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.
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.
These days, the bridal bouquet toss is as popular as Beanie Babies. There’s a mildly fond recollection of the pastime, but no one really wants to play with them anymore. Maybe the reason why is that somehow despite the “me” generation clamoring for attention online, clamoring for a bunch of flowers in front of family and friends is just not cool? Or maybe it’s also not cool to pressure people into marriage anymore (if it ever was)? Then again, maybe it’s because the floral game is a sexual double standard compared to the erotic garter toss? Or maybe it has something to do with identifying all the single ladies in the room and playing a game that implies being single is bad and undesirable? I’m gonna go with D. All of the Above.
We all love the wedding toast, mostly because it can either go amazingly awesome or terribly wrong. I don’t really have much to offer in the way of feminist words or suggestions, though recognizing both people and not just the bride or groom is important.
The history of the wedding toast comes courtesy of my spouse from a speech he gave as a best man once. In ancient times, when people were most likely at war with their neighbors, many would come to a truce by marrying the leaders’ children. At the banquet table, the bride’s father would be the first to drink from a communal wine pitcher to show his guests that it was not poisoned. My spouse, being a good best man promised to all the guests at the wedding his own self-sacrifice by sampling all the beer and liquor behind the bar for their safekeeping. Feel free to borrow this one, it went over well.
And speaking of toast, we call it a toast because wine was not always a tasty libation. To cure the spirit of its rancidness, a burnt piece of toast was placed in the pitcher to absorb some of the acidity. The host would also eat this piece after everyone had drunk from the vessel as a sign of graciousness to his guests.
But here’s a feminist toast – “ To friends and foes, it doesn’t matter who you know, feminists will unite, and always fight the good fight!”
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.
There’s simply no reason why a groom can’t dance with his dad or the man who raised him. It doesn’t have to be with just mom because some outdated dance tradition dictates that formal dancing should be with someone of the opposite sex. So in keeping with the post, 8 Songs for a Mother-Daughter Wedding Dance (which explains the selection criteria too), here are a eight potential songs to cut a rug with dad.
Even in 2016, formal dancing still reeks of gender divides (even Dancing with the Stars has yet to feature two partners of the same sex), but modern, feminist brides should feel absolutely free to dance with the woman who raised them instead of their father or next male of kin as tradition usually dictates. There’s absolutely no reason why a bride can’t dance with her mom for the parental wedding reception dance instead (or split a song so both parents can take a turn). So here are eight song suggestions to inspire the moment you cut a rug with mom.
If you were left at the altar or left before you could walk down it, would you have the clarity to turn a wedding fiasco into a triumph of humanity? Dana Olsen put aside her broken heart and decided, with the help of her family, to donate her would-be-wedding to the homeless families of Seattle’s Mary’s Place emergency shelter. Guests from Mary’s Place were treated to hairdo’s and donated formal wear to wear to their special formal dinner before they arrived to the upscale Sodo Park venue. They enjoyed a catered meal and danced the night away to a live band.
What if creating the perfect wedding included much more than a well choreographed first dance or coordinated dove release? What if the perfect wedding included a keen consciousness as to how one’s wedding celebration affected the environment around the couple? It makes sense, because how nice can a wedding be if it’s in a dump? AJ+, a global news community brings fiancés an important ecological breakdown of just how wasteful a wedding can be and how it impacts the environment. From how conflicting a diamond ring to how horrible imported flowers can be, the video gives a brief overview of how important it is to really think beyond just the happiness of the couple.
If I can’t use feminism to upgrade the quality and equality of a wedding, The Feminist Bride at least likes to offer eco-solutions for your wedding. From Southern Living, I was absolutely floored by this earthy idea of a wedding table centerpiece. A centerpiece doesn’t get any better when you can take it home and eat it! Or at least you can throw 90% of it in the compost heap. Here’s their cabbage centerpiece idea (honestly I’m not even sure you’d need the mason jar, but you might want to to play it safe. You could even but in a live plant that you can transplant later too! I bet you could do this with a pineapple, watermelon, definitely gourds of any kind, and blocks of wood.
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?
