What if finding the perfect wedding dress had a lot more to do with how it impacted the world than it did in just making someone feel and look like a bride? The Feminist Bride aims to help fiancés bring more meaning to their wedding through better social practices, so when I met founder, Marcie Muehlke at (un)convention Brooklyn last fall I had to share what amazing things her wedding dress company, Celia Grace was doing. Celia Grace is a women-led wedding dress company that helps impoverished women abroad (fair trade) and brings handmade, environmentally friendly and sustainable gowns to the wedding industry. If brides want to really wow guests on their wedding day, a Celia Grace dress adds an extra layer of eco-feminist thoughtfulness, empowerment and compassion that is hard to come by in the wedding dress industry.
As a kid, I refused to wear a dress. I just wanted to be comfortable but more importantly feel like myself – the “tom-boy” who’d much rather climb a tree than play with dolls. Eventually as I grew older, I acquiesced on the dress thing, even wearing a bridal gown on the big day. But I understand that there are plenty of brides (or bridesmaid or lady groomsman) out there who, like my younger self, have no desire to wear a dress on their wedding day. So I’ve gathered what I think are ten great bridal tuxedos keeping in mind that it should be something that would be too fancy for work but perfect for the red carpet, are in the affordable range (and by affordable I mean under the average cost of a wedding gown – $1,200 (TheKnot, 2013), is not only white, won’t confuse you with the waitstaff, are cut for women and feels avant-garde bridal.
I never know what to make of Betsey Johnson. She’s kinda like your great Aunt that’s a total wild card, who curiously resembles your thirteen year old niece, who’s currently finding herself by defying convention. When it comes to fashion, she’s a great reminder of how far fashion can go and how much you don’t have to give a hoot about other people’s opinions so long as you’re happy.
Hear ye, hear ye, give a listen to The Feminist Bride on the The Big Wedding Planning Podcast! We talk about my new book, The Adventures and Discoveries of a Feminist Bride (Black Rose Writing), sexism in weddings and how to be empowered to make your wedding more meaningful and supportive for all the people you love and well…everyone else for that matter.
I hope you join me for a cup of cafe con leche for a fun evening of wedding mishaps, fiesty feminism, and eye-opening truths about wedding traditions!
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.
For a wedding to be about equality, it’s not enough to just be a feminist bride. Your fiancé needs to be on board too! (Equality is harder to achieve if it’s one-sided.) So for those grooms out there wondering how they can help truly be their partner’s equal in life and down the aisle, here are 23 signs of a feminist groom.
The woman-led proposal is as rare as a unicorn, but no less magical. Restrictive gender norms dictate that it’s the “man’s job to propose,” to which The Feminist Bride says
A feminist bride asked for a wedding “survival kit” list to prepare for her upcoming nuptials. Assuming that this lady has packed for a trip before, I assumed she’d know to pack a toothbrush so her ceremony kiss would be minty fresh. But then I had a change of heart, when your heart is racing on the big day and your mind is overloaded, anything can happen and forgetfulness can ensue. Here’s the ultimate wedding to-do and to-bring list for everyone going to a wedding:
The Feminist Bride returns as a guest on the Bridechilla Podcast to discuss the wedding tradition of name change (Ep #226). Host Aleisha McCormack asks (and I answer) why do women change their name? Should they? What other options are there? How come men don’t? There’s a whole lot to consider than just your personal motivations – seriously, they might shock you. If you’re a feminist bride (or groom) grappling with whether or not this tradition is for you, I highly recommend you give it a listen (which you can do on iTunes, Android or by downloading the bridechilla app!
And if you missed The Feminist Bride’s first guest spot on the podcast, check out Episode 169, where I discuss the traditions in most need of feminism and the obsolete and sexist symbolism imbedded in them.
Ever wonder what the point of flower girls and ring bearers are beyond celebratory cuteness? These mini grooms and brides are not conceited homages to the newylweds. The pomp and circumstance of the tiny tyke parade has everything to do with fertility superstition actually.
