Etiquette

Wedding Invitation Name Etiquette

I adore the New York Times and I love me a good party, but even more so I am pedantic about honoring people’s surnames. So I was particularly dismayed when Phillip Galanes answered in a NYT’s Social Q’s column to a C. Z., San Francisco that they should by no means be concerned about their spouses poor invitation etiquette, “Your neighbors will be far happier to be invited than distraught by Hubby’s inability to spell Frances. (Or is it Francis?)” Galanes idea of invitation etiquette is probably the worst advice two people planning a wedding and writing their invitations could possibly follow.  Galanes probably has no clue what problems he is contributing to in his response.

Modern (Feminist) Wedding Invitation Etiquette

Invitation Etiquette Infographic

Speech! Speech! The History of the Wedding Toast

vintage_art_nouveau_taverne_olympia_drinks_party_sticker-r13e32438c3784a69bf4337c676ee1d1c_v9waf_8byvr_512We 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!”

Wedding Anniversary Gifts: Tradition Gets A Makeover

Life Magazine, photo unknown

Life Magazine, photo unknown

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.

Feminist Math Proof: Why “Ms.” is better than “Mrs.”

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?

Image: TheFeministBride.com

Image: TheFeministBride.com

Why Do Brides ‘Trash The Dress?’

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Tamagni Photography

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Tamagni Photography

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?

Can Guests Wear White to A Wedding?

Castle Hill weddingWearing 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…

Oh ya, and most people and etiquette books will tell you it’s a huge no-no to wear white to a wedding, but is that really the case?

Should You Have An Engagement Party?

I love parties. I love dressing up for parties. I love being the hostess with keep-calm-were-engagedthe 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.

Managing a Bridal Meltdown     

Bridezillas aside, a bridal meltdown can happen to anyone. It will undoubtedly bridezilla-wedding-stressbe over something worthy of emotion or either a tantrum over nothing. (Though please know that being a bride or groom does not give you the right to have one or be a bridezilla.) Meltdowns can come in all shapes, sizes and reactions. Regardless, as a best lady, mother of the bride, fiancé, wedding planner or consultant, it’s best to brace yourself for the storm. Like any hurricane, no one can predict with accuracy what class it will be and how much it will huff and puff until it tries to take everyone down. As a bridesmaid (Best Lady) or whomever though, contrary to popular belief, there’s no reason to go down with the ship.

How to Give A Kickass Wedding Toast

Not to leave you hanging with how to give the worst wedding speech, here’s some bridesmaids-movie-quotes-9good advice so you can give the most kickass speech ever.

  1. Welcome Everybody and Introduce Yourself: A well-structured speech will always have a warm introduction and introduce you so they know what relationship you have to the newlyweds.
  2. Give Thanks: Give thanks to the big guy in the sky, the weather, and the little people like the caterers or anyone that helped make the special day possible.
  3. Always Stay Positive: Luke Wilson was hilarious when he gave his disastrous speech at Will Ferrell’s wedding in Old School, but only the movies can pull off negative speeches and still be funny without offense. Positive or inspirational speeches pump up the crowd, good vibes will translate to good times at the wedding. Nobody likes a Debby Downer.
  4. Ignore the Jerks Who Talk During Your Speech: Nothing good comes from stopping the speech midway to call out the people with poor manners and attention spans (and there’s a good chance others will do it for you, if that’s the case thank those people and play off the moment by just smiling or giving a quick joke). Never go angry.
  5. Tease (Only If There’s A Compliment in There): I recently gave a speech at my best friends wedding, I teased her family how they kept on stealing the tissues I had intended for the bride but it was adorable because they were so sweetly emotional and showed how much they loved the couple (there was barely a dry eye at the ceremony). They had a good chuckle at my observation. Any teasing that’s not complimentary or positive should be scrapped.
  6. Keep It Short: Attention spans are short at a weddings, everyone just wants to get to the steak dinner, open bar and dance floor. If it’s too long people will just start talking over you and no one is going to feel good about that.
  7. Toast: Cap off your speech by asking everyone to raise his or her glasses to the newlyweds. Maybe sneak in a short blessing too.

