Money

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.

Suffering from The Bridal Shower Blues?

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there’s hope with the new trend of “Jack and Jill” showers (both sexes), it remains narcissistically sexist, greedy, outdated, and well, cheesy.

Should You Get Married If You Have Debt?

wedding-debtDebating 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?

Hey Brides, Harvard Says Your Future Success Depends on Your Future Hubby…

groom-lifting-bride-over-her-head-in-fieldStop for a minute and ask yourself these questions: Do you have an egalitarian relationship? Are you on the path to achieve your career goals? Have you ever put your guy’s career before your own? And does he put forth as much effort as you in the home? Your honest answers, not your ideal ones, are important. (And for the record, no, this article is not about how to ride the coattails of your hubby, as if…)

Harvard Business School study reports that both male and female HSB graduates, who believe in parity in the workforce and in relationships…don’t actually practice it. This is an incredibly important discrepancy because it negatively impacts women’s professional achievements, particularly in top management positions. That’s why answering honestly was so important, most of us believe we have egalitarian relationships, but per the study that’s not 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.

10 Other Wedding Traditions Worth Skipping

Oh yes there’s more! In addition to the 10 The Feminist Bride has already covered, cat-throwing-brideshere 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.

Admitting Groomsmen Have It Better Than Bridesmaids

I know that by saying I’d rather be a groomsman over a bridesmaid, it sounds like I’m confirming the old Wedding33Freudian theory that feminism is nothing more than penis envy. Don’t worry Freud, this has nothing to do with penises or mommy issues. I’m merely trying to bring attention to that fact that the role and responsibility of being a bridesmaid has completely turned to the dark side. Bridesmaids used to enjoy the minimal involvement that groomsmen experience today. Nowadays the difference in the responsibilities of the two are a lot like the wage gap; both sexes enjoy the same status and title but bridesmaids are expected to do a hell of a lot more for the same job! I’m campaigning that bridesmaids and groomsmen responsibilities be on par with each other.

The Modern Equation for Getting Married

Tired of winking at people online? Starting to wonder why you’re friends with some Jessa, from HBO's Girls, getting marriedpeople if their other friends are the duds they keep setting you up with? Finding yourself starring over to the kitchen, wondering what type of hors d’ oeuvres they’ll be serving after the wedding ceremony? Focused on your career, grad school or the number of dates you have lined up? Thinking you can have it all and NOT be married? Or are you just holding out for the perfect one and the perfect conditions?

You are not alone my friend.

The Bigger the Engagement Ring, The Bigger the Divorce?

Ever find yourself jelly over someone’s massive diamond engagement ring? o-BAD-ENGAGEMENT-RING-facebookCovet not my friend, because two dudes from Emory University did an online economic study of 3,000 married individuals (from mTurk) to see if the size of an engagement is a correlated to divorce rates. Seems it is…

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 Wage Gap in Wedding Traditions? Say It Ain’t So…

It’s hard to believe wedding traditions could be tied to something so nasty as the wage gap. wedding_moneyThat sparkly diamond is supposed to make you feel like a perfect bride under all those layers of satin and waterproof makeup. How could bringing home less than your fair share from the workplace possibly play into the happy tidings of your wedding day? Sadly, it’s totally true. (This is why we also have to write advice like How to Stay Sane While Planning A Wedding.)

Creating Social Good with Your Wedding Registry

http://www.kiva.org/lend/753659

Image: KIVA. In this Group: Saraswati, Tikeswar, Sapuri, Manorama, Ketaki, Upasi, Sumanti, Jamuna, Sumitra

Feeling like a traditional gift registry is an egregious imposition to ask for more stuff that you already have? Or an archaic gendered tradition? Suspicious that asking for money as a gift throws every etiquette book into a blazing book burning fire? Here’s an option that gives the newlyweds tremendous good karma  - consider a micro finance registry. The beauty of having guests contribute to micro finance loan account is that it generously gives to those in more immediate need and then eventually the newlyweds when their the ones in need. To read more about this idea, check out The Feminist Bride article on Green Bride Guide

An Engagement Ring’s Second Chance

The idea that diamond engagement rings are bad luck after a failed engagement or marriage 140906-425x282-Return-Engagement-Ringis 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?

Part 2: Love on Las Vegas Boulevard – Creating a Wedding Experience      

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).

