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party) need something to wear before the wedding but you are tired of the hyper-feminine and cliche uniforms with outdated, mildly sexist terms written on the butt?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!”
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.
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 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).
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.
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
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…
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
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.
Having turned 18 at the birth of the Sex and the City era, college and adulthood came at a time when sexual expression and alcohol could be worn like Girl Scout badges, proudly and with accomplishment. It was the best of times (that I could remember) and the worst of times (that were gladly hazy). The graduates of the millennium celebrated leaving the sophomoric comedy of American Pie and blissfully embraced the gratuitous ass shots of Will Ferrell. And just as quickly as we got on “double-secret-probation” in college,” we just as quickly matriculated from it. Now working stiffs and pissed off about having $160,000 in college debt, Judd Apatow appeared to ease our pain with raunchy and outrageous humor.