We all love the wedding toast, mostly because it can either go amazingly awesome or terribly wrong. I don’t really have much to offer in the way of feminist words or suggestions, though recognizing both people and not just the bride or groom is important.
The history of the wedding toast comes courtesy of my spouse from a speech he gave as a best man once. In ancient times, when people were most likely at war with their neighbors, many would come to a truce by marrying the leaders’ children. At the banquet table, the bride’s father would be the first to drink from a communal wine pitcher to show his guests that it was not poisoned. My spouse, being a good best man promised to all the guests at the wedding his own self-sacrifice by sampling all the beer and liquor behind the bar for their safekeeping. Feel free to borrow this one, it went over well.
And speaking of toast, we call it a toast because wine was not always a tasty libation. To cure the spirit of its rancidness, a burnt piece of toast was placed in the pitcher to absorb some of the acidity. The host would also eat this piece after everyone had drunk from the vessel as a sign of graciousness to his guests.
But here’s a feminist toast – “ To friends and foes, it doesn’t matter who you know, feminists will unite, and always fight the good fight!”
Hollywood reporter, Camille Paglia is taking umbrage against Taylor Swift’s girl squad, which she describes as a “Nazi-Barbie routine.” Paglia reflects on Swift’s appropriation of girl power squads from the 1990s, e.g. The Spice Girls, Def Squad, to promote a sense of women-empowered camaraderie through social media, in-person staged appearances and the pervasive selfie. After reading her fair but also pretty scathing review where she ultimately describes Swift as a “fascist blonde,” I can’t help wonder if there are lots of similarities between Swift’s posse power and bridal parties?
What it means to be a bridesmaid these days has run amuck. Once upon an ancient to Victorian time, a bridesmaid’s main job was to dress like the bride as a divergence to evil demons who wished to dispel bad luck on the bride (think how Pippa Middleton diverted everyone’s attention). Nowadays, the duties of a bridesmaid are endless. It includes being a shoulder to cry on, party planner, envelope licker, penis paraphernalia collector, moral compass, yes-woman, Mother of the Bride interference runner, 24/7 on-call support, mind reader, errand girl, attention giver and wine supplier at every occasion. And to boot bridesmaids get to buy their boss multiple presents, spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on travel and buy their own work uniform that they will wear once.
Ladies, if your best friend is your brother, or that awkward college guy who naively explained that Beirut is a place, not a beer game, or your male coworker who loves afternoon Hot Pockets almost just as much as you and you’re getting married to…someone else, why not put that best friend in your wedding party?
Gentlemen, if your best friend is your sister, or cousin who encouraged you to embrace your affinity for knitting infinity scarves, or your former high school prom date who danced so awkwardly to House of Pain’s Jump Around that you found a platonic, kindred spirit and you are also marrying someone else? Then you, too, should feel free to put them in your wedding party.
I know that by saying I’d rather be a groomsman over a bridesmaid, it sounds like I’m confirming the old Freudian 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.
“Being a bridesmaid has always been a coveted spot for women. It’s right up there with the titular role of BFF. But what if I told you being called a bridesmaid was really the linguistic equivalent of frenemy? It’s hard to believe, but hear me out.”
I’ve heard of Bill Murray’s surprise exploits, like when he stole a Wendy’s french fry from a guy and subsequently told him, “Nobody’s going to believe you.” And I’m secretly hoping, that I too, bump into him somewhere wondering into a hipster party in Brooklyn.
A bachelor party of Boston College graduates in Charleston, North Carolina had such luck though. Watch it here.
Murray offered this sage advice to the groom before quickly disappearing, “If you have someone that you think is the one … take that person and travel around the world. Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all around the world and go to places that are hard to go to and hard to get out of. And … when you land at JFK and you’re still in love with that person, get married.”
I couldn’t agree more with advice and I couldn’t be more jealous. I would love to have Mr. Murray (or Bill, as we’d soon be on a name to name basis) give a surprise toast for me…basically anywhere, my bachelorette party (“Whose the penis tiara modeled after?”), my wedding (“The open bar is on me!), my honeymoon (“Give it the ole college try!”), the bathroom (“Keep up the good work!”). Though I can’t help but think what female comedian would be equally awesome to give such bachelorette advice…Fey, Pohler, Barr, Handler, Choo, Crawford? If only more comedians or celebrities crashed toasts…
To Read About More Good Speeches!
If you’re looking for some real advice as to what type of wedding traditions you should skip, look no 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.