How to Give the Worst Wedding Speech Ever

Here are a few tips on how to give the worst wedding speech ever. (Or here’s what not to do…)

Show Me the Money! Wedding Traditions without the Wage Gap

When it comes to banking on the perfect wedding no one wants to feel like what business woman with lots of moneythey’re doing is perpetuating wage inequality. Sadly, The Feminist Bride calculated that there are, in fact, wedding traditions that sprung directly from the wage gap and people’s historical lack of faith in women’s economic earning power. Rather than spend your time in traditions that are a bad investment, let’s financially reform them.

The Most Comprehensive Social Media Wedding Etiquette List Imaginable

The Internet is taking over weddings. Analog Miss Manners probably never 2ee544f1e9b082adc56acbf8443b0d80saw this technological phenomenon coming, so modern couples need new advice on how to use it properly and politely in coordination with your very classy and special day. Without understanding the speed at which information is shared means  technology #fails can easily happen. Here’s some advice on how to navigate the complicated world of wedding social media.

Bummed Out Over Wedding Photo Trends?

I looked up “mooning,” “photography,” and “wedding” in my Miss Manners 7162f1194fb6cd4c3e418da9b07d06acbook in the hopes that Miss M would provide some civil insight into the recent wedding trend of the bridal party baring their derrières for a photo op. Surprisingly, she had no personal opinions on the matter.

Wish Wedding Tradition Never Changed? Think Again

Struggling with planning a wedding? Being a bride today is not nearly as bad as it was 60 years ago! Courtesy of Modern Bride/JezebelJezebel offers some sobering and interesting insights into what weddings and wifedom were like back in the 1950s. The article explores Modern Brides‘ advice to young brides like on selecting an intelligent or a not so intelligent mate,

The average man marries a woman who is slightly less intelligent than he is. That’s why many brilliant women never marry. They do not come in contact with sufficiently brilliant men, or fail to disguise their brilliance in order to win a man of somewhat less intelligence. College males tell us that they want a girl for a wife who is intelligent but makes them feel they are still more intelligent!

If you find yourself agreeing with this antiquity mindset, you might want to loosen that equally outdated girdle you’re wearing. The next time you hear someone talking about how wedding and marriage tradition should be firmly adhered to and never changed to accommodate modern women and same-sex couples, just send them directly to the article to read more horrific advice. And if you’re still convinced there’s a nugget of good advice in there, here’s this hilariously offensive bit of marital insight:

Is He an Agreeable Person—Or An ‘Individualist’”? The agreeable person tends to conform to the norms set by society. Particularly this is important in a girl. For example, she favors prohibition and opposes burlesque shows. She finds it easy to accept leadership when it is directed by ethical considerations. Not liking to be ‘different,’ she wants her marriage to meet community standards.

Not motivated to plan a wedding?

A Feminist Bride reader asks: “Looking for advice for a feminist bride that doesn’t want to plan oaks-wedding-planning-stressa wedding but her fiance wants the wedding…it’s important to him…”

An engagement is when a couple starts collaborating on the formalities that will lead them to the altar. Marriage is about knowing when it’s more important to support the team and when it’s okay to indulged in (and support the other’s) personal preferences. It is going to the comic book convention when you’d rather have a root canal; but there are trade offs in marriage like when you want to go see a double feature of Nicholas Sparks movies. While planning might be a drag, the engagement period helps work out those teamwork skills. Treat marriage like a sport, if you want to play in the big game – you gotta show up to the practices.

Is Cutting The Cake A Gross Or Delicious Display of PDA?

Some find the entire pomp and circumstance of the cake cutting ceremony as cake-feedsugarcoated 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.

 

In saying, “I Do,” did you choose wisely?

Stonehill College was nice enough to invite me as the keynote speaker to a panel on gay marriage. As a Catholic school, it had just added anti-hazing based on one’s sexuality to its school charter; and given the recent US Supreme Court decision, same sex marriage was a hot topic on campus. I was joined by two professors one with a law background commenting on the recent US Supreme Court ruling and another who specialized in the gender issues and gay marriage. I decided to talk about choice feminism and how within a hetero framework, women who use the “freedom of choice” to justify patriarchal or socialized gender traditions perpetuate prejudice and discrimination in both sexual spheres. In my lecture, I asked that choice be made not just to the benefit of oneself, but keeping in mind the needs and welfare of others as choice is constraint by many systems, both seen and unseen, and therefore must be made wisely.

A special thanks to Stonehill College. The students and faculty were very welcoming, respectful and engaged; and I appreciate the opportunity to share my ideas and research.