10 Wedding Traditions Worth Skipping

If you’re looking for some real advice as to what type of wedding traditions you should skip, look notumblr_lurk61U2S71r6ahc3o1_500 further. Other lists give fluffy advice and are usually limited to things you buy. This top 10 list gives you wedding traditions that are ripe with unfair conditions like sexism or consumerism which can either be thrown out like a garter or bouquet (#8 & #9) or modernized so it treats everyone a little bit better.

Women’s Wage Affects Their Happily Ever After

Brides, what you’re paid will affect your new family’s quality of life. If you want that happily ever after after that perfect wedding, it’s best that you put equal pay on your wedding registry.

Four in ten women are the sole or primary breadwinners in their family. While that sounds like great news, women overall still earn less, which means that even that female breadwinner (and her family) are financially disadvantaged in the larger picture.

Signs of Wage Gap in Your Wedding

Did you know that the wage gap has influenced a lot of wedding traditions? Unknown-1When it comes to the things that anyone but the bride pays for like an engagement ring (groom), paying on a date (the guy), the honeymoon (traditionally the groom) or most the wedding (the bride’s family) it’s all a function of women’s wage gap. It stemmed from when they weren’t even allowed to have careers, which meant they had no income for life’s events. Even traditions where money is not involved like the groom asking the bride’s parent’s permission to marry, walking the bride down the aisle and carrying the bride over the threshold all stem from asset issues. As in a women’s only asset was herself and her fertile uterus, which is why those are traditions of exchange (just a different type of currency, because, again, she didn’t have the monetary type).

When thinking about the wage gap and all the debate over it this week, consider how it might affect other areas not just your direct deposit into your bank account. If you’d like to learn more about where women stand in terms of matching men’s earrings, watch the video below. Just remember next time you find yourself with a cumbersome and annoying amount of pennies – every cent counts.

Battle of the Bridesmaids

From the Golden Girls to Sex and the City, groups of women bonded by breasts, baggage and Battle of the Bridesmaidsbiology come together to celebrate being women. This celebratory sorority is most evident when a bride calls together the most important people in her life to be a bridesmaid. Bridesmaids gather to offer advice and support when needed, and laughter and levity when required; yet, brides’ egregious demands have formed the monster called Bridezilla. Suddenly, she treats her nearest and dearest with behavior that borders on verbal and monetary abuse, in what is mistaken as bridal entitlement.

Where do engagement rings come from?

Thinking about getting an engagement ring? Have you considered whether it’s really worth it? The Feminist Bride has! The stone-cold truth is that the engagement ring and all its connected traditions were invented in a boardroom by folks who wanted to make a profit on your love! Academic College Humor has some very interesting (and might I say very accurate) information on the origins of engagement rings and their real intrinsic value.

On This Valentine’s Day: Admit Your Affair (with the Wage Gap)

On this Valentine’s Day with great signs of affection, red roses and confectionary delights, iStock_000014497194Mediummany will declare their love to another. But what if lovers could do something more meaningful beyond the time-honored champagne and strawberries? Like admitting that the biggest misdeed in being partners in crime is that few couples are truly treated as equals and promising to correct that?

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.

FB TV Review: My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding

2 Fem Rating SMMy Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding (TV – 2012) – Child brides, High School drop outs, first cousin incest, virgin brides, extreme consumerism, fashion nightmares, arranged marriages – TLC reveals that all of this is happening in America’s backyard. TLC dives into yet another cultural minority’s hidden and secret world, this time with Romanichal Gypsies. Given TLC’s penchant for supporting the Wedding Industrial Complex with their other wedding shows, one might expect this to be in line with the rest (and seems to be racing to become the next Jersey Shore).  It does manage to raise the occasional eye on the double standards between the sexes. Girls are restricted to the home, married off at 16 (ish), and are only expected to become mothers and housewives; the men are the breadwinners. Girls on their wedding day must be virgins (many have not even kissed a boy, let alone know their groom well) or else are labeled unfit to be someone’s wife. (It even shared the story of a same-sex wedding, a big taboo in Romanical culture and TLC.)