If you’re willing to take risks and stand out, walking down the aisle to your own tune can really set in motion a lifetime with someone full of exciting risks and solid rewards, like the JK wedding in 2005 who created a YouTube viral video sensation.
In a church ceremony, the wedding party of fifteen, carrying Gerber Daisies and decked out in sunglasses, broke into a fever of dance moves to Chris Brown’s, Forever. By 2013, the video had received over 82 million views and sparked the TV series, The Office to copycat it in an episode. Best of all, after hearing about the devastating domestic violence Chris Brown inflicted on singer, Rihanna; newlyweds Jill and Kevin decided to put their viral video to good use. From 2010 to 2011, the video managed to raise $34,600 for the Sheila Wellstone Institute that helps to prevent domestic violence. Traditions don’t always have to be broken, but look what good can come from those who do break from it.
But there are always those who may not always chose wisely. While you may be capturing a personal joke, sentiment or feel like you’re being totally honest about who you are – there is such as too much. Checking the lyrics is also really important. It seems the bride below must have known the lyrics to Buckcherry’s Crazy Bitch song as it’s hard to miss the bride air humping down the aisle: “You’re crazy bitch, But you fuck so good, I’m on top of it, When I dream, I’m doing you all night, Scratches all down my back to keep me right on.”
Everyone loved the dirty wedding band in Old School, but it’s a different story when it’s real life, especially when parent’s have to earmuff their children at the ceremony (as seen in the video below). Though if you’re super into this idea, The Dan Band tours and might just be able to come play at your wedding. Just put a parental advisory rating on your wedding invitation.
A stag (bachelor) and hen (bachelorette) party are something to behold, but in feminist bride fashion first: Why do men get to call their parties after a noble animal, and women get to name theirs after one that poops eggs? Better than naming a group of women after a brood of cackling hens, let’s rename them lioness parties.
On a 2011 summer trip to Edinburg, Scotland, my spouse and I celebrated our one-year anniversary. What we thought would be a magical weekend full of castles and becoming famous by discovering the Loch Ness monster, ended up being caught in an endless sea of stag and hen parties. Little did we know, Edinburg was party central for them, and little did we know, the romantic room we booked over a pub would be on top of were they all congregated from 10am till 2am (Yes, 10 AM).
What is unique about stag and hen parties is that one; they seem to include people of all ages – your mom’s mom, your aunt, you, all the way to your local librarian it seems. Wondering what all the ruckus was that made our anniversary bed vibrate (it wasn’t us), we wandered into an underground club blasting Katie Perry to Lady Gaga while grandpa got jiggy with it next to some bride-to-be in her 1.99£ tiara, veil and sash.
The second amazing thing is the dedication to costume these groups have: from sexy sailors to sexy witches to something else sexy. Every hen party is decked out in an outrageous costume. Equally amazing is that while, the stag parties don’t seem to dress up as much there were a lot of men who looked liked they had found an equally drunk girl to pull a phone booth clothing swap. There was always a barely coherent guy in a tilted wig, a mini skirt, trying to balance in high heels on cobblestones while trying not to spill his ale. The next blight, post plague, for this little medieval part of Edinburg seems to be hen and stag parties because many pub doors had written warnings on them reading, “No fancy dress allowed.” For an international b-party, dust off a Halloween costume and head to Edinburg. It was such a sight that on our one-year anniversary, my spouse and I starred at others more than at each other, but we made wonderful memories anyway.
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?
I created this ‘Name Change Cultural Spectrum’ for a lecture I gave at Tufts University this spring. I wanted people to understand where their decisions stand in the broader context of equality. For example, a lot of women who retain their surname but also incorporate their new spouse’s name through hyphenation will defend their decision as being progressive or feminist or seemingly more about equality. If you look on the spectrum, that one-sided name change is not as based on equality as we might like to think, especially since men typically do not join women in this one-sided hyphenation.
Also to show that existing name change culture does not encourage equality, I had to invent the term Neutronymics. Neutronymics is the adoption of a new name or combination of names created using the names of married individuals or the retention of separate surnames. It is meant to be a solution to those wishing to participate in neither patronymics nor matronymics and to increase name equality. Mutual hyphenation, the Scrabble Name Game and Surname Retention are all options people are aware of, but had never been grouped before or labeled. Labeling it gives it legitimacy and really puts into perspective the other options that favor one sex over another.
So when it comes time for you to get married and you’re not sure if you’re making the right decision that honors yourself and/or your partner – take a look at the Name Change Culture Spectrum. See where your decision places on the map and you’ll get a better sense as to whether you are helping to buck the dominating patriarchy, are alone in your name change decisions or are making a healthy decision that really promotes equality in your relationship and teaches women to value their name too. And if you’re a lady getting married, don’t forget to make the groom put in the same type of name change consideration you are putting in yourself!
