I had the pleasure of writing for Bust Magazine and using my feminist bride knowledge to review the feminism of the 2018 royal wedding between Prince Harry and American actress, Meghan Markle. Most sources have been applauding the resounding feminism Markle instilled in her wedding from how avant-garde her non-traditional wedding dress was (are we looking at the same dress?) to her feminist solo walk down the aisle (mmm, half walk, wait, half unassisted, but still 100% escorted down the the aisle walk). So I had to weigh in as The Feminist Bride in order to set the feminist record straight. Overblown feminist actions aside or, at least, unreported feminist actions like being referred to as “Ms.” on the wedding invite and skipping a registry (they asked) for charitable donations instead, there was some powerful intersectional feminism in the wedding where Meghan’s black heritage was beautifully intertwined with the Anglo-saxon customs of Prince Harry’s church. There’s a lot to consider, particularly accurately assessing what type of influence Meghan will have on the royal court as a feminist. Because if a feminist activist can tell you anything it’s that no one can rest on their laurels, there’s is always more equality to achieve and more work to do. Check out my article here.
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.
Ever wonder what the point of flower girls and ring bearers are beyond celebratory cuteness? These mini grooms and brides are not conceited homages to the newylweds. The pomp and circumstance of the tiny tyke parade has everything to do with fertility superstition actually.
I was interviewed as The Feminist Bride for the magazine, Little India about brides attempting to personalize, honor but also modernize wedding traditions. Check it out to hear what Indian fiances are doing to navigate the old and the new!
There’s an urban myth that men are commitment-phobes when it comes to marriage. If this were true, then why do so many of Hollywood’s brides have cold feet? If I had to guess, it’s probably because most lead women wake up moments before walking down the aisle realizing they are about to get married in order to meet societal expectations – don’t be alone, marry for security, it’s what everyone else wants, your ticking biological clock, all your friends are doing it, it’s not cool to be a cat-lady, etc., etc. – as opposed to a bride marrying for herself and to be with a person she truly loves. I would like to think those runaway brides are sticking it the Wedding Industrial Complex or those icky societal expectations, but the reality is their journey usually ends with another relationship and less self fulfillment. Here’s a list of Hollywood’s ten classic runaway brides and what their feminist (or unfeminist) epiphany was after they said, “F%^& it, I’m running…”
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.
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.
Everyone’s favorite onscreen child-doctor prodigy and drug-addled womanizer, Neil Patrick Harris got married over the weekend in Italy. He tied the knot with longtime boyfriend, David Burtka according to Twitter. Time.com reports they’ve been partners for 10 years and are raising twins together. How do you say pass the celebration kush in Italian?
Taking your first steps as a child are a big deal, so are the ones you and your spouse take together as newlyweds. Who wouldn’t want to step off on the right foot into a lifetime of marital bliss? It’s not the actual steps one takes at the reception that matters (though knowing how to walk in high heels under layers of tulle is a feat unto itself); it’s how the Master of Ceremonies introduces the couple that makes a big difference.
Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (2012) – A rather dry and witty period film set in England visits an anxious and inebriated bride on her wedding day. Downstairs as crotchety guests get ready for the wedding, her lost and uninvited lover arrives with hidden motives. As the bride deliberates on her impending nuptials, remembrances of the last summer return to when the two fell in love. Despite the conflict between two loves – the groom and her lover, there’s a twist to the story that’s hard to see coming – proving that love may not always be what a bride needs to say, ‘I do.” Side note: keep an eye out for the incorrigible boy and his bag full of surprises! Director: Donald Rice (Subjects: Love, Bride, Wedding, Decision Making)
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.
Stonehill College was nice enough to invite me as the keynote speaker to a panel on gay marriage. As a Catholic school, it had just added anti-hazing based on one’s sexuality to its school charter; and given the recent US Supreme Court decision, same sex marriage was a hot topic on campus. I was joined by two professors one with a law background commenting on the recent US Supreme Court ruling and another who specialized in the gender issues and gay marriage. I decided to talk about choice feminism and how within a hetero framework, women who use the “freedom of choice” to justify patriarchal or socialized gender traditions perpetuate prejudice and discrimination in both sexual spheres. In my lecture, I asked that choice be made not just to the benefit of oneself, but keeping in mind the needs and welfare of others as choice is constraint by many systems, both seen and unseen, and therefore must be made wisely.
A special thanks to Stonehill College. The students and faculty were very welcoming, respectful and engaged; and I appreciate the opportunity to share my ideas and research.
Breaking the Rules Panel. April 2013
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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A friend and one of my bridesmaids, came back from her family house in New Hampshire and announced to me over the phone, “So…I got married last weekend.” While I can’t remember my exact reaction it was something like, “Whaaaaat?” There’s still a small shock even with predicable elopements. It wasn’t quite the last minute elopement, but they performed a secret engagement and then a secret wedding all within a month – only the immediately family knew.
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.)
Baraat (Hindi: बरात, Urdu: برات) is a bridegroom’s wedding procession in North India and Pakistan. In North Indian communities, it is customary for the bridegroom to travel to the wedding venue (often the bride‘s house) on a mare, accompanied by his family members.
The Graduate (1967) – “Mrs. Robinson are you
trying to seduce me?” Dustin Hoffman plays a recent college graduate suffering from summer listlessness and ambivalence to what is expected next of him in life. This enables his middle-aged neighbor, Mrs. Robinson, to ensnare him in a emotionless affair. Hoffman finally awakens to realize that he wants more out of life and love after meeting Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, Penny. Mrs. Robinson becomes jealous of her daughters youth and Hoffman’s change in affections, sending her daughter into the same lifeless marriage she has been forced to suffer. Hoffman rescues Penny from her nuptials in a not so subtle attempt to save them both from the life of their parents.