Every wonder why best ladies dress alike? It’s not because the bride has a twin fetish or because ordering someone what to wear is part of some sick and twisted mommy dearest game (though who knows, it could be…). It’s actually not for anal uniformity in photos either or team spirit. And would you believe it wasn’t originally so the bride would stand out among her entourage (though it has sorta become that)?
The dressing alike tradition goes all the way back to before the middle ages. It was thought that evil demons wanted to curse the bride with their bad juju. So her maids, nearest or dearest would actually dress like the bride in order to fool the mean spirits. This explains why it was kosher for Pippa Middleton to dress in white like her future-queen sister, Kate. And if you think about it, Pippa did indeed thwart any negative attention away from Kate; although in 2011 the evil spirits where more like the paparazzi and anyone with the Internet who thought it was okay to objectify Pippa’s derriere…
Best ladies are not the only ones who originally dressed like the bride; the flower girl mimics her outfit too. Although a flower girl’s goal is not to thwart the evil eye but it’s still equally superstitious. She is supposed to represent the bride’s future children, who would biologically-speaking physically resemble the bride, hence the matching uniform.
The fact that best ladies still dress alike harkens back to these ancient superstitions, though the efforts of the wedding industry and advertising has oppositely influenced the tradition. Now it’s about making the bride stand out, like a white bull’s-eye among a uniform sea of crimson cocktail dresses. This new age emphasis on the bride is what has created bridezillas, so one could argue that the me-me-me bride has indeed become infected by those demons or become one… Maybe there’s something to this dress-alike tradition after all.
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!”
Not sure what to do with your wedding dress collecting dust in your closet taking up precious square footage OR those bridesmaid dresses the bride swore you could wear again but never will? Consider donating it to one of the ten charities below. It’s important to note that, overall, donating your wedding dress will most likely come at an additional expense to you – many of the shops require dry cleaning or at least an additional monetary donation; that also doesn’t include the cost for shipping your dress to the non-profit if you don’t live in the area and some even want a self-addressed stamp envelop to send you a tax donation receipt. The upside to the extra financial burden is that your dress will eventually make someone very happy and the sale proceeds will go towards various causes, plus you’ll be practicing eco-feminism because you won’t be sending your dress to sit in a landfill.
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!”
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.
I was interviewed as The Feminist Bride for the magazine, Little India about brides attempting to personalize, honor but also modernize wedding traditions. Check it out to hear what Indian fiances are doing to navigate the old and the new!
There’s 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.
When Joanna Shu and I first saw The Devil Wears Prada, we agreed Anne Hathaway had it much easier than us. Our first jobs out of college were far worse, there was no free designer clothing and plenty of modern sexism to endure as two of the few women in the office. Without getting into specifics, our boss’s daily mistreatment made Meryl Streep’s character look like a sweet puppy. It’s no wonder that we forged a deep friendship as a result, and it’s definitely no wonder that both of us, almost a decade later, have set out to work for ourselves; myself as a visual artist and writer, and Shu as the founder and COO of Refresh Skin Therapy.
As The Feminist Bride, I’m always on the look out for companies that meet fiancé’s wedding needs without sucking them down the deep, dark consumerist hole that is the wedding industrial complex. I’m also interested in featuring companies that promote and support women either socially or professionally (e.g. there are way too few companies with women in leadership positions). Shu, a divorced single-mom of two and leader of this vegan skincare line, fit the bill perfectly. So I wanted to ask Ms. Shu how Refresh Skin Therapy fits into the bridal beauty industry and what sets her and her company apart from the others.
What does it take to be a truly modern and feminist bride? I come across a lot of proud brides proclaiming to me how forward thinking they are. For example, a bride might explain how she explored all the equitable options before taking her husband’s surname…but forgot to ask him to consider taking hers. Or a bride will explain how she is going to trash the dress to stick it to the wedding industrial complex not realizing the wedding industrial complex doesn’t care because it already got her $1,500 for the designer gown.
