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party) need something to wear before the wedding but you are tired of the hyper-feminine and cliche uniforms with outdated, mildly sexist terms written on the butt?
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.
Are you a beer-loving bride or groom? If yes, then that’s a good thing because craft beer is hotter than the stripper at your bachelorette party. If you’re not a big fan of the bubbly and not so much into wine, the many styles of craft beer now available may be perfect for serving at your wedding festivities then. Even better, many new breweries offer tasting rooms and gastro pubs, which might be great for hosting your next wedding event too (If you ask me, a bachelorette party pub-crawling through some good beer bars is simply more appealing than an endless succession of vodka and Red Bulls at clubs playing music that will make one’s ears bleed.) To get you on your marital way, here is a list of eight appropriately named brews (and some by woman brewmasters!) for your nuptial imbibing.
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!”
Hey folks, remember that time you got married? I hope so because you’re required to keep on remembering – every year, FOREVER. Not remembering wedding anniversaries can lead to nights on the couch, even more-expensive-than-you’d-normally-buy jewelry or signing up for things you’d normally refuse to do with your spouse like Zumba lessons or using your naked body as a platter for an intimate Sunday football meal.
Is the start of your summer filled with nothing but weddings? There’s a long history explaining why so many fall in this month. Most of it stems from ancient Roman times and is tied to nature’s seasonal cycles. With mankind being agrarian for most of human history there are some traditions that are just harder to break, even if we get our food from Whole Foods now. Here’s a list of a few possible explanations.
Every wonder why wedding cake is a tradition? Here’s a fun lecture I did at Tufts University on The Origins of the Wedding Cake and in my own wedding dress to boot! The origins is just a small part in my full lecture of “The Sexy and Sexist Layers of the Wedding Cake” for the Women’s Center 2nd Annual Symposium.
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.
In Netflix’s new docuseries, Chelsea Does, comedian and former talk-show host, Chelsea Handler does marriage in the first episode. The only problem is that Chelsea can’t find anyone to do her until death do they part. Absent groom aside, she’s not sold on the idea of a wedding and sets off to discover what the big deal is about weddings and being married.
Have you noticed that America’s favorite group dance after the Electric Slide to The Dougie has more or less disappeared from the wedding reception’s dance floor? The chicken dance’s armpit flapping and fingering yapping were as American as saluting and doing the wave. How could it possibly disappear from DJ’s playlists, where has our patriotism gone? What the cluck?
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.
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.
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.
“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 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!
Click to read first Part 1: Love on Las Vegas Boulevard – Finding Zion
Among the Bail bondsmen, pawnshops, liquor stores and Adult Video purveyors on Las Vegas Boulevard, you’ll find the two most famous wedding chapels in Las Vegas, A Little White Wedding Chapel (ALWWC) and the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel (VLVWC).
Wedding planning is hard, which is why when it comes down to the last mile of it –
you just want to party. Life is hard too, which is why when you’ve finished a long workweek and are headed to a weekend wedding – you just want to party as well.
And party you shall. Unfortunately.
Weddings are a great opportunity to cut loose and reconnect with family and friends. And the excitement of it all can culminate the day before the actual wedding. I’m talking about the night-before impromptu pre-wedding party.
The rehearsal dinner is done. Nanna has gone to bed. It’s the fiancés’s last night as single people. The out-a-state guests have settled down at the hotel or local bar. And there’s a post-party in someone’s room, who has decided to forego their wedding gift of expensive whiskey to the party instead.
Everybody has brought their A-game.
The biggest downside to this epic party event is that, if you’re like me, it’s incredibly hard to bring you’re A-game the next day to the wedding when it matters the most. Maybe it has to do with getting older and not being able to rally like one used to, but it sure is a bummer for both yourself and the newlyweds when the energy level at the main event is somewhere between hung-over and Lindsey Lohan.
So how does one manage to still be the life of the party and not a party pooper while making the most of the weekend? Here’s some strategic advice.
Hopefully, this helps you maintain the same enthusiasm to partying and conviction to dancing to Whitney Houston songs at the wedding, as you gave to the night before. Party on my friends; party on.
