What if finding the perfect wedding dress had a lot more to do with how it impacted the world than it did in just making someone feel and look like a bride? The Feminist Bride aims to help fiancés bring more meaning to their wedding through better social practices, so when I met founder, Marcie Muehlke at (un)convention Brooklyn last fall I had to share what amazing things her wedding dress company, Celia Grace was doing. Celia Grace is a women-led wedding dress company that helps impoverished women abroad (fair trade) and brings handmade, environmentally friendly and sustainable gowns to the wedding industry. If brides want to really wow guests on their wedding day, a Celia Grace dress adds an extra layer of eco-feminist thoughtfulness, empowerment and compassion that is hard to come by in the wedding dress industry.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?”
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.
Next to my tattoo of Notorious RBG will go my tattoo of Tina Fey. Though maybe I’m thinking too small and these broads need their own Mount Rushmore. Tina Fey visited David Letterman for the last time (it was her 20th appearance). (By the way, the podcast Stuff Mom Never Told You has a really eye-opening episode about late night television and women. It talks about the scandal where Letterman inappropriately slept with a number of women staffers, which gives Fey’s clothing message of “Bye Dave” new meaning.) She wanted to show to him what the underworld of undergarments looks like and how she “will no longer conform to gender norms” in this way with the message #LastDressEver. And so the saucy lady from 30 Rock and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt stripped down to her Spanx on national television to show the world the absurd lengths women go to look a certain way. It got me thinking about the ridiculous contraptions brides often wear to look “perfect” too, which is silly because the wedding dress probably already comes with corset bone ribbing…Thanks Tina Fey for bearing all and calling out the ridiculousness of women’s clothing, more like #LastCorsetEver.
Hear ye, hear ye! What bride would be complete without announcing her passion, her conviction and her independent spirit on a Feminist Bride t-shirt? Wedding swag purchases go towards supporting the technological and administrative needs of TheFeministBride.com, and maybe eventually an employee happy hour outing because we work hard too.
Pink, blue and purple t-shirts are currently available (though feel free to inquire within for customizable options!). Current available sizes include Medium (Bust/hips 20″, Length from neckline to bottom 25″), and small. 100% Heavy Preshrunk Cotton, Lettering: textured, light pink lettering 5.5″ Length, 3″ width. Washing Machine Safe
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?
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…
Oh ya, and most people and etiquette books will tell you it’s a huge no-no to wear white to a wedding, but is that really the case?
Can’t find “the dress?” Maybe what you need is a 400-pound wedding dress.
Gail Be from Minnesota spent over 20,000 hours using nearly one million beads (500,000 glass pearls and over 400,000 crystals) to create
the ultimate wedding dress an obsessive outfit no one can realistically wear. Constructed only with beads, a 20.5-foot train and seven miles of beading wiring, the dress is fitted for a size four. The only person who might actually be physically capable of wearing and walking down the aisle is 100-lb., American Ninja Warrior finalist, Kacy Catanzaro.
As a fashionable work of art, the gown is really something to marvel at. And it’s safe to say Be sorta likes beads, considering this is what her business only does and for the likes of Lady Gaga too. It seems Be created the jeweled monstrosity out of passion (but maybe as a PR-stunt too. You win Be.), as the dress won’t be considered for the Guinness Book of World Records. As a wearable gown, we’re getting into the absurdity that is often the wedding fashion industry. However, since no one wants to be doing 400-lb. power squats on the dance floor, we most likely don’t have to worry about the later.
The only thing that is missing a beaded tuxedo to match. Get on it Be, and make sure to get into the Guinness World Records this time.
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.
Contributing Writer: Sally Pillay
Feminist Fashion Friday: With a modern twist of unique elegance, Solange Knowles and longtime boyfriend Alan Ferguson married over the weekend. Pair that with a star-studded guest list including the one and only Queen B and husband, Jay-Z, and you’ve got my attention.
Counting at least six bridal outfits through the wedding weekend, Solange started at her rehearsal dinner with a v-neck, bell sleeved dress by Ellery with golden Loeffler Randall heels. This ensemble was just a mere taste of the fashion delicacies to follow!