Super excited to be interviewed on the #1 wedding podcast, Save The Date. It was really fun sitting down with the host, Aleisha McCormack to talk about some of the most sexist wedding traditions out there and what “bridechillas”‘ and “groomchillas” (bride/grooms who are chill) can do to make them more feminist and respectful for all. So please check out and listen to Episode 169, which by the way, is a totally appropriate number considering how much we discussed the role of sex in wedding traditions! To all the feminist brides (and grooms) out there, I hope it’s an eye opening listen and as fun for you as it was for me in recording it!
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.
Does a bear shit in the woods? Yes. Will a bride take a big one on her big day? Probably. How the bear drops a deuce, thankfully, is not my problem. But if you’ve been a bridesmaid, you’ve probably had an up close encounter with a bride doing her business on the porcelain throne (which might explain why they insist on wearing tiaras sometimes). It’s because most brides select cumbersome wedding gowns, begging the question, “How do I pee in this?”
Sweet justice has been served! The Colorado State Supreme Court ruled that a public-facing business cannot refuse service to customers on religious grounds under the state’s anti-discrimination law,. The law stops businesses from discriminating against people on the basis of race, sex, national origin, or sexual orientation.
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.
Most brides would not consider anything other than a white wedding dress.; alternatives like cream, beige or winter winter doesn’t really count as breaking with tradition. While the connection between a white wedding dress and virginity is dying a slow (but rightful) death in bridal culture, there’s still plenty of people who will make making passive side remarks about the bride and her vagina like, “Looks like she decided to wear white after all.” Gone should be the days when wearing white or any other color for that matter should indicate what the bride’s sexual status is, but there’s plenty of bridal culture precedent to still work against. The politics of a white wedding dress was firmly shaped by religion, class and consumerism, though weirdly enough one of the big enforcers on such bogus color politics was poetry…which, might explain why brides stick with the white wedding dress.
Some people use their astrological signs to describe their personality – preordained by time and chance according to the alignment of the stars. Some attribute their character based on their parents or environment; access to money or lack thereof. There are many internal and external factors that help create you, and it’s nice to think that identity, to some extent, is something we can choose. After a short lifetime of making those critical choices or being products of our genetics or childhood, when it’s time to ring the wedding bells do we still have that personal choice to choose “who am I – as a bride?”
Can’t wait to become the new “Mrs. His Name?” Ever think about why men never change their title of “Mr.” when they get married, ever stop to consider what it means for women to only change her title?
Discrimination against women is a global crisis. There is not one place in the world where women experience complete equality. The belief that women should access education, which leads to better physical and financial health, intellectual fulfillment and professional opportunities is not evenly held across the globe either. A lot of this has to do with the idea that a women’s place is only in the home and not as an outside member of the community. This is why many individuals in certain countries have practiced sex-selected abortions or infanticide if they find out they are having a girl (and for the record, while the video below focuses on India and China, those are not the only two places where these practices exist). Boys are socially allowed to get educations and be income earners and therefore can contribute to the family unlike women, who are not given the same opportunities or social stature. This is why many cultures see men are the more valued gender.
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.
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.
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.
Hollywood reporter, Camille Paglia is taking umbrage against Taylor Swift’s girl squad, which she describes as a “Nazi-Barbie routine.” Paglia reflects on Swift’s appropriation of girl power squads from the 1990s, e.g. The Spice Girls, Def Squad, to promote a sense of women-empowered camaraderie through social media, in-person staged appearances and the pervasive selfie. After reading her fair but also pretty scathing review where she ultimately describes Swift as a “fascist blonde,” I can’t help wonder if there are lots of similarities between Swift’s posse power and bridal parties?
For decades adults have been traversing the perils of walking home the morning after a hook up with their makeup smeared, hair disheveled in what is classically known as The Walk of Shame. Yet, Amber Rose is taking to the streets in her clothes from last night to declare that The Walk of Shame is no more! Amber Rose with the help of Funny or Die explores what it would be like if people didn’t shame those for enjoying sex and high fived those who got their socks rocked. In their eyes, if you’re walking The Walk of Fame you’re “living your best life!”
