A Wedding on Your Terms

Confronting Tradition: Weddings and Feminism

May 29, 2012 in
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Meg Keene
Meg Keene

Meg Keene is the founder and executive editor of A Practical Wedding and Reclaiming Wife. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was released in January 2012.

I’ve considered myself a feminist for as long as I can remember. And I mean that literally. I used to lecture other little kids on the playground (in my dress, because I only ever wore dresses) about how girls could do anything. This sounds somewhere between pushy and adorable, until you realize that I didn’t grow up in some liberal enclave, but in a hyper-conservative part of inland California that is more or less part of the Bible Belt. My tiny outspoken feminism was met with raised eyebrows in elementary school, and with outright hostility by middle school. This, of course, never stopped me.

But I was never as keenly aware of my feminism as when I got engaged. Culturally, major life transitions have been set up so that the woman has the more visible role (see this excellent article from The Rumpus about the public implications of being a pregnant woman). Weddings are the kick-off. After the flurry of excitement when we announced we were getting hitched, things calmed down considerably for my (now) husband David. “I was never as keenly aware of my feminism as when I got engaged.”He got the traditional back slap and “Congrats, man” from friends and then conversation moved on to other things. For me, not so much. Now, mind you, I was pretty excited to talk about pretty wedding stuff with my girlfriends, but what I wasn’t expecting was that I would suddenly be in a very public spotlight.

When I got engaged, I happened to be at a very old-fashioned workplace. And suddenly, not only did I feel like public property, I felt like public property in the 1950s. Men routinely warned me not to spend all my my fiancé’s money on my dress (I was supporting both of us). When I showed my carefully selected small-for-my-small-hand estate ring, eyebrows were visibly raised at its size (wasn’t my fiance supposed to be a provider?). And then there were the endless questions (or really, assumptions with a question at the end) about my dad walking me down the aisle, my brides-“maids,” and my impending name change.

What I wouldn’t have given for a back slap and a “Congrats, lady.”

At the same time that I was uncomfortably standing in my new found lady-spotlight, I was trying to sort through my feelings on feminism and weddings. If there is one moment in our lives where we’re forced to confront how we feel about gender equality, it’s weddings. Let’s be frank: weddings don’t have the Very Best History when it comes to women. “If there is one moment in our lives where we’re forced to confront how we feel about gender equality, it’s weddings.” The issues range from the basic: women being traded from man to man as property, right up to women not being able to hold a credit card except in her husband’s name (true until the 1970s). So, when we decide to get married, we decide to reclaim and remake the institution of marriage, and shape it into something that works for us. And, of course, we have to deal with wedding traditions with problematic histories. The toughest part is, whatever decision we make on a given issue, our resulting choice is going to be very very public, and we’re going to have a lot of ‘splaining to do.

In case you were wondering if agonizing over feminist wedding choices is widespread, well, while working on this article, I did a snap poll on Twitter and Facebook, asking women which decisions were painful for them. The answers poured in faster than anything I’d ever seen (200 in an hour), with rather visible agony.

Here is  short list of the big deal issues for women getting hitched:

The Engagement Ring: It starts on day one. Of course. Why is the tradition that you wear a ring that marks you as taken, while he wears nothing? Why do people act like the bigger the ring, the better a provider he’s going to be (or that it even matters)? Why in the face of all this unequal junk do many of us decide that we want a ring anyway? (The. Sparkles. Are. So. Pretty.) How can we learn to own our decision no matter what choice we make?

The Name Change: I’ve written reams about the name change issue, but in short form: it can be difficult no matter what your situation is. Some of us don’t change our names and deal with people who refuse to acknowledge our choice (not to mention the endless assumptions that we will). Others do change their names, but really mourn the loss of identity. And still others change their name without fuss and agonize over what that means. And through it all, most men remain blissfully unaware of how damn hard it is for women (red flag, there).

