What if finding the perfect wedding dress had a lot more to do with how it impacted the world than it did in just making someone feel and look like a bride? The Feminist Bride aims to help fiancés bring more meaning to their wedding through better social practices, so when I met founder, Marcie Muehlke at (un)convention Brooklyn last fall I had to share what amazing things her wedding dress company, Celia Grace was doing. Celia Grace is a women-led wedding dress company that helps impoverished women abroad (fair trade) and brings handmade, environmentally friendly and sustainable gowns to the wedding industry. If brides want to really wow guests on their wedding day, a Celia Grace dress adds an extra layer of eco-feminist thoughtfulness, empowerment and compassion that is hard to come by in the wedding dress industry.
As a kid, I refused to wear a dress. I just wanted to be comfortable but more importantly feel like myself – the “tom-boy” who’d much rather climb a tree than play with dolls. Eventually as I grew older, I acquiesced on the dress thing, even wearing a bridal gown on the big day. But I understand that there are plenty of brides (or bridesmaid or lady groomsman) out there who, like my younger self, have no desire to wear a dress on their wedding day. So I’ve gathered what I think are ten great bridal tuxedos keeping in mind that it should be something that would be too fancy for work but perfect for the red carpet, are in the affordable range (and by affordable I mean under the average cost of a wedding gown – $1,200 (TheKnot, 2013), is not only white, won’t confuse you with the waitstaff, are cut for women and feels avant-garde bridal.
I never know what to make of Betsey Johnson. She’s kinda like your great Aunt that’s a total wild card, who curiously resembles your thirteen year old niece, who’s currently finding herself by defying convention. When it comes to fashion, she’s a great reminder of how far fashion can go and how much you don’t have to give a hoot about other people’s opinions so long as you’re happy.
Hear ye, hear ye, give a listen to The Feminist Bride on the The Big Wedding Planning Podcast! We talk about my new book, The Adventures and Discoveries of a Feminist Bride (Black Rose Writing), sexism in weddings and how to be empowered to make your wedding more meaningful and supportive for all the people you love and well…everyone else for that matter.
Do your Altar Egos* (a.k.a. bridesmaids, groomsmen, wedding party) need something to wear before the wedding but you are tired of the hyper-feminine and cliche uniforms with outdated, mildly sexist terms written on the butt?
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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…”
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?”
Allegedly, trashing the dress became a thing circa 2001 courtesy of Las Vegas wedding photographer, John Michael Cooper. Cooper may have gotten the idea as early as 1998 when he watched an episode of Sunset Beach, in which Meg Cummings threw a massive tantrum and her bridal self into the ocean after her wedding was interrupted. And from there an idea was born, “I can make this type of crazy, sexy.” With the average wedding dress costing $1,211, it’s hard to imagine why a bride would want to demolish a dress that Oscar de la Renta described as “the most important dress in the life of a woman,” so the question remains, why destroy it?
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…
Contributing Writer: Kathryn Marie Lavin
In a dimly lit theater, spending quality time with my big brother over a box of Sour Patch Kids and the soon-to-be-classic, The Wolverine, I felt what I assumed was gas. However, as the movie closed in on its predictable ending, I felt what I can only describe as the sensation of a koi fish trapped in my bowels. As my brother and I exited the movie, I thought about running my amphibious sensation by him. Normally tossing around topics like “abdominal distress” and “public farts” would be standard with my bro, but this feeling exceeded our bodily comfort zone. I felt like I had more in common with the hero of the film, a mutant.
Ladies, if your best friend is your brother, or that awkward college guy who naively explained that Beirut is a place, not a beer game, or your male coworker who loves afternoon Hot Pockets almost just as much as you and you’re getting married to…someone else, why not put that best friend in your wedding party?
Gentlemen, if your best friend is your sister, or cousin who encouraged you to embrace your affinity for knitting infinity scarves, or your former high school prom date who danced so awkwardly to House of Pain’s Jump Around that you found a platonic, kindred spirit and you are also marrying someone else? Then you, too, should feel free to put them in your wedding party.
