WOO HOO! The book, The Adventures and Discoveries of a Feminist Bride was recommended on the BelaKharma.com 2018 Summer Reading List by the podcast host of The Public Library Podcast, Helen R. Little! The book is among so many other amazing authors, we’re swooning over here. So before you head out to the beach or the hammock in your backyard, pick up The Feminist Bride book and another (or all of them) from this list.
I had the pleasure of writing for Bust Magazine and using my feminist bride knowledge to review the feminism of the 2018 royal wedding between Prince Harry and American actress, Meghan Markle. Most sources have been applauding the resounding feminism Markle instilled in her wedding from how avant-garde her non-traditional wedding dress was (are we looking at the same dress?) to her feminist solo walk down the aisle (mmm, half walk, wait, half unassisted, but still 100% escorted down the the aisle walk). So I had to weigh in as The Feminist Bride in order to set the feminist record straight. Overblown feminist actions aside or, at least, unreported feminist actions like being referred to as “Ms.” on the wedding invite and skipping a registry (they asked) for charitable donations instead, there was some powerful intersectional feminism in the wedding where Meghan’s black heritage was beautifully intertwined with the Anglo-saxon customs of Prince Harry’s church. There’s a lot to consider, particularly accurately assessing what type of influence Meghan will have on the royal court as a feminist. Because if a feminist activist can tell you anything it’s that no one can rest on their laurels, there’s is always more equality to achieve and more work to do. Check out my article here.
As a kid, I refused to wear a dress. I just wanted to be comfortable but more importantly feel like myself – the “tom-boy” who’d much rather climb a tree than play with dolls. Eventually as I grew older, I acquiesced on the dress thing, even wearing a bridal gown on the big day. But I understand that there are plenty of brides (or bridesmaid or lady groomsman) out there who, like my younger self, have no desire to wear a dress on their wedding day. So I’ve gathered what I think are ten great bridal tuxedos keeping in mind that it should be something that would be too fancy for work but perfect for the red carpet, are in the affordable range (and by affordable I mean under the average cost of a wedding gown – $1,200 (TheKnot, 2013), is not only white, won’t confuse you with the waitstaff, are cut for women and feels avant-garde bridal.
Hear ye, hear ye, give a listen to The Feminist Bride on the The Big Wedding Planning Podcast! We talk about my new book, The Adventures and Discoveries of a Feminist Bride (Black Rose Writing), sexism in weddings and how to be empowered to make your wedding more meaningful and supportive for all the people you love and well…everyone else for that matter.
I hope you join me for a cup of cafe con leche for a fun evening of wedding mishaps, fiesty feminism, and eye-opening truths about wedding traditions!
Do you love your partner so much that you’re willing to let them go…and date other people? That’s exactly what writer Amy Krouse Rosenthal did in her moving and funny NY Times article. She loved her husband so much she wrote a dating profile for him.
What Krouse Rosenthal really wrote was a love letter to her husband, sadly, on her death bed. She shows how asking and encouraging him to keep on living and loving long after she’s have gone is one of the most selfless thing a partner can do for the other. The love letter is a really good reminder of what selfless love is and the power of a written letter to capture the heart’s true feelings. While Krouse Rosenthal praised what an amazing catch her husband is with heartfelt examples, he might have been just as lucky to find someone who loved him so much she wanted nothing more than to see him happy…
“If you’re looking for a dreamy, let’s-go-for-it travel companion, Jason is your man. He also has an affinity for tiny things: taster spoons, little jars, a mini-sculpture of a couple sitting on a bench, which he presented to me as a reminder of how our family began.”
Amy Krouse Rosenthal passed away on March 13, 2017. You can read her obituary here.
The woman-led proposal is as rare as a unicorn, but no less magical. Restrictive gender norms dictate that it’s the “man’s job to propose,” to which The Feminist Bride says
Jenny’s Wedding (2015): When I saw Katherine Heigl in yet another wedding/rom com movie, I rolled my eyes. What other type of Wedding Industrial Complex and women-are-only-valuable-if-they’re-in-a-relationship shenanigans is she getting into this time?