Breaking the Rules Panel. April 2013

Designer Necklace Meets Cheap Social Construction

Really Kate Spade? This is a little low brow. Sure Carrie Bradshaw wore her trinket Carrie necklace religiously, which had more intrinsic value than any other high fashion item in her closet but it also didn’t assert any social gendering.

There’s probably no “Mr.” version of this necklace, but even if there were, it still wouldn’t represent men discriminately based on his relationship status like a “Mrs.” necklace does. Brides and wives need to think about what it means when being called Mrs. Mrs. carries a lot of unfair social construction and identity politics compared to Mr. When a man marries his identity and name does not change based on his new relationship status, but a woman’s does according to name change tradition and that has a lot of sordid historical weight to it.

Want to be treated as an equal, maintain the integrity of your identity without having to redefine it just because you went through a new life stage? Than opt for using Ms. It’s a much stronger statement and from this feminist perspective a much more awesome sentiment to wear around your neck.

To Learn More About Name Change:

VIDEO: Why Do Brides Take Their Husband’s Names?

Why Women Change Their Last Names After Marriage

Wedding Invitation Name Etiquette

The Lucy Stone League: Crusaders for more name equality!

The Upsides and Downsides to Eloping

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.

Debunking Bridal Superstitions

Rain on Your Wedding Day Is Good LuckIt’s raining on your wedding day, neigh  torrentially down pouring with lightening and thunder with potential hail. The swans you ordered are taking refuge in the bathroom, those fireworks specially-ordered from China will have to be 4th of July pyrotechnics, forget about taking that everybody jump photograph at sunset outside and worst of all you’re wearing white. It is true rain can be a downer when what was suppose to be an outdoor wedding is now indoor in a less then ultimate space. The guests sopping wet from their run from the car to the venue, give you a weak smile despite nature’s wrath and offer you their condolences, “At least rain is good luck on your wedding day.”

Party Planning: Who’s Booking The Stripper and/or Spa?

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.[1] 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. 

[1] I hear massages by guy’s name Sven are always good…

Creating A Wedding Party: The False Luxury of Many Friends

At a wedding, not only do you celebrate the love you have for someone else, you also ask friends to celebrate this love with you! In today’s wedding culture, there’s this unspoken pressure to make a wedding and a wedding party a big family and friends affair. The size of a wedding party mythically indicates how rich in relationships a couple is; sort of like the more friends you have, the more popular you seem; and the grander the processional, the more seemingly expensive the wedding. Since society values relationships above all else, the number of bridesmaids and grooms is considered a sign of a person’s or couple’s emotional and relational success. However, what if quantity does not always imply quality?

Beware Lame Bridal Shower Games

If I can give men any wedding credit it’s their ability to successfully avoid bridal showers, especially the bridal games (I am very jealous of this skill). Don’t get me wrong, I love games. But the mere fact that no one plays bridal games outside of bridal showers is a massive sign that no one wants to play them…at all.

Senior citizen bingo can be cutthroat, bridal shower bingo where I mark off squares filled in with bridal shower-type gifts not so much. It is the epitome of boring and lame. I recommend turning gift opening into a drinking game instead, every time the bride opens a domestic present – take a sip. Every time she opens up something sexy – give a drink to someone else. Everyone would be having an awesome time then. Bingo!

Word Games are the rock bottom of un-fun at showers. Predicting what a bride will say when she opens up a gift…makes me speechless. Who thinks this is fun? This is the best game people can come up with? There is something endearing about the advice marriage game though – so long as there are funny and charismatic guests in attendance. The best advice I heard was from someone’s granny, “Don’t fart in bed.” Granny knows a fart joke is appropriate at anytime.

Guessing games never go off well either, there was one bridal shower where the bride got two out of ten questions about her fiancé and relationship right (they are now divorced). Another game form is to have the guests fill out a questionnaire about the couple. This is really awkward for the guests who are there out of courtesy or blood and don’t know the couple at all. It also can’t be an ego boost for the couple that invited a “close” group of people to find out, they ain’t so close to them.

Then there’s the recipe collection game, where all the invited women bring in a recipe for the bride – so she can start cooking good meals for her husband when he comes home with the bacon. Not too spoil this game too, but this too just reinforces the stereotype that wives belong in the kitchen.