Contributing Writer: Sally Pillay
Feminist Fashion Friday: With a modern twist of unique elegance, Solange Knowles and longtime boyfriend Alan Ferguson married over the weekend. Pair that with a star-studded guest list including the one and only Queen B and husband, Jay-Z, and you’ve got my attention.
Counting at least six bridal outfits through the wedding weekend, Solange started at her rehearsal dinner with a v-neck, bell sleeved dress by Ellery with golden Loeffler Randall heels. This ensemble was just a mere taste of the fashion delicacies to follow!
Prior to their wedding ceremony, Solange and Alan arrived on two white bicycles. Solange donned a sexy low cut Stéphane Rolland jumpsuit with a cape. (LOVE!) The groom sported a white Lanvin suit. (Way to make an entrance!) Now the only thing that can get me more excited than a bride bucking traditional trends is a bride in a jumpsuit and a cape. Pair that with a bicycle, and I’m speechless.
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.
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.
Forget proposing with Grandma’s diamond ring, what about proposing with Grandma’s ashes as the diamond ring? Yes, you heard me right. A Swiss company called Algordanza will take the cremated remains of your beloved one and synthesize a diamond between 0.25 and 1.0 carats. Not only is a diamond forever, but now, so is Grandma or Great Uncle Ezekiel or your beloved cat Mr. Jenkins (alright, maybe not Mr. Jenkins, turns out they don’t allow pets). Gives new meaning to DIY.
One of the amazing things about living in New York City is that there’s no point in fretting about what you’re wearing or how you’re wearing it; there’s always someone else that took a much bigger fashion risk. For example, I was at an art exhibition opening at the Brooklyn Art Museum for Killer Heels. One patron was wearing a purple cape, another dressed like Colonel Sanders and someone else was wearing wire boxes for a hat. In New York City, anything goes when it comes to fashion. And so should it be as a bride, even if you’re not in New York City. For all the pomp and circumstance and Benjamins that go into dressing for the big day, why not take a leap of faith with your footwear? After all, most people won’t see your shoes underneath that long gown. And it’s a little extra fun knowing you’ve bucked the traditional white satin. Heels? Forget about them! They’re just going to come off eventually anyway as you dance into the night. Here are some awesome alternative wedding shoe ideas so your feet and your fashion can be footloose and fancy-free on your wedding day.
“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.”
Guest Contributor: Kate Harrison
Most brides don’t realize how wasteful the average wedding can be, but the reality is that the average wedding produces 300-500 pounds of garbage and 63 tons of CO2. When added up, the annual impact of American weddings is like 8.3 million cars driving on the road for a year! The good news is that it has never been easier to go green, and with so many great options, you no longer need to sacrifice your style, theme or budget to it. The trick is keeping an eye on the environment as you move through the planning process and making simple substitutions when possible.
Here are 17 celebrities who decided to buck the traditional white wedding down one way or another.
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 idea that diamond engagement rings are bad luck after a failed engagement or marriage is simply the product of clever jewelry marketing. (Along with the 4 C’s: Cut, Clarity, Color, Cost; two-months salary buy in and just about every other ring tradition.) Jewelers just want you to have an excuse to buy more brand new bling, but what if that didn’t have to be the case?
Finally, there’s a solution for when you don’t want to give your phone number to creepy people, but don’t want to be rude either because as the bell Hooks hotline explains, “because we’re [women] raised to know it’s safer to give a fake phone number than to directly reject an aggressive guy.”
Feminist author bell Hooks has created the Feminist Phone Intervention Hotline for anyone to use when faced with the dating dilemma of giving out your phone number to a stranger. When you’re just not that into the suitor, you can just give them the phone number (669) 221-6251.
In New York City, with a population of 8 million, there are at least 600 people who can’t find a mate worthy of marriage. What’s their solution (or last resort) to this conundrum in the dating digital age? An “extreme social experiment” hosted by FYI TV (part of the A&E network) where four highly educated and trained professionals will match them up with the soul mate they couldn’t find independently. Sounds like a really high end dating service, right? Not quite, the catch is you can only meet this soul mate if you’re willing to marry them sight unseen.
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.
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).