Every wonder why best ladies dress alike? It’s not because the bride has a twin fetish or because ordering someone what to wear is part of some sick and twisted mommy dearest game (though who knows, it could be…). It’s actually not for anal uniformity in photos either or team spirit. And would you believe it wasn’t originally so the bride would stand out among her entourage (though it has sorta become that)?
The dressing alike tradition goes all the way back to before the middle ages. It was thought that evil demons wanted to curse the bride with their bad juju. So her maids, nearest or dearest would actually dress like the bride in order to fool the mean spirits. This explains why it was kosher for Pippa Middleton to dress in white like her future-queen sister, Kate. And if you think about it, Pippa did indeed thwart any negative attention away from Kate; although in 2011 the evil spirits where more like the paparazzi and anyone with the Internet who thought it was okay to objectify Pippa’s derriere…
Best ladies are not the only ones who originally dressed like the bride; the flower girl mimics her outfit too. Although a flower girl’s goal is not to thwart the evil eye but it’s still equally superstitious. She is supposed to represent the bride’s future children, who would biologically-speaking physically resemble the bride, hence the matching uniform.
The fact that best ladies still dress alike harkens back to these ancient superstitions, though the efforts of the wedding industry and advertising has oppositely influenced the tradition. Now it’s about making the bride stand out, like a white bull’s-eye among a uniform sea of crimson cocktail dresses. This new age emphasis on the bride is what has created bridezillas, so one could argue that the me-me-me bride has indeed become infected by those demons or become one… Maybe there’s something to this dress-alike tradition after all.
Hey folks, remember that time you got married? I hope so because you’re required to keep on remembering - every year, FOREVER. Not remembering wedding anniversaries can lead to nights on the couch, even more-expensive-than-you’d-normally-buy jewelry or signing up for things you’d normally refuse to do with your spouse like Zumba lessons or using your naked body as a platter for an intimate Sunday football meal.
I was interviewed as The Feminist Bride for the magazine, Little India about brides attempting to personalize, honor but also modernize wedding traditions. Check it out to hear what Indian fiances are doing to navigate the old and the new!
Every wonder why wedding cake is a tradition? Here’s a fun lecture I did at Tufts University on The Origins of the Wedding Cake and in my own wedding dress to boot! The origins is just a small part in my full lecture of “The Sexy and Sexist Layers of the Wedding Cake” for the Women’s Center 2nd Annual Symposium.
Super excited to be interviewed on the #1 wedding podcast, Save The Date. It was really fun sitting down with the host, Aleisha McCormack to talk about some of the most sexist wedding traditions out there and what “bridechillas”‘ and “groomchillas” (bride/grooms who are chill) can do to make them more feminist and respectful for all. So please check out and listen to Episode 169, which by the way, is a totally appropriate number considering how much we discussed the role of sex in wedding traditions! To all the feminist brides (and grooms) out there, I hope it’s an eye opening listen and as fun for you as it was for me in recording it!
Even in 2016, formal dancing still reeks of gender divides (even Dancing with the Stars has yet to feature two partners of the same sex), but modern, feminist brides should feel absolutely free to dance with the woman who raised them instead of their father or next male of kin as tradition usually dictates. There’s absolutely no reason why a bride can’t dance with her mom for the parental wedding reception dance instead (or split a song so both parents can take a turn). So here are eight song suggestions to inspire the moment you cut a rug with mom.
Of all the traditions associated with weddings, bridal showers might be one of the most obsolete traditions remaining. While there’s hope with the new trend of “Jack and Jill” showers (both sexes), it remains narcissistically sexist, greedy, outdated, and well, cheesy.
Most brides would not consider anything other than a white wedding dress.; alternatives like cream, beige or winter winter doesn’t really count as breaking with tradition. While the connection between a white wedding dress and virginity is dying a slow (but rightful) death in bridal culture, there’s still plenty of people who will make making passive side remarks about the bride and her vagina like, “Looks like she decided to wear white after all.” Gone should be the days when wearing white or any other color for that matter should indicate what the bride’s sexual status is, but there’s plenty of bridal culture precedent to still work against. The politics of a white wedding dress was firmly shaped by religion, class and consumerism, though weirdly enough one of the big enforcers on such bogus color politics was poetry…which, might explain why brides stick with the white wedding dress.