And the show is not shy about highlighting the tawdry fashion of the community. It often relies on the fashion designer, Sondra Celli to explain the bride’s culture and fashion choices. While the massive, plantation-style wedding gowns run upwards of $10,000 and run amuck with Swarovski Crystals, the day-to-day dress of a Romney is very provactive. Why the Romani lifestyle is quite anti-feminist, they do have feminist fashion leanings. The women in the show often struggle with being called sluts by “gorgers” (non-travellers) for their attire and seductive dancing given that a Romani woman’s innocence is extremely protected and cherished by her family and community. They struggle constantly with discrimination and judgment being placed on them by outsiders, period. Though the show heros even admit part of the sexy outfits is to attract a mate…

The heros of the show describe their culture as extremely family driven, they carry a strong pride within it and are firmly dedicated to keeping the community alive through new generations and upholding traditions – no matter how outlandish they are. My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding is an odd mash up of respectable values, trashy TV, feminist and anti-feminist rhetoric, media exploitation, big personalities and lots and lots of tulle. It’s sort of a train wreck; and it’s impossible to look away.

Wedding Cake Costs A Lot of Dough!

The cost of the wedding cake can be anywhere from a few dollars to $15 a slice; making it, depending money cakeon your number of guests, almost as costly as hiring a really bad DJ. While it’s a scrumptious tradition and a beautiful, artistic creation, the cost-benefit of the cake is outrageously high. Couples pay for a cake that costs nearly as much as one roundtrip honeymoon flight, lasts fifteen minutes, has enough sexual context to make a priest blush and always has leftovers that get thrown out – so is it really worth it? I can’t answer that for you, but from sexy tradition to sexy fact, I can only try to put it into a not-so sexy perspective for you.

Not everyone is ready to cut the cake. Budget constraints or taste buds might deter a couple from offering a wedding cake. Candy, chocolate or ice cream bars are fun alternatives. If newlyweds want to dangle gummy worms in front of mouths or twist open Oreos together instead – go for it. But let’s be honest, when it comes to a couple tasting and feeding each other wedding cake, none of us will ever come to being as sexy as Mickey Rourke and Kim Bassinger in 9 ½ Weeks so don’t even try (and yes, Mickey Rourke used to look like that). At least we can all agree nothing feels better than corn syrup euphoria.

For more related articles:

The Wedding Cake: Go Big or Go Home

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

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Shares How Gov’t Shutdown Affects Women

Senator Elizabeth Warren takes to the podium on the Senate floor on September 30, 2013 to remark on the devastating impact this government shutdown will have and how it is basically a ransom tactic for Republicans to get their demands met. If you’ve ever watched Senator Warren speak publicly, you know she’s forthright and likes to rely on facts and decisions (Watch the hearing on the minimum wage as a good example).

What’s awesome about the speech is that she goes into how it affects women and how this shutdown is based on obsolete ideologies and not modern lifestyles. Not only that, they are catering only to their own agenda and not the welfare and benefit of a diverse nation of peoples. Senator Warren explains how a minority  group of Republicans are taking the economy hostage and more or less refusing to participate in the democratic process that America prides itself on.

I think it is safe to say the level of frustration among all Americans and government employees runs at an all time high. While there’s a lot of finger pointing going on in the House right now with simpleminded slamming, it’s nice to hear a congressional leader offer an opinion that is not based on derisiveness or ugly tactics, but on reason and empathy. And as woman and the feminist bride, who is always constantly concerned that my access to reproductive freedoms will be limited or taken away, it’s reassuring to know that someone is looking out for me and women like me.

As far as Obamacare goes, having grown up in Massachusetts with a father who’s worked for a major healthcare company for over thirty years I’d like to think I have a unique personal insight into state enforced healthcare. I’ve always been fortunate to have excellent health insurance, but there was a period of about two years when I just chose to opt out. The penalty I paid for not having healthcare each year as a Massachusetts resident was about $41 dollars. Now I understand the arguments against big government, but I had two choices with this mandated tax; I could throw a tantrum, refuse to pay it and shutdown the government or I could just pay the measly $41. When I tried to get independent, private healthcare in the middle of that two year period, I was denied for having Reynauds. If you’re unfamiliar with the disease, I was denied healthcare coverage because my hands get cold. You know how I cure it? I put on gloves. If you want to have an eye opening read on how the current system is horrifically broken I suggest reading Time Magazine’s The Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us. It’s clear there’s a lot Americans need to work on and improve and who’s to say how we’ll need to recover from the shutdown, but I feel like I can rest a little bit easy with Senator Warren in my corner. There have been many times when I’ve been amazingly proud to be from Massachusetts, this is another moment.

 

 

Part 1: Love on Las Vegas Boulevard – Finding Zion

               As a way to both celebrate and mourn turning thirty, my best friend and I took off on an on epic adventure together. Camping in the desert seemed like a great way to remember our passed youth, set our sights on the future and commiserate with an old friend. However, while most people hope to reach Zion one day; after four day there, we were ready to leave. Perhaps it was the 100-degree heat, the swarm of attacking ants our campsite rested upon or the cozy one-person tent my friend brought for both of us (she insisted it was a two-sleeper). Or maybe it was the screaming night terror she had at 3am from which I could not shake her from and from which I had a mild heart attack that characterized our amazing trip.