I do like the underwear game where everyone brings a pair of panties and the bride has to guess who brought which pair. (This, too, can be turned into a drinking game or played at the bachelorette party.) It’s good because one the bride can donate the underwear afterwards if she chooses. Underwear is often needed at women’s shelters and many forget such types of donations. Secondly, if the party is about building a life together it reiterates that bakeware and kitchenware won’t make a marriage, but good sex (with the help of sexy underwear) can.

I get it though; these games try to bring together a room full of strangers together. It’s earnest in its attempt but I have found few who truly enjoy them. The one time I actually connected with new people at a shower was when I had no other choice but to use my Emily Post greeting skills. I was at a luncheon (at the Boathouse in Central Park, NYC, which was breathtaking) with tight family-style seating, which forces you to talk to the person next to you when you know no one else. And I have to say, I had a really nice time and the group solidified without the game crutch, in fact, the games actually interrupted our bonding.



[1] I can play a mean game of Scrabble and I can gracefully lose at darts, but not Connect Four for some reason

Wedding Planning & Planners

If only everyone could hire the Franck Eggelhoffers and J.Lo’s of the world to plan the perfect wedding. Wedding planners are a direct result of women entering the workforce and the dynamic change in how business attracts consumers. Before women started hitting the workforce, those friends, bridesmaids and family would convene to plan the wedding. When Sally Sue became too busy to plan a wedding because of her 9 to 5 job she was most likely about to quit once becoming a wife or a mother, she went to the nearest department store for all her bridal needs. Department store bridal consultants eventually turned into freelancer consultants, planners and coordinators.

Planners have a few functions. As tradition and design guru, they’re there to help you realize your bridal dreams or direct you in what your bridal dreams should be (for those directionless bride and grooms). Their next function is to sacrifice their own sanity in the name of the bride and groom by dealing directly with people and vendors. And lastly, they will try to sell all that is necessary to avoid said stress, people and to achieve that dream wedding. They are the car salespeople of the wedding industry if they can convince you to tack on extras and upgrades to your wedding, the higher commission they earn (not to mention the kickbacks they get if you use their “guys” or vendors).

Couple’s view planners as a saving grace from all that is messy and emotional so they can on the other hand focus on (and experience) all that is beautiful and fun, or that’s at least one way to justify their fee. There’s something to be said about taking ownership of your own wedding. If you believe you can walk down that aisle, you should probably be able and willing to lay the literal foundation for it. Even if you have the money to hire a planner, where does passing the buck in planning it cross into not making a wedding a priority? And what does it say about the party who can’t invest their time into their own wedding details?

Planning for the Future

An engaged couple needs to consider modern ways of approaching wedding planning, whether it’s choosing to pay and plan the wedding themselves, hiring wedding planner Franck Eggelhoffer to plan your wedding, gracefully thanking Ma and Pa for the money and the help or just saying to friends, ‘I appreciate your willingness to be my planning sidekick, but Casey and I are the ones getting married, we should be in responsible for it.’

Planning a wedding does nothing more than indicate the level of a person’s management and organizational skills, wedding planning has so many associated horror stories because these are unperfected skill sets. You can hire that planner or pass off the responsibility to a parent or bridesmaid, but that too speaks volumes too. It may be harder for the lovebirds to manage their wedding details alone, but planning a wedding is just the beginning of learning how to manage two lives and a marriage together. And while it’s hard, it’s also a great lesson for the couple. If a couple feels mature enough to marry, they should be equally responsible for planning and designing their own wedding. If planning a wedding is beyond their capable scope, there’s always eloping, but even an escape route requires elaborate planning.

Read More Related Stories:

Wedding Planning: Motivating the Mister

Wedding Planning: Motivating the Mister

What’s a bride to do when faced with an unmotivated fiancé? First, both bride and groom must understand a wedding is not a “girlie” event. Wedding “How-to” books and magazines pressure us into various pretty accoutrements because their objective is to sell. If getting Joe to jump on board between a floral or candlelit centerpiece is the equivalent of pulling teeth, perhaps forcing an opinion is the wrong strategy. Teamwork and motivation is better accomplished when a task has a shared commonality, find something that perks your fiancés interest and learn to accept that orchids or other conventional décor might not. Wedding design, like marriage, is about compromise.