Some people use their astrological signs to describe their personality – preordained by time and chance according to the alignment of the stars. Some attribute their character based on their parents or environment; access to money or lack thereof. There are many internal and external factors that help create you, and it’s nice to think that identity, to some extent, is something we can choose. After a short lifetime of making those critical choices or being products of our genetics or childhood, when it’s time to ring the wedding bells do we still have that personal choice to choose “who am I – as a bride?”
Can’t wait to become the new “Mrs. His Name?” Ever think about why men never change their title of “Mr.” when they get married, ever stop to consider what it means for women to only change her title?
In Netflix’s new docuseries, Chelsea Does, comedian and former talk-show host, Chelsea Handler does marriage in the first episode. The only problem is that Chelsea can’t find anyone to do her until death do they part. Absent groom aside, she’s not sold on the idea of a wedding and sets off to discover what the big deal is about weddings and being married.
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?
Like everyone else, I thought my relationship was unique and unlike any others, until I saw this video by Buzzfeed… I don’t know about you, but in terms of relationship quirks, communications and habits, I’m totally busted…
Next to my tattoo of Notorious RBG will go my tattoo of Tina Fey. Though maybe I’m thinking too small and these broads need their own Mount Rushmore. Tina Fey visited David Letterman for the last time (it was her 20th appearance). (By the way, the podcast Stuff Mom Never Told You has a really eye-opening episode about late night television and women. It talks about the scandal where Letterman inappropriately slept with a number of women staffers, which gives Fey’s clothing message of “Bye Dave” new meaning.) She wanted to show to him what the underworld of undergarments looks like and how she “will no longer conform to gender norms” in this way with the message #LastDressEver. And so the saucy lady from 30 Rock and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt stripped down to her Spanx on national television to show the world the absurd lengths women go to look a certain way. It got me thinking about the ridiculous contraptions brides often wear to look “perfect” too, which is silly because the wedding dress probably already comes with corset bone ribbing…Thanks Tina Fey for bearing all and calling out the ridiculousness of women’s clothing, more like #LastCorsetEver.
Nothing is better and sexier than a feminist burlesque dance. Here’s why…
UK comedian, Nadia Kamil does a perfect job of showing how awesome a feminist burlesque can be. Her routine is inspired by a Margaret Thatcher burlesque act, and thought she could one-up the Iron Lady and her patriot pubes. (By the way, doesn’t Kamil look like Tina Fey and Molly Shannon’s long lost British sister?) So next time you’re looking to book a bachelor or bachelorette party think about tracking down a feminist burlesque show, you will never regret it.
Ever wonder what Disney princesses would be like if they were placed in their correct times in human history? This video reverses all the Princesses’ Fairy Godmother’s work and reverts them back to reality. And it turns out it ain’t all songs and furry animal sidekicks, like how Jasmine would have been a lot more covered up due to strict religious mores. The video asks, “Did they live happily ever after?” but doesn’t answer the question directly other than showing the stark reality between the women’s fantasy lives and real life ones. However, I’m reading Stephanie Coontz’s Marriage, A History and it seems unlikely that they lived happily as few women in these periods had any civil and social rights. Until the 19th century few women were allowed to get an education or retain any type of power, except over a household. And forget about their knights in shining armor, these women barely got to choose whom they married and loving them was generally out of the question. Husbands usually controlled their lives and the finances too, even if through a dowry, she was the wealthy one. They could even legally beat their wives, and cheating was generally accepted. Reality gives a glimpse as to why perhaps these princess fantasies were appealing…
There’s an urban myth that men are commitment-phobes when it comes to marriage. If this were true, then why do so many of Hollywood’s brides have cold feet? If I had to guess, it’s probably because most lead women wake up moments before walking down the aisle realizing they are about to get married in order to meet societal expectations – don’t be alone, marry for security, it’s what everyone else wants, your ticking biological clock, all your friends are doing it, it’s not cool to be a cat-lady, etc., etc. – as opposed to a bride marrying for herself and to be with a person she truly loves. I would like to think those runaway brides are sticking it the Wedding Industrial Complex or those icky societal expectations, but the reality is their journey usually ends with another relationship and less self fulfillment. Here’s a list of Hollywood’s ten classic runaway brides and what their feminist (or unfeminist) epiphany was after they said, “F%^& it, I’m running…”
No one does irreverent women’s culture better than Amy Schumer on her Comedy Central show, Inside Amy Schumer. Now we can enjoy her hutzpah on the big screen with the movie, Trainwreck (in theaters July 17). Not only did she write this film, but she’s starring in it too. Chock one up for underrepresented women in Hollywood! While it seems Trainwreck might be another chick flick rom-com, the trailer shows Amy acting more like the unattainable, detached guy which hopefully breathes some fresh air into this exhausted genre.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an important Nigerian novelist and gave an inspiring lecture at Tedx in 2013 called “We Should All Be Feminists.” It explores her own personal interactions and observations regarding gender in Nigeria. She shares her thoughts on these moments as they relate to feminism, power, equality and culture, but what was most powerful is how she described how gender roles in marriage often shape women and men’s equality. Here are some amazingly insightful quotes from the talk and some Feminist Bride reflections on them. I also strongly recommend watching the talk in its entirety too.