             After four days of not showering and watching our neighbors camp with their portable generator and shower stall, we decided we’d had enough communing with nature. It hit us as we hid from another severe thunderstorm in our parked rental car sipping from our birthday champagne bottle…we’d rather be drinking…in Las Vegas. So on our last night in Zion, we broke camp, gave our spoiled neighbors one last dirty look and raced off to Vegas!

While we had originally sought seclusion in nature, we were eternally grateful for the excellent phone service we had in the middle of the desert. With the help of AT&T and Priceline, we headed to the cheapest hotel with the minimum amount of stars that, to us, implied that we weren’t headed to the worst hotel and part of town. $40/night, we thought, would buy us some respectability in sin city.

As we drove down Las Vegas Boulevard, we started to worry our logic had failed us as we passed seedy strip club, tattoo parlor, pawnshop, liquor store, adult video and book store in incredible frequency. Then I saw it, my feminist bride blogging Zion. Among all the XXX signs, bail bondsmen and gimp masks in the windows rested three important buildings. The first, our hotel with an air conditioned room, two double beds and a shower; the other two, nestled on each side of our hotel were the two most famous wedding chapels in all of Las Vegas: A Little White Wedding Chapel and the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel.

To say I was slightly exhilarated is an understatement. I had unexpectedly hit the jackpot in all the most appropriate and unlikely of places, Las Vegas. After a shit, shave and shower, a quick trip to the iron-barred liquor store where I’m pretty sure there was a shotgun hidden behind the sales counter like in the movies, we headed out to conduct some Feminist Bride research!

Part 2: Love on Las Vegas Boulevard – Creating a Wedding Experience

Related Articles: The Last Hurrah

Move Over Men, Las Vegas Is a Woman’s Playground!

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

 

 

 

Is The Prenup Passé?

The NY Times is having a debate on whether or not the prenup is passé. Whatever you think, I think it’s important to consider who needs to protect their assets the most. With men still earning $1 to women’s measly 77 cents, it is fair to assume that it’s not the women. Prenups highlight the unequal wage and income issues that women still face. If office income is not enough to make you think twice, consider that many women who decide to cut back on office hours part time or completely for family set themselves back considerably financially – in terms of retirement savings, competitive wages, position advancements, etc. Married mothers loose around $11,000 in salary for every year they miss in the workplace and that gap only grows with each kid.  The role of homemake and mom just isn’t appreciated in terms of its economic contributions like a paying job is. If a prenup needs to be enacted and it favors the father, what happens to the women who put aside both her spouse’s assets and her own income earning potential? No matter what the courts decide in terms of alimony, divorced women can expect a 30% decline in their standard of living.

Whether or not a prenup is necessary before you say, ‘I do’ consider the larger social issues it relates to – not just for you but for all women.

See what others had to say in the NY Times debate: The Power of the Prenup – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com.



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.

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…

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.

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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.

Marriage: When people kept it in the Family

After consummating their marriage, my friend’s parents discovered in family charts that they are in fact 23rd cousins, twice removed. They remain happily married to this day. While twenty-three degrees of separation seems like a big enough number to continue sleeping soundly in a joint bed, the cultural acceptance of relationships with only a few degrees of separation is just too close for comfort for most. Despite cultural taboos and legal barriers, the heart of the matter lies in the fact that affectionately entwined bloodlines have played a massive role in shaping history and culture throughout human history.

Laws preventing consanguineous marriages still exist, but more-than-friendly brother-sister relations still occur like out of a V.C. Andrews novel. The latest international news story was about a German couple in 2001: As a result of their amorous affection, they bore a child, did hard time, and love still survived. The idea of it still captures the distorted fears of moviegoers today with movies like The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003, 1986, 1974), Deliverance (1972) and Wrong Turn (2003). In less horrifying film, who can forget in The Godfather III when Mary Corleone ignited a fire with her cousin Vinnie Mancini, but her father, Michael Corleone, forbade it.

