On Being A Feminist Bride

       Before Jon and I were ever officially engaged, I had misgivings about how I would maintain my identity as a feminist and still do all those wedding things in a way that would satisfy my own desires for our union while also not disappointing my family or friends. It seems that every step along the way there are little obstacles, things that are assumed to just be tradition, but are fraught with other connotations. I mean, marriage itself is such an old timey form of possession, passing a woman from her father to her husband, that that by itself is a little weird. But realistically, it’s what works for us. We are from different countries, and we knew from the time we started dating in Korea that we would either get married, or have to live in a country that belonged to neither of us, or um…break up. Because that’s life, and love (even lots of love transatlantic love) isn’t enough to make magic things happen (like visas appearing out of nowhere, sans a marriage to validate the relationship). So now we’re here, planning a wedding. A small, tasteful affair, or something like that. And it raises a lot of questions.

            We’re skipping a lot. There are things that I/we don’t want to do. There will be no “obey” in the vows (duh). There will definitely be no church service. I’m not changing my name. My dress is short (but white, despite any so-called lack of purity-coughcough). And the whole affair will be tiny-25 people tops. Small ceremony at the courthouse, followed by dinner at an awesome restaurant. Then dancing in the city (and, let’s face it, some boozing). The thing is that when we started planning, I had some freak outs. It’s not fun attempting to plan a wedding when your dude lives in another country. Especially when we were trying to plan a somewhat big one. I’d find awesome invites/stickers/cake people/etc and wouldn’t be able to talk to Jon because -oh yeah-England is 5 hours ahead of Ohio and that time difference is a biatch. And then Jon would be sad when we talked because I was sad. Planning is supposed to be the fun part, despite what everyone says! Once we decided to change our whole wedding plan to something that made us 100% happy, everything felt so much better. And we’ve done it all together, which was also really important to me, and what I think is an important part of maintaining equal standing. I hate the stereotype that women obsess about their weddings from their childhood-purely anecdotally, that shit isn’t very true. None of my friends or the women that I have met are like that. And coincidentally, I’ve also found that grooms care just as much about their wedding (as they should, right?). I think part of the whole feminist wedding experience has been equality in our planning. Jon is amazing and this whole experience has been great for us-yes, he teases me sometimes for the amount of pretty pictures on the internet I force him to look at, but gasp! he has real opinions. He knows what he wants, what he likes, and what he doesn’t. And we don’t always agree, but that’s fine. This isn’t my party. It’s our party.

           But back to the whole feminist debate. For me, many of the biggest qualms and internal struggles I’ve had re: wedding have been very physical. Being pressured, however good-naturedly (externally but also internally, from myself) to “look my best” aka lose 5 or 10 pounds. Should I go ahead and highlight my hair for the big day so it looks more blonde in the pictures than it’s naturally dirty blonde state? Feeling dumb for paying someone to do my nails and makeup. Things like that. It’s a constant fight in my mind. Will anyone really notice if I’ve lost or gained 5 pounds in my dress, or will they be more busy celebrating with me because they love me and are happy for me, no matter how skinny (or not) I am? I have the hippy feminist side saying wear jeans to the courthouse, go eat a hot dog and say fuck it while I frolic in a field with my new life partner barefoot. And the other side says, that’s not what I want. I WANT a fancy day for us. One fancy, kinda traditional day. With champagne and cupcakes and a beautiful dress and high heels and a gorgeous man who loves me by my side. That is what I want. And no, I’m still not willing to spend a mortgage’s worth of dollars for that day, or invite every single person we both have ever known or met (which is a whole other issue in itself, the giant wedding industrial complex that makes people thing that a wedding is a WEDDING only when it meets certain criteria or critical mass). But that also doesn’t mean I want to sit on hay bales and spend countless hours DIY-ing things like paper flowers and letterpress invitations and a vintage chic veil.  But the thing is, some people want to do that. And if they do, that is their prerogative. But if I don’t, that’s cool too, right? And I don’t deserve to be judged for it, like I’m buying into the system that tells me what to do with my lady self. Because at the end of the day, it is about how we, the dude and I, want to remember our day. Face it-how many weddings have you been to in your life, and how many do you really remember? For everyone except the bride and groom and maybe their parents, most weddings are only vaguely memorable; a fun party attended at some point in the past that may or may not have had good food and an open bar and a few drunk uncles getting their dance on. But to the couple it’s the start of something new and huge and life-changing. And I guess what I’m saying is that I want it all to change in the right way. I don’t want to lose my values and ideals as they regard my independent womanhood just because I’m attaching myself to Mr. Norris for all eternity. The planning of a wedding and the start of a new couple’s wedded life together really is a chance to think about what is really important in how one sees their self. I want it to be right. I think we’re doing okay, but well…I don’t want to lose my feminist card just because I got hitched. And basically, you can’t take it from me. I can be strong and feminist and independent, and still be a married lady. It’s all in how you go at it.

 

Any other thoughts out there on maintaining your feminist ideals while planning the most potentially fluffy day of one’s life? I’m totally interested in hearing them!

 

8 thoughts on “On Being A Feminist Bride

  1. Colin

    To be honest it sounds like you’re taking an eminently sensible and reasonable approach to this (and also taking the time to think about it all and its implications, which is always a good thing) – it’s you and Jon’s day so do/organise whatever the two of you are happiest with.

    Though on the comic you put in at the bottom the whole double-barrel thing seems problematic to me. What happens when your hypothetical child marries someone who also has a double-barrelled surname? A quadruple-barrel? I think society needs a work-around for that one before it literally becomes an exponential problem.

    …possibly a name-blend? Shorris? Neets?

    Reply
    1. Ashley Post author

      @Colin-yes, that is great advice. it’s hard to remember when you’re bombarded with ideas from others! slightly stressful, but i agree, important to keep a handle on. as for the name thing-well, that’s our kids’ problem! (no seriously, i have no idea what we can do for those poor little ones. maybe a whole new name for everyone!)
      @Evie-I knew you would! We can’t help but caring. It’s a balancing act from proposal on. And who doesn’t like getting snazzed up in their best and brightest?! Party poopers, that’s who.
      @Jon-Yeah, that’s lame. Although I’m sure all those friends are the single, not-marrying-a-sassy-American ones. (I hope).

      Reply
  2. Evie

    You know I love this. For some reason, I conflated being a chill feminist bride with having to appear like I don’t care. But I do care. Of course I care.

    This shit is heavy and difficult to unpack. I know a few things for sure though: I never turn down an excuse to dress for good news, and I’m keeping my damn name. 🙂

    Reply
  3. Jon

    The flip side of this, of course, is that some of my more…”traditional” friends seem to think that marrying a feminist makes me a pushover / wuss / closet homosexual.

    Not sure I’ll ever figure that one out.

    Reply
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  5. mom

    wow! very inlightning Are we still getting our hair and nails done? I want you to be totally happy think long and hard on the name change what will you childrens last name be? Did my divorce really mess you up that much? I really wish I had it all together back then I think I messed alot of things up in my life I was so different before my divorce and really lost who I was after I don’t think I have ever truely found myself since, yeah I’ve had happy moments but not really happy happy you so remind me of who I was at your age. I’ve always told you and Jamie to be true to your selfs and be independent as long as you are happy and do what you want to do in this world and be kind to others that is all I care I love you with all my heart

    Reply
  6. Ashley Post author

    Mom! I never said anything about divorce you weirdo. This is not about you. And as you can see from reading this, i am in fact thinking about all this stuff. And no, I’m not changing my name, the kids will be hyphened, it’s not a big deal.

    Reply

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