The Lucy Stone League: Crusaders for more name equality!
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.
Ready or Not (2009) – With the Hangover coming out in the same year, its hard to say which movie came first but they are exactly the same except this one is less humorous. The groomsmen use an over-the-top bachelor party to kidnap the groom to Mexico a week before his wedding. Everything starts going terribly awry from jumping out of a crashing plane to angering a mobster, from getting put in jail to being put in front of an execution squad. The question of the movie is is the groom ready to leave his bros behind for marriage? (Subject: Groomsmen, Groom, Bachelor Party, Comedy) Director: Sean Doyle
Katrina Majkut, founder of TheFeministBride.com, speaking on “The Sexy and Sexist Layers of the Wedding Cake”
Despite Ernie, a lifelong bachelor, amorously announcing his preferred partner with the statement, “Rubber ducky you’re the one…I’m awfully fond of you,” people are insisting that Ernie is in fact, partners with his lifelong roommate Bert.
With gay marriage now legal in New York (aka Sesame Street), people are taking a hard look at whether this lifetime arrangement is nothing more than a “Boston Marriage.” Lair Scott with Change.org is starting a petition for Sesame Street to have its first gay couple and marriage. Since Sesame Street has always been a trailblazer in adjusting kids to socially hard issues, it seems only natural that Sesame Street address concerns expressed in the gay community. Of particular concern for Scott is the high incidence of suicides by gay people, who hopes that by creating a gay couple on Sesame Street kids will learn to be “tolerant of those that are different. Let Sesame Street and PBS Kids be a big part in saving many worthy lives.”
Baraat (Hindi: बरात, Urdu: برات) is a bridegroom’s wedding procession in North India and Pakistan. In North Indian communities, it is customary for the bridegroom to travel to the wedding venue (often the bride‘s house) on a mare, accompanied by his family members.
Despite the recent repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” gay service members still face considerable discrimination. While other states are providing equal marriage benefits to gay couples as we speak, the US military and Pentagon will maintain its stance on gay marriage based on the “1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act — which defines marriage for federal program purposes as a legal union between a man and woman” Meaning legal gay marriages will not and can not access the same rights as straight married couples through the Defense Department such as subsidized costs of medical care, travel, housing and other living expenses.
A recent study revealing that skinny wives, or wives with a lower BMI (Body Mass Index: a person’s height to weight ratio) enjoy happier marriages. Funny thing is there’s an increase in women who marry shorter men… So before you start handing your bowl of ice cream over to hubby, the University of Tennessee study only used a sample group of 169 married couples under 35, which is not much of a study to make serious conclusions. But thanks for putting it out anyway, your inadequate findings should really help wives feel better about their body image and state of their marriage.
To read more: Thin wife key to happy marriage! – Times Of India.
I Do & I Don’t (2007) – A couple undergoes marriage counseling from a dysfunctional married couple. The ‘never have I ever’ games played within the sessions sends the young couple into spiraling doubt as to whether or not they get married. Ultimately, despite multiple uncomfortable nude scenes, overbearing parents, infidelity and sexual harassment by the counselors, the young couple realize that marriage and love is about embracing the perfection and imperfection in our relationships and partners. Director Steve Blair. (Subject: Marriage, Relationships, Comedy)
Wedding Weekend (2006) – A seven-man college a cappella group is brought back together, fifteen years later, to sing at the wedding of one of their friends. While practicing for their big performance, the guys realize that they each lack harmonywith themselves, as friends and with their spouses. Things crescendo as hijinks ensue, ultimately resulting in a rock bottom note. The singers finally realize that life, relationships and marriage can’t be worked out if you’re sitting in the audience. To harmonize, you have to join in and sing the right notes. (Subjects: Men, Marriage, Relationships)
The Groomsmen (2006) – A wedding movie about the emotional roller coasters caused by the life changes a wedding can bring. What makes this movie interesting is that the stereotypical drama doesn’t come from an anxious bride or crazy bridesmaids, but from the groom and his groomsmen. Each guy deals individually with the change a wedding and marriage can cause – from more responsibility, from children to infertility issues, to accepting ones sexuality and to letting go of one’s glory days. Director Edward Burns does a good job of giving gravitas to each issue. I only wish when it came to similar women’s film, they were given the same luxury instead of being frequently portrayed as irrational drama queens. (Subjects: Grooms, Wedding, Life)