There’s the superstition that it’s bad luck to see your fiancé the day of the wedding, but it starts with the tradition that says a couple should stay in separate bedrooms the night before the wedding too. In this modern day of cohabiting couples and non-virgins, is the not-sleeping-together tradition relative anymore? By sleep I mean, whatever you want to do; be it hitting the hay or having a roll in it. And for the record nowhere in this two-sided argument will higher-than-thou sexual morality be a legitimate defense for it. The whole notion of ‘not-sleeping-together’ is historically part of an oppressive and discriminatory conduct code that demeans sex and anyone who chooses to have it outside of marriage (mostly women). By eliminating the tradition’s inherent sexism, the Shakespearian-esque question still remains, “to sleep or not to sleep with your fiancé the night before the wedding?”
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.
Not to leave you hanging with how to give the worst wedding speech, here’s some good advice so you can give the most kickass speech ever.
Ever wonder why some people like to argue that marriage is only “between a man and a woman?” Would you believe that the statement is not necessarily about who has a right to marry, but more of a pretext to what marriage is supposed to be for? We’re talking baby making.
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.
Taking your first steps as a child are a big deal, so are the ones you and your spouse take together as newlyweds. Who wouldn’t want to step off on the right foot into a lifetime of marital bliss? It’s not the actual steps one takes at the reception that matters (though knowing how to walk in high heels under layers of tulle is a feat unto itself); it’s how the Master of Ceremonies introduces the couple that makes a big difference.
The Big Wedding (2013) – A dynamic family converges for the weekend for a family wedding. Like all typical wedding movies, hijinks ensue because no one wants to be honest about themselves or their sex life. Though to be fair to the movie, there’s a lot of scandal that you don’t see coming. As one character aptly put it – it’s like watching a telenovela. It does sport a strong cast: Diane Keaton, Robert De Niro, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams, Amanda Seyfried, Katherin Heigl, which makes it pleasant to watch. Though without giving away too much it’s easy to guess that in The Big Wedding, the big lesson in the end is that honesty is always best. Director: Justin Zackham
There are many non-Western cultures and faiths that practice magnanimous food sharing. In the Jewish faither, there’s the ‘Yihud’ that provides a secluded moment for the newlyweds to feed each other their first meal as a married couple. And during the ‘kiddushin’ (betrothal ceremony) the bride and groom share wine during a blessing.
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?
Some find the entire pomp and circumstance of the cake cutting ceremony as sugarcoated narcissism. They assume no guest wants to witness a gross display of PDA. Is it possible they are right? It is, after all, becoming less and less popular – perhaps for that reason. The tradition is indeed a form of entertainment, which in some circles is seen as part of the indulgent, luxury-wedding syndrome that is both ostentatious and vain.
The act of feeding a spouse wedding cake symbolizes your promise to nurture and care for them. When it’s done equally, it’s a selfless act making it also a very parental act. Freud would have a field day with this because it is also a sexual act, you’re entering someone’s intimate space and putting sexual food in open orifices. If that idea makes the ritual seem weird, it’s because it is; but don’t worry, if you don’t like being the center of attention, skip the cake and its cost or take some sheet cake and feed each other privately.
Me though, I like cake and I enjoy a good cake in the face at somebody else’s expense. I loved the photos of my own parents’ wedding of my mom smushing cake in my dad’s face. When he tried to do the same, in a move of comical genius she pushed his own cake-filled hand into his own face. I desperately wanted to repeat this as a new personal tradition, but didn’t have the hutzpah. Besides cake in the face indicates to the guests it is time for dessert.
A wedding calls for many special occasions which means many special toasts. While champagne may be the typical bubbly, here’s a list of alternative libations with occasion-related names. Sadly, I’ve only had the pleasure of tasting three but would happily raise a glass to the others if I could.
A friend and one of my bridesmaids, came back from her family house in New Hampshire and announced to me over the phone, “So…I got married last weekend.” While I can’t remember my exact reaction it was something like, “Whaaaaat?” There’s still a small shock even with predicable elopements. It wasn’t quite the last minute elopement, but they performed a secret engagement and then a secret wedding all within a month – only the immediately family knew.