Wedding culture encourages women to plan their wedding from early childhood. Joe probably hasn’t. Before the bride’s preconceived ideas can dominate wedding choices, let the groom have enough time to catch up and formulate his own. My fiancé also revealed that with a bride’s prefabricated wedding ideas, it’s sometimes easier to accept her idea than him accidentally offering an unpopular one. A wedding day will be more special if the groom feels comfortable with sharing and respected for his opinions.  A bride might insist on pink, a groom on using the Steelers’ colors; but mutual agreement on something like a color scheme will encourage team ownership instead of individual isolation.

When it comes to inspiring a reluctant groom to help plan a wedding, it is important to understand his perspective. More importantly, a bride must manage her own expectations of how the whole planning process and choice selections should go down – abandon the ‘my way or the highway’ attitude. Magazines and industry marketing have spoon fed women ideas on “how” wedding planning should occur, but these are tools that perpetuate sexist divisions and prevent teamwork. Abandon the notion that a wedding is more for the bride than it is for the groom. Whether a bride and groom decide to release doves or fireworks or walk down the aisle to Kiss or Bach’s Canon in D, a team effort will eradicate the existing sexism in planning a wedding and a partnership will prevail.

Dear ReadyMade Magazine, This Is How Not to Write A Love Letter. <3 The FB

I may not be a literary genius like Mark Twain, a.k.a Samuel Clemens (hello bad blogger grammar), but I do know a chauvinistic comment when I see one. I’ll excuse Twain from using sexist language that was typical of his day because feminism had yet to take root, but I can’t excuse ReadyMade magazine for taking a romantic cue from the humorist in the present day. Last time I checked, women were not objects to be won (physically, emotionally or figuratively). I thought we figured this out decades ago?

Twain, in a love note to his wife in 1875 declared, “…I made my first great success in life and won you…” ReadyMade magazine highlights and interprets the ‘won’ as good framework for writing a love letter with, “…is a fun way to flatter. ‘Victory,’ ‘triumph,’ and ‘ultimate achievement’ are also words that work well.” Using synonyms does not bypass the blatant chauvinism in the statement. And there’s no way to put a positive, non-sexist reinterpretation on it.

There are a hundred better ways to say that you’ve never been happier since the day you met the love of your life and commited to him or her. Twain may have said a lot of wise and credible things, but giving credence to a statement that is clearly obsolete in our modern times is not healthy for any woman or relationship. ReadyMade may make a lot of things well, but perhaps it should stick to making stuff out of wine corks and light bulbs. Otherwise it should put a cork in it and leave love letters to fortune cookies and dirty limericks.

The Mark Twain quotes and ReadyMade Love Letter suggestions first appeared in the August/September Issue of 2010. Even though it is a year later, I still think it is important to highlight mistakes that perpetuate sexist, obsolete language.

Can Wedding Clichés Still Be Meaningful?

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.)

Platonic Politics: Inviting an Ex to Your Wedding

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.

Mark Zuckerberg Updates Relationship Status to Married

A few years ago, a friend of mine kindly congratulated another friend’s parents on their sons engagement, except the parents responded with, “wait, what engagement?” Seems Junior told the Internet world on Facebook about this big life event, but forgot to tell his own parents. Drama ensued and my friend felt terrible even though she didn’t do anything wrong.

Seems Mark Zuckerberg pulled a similar stunt in a triple crown move: at his own wedding, on Facebook and to the world.

Zuckerberg married longtime girlfriend, Priscilla Chan in their backyard in Palo Alto, California last Saturday (May 19, 2012). According to news reports friends and family were arriving for a regular party when the couple said, “Surprise, this is actually our wedding!” (If you want a similar surprise wedding, I highly recommend Parks and Recreation’s Andy and April’s wedding.)

Guests were extremely surprised and so was the world who found out through Zuckerberg’s own relationship status update to “Married.” It seems in terms of wealth and celebrity, this is one of the most successfully kept wedding secrets in pop culture history. The paparazzi are probably pissed.

But there’s more to celebrate than just saying, ‘I do.’  Chan just graduated from medical school at the University of California at San Francisco earlier in the week. And Zuckerberg’s company IPO-ed the day before his wedding. If he was grossly rich before he is now stupid rich.