I’ve heard of Bill Murray’s surprise exploits, like when he stole a Wendy’s french fry from a guy and subsequently told him, “Nobody’s going to believe you.” And I’m secretly hoping, that I too, bump into him somewhere wondering into a hipster party in Brooklyn.
A bachelor party of Boston College graduates in Charleston, North Carolina had such luck though. Watch it here.
Murray offered this sage advice to the groom before quickly disappearing, “If you have someone that you think is the one … take that person and travel around the world. Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all around the world and go to places that are hard to go to and hard to get out of. And … when you land at JFK and you’re still in love with that person, get married.”
I couldn’t agree more with advice and I couldn’t be more jealous. I would love to have Mr. Murray (or Bill, as we’d soon be on a name to name basis) give a surprise toast for me…basically anywhere, my bachelorette party (“Whose the penis tiara modeled after?”), my wedding (“The open bar is on me!), my honeymoon (“Give it the ole college try!”), the bathroom (“Keep up the good work!”). Though I can’t help but think what female comedian would be equally awesome to give such bachelorette advice…Fey, Pohler, Barr, Handler, Choo, Crawford? If only more comedians or celebrities crashed toasts…
To Read About More Good Speeches!
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;
During a medieval tradition called the bedding ceremony, the bride and groom were escorted by the groomsmen to the newlywed bedchamber. Since any piece of the bride’s garment was considered lucky with the garter as the crème de le crème, the men would subsequently scuffle with the bride to remove the garter. As a result, the bride started preemptively throwing it away. And thus the garter toss tradition was born because who doesn’t like a good ‘ole medieval groping?
Obviously, the garter is an erotic symbol, yet women throw asexual flowers. During the wedding game, brides shyly laugh and try to push the groom out of her undergarments, whereas the groom seeks the treasured garter using his sexual prowess. Imagine reversing the roles, with the bride sexually aggressive and tossing some tighty whities. Seems raunchy right? It’s a complete double standard to how men and women are allowed to treat sex, yet it’s accepted and practiced at nearly every wedding without a second thought.
Many a fair maiden has pranced around in a garter. It’s a fun, frilly piece of lace meant to be sexy and flirtatious. Other than Victoria Secret models, no one really wears them for functional reasons like holding up your pantyhose and knickers. It serves no practical purpose anymore; instead, promoting the notion that purity and virginity are present, but that the wearer has a friskier side. A perfect cat and mouse chase. Removable chastity.
There are creative possibilities to rethink the tradition more fairly and appropriately without abandoning the garter completely. Consider keeping it private and solely for the wedding night. Removing the garter can be quite the sensual act and will definitely be more fun to keep going without an audience waiting to dance the funky chicken. It could be relegated to a Jack and Jill party where guests will be close friends from the same generation who accept the sexuality of the garter removal and toss. Or for the couple who decides to keep the tradition, think about incorporating something equally sexual for the bride; say, removing her husband’s bow tie with her teeth – that would be talent – or if the couple is very bold, reverse the roles completely now that would be an evocative and witty message.
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;
An engagement is when a couple starts collaborating on the formalities that will lead them to the altar. Marriage is about knowing when it’s more important to support the team and when it’s okay to indulged in (and support the other’s) personal preferences. It is going to the comic book convention when you’d rather have a root canal; but there are trade offs in marriage like when you want to go see a double feature of Nicholas Sparks movies. While planning might be a drag, the engagement period helps work out those teamwork skills. Treat marriage like a sport, if you want to play in the big game – you gotta show up to the practices.
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.
Victorian’s started the whole big cake, compensating-for-something-else competition. The larger the cake: the greater the wealth and affluence supposedly. Queen Victoria’s cake measured three yards in circumference, Elvis’s had six tiers, and in 1971, Richard Nixon’s daughter had a 350 lb., 7 ft. high White House wedding cake. The world’s largest wedding cake, according to The Guinness World Record Association, weighed 15,032lb on February 8, 2004 and was made by Mohegan Sun Casino, CT chefs. But that doesn’t trump the life-sized cake that a TLC Texas Bridezilla had made in the image herself (just of herself). Does that count as cannibalism?
