker also had some nice points to make about her career and approaching the subject to kids and adults, “I live in the Berkshires, so I do almost all of my work online,” Kabaker said. “It’s a big deal, getting on the cover. We’ve been getting the magazine forever—it comes in and goes straight on the kitchen table. We talk about the cover with my son, who’s seventeen, and my daughter, who’s twenty-three. ‘What do you think it means?’ It’s a conversation. And we all read it, dog-ear it, and leave it on the table for the next person to pick up.”