Obama in the State of the Union (#SOTU) hit some unprecedented markers when it comes to civil rights. He spoke of same-sex marriage as a civil right and he spoke of the protection of those in the LGBT community, a first for SOTU. What’s even more exciting is that 2015 could make the final mile for same-sex marriage approval. Here’s a quick breakdown of milestones in the quest for marriage equality and its current status in terms of social and political approval.
There’s the superstition that it’s bad luck to see your fiancé the day of the wedding, but it starts with the tradition that says a couple should stay in separate bedrooms the night before the wedding too. In this modern day of cohabiting couples and non-virgins, is the not-sleeping-together tradition relative anymore? By sleep I mean, whatever you want to do; be it hitting the hay or having a roll in it. And for the record nowhere in this two-sided argument will higher-than-thou sexual morality be a legitimate defense for it. The whole notion of ‘not-sleeping-together’ is historically part of an oppressive and discriminatory conduct code that demeans sex and anyone who chooses to have it outside of marriage (mostly women). By eliminating the tradition’s inherent sexism, the Shakespearian-esque question still remains, “to sleep or not to sleep with your fiancé the night before the wedding?”
Most of us learn about wedding culture from our parents, peers, religion, businesses, media and pop culture. It’s very easy to feel like experts on the subjects since we’re inundated with lessons of how to buy the perfect wedding dress, get him to propose, what to say during the wedding ceremony, how to pick out a flawless diamond ring and how women can easily change their last name to his. When it comes to weddings and marriage, people have always been told what, when, where, how, but few ever think for themselves - ‘why?’
Ever wonder what the deal is behind your social media friends who incessantly post about their relationships? Are they overcompensating for something else or do they really have the best boyfriend/girlfriend in the whole wide world as they claim? Are they truly happy or are the rest of us just curmudgeons and incapable of being happy for someone else’s happiness?
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?
Contributing Writer: Kathryn Marie Lavin
In a dimly lit theater, spending quality time with my big brother over a box of Sour Patch Kids and the soon-to-be-classic, The Wolverine, I felt what I assumed was gas. However, as the movie closed in on its predictable ending, I felt what I can only describe as the sensation of a koi fish trapped in my bowels. As my brother and I exited the movie, I thought about running my amphibious sensation by him. Normally tossing around topics like “abdominal distress” and “public farts” would be standard with my bro, but this feeling exceeded our bodily comfort zone. I felt like I had more in common with the hero of the film, a mutant.
Stop 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…)
A 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.
This short animation, Sidewalk (2013) by filmmaker, Celia Bullwinkel will touch the hearts of all the ladies out there. I thought this animation did a great job depicting the often too public stages of personal change, both physical and mental that women experience throughout their lives. And it even put its two cents in regarding street harassment. There’s a happy ending though as the heroine passes on her own life lessons of loving yourself!
Oh yes there’s more! In addition to the 10 The Feminist Bride has already covered, here are 10 more wedding traditions worth skipping. Don’t worry there are solutions for all of them! And yes, that’s a bride throwing a cat…and no, it’s not on this ten list. Sorry cats.