Next to my tattoo of Notorious RBG will go my tattoo of Tina Fey. Though maybe I’m thinking too small and these broads need their own Mount Rushmore. Tina Fey visited David Letterman for the last time (it was her 20th appearance). (By the way, the podcast Stuff Mom Never Told You has a really eye-opening episode about late night television and women. It talks about the scandal where Letterman inappropriately slept with a number of women staffers, which gives Fey’s clothing message of “Bye Dave” new meaning.) She wanted to show to him what the underworld of undergarments looks like and how she “will no longer conform to gender norms” in this way with the message #LastDressEver. And so the saucy lady from 30 Rock and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt stripped down to her Spanx on national television to show the world the absurd lengths women go to look a certain way. It got me thinking about the ridiculous contraptions brides often wear to look “perfect” too, which is silly because the wedding dress probably already comes with corset bone ribbing…Thanks Tina Fey for bearing all and calling out the ridiculousness of women’s clothing, more like #LastCorsetEver.
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.
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.
Debating between getting married or paying off your debt can be extremely difficult. The little financial advisor that magically appears on your shoulder will insist, “Don’t do it! Be fiscally responsible so you can properly take care of your beloved,” but the idealistic mini-bride or groom on your other shoulder will say, “Follow your heart! People get married so they can take care of each other.” While it feels better to give into matters of the heart, being money-wise is critical to a healthy relationship too; after all, money woes are the number one cause of divorce. So to live happily ever after, what’s a cash-strapped lover to do?
There’s an urban myth that men are commitment-phobes when it comes to marriage. If this were true, then why do so many of Hollywood’s brides have cold feet? If I had to guess, it’s probably because most lead women wake up moments before walking down the aisle realizing they are about to get married in order to meet societal expectations – don’t be alone, marry for security, it’s what everyone else wants, your ticking biological clock, all your friends are doing it, it’s not cool to be a cat-lady, etc., etc. – as opposed to a bride marrying for herself and to be with a person she truly loves. I would like to think those runaway brides are sticking it the Wedding Industrial Complex or those icky societal expectations, but the reality is their journey usually ends with another relationship and less self fulfillment. Here’s a list of Hollywood’s ten classic runaway brides and what their feminist (or unfeminist) epiphany was after they said, “F%^& it, I’m running…”
Hear ye, hear ye! What bride would be complete without announcing her passion, her conviction and her independent spirit on a Feminist Bride t-shirt? Wedding swag purchases go towards supporting the technological and administrative needs of TheFeministBride.com, and maybe eventually an employee happy hour outing because we work hard too.
Pink, blue and purple t-shirts are currently available (though feel free to inquire within for customizable options!). Current available sizes include Medium (Bust/hips 20″, Length from neckline to bottom 25″), and small. 100% Heavy Preshrunk Cotton, Lettering: textured, light pink lettering 5.5″ Length, 3″ width. Washing Machine Safe
The whole concept of the “wedding diet” is to bust your ass in the gym over a short period of time so you can look “perfect” for an even shorter period, one day. The thing is, what is perfect? Who defines at what point you can stop sweating at the gym because you’ve reached “perfection?” And why is anyone working so hard for just one day? This is why the “wedding diet” is an absurd exercise plan. It’s a Quixote quest invented by the delusions of someone else and projected onto you. It’s maddening.
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?”
Most of us learn about wedding culture from our parents, peers, religion, businesses, media and pop culture. It’s very easy to feel like experts on the subjects since we’re inundated with lessons of how to buy the perfect wedding dress, get him to propose, what to say during the wedding ceremony, how to pick out a flawless diamond ring and how women can easily change their last name to his. When it comes to weddings and marriage, people have always been told what, when, where, how, but few ever think for themselves - ‘why?’
Ever wonder what the deal is behind your social media friends who incessantly post about their relationships? Are they overcompensating for something else or do they really have the best boyfriend/girlfriend in the whole wide world as they claim? Are they truly happy or are the rest of us just curmudgeons and incapable of being happy for someone else’s happiness?