While today sibling relationships are both taboo and illegal, there was a time when it was widely practiced, and even encouraged in order to prevent the tainting of royal bloodlines. Before Mark Anthony, Cleopatra VII was married to her brother Ptolemy XIII, and she was the offspring of a sibling marriage as well. While technically illegal during Roman times, it is said that Roman Emperor Caligula did the deed with all three of his sisters, Julia Livilla,Drusilla, and Agrippina the Younger. And no story of incest would be complete without the tale of Oedipus, who brought shame and ruin to himself and his city for marrying his mother. These tales were (and still are) told to children to impart lessons on morality, civility and health. The moral of these stories is that it is wrong to bang your sister and have children with her, but unsurprisingly, nature has a hand in promoting or preventing this kind of attraction.

The Westermarck effect is a process by which two people become sexually desensitized to each other during their first couple years of life, which is thought to be a natural selection process promoting gene diversity. For example, when a sister’s friend finds her older brother attractive, the sister fails to relate to the attraction. On the other hand, there is a theory of a “genetic sexual attraction,” whereby relatives kept apart during their formative years might be more inclined towards mutual sexual attraction. Finally, it’s well known that the risk of congenital diseases and birth defects rises with each inbred generation, a risk factor that can be determined by an “inbreeding coefficient.” An Ohio State studyresearched Charles Darwin’s genealogy.  Ironically, Darwin himself was a product of consanguineous marriages; and after marrying his cousin; their 10 children faced severe health problems and infertility. Three of them died prematurely. It is thought that Darwin’s children suffered from inbreeding effects.

Over hundreds of years, marriages between cousins frequently occurred for a variety of reasons. Like ancient Egyptian royalty, European royalty encouraged marriage between cousins as a political strategy to unite kingdoms and forge alliances. The Hasburg family of Austria was most famous for interfamilial marriages, so much so that Charles II of Spain exhibited signs of genetic disorders. Ultimately, his infertility led to the extinction of the Hasburg family line. Survival and companionship was another motivation, which was especially useful in pioneering communities. For small religious groups at risk of extinction, faith survived better by marrying those within the community – namely relatives. Retaining wealth, assets and titles was a huge driver in uniting relatives. Laws prior to the 1900s forbade women from retaining property and turned all assets over to her husband’s control. So to keep it in the family, families literally kept it all in the family. But in today’s more modern times, love may just naturally bud at family reunions, maybe as a result of that “genetic sexual attraction” theory. Pass the potatoes please.

Despite the dangers of inbreeding, along with the social and religious ramifications, there are an amazing amount of geniuses and leaders associated with this consanguineous practice. Johann Sebastian Bach married his cousin and they had seven children together. Albert Einstein thought it a smart idea too. Jessie James was not so much of a tough-guy to say no to his cousin, and perhaps writers Edgar Allen Poe and H.G. Wells both found inspiration in their aunt and uncle’s children. Queen Victoria, who set in motion the Victorian model of a modest bride, married her cousin, Prince Albert. Jerry Lee Lewis married his second cousin, an improvement over firsts, but he loses points because she was allegedly only 13. And while FDR bravely battled the Depression and Nazis, and while Rudy Giuliani fought against the destructive efforts of terrorists in 2001, both succumbed to the feminine wiles of their cousin-wives as well. (Giuliani anulled his marriage after 14 years with the Catholic church on the grounds the cousin-thing made it illegal in the first place.)

Affinity marriages are ones of indirect blood relations and can be defined as “in-laws,” which are still too close for comfort in certain jurisdictions and religions. One of the most famous affinity marriages is that of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, daughter to Spain’s Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand II. Catherine had been married to Henry’s brother, Arthur, who died suddenly. To keep relations between Spain and England strong, Henry married Catherine after she promised the first marriage had never been consummated, and the Pope granted dispensation from affinity. Eventually, Henry, lusting after one of the Boleyns, justified his divorce from Catherine on the grounds that she had, in fact, consummated the marriage with Henry’s brother. And then he accused Anne Boleyn of sleeping with her brother in order to get rid of her.

Despite religious condemnation, legal disapproval and social discontent, history has shown that the practice was generally accepted among some of the world’s greatest leaders, thinkers and poets. While Thomas Jefferson marrying his third cousin seems too long ago to matter in the present day, the taboo itself has widely shaped and influenced history and culture. The question of its morality is not what’s being debated here, this dialogue is to bring attention to the fact that by treating consanguineous marriage as abnormal and taboo, we fail to recognize it as a pervasive component in history and in doing so only half the story will ever be heard.

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.)

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?

