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The Musings of an Inappropriate Woman guide to Feminist Wedding Planning

As you may have gathered from previous posts on this here blog, I’m getting married in just over two months. Which sounds like a long time away when it comes to most things in this world, but feels like no time at all when you’re said person getting married and you also have double your usual writing load, a book proposal you’d like to finish revising and start shopping around, and need to wrap all this up before flying to the other side of the world in six weeks to prepare for the wedding and do this thing known as “taking a holiday”.

But this isn’t the Musings of an Inappropriate Woman guide to Feminist Life Planning, it’s the Musings of an Inappropriate Woman guide to Feminist Wedding Planning.

For some people, planning a “feminist wedding” is a contradiction in terms, believing that marriage itself is a patriarchal institution (I don’t think it has to be, but I’ll get to that in a later instalment). For others, it’s all about the symbolism: no white dresses, no giving away, no name changing, no honouring and obeying – certainly no garter tossing.

For me, planning a “feminist” wedding is about refusing to participate in (what I believe to be, at least) the bullshit that is heaped upon all of us – but perhaps especially women – when we deign to enter the Wedding Industrial Complex.

I’d like to think that most people reading this blog have got the symbolism stuff pretty much sorted (although I will cover that in detail at a later date). You might not make the same choices I would, but you’re up on the politics of them and you’re pretty sure of where you stand.

But what most people I talk to struggle with is the more insidious stuff: the idea that you can’t get married without spending fifteen or twenty or fifty thousand dollars. That it takes a full year or more to organise a party, and if it’s not at the top of your mind constantly, you’re going to screw it up. That the most important thing about the day is the way you look and capturing that for posterity (sure, we’ll say it’s about love and commitment, but the horror of not spending adequately on either dress or photographer suggests otherwise). That if you’re not skinny enough, if you don’t decorate your space creatively enough, or if you don’t serve your guests five star food, you are failing as a woman, a bride and as a member of the respectable bourgeoisie.

Like I said, it’s bullshit. You don’t have to take out a personal loan (or have rich parents) in order to throw a party; nor do you have to treat it as a second job. If you want to, that’s your choice, but just as it is possible to get married without having a big wedding, it’s also possible to throw an awesome wedding without doing every single thing the wedding mags and bridalsphere would have you think you absolutely have to do.

So, over the next couple of months, I’m going to cover some of the main issues I’ve encountered in co-planning my own wedding – how they’re political, how we’ve been getting around them, and how you can do so too, if the super expensive, super conservative wedding prototype appeals to you as little as it does to me.

Topics I’ll be covering include:

- Weddings cost money, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend all your money on them.
- You don’t need to spend a year of your life planning it, either.
- Weddings and women’s work: where are all the mens? (With guest commentary from Mr Musings of an Inappropriate Woman.)
- How planning a non-traditional wedding made me more sympathetic to traditional couples.
- Is marriage still a patriarchal institution? A heterosexist one? And how do we deal with that?
- The bridal beauty myth.
- And “getting weddinged” versus “getting wed”.

If there’s anything else you’d like me to cover in this series, leave a comment or submit your question to Ask Rachel.

Related: Things I have learned about wedding planning
Diamonds aren’t forever: the marriage question

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