And this is where news outlets are raising their eyebrows about Zuckerberg’s recent influx of money and the timing of his nuptials. Some are calling it fishy. Personally, I’m not surprised by the grouping of such big events for the happy couple. The IPO and Chan’s graduation date would be a good smokescreen for wedding planning. It’s not like they needed to set up a registry and go that traditional route, instead they surprised friends with a good ole’ fashion backyard wedding that’s totally inline with the couples low-profile lifestyle and Zuckerberg’s casual closet (he did abandon his usual hoodie for a suit). And the plan worked, the cakes on our face for not figuring out his scheme.

But the fishy part comes, not from their reception food, but the fact that Zuckerberg’s IPO cash is protected under California’s communal property law. Technically speaking, Chan has no legal right to his fortune’s since the IPO occurred before their nuptials. Should they ever get divorce, there is a good chance she could fight and win more money beyond what Zuckerberg earns post-nuptials because of her support and influence on Zuckerberg and Facebook. She has inspired Facebook’s Organ Donor campaign and she’s been dating him for nine years, since their sophomore year in college and Facebook’s inception. Was this chain of events on purpose? Probably, but Chan should never suffer a financial drought. Between her own career and Zuckerberg’s earning potential, the couple in or outside of marriage will want for nothing.

Prenups are meant to protect the assets each individual couple brings into the marriage, it should not be interpreted as an ominous sign for the future. Actually, both are highly educated (Okay, Zuckerberg is a drop out, but it was Harvard) (Chan also graduated from Harvard in 2007 and now has a Masters), both are financially secure, dated a long time and are on the end of their 20′s (he’s 28, she’s 27, the average marrying age per sex). If a marriage is to last, these are the best facts you can have in your corner. Even living together before marriage is no indication of success. They stay out of the spotlight and live a moderate lifestyle.

Unfortunately, Facebook followers of Zuckerberg did not share the couples happy sentiment. Many responded with racial slurs saying that Zuckerberg has an Asian Fetish or that Chan is a golddigger and that this is probably nothing more than a green card marriage. No word on whether he’s ‘unfriended’ any of these people amongst his 14m plus subscribers.

This raises another big issue – Facebook etiquette. Facebook scrubs for pornography, harassing photos, etc. but what about the general lack of kindness in others? Did the founder himself have it coming for Facebook’s continuing privacy issues? Or is this a huge reminder that nothing we share on the Internet even amongst our community of friends and family is really private and safe?

Back in the day, engagement and wedding announcements were down via snail mail and a phone call. Nowadays our milestone communication is much more informal – we share our big news on Facebook. There’s now a growing culture to take photos of one’s engagement ring or proposal and share it with the world. Some interpret is as a positive, sharing experience, but in no other instance do we condone showcasing a luxury good around (didn’t your mom teach you bragging was bad manners?). Some though, not wanting to rain on others parade, remain silently unappreciative of the non-stop relationship status updates, the staged wedding photography, the emotional rants of those in love. I suppose at the end of the day it’s our choice as to who we follow, read and what we share. Zuckerberg’s wedding announcement is a good reminder of how our precious moments intersect, coincide and sometimes conflict with technology. Even the founder, himself, thought it better in the long run to keep the majority of his relationship and life events analog.

VIDEO: Why Do Bride’s Take Their Husband’s Name?

Before you get excited about becoming the next Mrs. John Smith, beware! There’s a sordid history to this cultural practice and severe modern implications as to how women are contributing to their own marginalization.

The video is a lecture I gave at the Tufts University Women’s Center ‘Beyond the Classroom’ symposium. It explains the history of why women take men’s name upon marriage, dives into its modern relevancy and issues and offers solutions for what women and men can do to practice the art of name change with more egalitarianism. (I’ll slowly be posting the name change spectrum and video transcript too!)

If you’re interested in more information about patronymics and matronymics and general name change here are a few additional Feminist Bride links and sources:

Why Women Change Their Last Names After Marriage

Wedding Invitation Name Etiquette

The Lucy Stone League: Crusaders for more name equality!

Are Diamond Engagement Rings Really Worth It?

Ever stop to think about whether or not to say yes to that diamond engagement ring? I’m not talking about saying yes or no to the person doing the asking, I’m talking about the actual diamond ring! We put so much emphasis on the rock that sparks the start of two people’s lifetime commitment to each other – carat, cost, clarity and cut, that have we really stopped to think about if it’s an icon worthy of representing our love for another?