Who Pays: The tradition that the bride’s parents pay for the wedding, while the groom’s parents skate by relatively unscathed, has troubling roots in, say, dowries, and getting rid of that female kid that can’t earn any money, anyway. But the thing is, you may be in a situation where the bride’s parents are paying, and chances are that has nothing to do with a bride price. My parents (who contributed in an equal fashion to the wedding) actually pulled me aside to tell me that “it was very important to get to help pay for my wedding, and I needed to stop trying to take that away.” (Whoopsy.) Still, wrapping one’s head around this can be tough.

So what is a marrying feminist to do? Or say, a woman getting married who just realized she might be a feminist, since none of this is actually equal at all? In my book, I quote Clare, a Scottish theologian, on her thoughts on her own wedding. As she said, “The Latin origin of tradition, ‘traditio,’ means not only to hand on, but to hand over. The meanings of practices such as those within weddings are not rigid, but given on to us to value and interpret in our own contexts.” In other words, weddings come with baggage, their own history of inequality between the sexes. It’s up to us to claim the traditions we like (history be damned), and let go of the traditions that don’t work for us (and bother the relatives!). We have to use our wedding as our first opportunity to shape and claim our marriages and our family life: to balance our beliefs with custom.

As for me? Well, both parents walked me down the aisle, and I never even considered changing my name, but I wear my sparkly, sparkly engagement ring proudly (at least on most days). I am, at heart, ever the tiny bossy feminist on the playground, insisting women can do whatever they want, and wearing a pretty dress just to prove my point. That is what I hope for all of you: the ability to embrace who you are and what you want with zero guilt (and a really pretty dress, if you want it).

“So what is a marrying feminist to do?”

The women who came before us handed down this mish-mash of traditions, some of their choosing, some not. And since they also gave us the hard-fought right to vote and the ability to shape our own lives, they gave us the responsibility to choose. Not to choose exactly what they chose, not to complain that we have the right to choose, but to embrace the evolving nature of tradition and choose what’s right for us. But if we do our job, we’ll pass the next generation a slightly improved, slightly modified version of tradition. So choose without guilt, and choose for our future daughters. Maybe some of them will wear pants at their wedding, with no one even batting an eyelash. We can only hope.

For more wedding advice, visit Meg’s blog or check out A Practical Wedding, available from Amazon or an independent bookstore near you.

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  • FiveOfMine

    Xochi Navarro from FiveOfMine says: Featured

    This is such a wonderful opinion piece. As I plan my wedding I've had a lot of people say to me basically what you've said here- it's my wedding and I can do whatever I want with it. Absolutely nothing HAS TO BE included and I can do basically whatever I want (well, whatever my fiance and I want to do together). :) There are some traditions that I want to buck and others I want to treasure. Just knowing how I feel about each of these aspects makes the decision process easier and the (still forming) end result that much better.

    11 years ago

  • glowfly

    Jennifer Blackwell from glowfly says:

    My last name is too cool for me to change. I really don't care who I end up marrying.

    11 years ago

  • glowfly

    Jennifer Blackwell from glowfly says:

    In last name regard, I mean.

    11 years ago

  • FiveOfMine

    Xochi Navarro from FiveOfMine says: Featured

    This is such a wonderful opinion piece. As I plan my wedding I've had a lot of people say to me basically what you've said here- it's my wedding and I can do whatever I want with it. Absolutely nothing HAS TO BE included and I can do basically whatever I want (well, whatever my fiance and I want to do together). :) There are some traditions that I want to buck and others I want to treasure. Just knowing how I feel about each of these aspects makes the decision process easier and the (still forming) end result that much better.

    11 years ago

  • ACESfinds

    Alison Herr Scates and Chuck Scates from ACESFINDSVINTAGE says:

    Wow, Great Post! Thanks so much for sharing. I absolutely loved reading your thoughts on this subject. You bring up some valid, and sometimes overlooked points. ♠Alison

    11 years ago

  • RKsbagsandsuch

    Ruth K And Dolly from RKsbagsandsuch says:

    Love this post, and yeah, the old outdated ideas of how women were viewd and treated was just awful! I too claim to be a feminist and the very idea of a man treating me as property and trading me around makes my skin crawl! I was married for more than 25 years and no longer care for marriage, sadly betryal of trust issues have kept me from truly trusting a man as you should in a marraige. My daughter however is engaged and will shortly be getting married. I wish I could say I could feel joyous and wonderful for her but i don't. Another note on the feminist side of the story, for ALL if you gals on the way to the alter, best thing I can wish for you is please for heaven's and you own sake, never ever get overly confdent, what I mean to say is I believe all women should be somewhat self sufficiant in life, never be under anyone's say or "heel" so to speak. Guess since I'm quite a bit older now and approahing retirement age, my central nervous system can't deal with the "who does what" in marriage.