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.
Bridezillas aside, a bridal meltdown can happen to anyone. It will undoubtedly be 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.
topless, post mastectomy with no reconstructive surgery on stage at New York Comedy Festival. In my personal opinion, it was a bit that rivaled her now-legendary 2012 performance at Largo and sent a powerful message about body images and acceptance. Go Tig!
I winced when I heard Ms. Amal Alamuddin was changing her name to Mrs. George Clooney. She became yet another example of a women choosing for her identity to be represented by a man’s after marrying. Here’s how her decision, one shared by the majority of women, is vastly more complicated than it seems.
Forget proposing with Grandma’s diamond ring, what about proposing with Grandma’s ashes as the diamond ring? Yes, you heard me right. A Swiss company called Algordanza will take the cremated remains of your beloved one and synthesize a diamond between 0.25 and 1.0 carats. Not only is a diamond forever, but now, so is Grandma or Great Uncle Ezekiel or your beloved cat Mr. Jenkins (alright, maybe not Mr. Jenkins, turns out they don’t allow pets). Gives new meaning to DIY.
Tired of winking at people online? Starting to wonder why you’re friends with some people 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?
On other non-bridal news… Earlier this year, comedian and actor, Louis CK took the SNL main stage. His opening monologue covered women’s vote, women in religion and how awful it is to name a t-shirt affectionately after the act of wife beating.
I’m happy that Louis CK took it upon himself to talk about real issues facing women like his daughters and me – and with humor. It is a funny and absurd observation that some people in this country are older than women’s ability to vote! But I’m confused at the feminist undertones of his SNL bit. Didn’t he tell The Daily Show, when discussing the Daniel Tosh’s controversial rape ‘joke,’ “[it’s] a fight between comedians and feminists, which are natural enemies, because stereotypically feminists can’t take a joke, and comedians…can’t take big criticism and are big pussies.
One of the amazing things about living in New York City is that there’s no point in fretting about what you’re wearing or how you’re wearing it; there’s always someone else that took a much bigger fashion risk. For example, I was at an art exhibition opening at the Brooklyn Art Museum for Killer Heels. One patron was wearing a purple cape, another dressed like Colonel Sanders and someone else was wearing wire boxes for a hat. In New York City, anything goes when it comes to fashion. And so should it be as a bride, even if you’re not in New York City. For all the pomp and circumstance and Benjamins that go into dressing for the big day, why not take a leap of faith with your footwear? After all, most people won’t see your shoes underneath that long gown. And it’s a little extra fun knowing you’ve bucked the traditional white satin. Heels? Forget about them! They’re just going to come off eventually anyway as you dance into the night. Here are some awesome alternative wedding shoe ideas so your feet and your fashion can be footloose and fancy-free on your wedding day.
Princesses are yelling “Fuck No, I Won’t Let It Go!” when it comes to inequality. Nor should they! FCKH8.com, a “for-profit T-shirt company with an activist heart and a passionate social change mission” that focuses on anti-discrimination, is using f-bombs yielding princesses to talk about women’s inequality. Aside from the over the top acting, it sends a powerful message that shows how sexism affects women of all ages. I especially loved the ending when they talked about how gender roles hurt men too; and I fell over laughing when one princess was making it rain in the swear jar. They totally put it into perspective when the video asked, “What’s more offensive: a little girl saying ‘fuck’ or the evil fucking sexist ways society treats girls and women?”
Ever find yourself jelly over someone’s massive diamond engagement ring? Covet 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…
Ever wonder why some people like to argue that marriage is only “between a man and a woman?” Would you believe that the statement is not necessarily about who has a right to marry, but more of a pretext to what marriage is supposed to be for? We’re talking baby making.
“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.”
An awesome group of Hollywood women gathered at a roundtable discussion with The Hollywood Reporter. Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project), Emmy Rossum (Shameless), Zooey Deschanel (New Girl), Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Taylor Schilling (OITNB) and Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory) spoke openly about the backhanded compliments people often give to actresses. Though I will argue that every day folk hear similar things all the time. So kudos to these women for putting it out there and calling BS.