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.
For my bachelorette party in Las Vegas, we participated in some typical bachelorette events. Some of us went to see The Thunder Down Under at the Excalibur and some instead went to go see…John Stewart. Whatever floats your sexy boat. Another night many of us went to see Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity. Here is my best way to describe Zumanity – half Vaudeville humor, half erotica show with the typical Cirque du Soleil acrobatics but with stripper poles. We all enjoyed the show, it was tastefully, well balanced between the love scenes, the star crossed lover story lines, the flying trapeze boobies and the sexy cheerleader who was twirled around by the grip of her teeth. However, we were most impressed with the pole dancing moves. They literally defied gravity.
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!
Related Articles: The Last Hurrah
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
If only everyone could hire the Franck Eggelhoffers and J.Lo’s of the world to plan the perfect wedding. Wedding planners are a direct result of women entering the workforce and the dynamic change in how business attracts consumers. Before women started hitting the workforce, those friends, bridesmaids and family would convene to plan the wedding. When Sally Sue became too busy to plan a wedding because of her 9 to 5 job she was most likely about to quit once becoming a wife or a mother, she went to the nearest department store for all her bridal needs. Department store bridal consultants eventually turned into freelancer consultants, planners and coordinators.
Planners have a few functions. As tradition and design guru, they’re there to help you realize your bridal dreams or direct you in what your bridal dreams should be (for those directionless bride and grooms). Their next function is to sacrifice their own sanity in the name of the bride and groom by dealing directly with people and vendors. And lastly, they will try to sell all that is necessary to avoid said stress, people and to achieve that dream wedding. They are the car salespeople of the wedding industry if they can convince you to tack on extras and upgrades to your wedding, the higher commission they earn (not to mention the kickbacks they get if you use their “guys” or vendors).
Couple’s view planners as a saving grace from all that is messy and emotional so they can on the other hand focus on (and experience) all that is beautiful and fun, or that’s at least one way to justify their fee. There’s something to be said about taking ownership of your own wedding. If you believe you can walk down that aisle, you should probably be able and willing to lay the literal foundation for it. Even if you have the money to hire a planner, where does passing the buck in planning it cross into not making a wedding a priority? And what does it say about the party who can’t invest their time into their own wedding details?
Planning for the Future
An engaged couple needs to consider modern ways of approaching wedding planning, whether it’s choosing to pay and plan the wedding themselves, hiring wedding planner Franck Eggelhoffer to plan your wedding, gracefully thanking Ma and Pa for the money and the help or just saying to friends, ‘I appreciate your willingness to be my planning sidekick, but Casey and I are the ones getting married, we should be in responsible for it.’
Planning a wedding does nothing more than indicate the level of a person’s management and organizational skills, wedding planning has so many associated horror stories because these are unperfected skill sets. You can hire that planner or pass off the responsibility to a parent or bridesmaid, but that too speaks volumes too. It may be harder for the lovebirds to manage their wedding details alone, but planning a wedding is just the beginning of learning how to manage two lives and a marriage together. And while it’s hard, it’s also a great lesson for the couple. If a couple feels mature enough to marry, they should be equally responsible for planning and designing their own wedding. If planning a wedding is beyond their capable scope, there’s always eloping, but even an escape route requires elaborate planning.
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What’s a bride to do when faced with an unmotivated fiancé? First, both bride and groom must understand a wedding is not a “girlie” event. Wedding “How-to” books and magazines pressure us into various pretty accoutrements because their objective is to sell. If getting Joe to jump on board between a floral or candlelit centerpiece is the equivalent of pulling teeth, perhaps forcing an opinion is the wrong strategy. Teamwork and motivation is better accomplished when a task has a shared commonality, find something that perks your fiancés interest and learn to accept that orchids or other conventional décor might not. Wedding design, like marriage, is about compromise.