    11 years ago

  • eezebeedebee

    eezebeedebee says:

    i got married four months ago, for the first tme, at 40 years old. i wore pants to my wedding, walked down the 'aisle' with my groom, and had a vegetarian menu. my husband's family were appalled. my own mother was delighted.

    11 years ago

  • DariaBukesova

    Daria Bukesova from DariaBukesova says:

    I think you brought up a lot of interesting points, especially the name change. I never even considered not changing my last name. I think its very a important for a family to have the same family name. The first name is something that no one can take away. I do agree, however, that its frustrating when people assume all the sexist things about us.

    11 years ago

  • snolte

    Samantha Nolte says:

    Three months out from my wedding and have wrestled with a lot of these as well as an added layer of women in academia issue. Happy to know I'm in smart, compassionate, wonderful company with this community. For further reading I recommend Anne Kingston's "The Meaning of Wife"...

    11 years ago

  • katklop7

    kathy klopfenstein from ByKatDesigns says:

    I love your article. I married for the 3rd time 2 years ago, a childhood friend from 40 years ago. I was delighted to find out that not only was he totally okay with me keeping my maiden name (I had changed it back & forth too many times already), but he did not feel that some big fancy ceremony was important. We gathered up his kids & grandgirl, headed to the Dallas Arboretum and found a perfect grotto with gardenia trees in bloom. Exchanged our handwritten vows and our rings made by Etsy jewelers, then had a picnic at White Rock Lake. Thankful for Texas common law, we happily filed our marriage 25 days later in Collin County. I wore a 1930's sundress from Etsy, he wore board shorts, Vans and a Day of the Dead tshirt and we called our parents 2 days later to let them know (from our cell phones, at the same time, so these good friends wouldn't find out one before the other :) Maybe age really does yield wisdom. All I know is that I had a perfect wedding FOR ME & MY HUBBY, which was all that mattered anyway.

    11 years ago

  • filhotedelua

    Sarah helena from filhotedelua says:

    Loved! Here we choose to do a lot of things in a unusual way. First, my husband will have his name changed, not me. I don't know in other countries, but here in Brazil both can change names - and most of people just don't know it. I believe knowing more about wedding traditions in other countries could be very useful. I never imagined I could walk myself trough the aisle before discover women do it in some countries. Knowing more about why a tradition exist and how people in other places do things is wonderful to make a ritual that fit us. About the engagement ring - here we just don't have this thing. Both man and woman will wear a wedding ring, usually a simple golden band, since the engagement.

    11 years ago

  • TheBeautyofBoredom

    Gracie from TheBeautyofBoredom says:

    Weddings nowadays do not seem to be based as much on tradition as they used to be. The ceremony and reception become a celebration of two people who love each other, who have their own particular party the way they want to have it, and that's how it should be. The wedding is for the couple, it shouldn't matter what others think. The bride wearing pants to her wedding will soon be less obscure I hope. I know many women who chose to wear converse on their wedding day. A wedding to me is just a party that personalizes the tastes of the couple, and allows their family and friends to celebrate together with them to share a special day that marks the beginning of their future married life together.

    11 years ago

  • mallowdreams

    J. Lee says:

    Great article! Love this!

    11 years ago

  • likeclover

    Holly Atkinson from likeclover says:

    It's your day. Make it whatever you like. Your article's topic makes me think of a hypothetical dance that EVERYONE the world over knows. When you start taking out steps or adding new ones in people tend to get a bit bent out of shape or find it hard to recalibrate. Go with whatever you feel though. Weddings are a public interpretation of what your love and marriage will mean to you. Do what you like and be pleased with your life.

