I used to always say that I didn't wanted to get married. So many weddings I'd seen were stuffy and traditional and just not very me.
I didn't want to be given away, I didn't want to wear white and I didn't want to "love and obey". (The love bit is obvs fine, just the obeying I have a problem with.) There’s one thing in common with all the things I didn’t want and it’s that they’re all the things that I find decidedly un-feminist.
I’ve now realised that swearing off marriage isn’t the answer, I can still have a wedding and celebrate love and have a great party, I just need to do it on my terms so here are my top tips on how to have a feminist wedding that aligns with your values.
Use Feminist Suppliers
So many suggestions on how to have a feminist wedding actually boil down to your personal choices, preferences and opinions on exactly what or what not to include but my number one tip for a feminist wedding is to book feminist suppliers.
I bought a flat last year and had someone round to quote for some fitted wardrobes. He spent most of the time making comments about women needing space for all their dresses and handbags so I bet you can guess who I didn’t buy a wardrobe from..
From florists to wedding planners, stationers to celebrants, you can find suppliers who specifically state that they’re feminist and proud of it and you can rest safe in the knowledge that there’ll be no outdated assumptions or awkward questions.
Walking down the aisle
I will never ever ever ever ask the question "who is giving you away?"
You are not property. No one owns you and you cannot, therefore, be given away.
There’s no one size fits all answer to this. You might not be able to imagine anyone but your dad accompanying you down the aisle, you might ask your mum or a close friend. Perhaps walking down the aisle alone feels right to you. In the end it doesn’t matter what you decide, what matters is that it’s the right fit for you (and that we call it “walking down the aisle” rather than “being given away”).
My mum married my step-dad a few years ago and was umming and ahhing about whether to change her name. (Full disclosure, it wasn't for feminist reasons, it was because she had 8 years left on her passport and didn't want to have to pay for another one - a true northerner!)
She asked me whether I'd change my name if I got married and I had to remind her that she'd named me Agnieszka Konieczny so she hadn't really left me much choice but it did make me think. I’m one of two sisters, my Dad was an only child and my sister’s kids have their Dad’s surname so Konieczny stops with me – would I be willing to give it up just because I got married?
There’s the financial and administrative burden that accompanies renewing legal documents, email addresses and log-ins plus the professional implications of having built a name for yourself, only for it to go and change.
I know men who have taken their wife’s name, couples who have amalgamated their surnames to create a new one or people who don’t bother changing at all. There are also some bad-ass feminists I know who took their husband’s name. There’s no wrong answer, but it’s important to make sure you’re doing what’s right for you.
Be seen and heard
I am BORED of only hearing men speak at weddings. I am OVER IT.
Do a speech at your own wedding, ask your mum, ask your best mate, ask your sister, your aunt, your grandma, your cousin, ask every woman in the bloody room to say a few words to make up for the hundreds of years of wedding where hilarious, insightful, intelligent women have sat in silence in the name of tradition. (Can you tell I feel strongly about this one…?)
Share the load
There’s an expectation of women (mostly those who are getting married to men) to live and breathe weddings until they have created the most perfect, intricately planned day alongside juggling full time jobs/family commitments/living their lives while their future husbands are simply expected to show up on time on the day. I detest this narrative and I really do think there are a lot of men who’d love to be more involved in the planning and decision making but feel completely alienated by the wedding magazines, websites, blogs and social media accounts that are marketed solely towards brides. (And don’t get me started on the fact that not all weddings have a bride at all.)
Make it clear from the beginning that there are two people getting married and the burden of planning will be shared. Don’t be afraid to call out the people who make “jokes” or comments and if they don’t like it, don’t invite them to your wedding.
Does it have to be white? Does it even have to be a dress? This is your chance to wear the most extra, most “you”, most “I feel like a million dollars” outfit and we’re limiting ourselves to one colour?
You might decide that wearing white is important to you and it’s what you want to do, but just in case you felt like you were waiting for a sign to wear something less traditional, this is it, this is your sign.
Brideshuns and groomspals.
The people standing by your side on your wedding say should be your favourite people in the world. You’re bonded by years of friendship, the mad nights out and the cosy nights in, weekends away, reassuring phone calls, perfect birthday gifts, sound advice and a lot of laughter. You are not bonded by your gender. So pick brideshuns over maids and groomspals over men.
Mix up the order of exchange of vows
In a straight wedding, the man would traditionally say his vows and “I do’s” first, followed by the woman. I’m not a big fan of those optics.
Let’s modernise wedding ceremonies and mix up the order of the vows. Change the whole thing round or decide to take it in turns but it’s your wedding and it’s your choice. Making a seemingly small change like this can have a really big impact and speaks volumes about your intentions for your marriage to be an equal partnership.
The most important thing is that you have the wedding that you want. If that means that your dad walks you down the aisle in a big white dress then that’s fine, this is a judgment -free zone. Just make sure that you’ve fully considered every aspect and challenge any tradition that just doesn’t sit right with you.