Wedding culture encourages women to plan their wedding from early childhood. Joe probably hasn’t. Before the bride’s preconceived ideas can dominate wedding choices, let the groom have enough time to catch up and formulate his own. My fiancé also revealed that with a bride’s prefabricated wedding ideas, it’s sometimes easier to accept her idea than him accidentally offering an unpopular one. A wedding day will be more special if the groom feels comfortable with sharing and respected for his opinions. A bride might insist on pink, a groom on using the Steelers’ colors; but mutual agreement on something like a color scheme will encourage team ownership instead of individual isolation.
When it comes to inspiring a reluctant groom to help plan a wedding, it is important to understand his perspective. More importantly, a bride must manage her own expectations of how the whole planning process and choice selections should go down – abandon the ‘my way or the highway’ attitude. Magazines and industry marketing have spoon fed women ideas on “how” wedding planning should occur, but these are tools that perpetuate sexist divisions and prevent teamwork. Abandon the notion that a wedding is more for the bride than it is for the groom. Whether a bride and groom decide to release doves or fireworks or walk down the aisle to Kiss or Bach’s Canon in D, a team effort will eradicate the existing sexism in planning a wedding and a partnership will prevail.
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.)
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.
People are in an uproar because Prince William and Kate Middleton, wedding trendsetters of the 21st century, are (gasp!) inviting their exes to their wedding. People just can’t seem to jump on board with this one, which tells me there are one too many unrepaired, broken hearts out there. If these wedding icons can say to their amorous past, “Let bygones, be bygones,” it’s a little bit of egg on the face to those who can’t.
It’s a night that strikes fear into the hearts of many a young lover – where fiancés disappear in the night to sow wild oats; where irresistible strippers spread their legs for the almighty dollar; where “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is more than just a motto, it’s a credo; and where the ability to remember the night’s events is worn either as a medal of honor or as a sign of disgrace.
The event itself has historically been the man’s day, yet women are now taking part as well. Some women dare to rival the debauchery of bachelor parties, but many also insist upon propriety and decorum above this one “get-out-of-jail free” card. No matter your taste in parties, it’s important to make sure the party is a representation of your ideals – not what other people think a bachelorette party should entail or how a woman should act.
Contrary to popular belief, I don’t believe this momentous night is about saying goodbye to singlehood. Whether you’re the bride with the “suck-for-a-buck” t-shirt, or want to form a sewing circle, a bachelorette party is more about bonding with friends – of all genders. Traditionally, this is a same-sex party, and while I’m all for ladies’ nights, women keep anatomically dissimilar friends these days. So invite your guy friends! There is no rulebook that says a bachelorette party has to be ”just the girls.”
We’ve all seen the trend where opposite-sex friendships dissolve because a significant other felt threatened, or that eventually the lady felt like the male friendship was inappropriate, whether it really was or not. What does it say about a relationship that limits with whom you can be friends? If you value a friendship of the opposite sex, it’s important to honor it, and if your partner values you, then he should respect these friendships as well. It’s a powerful testament to see brides make a man a bridesmaid, and vice versa. A relationship is stronger when a partner can accept friends of all shapes, sizes and anatomy.
As my friends and I brainstormed on my own party, we stopped to consider the girls in relationships – would their boyfriends and husbands approve of a bachelorette trip…to Vegas? We quickly noted the folly of this thought process – we considered ourselves progressive women, yet even we have been conditioned to look to our men for approval. Yes, it’s respectful to share information about the event, but we women have autonomy to make decisions, exercise that right, even if they are unpopular ones. So chose Vegas or whatever type of event that makes the night a happy one for yourself.
There are double standards when it comes to the party scene as well. Though equal opportunity partying is expected, it is still common for partners to be manipulated into thinking that if one partner abstains (for example, from seeing a stripper), the other should be held to the same standard. The desire to party hardy and see a stripper does not by default mean a partner is straying from the relationship (there’s a no touch policy in the strip joints anyway). Sayonara-singlehood parties do have a bad reputation, but a relationship falters not because of the nature of the party, but because of deeper, rooted issues in the relationship. If trust cannot be shown even in the brief presence of a stripper or just amongst friends, how can it ever be earned before you get to the altar?