    11 years ago

  • LaurenChapin

    Lauren Salazar says:

    I love this article! I just wish I'd read it 5 years ago when I got married for the first time at the age of 50. I had supported myself for years, as had my husband, so it was quite a transition. The entire wedding planning experience was strange, to say the least. My husband offered to take my name but in the end I took his name, and then regretted the loss of my maiden name. To compensate, I use both, which causes some confusion.

    11 years ago

  • kapeach

    Karen Pietsch says:

    Most of the girls here seem to get it. Screw tradition, just do what. ever. you. want. I bought him an engagement band (did not receive one from him, nor did I expect to) and proposed to him in our breakfast spot, kept my awesome name, and paid for our little wedding party. Oh yeah...no white dresses either! Take that, "Tradition!"

    11 years ago

  • amberbrownmakesart

    amberbrownmakesart from amberbrownmakesart says:

    What an important piece, Meg. I think the truest part of the whole essay is that “we can only hope” that the decisions that we make as feminists, as woman, will make decisions for the future generations easier. My spouse and I had a civil union on June 8, 2012. (Holy cow...does time fly!) The upheaval that this decision first caused was shocking and unexpected. We were bombarded with a list of questions that could stretch the length of Lake Michigan. It started with “why didn’t you just get married?” to “did you wear white?” and “why wasn’t I invited!” At the time, my spouse and I had both been unemployed for nearly six months, we were rejoicing at the fact that civil unions were about to be made into law in the state of Illinois and we felt confident in our readiness to further our commitment to one another; to make it “more official,” whatever that really means. Furthermore, our families lived on opposite coasts and our mother’s weren’t well enough to attend. We couldn’t imagine waiting until everything alined with the stars, so we held firm our readiness and moved ahead with our new plan in place. About two weeks before the law was passed, we discussed our idea with my best friend. She while stunned, was very supportive and excited. She was one of three others in attendance besides my spouse and I. By the next week, we coordinated with his best friend in San Francisco (who happened to already be coming to town for another wedding. Kizmet!) and our dear friend, who would serve as the officiant of our civil union ceremony. We selected a park in Chicago near our then home to serve as the location, made a mix of songs to play before and after the ceremony, and purchased the fanciest bottle of champagne we could buy from Trader Joe’s. I found a simple black sundress with bright burst of red and yellow flowers and he opted for a teal t-shirt and shorts; a fedora that he would later wear in photos and at brunch with our three witnesses. Our friends wore dresses, uncoordinated and I had flowers in my hair from the local shop in our neighborhood. We exchanged our own vows and our commitment statement to each other mimicked the “I will” lyrics of the treasured Beatles song that we spontaneously danced to at the end of our ceremony. If you would have asked me if I would ever get married five years ago, I would have laughed, I felt like I couldn’t be a feminist and consider marriage. I don’t exactly know why, but I felt like so many of traditions of marriage were still oppressive and I just couldn’t agree to bind myself into that. Ten years ago I would have been planning a Cinderella-like ceremony, but last June I made one of the best decisions in my life. To honor the relationship that I had decided was one that I wanted to last. To choose without hesitation or guilt. To celebrate with a ceremony and a marriage that we were proud of and still are.

    11 years ago

  • JKistlerStudios

    Jennifer Kistler from JKistlerStudios says:

    I've always wondered why a guy shouldn't also wear a ring that shows he's "committed" or "taken" upon engagement.

    11 years ago

  • SweetheartLane

    Sarah Jane from SweetheartLane says:

    I do not have an engagement ring, and I got a lot of flack, or at least raised eyebrows for it before the wedding. Now that I have my band though it's never even brought up, totally unimportant. I miss my maiden name though...

    11 years ago

  • khfriedman

    khfriedman says:

    I think depending on where you are, it is very common for men to have wedding bands. I don't know any married men who don't wear them except my father, and that was my mother's choice. When it comes up in discussion, most of my acquaintances have considered one-ring ceremonies a particularly old-fashioned and conservative institution, and were deeply shocked when I mentioned my parents.