Prior to their wedding ceremony, Solange and Alan arrived on two white bicycles. Solange donned a sexy low cut Stéphane Rolland jumpsuit with a cape. (LOVE!) The groom sported a white Lanvin suit. (Way to make an entrance!) Now the only thing that can get me more excited than a bride bucking traditional trends is a bride in a jumpsuit and a cape. Pair that with a bicycle, and I’m speechless.
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.
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.
Guest Contributor: Kate Harrison
Most brides don’t realize how wasteful the average wedding can be, but the reality is that the average wedding produces 300-500 pounds of garbage and 63 tons of CO2. When added up, the annual impact of American weddings is like 8.3 million cars driving on the road for a year! The good news is that it has never been easier to go green, and with so many great options, you no longer need to sacrifice your style, theme or budget to it. The trick is keeping an eye on the environment as you move through the planning process and making simple substitutions when possible.
Here are 17 celebrities who decided to buck the traditional white wedding down one way or another.
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.
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.
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding (TV – 2012) – Child brides, High School drop outs, first cousin incest, virgin brides, extreme consumerism, fashion nightmares, arranged marriages – TLC reveals that all of this is happening in America’s backyard. TLC dives into yet another cultural minority’s hidden and secret world, this time with Romanichal Gypsies. Given TLC’s penchant for supporting the Wedding Industrial Complex with their other wedding shows, one might expect this to be in line with the rest (and seems to be racing to become the next Jersey Shore). It does manage to raise the occasional eye on the double standards between the sexes. Girls are restricted to the home, married off at 16 (ish), and are only expected to become mothers and housewives; the men are the breadwinners. Girls on their wedding day must be virgins (many have not even kissed a boy, let alone know their groom well) or else are labeled unfit to be someone’s wife. (It even shared the story of a same-sex wedding, a big taboo in Romanical culture and TLC.)
And the show is not shy about highlighting the tawdry fashion of the community. It often relies on the fashion designer, Sondra Celli to explain the bride’s culture and fashion choices. While the massive, plantation-style wedding gowns run upwards of $10,000 and run amuck with Swarovski Crystals, the day-to-day dress of a Romney is very provactive. Why the Romani lifestyle is quite anti-feminist, they do have feminist fashion leanings. The women in the show often struggle with being called sluts by “gorgers” (non-travellers) for their attire and seductive dancing given that a Romani woman’s innocence is extremely protected and cherished by her family and community. They struggle constantly with discrimination and judgment being placed on them by outsiders, period. Though the show heros even admit part of the sexy outfits is to attract a mate…
The heros of the show describe their culture as extremely family driven, they carry a strong pride within it and are firmly dedicated to keeping the community alive through new generations and upholding traditions – no matter how outlandish they are. My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding is an odd mash up of respectable values, trashy TV, feminist and anti-feminist rhetoric, media exploitation, big personalities and lots and lots of tulle. It’s sort of a train wreck; and it’s impossible to look away.
Vera Wang exhibited her Fall 2012 Collection of bridal gowns at New York’s bridal fashion week and shocked the fashion nobility. The designer who knows how to dress every bride in her dream gown is dressing brides in her own signature color – black. Yes folks that’s right, seems like the Queen of Bridal couture has had a moment of clarity – that most of us ain’t virgins on our wedding day (Actually it’s estimated only 5% of us are), so why bother wearing white?
“Something old, something new,
Something borrowed, something blue,
And a silver sixpence in her shoe.”
Ever wonder what this rhythmic superstition meant? While no bride should ever feel the need to be superstitious on her big day, these bridal superstitions where there to add a little extra karma to the special day. Bottom line is though, feminist brides don’t need superstition to ward off bad juju or collect extra luck; you’ve thought long and hard and just know in the pit of your stomach you’re making the right choice to marry and who you marry. Nonetheless here’s the background on this little ditty.
27 Dresses (2008) – A young women (played by Kathering Heigl) has always been a bridesmaid and never a bride, but the lucky owner of 27 hideous bridesmaid dresses. While the movie is a classic, predictable rom-com and Heigl’s character tends to be a pushover when it comes to the wishes of needy brides, she never manages to attend to her needs (and love life). The movie is a good look at the obscene financial commitment and dedication bridesmaid devote to their engaged friends, but also how totally vain and based in consumerism it can be as well. Director: Anne Fletcher (Subject: Bridesmaid, Consumerism, Love, Money, Vanity, Clothes)