The Feminist Bride’s Guide to Wedding Planning

Feminism – defined as advancing and empowering women – deserves to play a big part in the planning and execution of a wedding. Here are some ways women are changing the balance of power, starting with those magic words, “Will you marry me?” 

  • Groom? What Groom? Let’s get this one out of the way first. Some weddings feature two brides. So why in the world would you want to do business with a wedding vendor whose paperwork insists that one of you identify as the “groom?” Choose vendors who know how to be gender-neutral without asking either bride to give up her femininity.
  • The Groom’s Engagement Ring. Some women feel that wearing a ring while the groom doesn’t have to wear one makes them feel “branded,” while the groom can continue to present himself as a happy-go-lucky bachelor. Both of you are engaged, so why shouldn’t both of you wear your commitment proudly?
  • Bridesmen and Groomsmaids. Does it really make sense for the groom’s sister to be a bridesmaid if she barely knows the bride? We’re seeing more and more weddings in which the wedding party is mixed – not all of the bride’s attendants are women, and not all of the groom’s attendants are men. Let each partner choose his/her closest friends or family members as attendants, regardless of gender.
  • The Vows. If you have to pledge to love, honor and respect (never “obey” – that’s so 1900’s) him in front of all your friends and relatives, it’s only fair that he should have to pledge to do all that stuff for you, too.
  • Whose Vows Are First? Ancient tradition dictated that the groom was first to read the wedding vows, followed by the bride. Today, couples are typically co-equals; he’s not always the breadwinner to your mother and housekeeper. So decide between the two of you which of you will read the first vows.
  • Why Shouldn’t Mom Walk Her Son Down the Aisle? If your dad is walking you to the altar, let your groom’s mom have the same thrill, if they’re both comfortable with it. It’ll be a subtle way to let your guests know that you’re starting your marriage on equal footing.
  • Do You Really Need to Throw a Bouquet? Committed feminists will say the bouquet tradition sends a subtle signal to little girls that their highest ambition in life should be to find a Prince Charming and have a fairy-tale wedding. But what about the little girl who wants to be a CEO first? Throwing a bouquet, or a garter, is a personal decision you and your partner should make together. No one will miss it if you simply skip over it.
  • What’s Your Name? You and your significant other must come to terms with your preference for what you’ll be called when you’re married. Taking your partner’s last name? Keeping your own? Hyphenating your names? Creating a hybrid name for both of you? There’s no wrong answer. But just to be safe, listen to what your families think, and let them know you value their opinions, even though the final decision is yours.
  • Don’t Break Traditions Just to Be Defiant. A lot of old traditions are admittedly outdated but generally harmless. Decision by veto is the best path. If one of you doesn’t wish to observe a particular tradition, and the other has no strong feeling either way, then it’s out. But consider that abiding by a few longstanding traditions is a nice way to honor your parents.
  • “Say Cheese.” Will your photographer insist on shooting a lot of stock poses in which the bride stares adoringly at the groom, as though he is her everything? Let the love flow both ways, by showcasing the two of you as equals in your wedding album.  

Planning your wedding as an interdependent couple will produce a celebration that makes both of you proud, and doesn’t require either of you to be in the other’s shadow. There’s no better way to start a new life together.   

© Fourth Estate Audio, 2017 – Jay Congdon is president of Fourth Estate Audio, a professional Chicago DJ and Chicago Wedding DJ company.    

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