In the universe of TLC wedding shows, it seems they’ve reached the limit and are scrapping to discover and produce new hit shows. I introduce to you, “Four Weddings,” where four women attend each others weddings and rate them on venue, dress and catering. Unlike other aggressive judgmental shows, the ladies opinions are fairly passive since it seems they don’t want to rain on a bride’s special day – immediately (they wait until they’ve eaten wedding cake and go home with a souvenir). Their ratings post-weddings, however, are so particularly low that they would make any bikini contestant cry and go on another crash diet. Oh right, this is another yet unnecessary TV show were we cast subjective bias and pit otherwise friendly individuals against complete strangers and then we videotape this feedback for posterity. Missing from the cast members are the grooms, making this show another perpetuation of the heterosexual, traditionally feminine wedding chimera that riddles all wedding shows. The show is boring and unoriginal. If TLC wants to stir the pot and highlight the outrageousness of weddings…how about a feminist bride TV show? Something tells me I’d watch that.
A lot of brides like to tell me how unique their wedding will be. I smile and politely shake my head, but I’m secretly thinking that this is what the last bride I spoke to claimed about her own wedding. Call it a coincidence but she too was proposed to on one knee, is wearing a white dress, registered at Bed, Bath and Beyond and will also have a flower bouquet made with seasonal flowers. If you’ve been to enough weddings, it’s hard to experience something completely out of the ordinary. Weddings are sort of like all inventions post-wheel, nothing is truly original.
While the little details might be customized with the newlyweds’ monogram or their personal inside jokes and tastes, a big wedding picture shows that our wedding planning choices are not really all that unique. Like call this crazy, but I predict most weddings at some point will play Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing and/or Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl, clink glasses to encourage newlywed PDA, show that one old Aunt and Uncle have some serious awkward, but awesome dance moves, and end with dessert. This homogenity is the nature of partaking in a cultural event. To participate in it means following certain rules and suggested guidelines. And guess what, many others like you are also following them and only changing a little. This means a lot of weddings, no matter how customized the color on the wedding invitations are or how high a cake, someone probably had one just as high as you and they too got their crafty, hipster invitations from Paper Source.
Culture is not the only culprit to cliché wedding practies. Consumerism plays a huge role too. Weddings are commercialized events. Culture tells us what we need to have a proper weddings and then for-profit companies provide those products on a mass-produced scale that are easily affordable and accessible. That crappy plastic tiara you got for your bachelorette party that made you Queen for a night (because that’s what you are, clearly) is the same one the bride-to-be last weekend wore to hers. Aren’t princesses supposed to be rare?
The electric slide and the funky chicken were fun wedding dances until they became overused. Now they are extinct rituals because people find them tacky and cliché. The cutting and the feeding of the wedding cake, the garter and bouquet toss are now facing extinction as well. Does a ritual have to be bad to be considered cliché? Maybe clichés are subjective or a taste of our time, because people still propose at sunset, on the beach, in air balloons or hide rings in dessert. It seems contradictory for people to want to participate in shared culture but then go to lengths to make it unique.
When it comes to planning, I get the sense that fiancés like to think that personalized means unique, personalization makes a wedding unique, and a unique wedding is considered more emotionally memorable. Unless you’re breaking from the macro traditions and rituals, little customized details does not make a distinct wedding. At some point we all get ideas from the same sources: friends, family, other weddings, media, TheKnot, magazines and other how-to’s. Our riffing on these handed-down ideas might provide some ownership to, say, your centerpieces, but I’m worried we’re confusing personal meaningfulness with a one-of-a-kind wedding celebration. If wedding rituals and customs are really nothing more than one big cliché and our specializing of the event not as pungent in setting itself apart from other weddings, can we still get meaning from participating in a cliché?
Click here to check out cliché wedding photography. (BTW, I love number three. The guy seems more like a photo-bomber than groom.)
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.
Katrina Majkut, founder of TheFeministBride.com, speaking on “The Sexy and Sexist Layers of the Wedding Cake”
Before you start getting all shy and reserved, this is not about a nudist colony wedding. A “naked marriage” is a new Chinese term to describe newlyweds who forego all the consumerist, expensive tradition of a typical Chinese wedding. Do you think you can strip away all the wedding traditions that require you buy a dress, rings, a lavish ceremony and just marry on your merits of love?
Baraat (Hindi: बरात, Urdu: برات) is a bridegroom’s wedding procession in North India and Pakistan. In North Indian communities, it is customary for the bridegroom to travel to the wedding venue (often the bride‘s house) on a mare, accompanied by his family members.