FB Movie Review: The Affair of the Necklace


The Affair of the Necklace (2001) (R) – While this may not be a movie about marriage or weddings, it is a unique movie in that it is about the true story of a woman who step outside her societal boundaries and dared to change the fate of her life, as a result she helped to bring down the rule of an abusive monarchy. Jeanne de la Motte Valois, a strong-minded  Contessa (played by femme-fort Hilary Swank), loses her station, family and homestead because her father was considered to liberal and anti-monarchy. She aims to reclaim her family home through a scam surrounding an extremely expensive diamond necklace. I give the movie high marks not only for its excellent story telling, but because not enough true stories are told about women who try to fight the ruling system.  (Subject: Women, Heroine, History, France) Director: Charles Shyer

Manly Men Plan Weddings

It’s really common to hear men declare that wedding planning is the “chick’s domain.” They assume their hard work is done after buying the engagement ring and proposing, now it’s time for the ladies to carry the burden of planning the big day. It’s all flowers, frilly lace and potpouri – stuff that’s too effeminate for a real man to be caught thinking about, right?

The Young and the Betrothed – Child Brides

While many of us fret over unimportant issues related to our own weddings or believe that our freedom of choice on how to marry is a sign of progress, we must remind ourselves that equality and humanity in marriage is seldom enjoyed in other parts of the world. From the denial of gay marriage to the following issue of child bride, we must remember that  many existing forms of marriage violate basic human rights. It is up to us who are privileged enough to enjoy healthier forms of marriage to not turn our backs on those who still need help.

Could You Have A “Naked Marriage?”

Before you start getting all shy and reserved, this is not about a nudist colony wedding. A “naked marriage” is a new Chinese term to describe newlyweds who forego all the consumerist, expensive tradition of a typical Chinese wedding. Do you think you can strip away all the wedding traditions that require you buy a dress, rings, a lavish ceremony and just marry on your merits of love?

Why the Movie, ‘Made in Dagenham,’ Is Still Relevant Today

Made in Dagenham is a British docudrama by Director Nigel Cole and is based on the true story of 187 female Ford Motor machinists in Dagenham, England, 1968. The female workers, led by Rita O’Grady (Sally Hawkins), unite in a strike after management reclassifies them as “unskilled workers” to justify a lower pay rate. The women take their demand for equal pay all the way to parliament. The movie’s message on women’s ability to overcome a culture that promotes sex discrimination is still as relevant today as it was then. But the movie’s comedic, cutesy tone glossed over the severity of the cause, which brings to light larger issues in non-fiction women’s films.

Feminist Bride Movie Review: Dangerous Beauty

Dangerous Beauty (1998) – Based on the 16th century true story of Veronica Franco who falls in love but can’t marry the object of her affections due to a lack of a dowry. With no marriage prospects, she’s faced with the decision to either enter the convent or become a courtesan. She chooses the life that provides her access to education, independence and the power of expression and articulation, as opposed to the cloister or wifehood which forbids women an education, basic intellectual rights and keeps them as subordinate creatures. Her beauty and smarts win over the hearts (and beds) of most of Venice’s aristocrats, but after Venice faces war and then the plague she is accused of witchery and causing the downfall of Venice. 

Are Childless Couples More Likely to Divorce?

Since the 1950′s studies show that childless couples are more likely to divorce then families with children; and the more children decreases the chance of divorce. It seems that the emerging books on this topic, scrutinize over the childless couples a little bit more unfairly then those with kids – because they don’t have kids how could they possibly be as fulfilled compared to those who have them? Creating the notion that kids and a classic family and white picket fence is still the preferred cultural push.  But for those who don’t want kids the article had this little ray of hope to share…

Dating Website Creates New Post-College Profession – Sugar Baby

A website called SeekingArrangements is causing a huge stir because it hooks up college kids, down on their luck economically and professionally and in desperate need of some student loan assistance, with wealthy sugar daddies. Since the site acts merely as a facilitator and connection to these two people and because there is no talk or money negotiation on the site (that is an arrangement left to the couple once they meet) the site is walking a barely legal fine line.

Wedding Contract by Males and Dowry Dispute Leaves Bride in Poverty

Yes, Virginia [Woolf] dowries so still exist! The writer who insisted women must have their own income would be upset about this law decision and the culture leading up to it in all capacities. Our Canadian neighbor’s B.C. Supreme Court turned down a petition for payment of a dowry under a marriage contract authorized in a sharia court of Amman, Jordan. Seems that the dowry and sharia were contracted by the bride’s uncle, leaving her to live in poverty after her divorce.