Having experienced a bachelorette party or two already, I was constantly dismayed at how most women treated this opportunity. Most wanted to go to the beach and read – no alcohol, no scantily clad men, no penis pops or disastrous costumes only suitable for Halloween parties – not because it’s what they wanted, but because of a belief that this type of behavior was unbecoming and inappropriate since they were soon to be someone’s wife. In asking these ladies the reasons behind their choices, they simply explained, “those days are over for me.” These ladies, who in college did keg stands, flashed their assets and spent many a night praying to the porcelain god, could not let their hair down for one night. It is perfectly fine to move past college nights of drunken debaucheries – BUT – there’s no need to assume sainthood just because we’re putting a ring on our fingers. Neither extreme is a fair representation of who we are or who we will be, because the truth of the matter is once we do marry, we’re still the same girls who ran naked through the quad freshman year. History does not have to repeat itself, but we also don’t have to abandon it either. Your partner loves you for who you are now, not who you will become. Don’t change and compromise yourself because you think you have to as a wife.
The truth is there is no such thing as a “last hurrah.” We said goodbye to singlehood the moment we stepped into a monogamous relationship. A bachelor/bachelorette party is not a chance to experience singlehood for “one last time” – it’s a chance for camaraderie with your closest friends, to laugh, to relax. These parties are harmless, but when more power is given to its stereotypes over trust in a long-term relationship, it’s a sign of weaknesses in the relationship. If these issues come to light, it is my hope that the partner has enough confidence to reassess the relationship, or at least address the real issue at hand. If there is real trust and each partner understands the true reasons behind hosting a bachelor/bachelorette, which is friendship, then there should be no limitations in the style of a bachelorette party. We should be free to be ourselves amongst our friends, men and women alike – be it a night full of shots or a relaxing day at the spa.
Introducing The Feminist Bride merchandise! Know a bride that wants to celebrate her upcoming nuptials but wants to make a statement that she’s a lady that stands strong and proud? I hand-printed these 100% cotton t-shirts with that type of bride in mind (not to mention support website costs and maybe some wine therapy…)
Sales go through Etsy, so click on this link to get a t-shirt that shows your strength as a woman and a bride!
Size: Small Petite & Large Available (other sizes and colors are available. Please email shop owner for personalized request!)
Color: Black with White Lettering
Washing Machine Safe
Ready or Not (2009) – With the Hangover coming out in the same year, its hard to say which movie came first but they are exactly the same except this one is less humorous. The groomsmen use an over-the-top bachelor party to kidnap the groom to Mexico a week before his wedding. Everything starts going terribly awry from jumping out of a crashing plane to angering a mobster, from getting put in jail to being put in front of an execution squad. The question of the movie is is the groom ready to leave his bros behind for marriage? (Subject: Groomsmen, Groom, Bachelor Party, Comedy) Director: Sean Doyle
On February 13th, what will you be doing to treat your favorite gals on Galentine’s Day?
When it comes to celebrating Valentine’s Day, we seek to spend it with those we love and shower them with all the accoutrements a Hallmark Valentine’s can bestow. What about spending Valentine’s Day in a non-commercial way? What if you could honor the women in your life by participating in something that seeks to support and empower them? What if you spent this Valentine’s Day learning how to appreciate yourself?
It’s really common to hear men declare that wedding planning is the “chick’s domain.” They assume their hard work is done after buying the engagement ring and proposing, now it’s time for the ladies to carry the burden of planning the big day. It’s all flowers, frilly lace and potpouri – stuff that’s too effeminate for a real man to be caught thinking about, right?
If you find yourself near Tufts University in Medford, MA this Friday, COME HEAR ME SPEAK at 4pm! Admission is free and there’s food afterwards. I’ll be speaking at the 2nd Annual Women’s Center Symposium on “the sex and sexist layers of the wedding cake” and giving a small performance after the event but before the reception. See below for details! If you can’t make it no worries, I’ll be posting the video of it later.
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)