    11 years ago

  • michellestarbuck

    Michelle Starbuck Amos from michellestarbuck says:

    We had a friend get ordained online to perform the ceremony in a park in Chicago and invited 2 friends. We all had sushi after and then we stayed in a fancy hotel for the night and went back to normal life the day after. Since I never considered myself engaged, we just wear simple bands to show that we're married. All the time I hear people tell me that they wish they could have done this and avoided all the expensive drama, but their families really wanted them to have a wedding. Our families were still really happy that we got married and accept that we wanted to do it our way (and probably relieved that they didn't have to spend any money!). Although we didn't have a traditional wedding, we still took a trip to Paris and even got wedding gifts. I think everyone should just do what feels right and not feel pressured to do what feels "normal".

    11 years ago

  • allaway

    Liza Clegg says:

    Great article! i became engaged 18 months ago and have found that people around me are far more interested in the wedding than i am. i'm not interested in what type of wedding i have, the smaller, more inexpensive and laid back the better, i would rather not think about it and we have no plans yet to set a date- i think people find this hard to understand. i told my partner i would be keeping my name and he thinks that's great. i offered him my name but he declined- this is also fine with me but i don't see why a man can't take the woman's name (just a thought). sometimes i remember to wear my beautiful ring, sometimes i don't and i love that feeling of choice. i appreciate everyday the ability to make strong choices as a woman and thank those strong women who went before me for making this possible.

    11 years ago

  • matneym

    matneym says:

    I loved reading this. Today is my one week anniversary. At least five times a day I have been asked what my new name is and I have no plan of changing it. Then they asked what it should have been. I reply it is still the same name it should be. People look at me absolutely baffled. At times I feel the need to justify my choice by saying it is the name on my degrees, thesis, teaching license and art work. But all that really matters is that it was the right choice for me. It is a perk that my husband honors that. Liza, I agree that people are more concerned about wedding plans and how things should be. I did my best to stay out of the wedding spot light so I would not have to explain why I would not have a bouquet or any of my other wedding decisions. Do it your way and enjoy!

    11 years ago

  • wwcsilverjewelry

    Lynda from Pintody says:

    This was a super article one that should be hit on much more. I am 42 and have never been married. I was engaged years ago and it was more like en-gaged just like it says. I was expected by him to take his name (not happening) and when my income over took his there was much turmoil between us. Getting married is a commitment not to be taken lightly. As a feminist (I don't like that word) (person ) I believe if I were to change my name why did anyone bother to give me one in the fist place? LOL So now I am once again engaged to a wonderful man who understands me completely for who I am. Our wedding will be a trip to where ever, no family or friends just us! I never dreamed of my wedding I only imagined my life with a partner. Some of us can be women without glamor and glitz. As for rings, well we are making rings for each other. So many of my friends have gone the traditional way, yet they did it by choice so I am happy for them as well. I know many will be sad they didn't get to see me make the big leap but they will live.

    11 years ago

  • carlstinevintage

    Kait from snowbeauty says:

    Oh! Bridget Donahue, I really do love you Although I'm in America, to you I will be true Then Bridget Donahue, I'll tell you what I'll do Just take the name of Patterson, and I'll take Donahue

    11 years ago

  • paintedmuses

    Teresa from paintedmuses says:

    good article, and posts :D. Lot of traditions are expected by women to follow , yet people don't know or refuse explain the meaning behind them. And some conservative minded women in a family help continue a tradition of keeping the younger woman ignorant of a good balanced marriage. The wedding band is a roman tradition by the way. I'm 25 now, I never been engaged, but you do get the wedding pressures, expectations, rules, and drama age 12 (in my case). Marriage turned into a mandated hostess party for everyone else to enjoy, and for the bride to serve everyone and the groom, and be a object to look at----pretty much a fancy waiter in white dress. , It should be a moment for a couple to share there love- and true the less input or mandates from people your not marrying, the easier it is to remember how you want to show you love for your partner. I have 2 coworkers that at strained with the expected weddings, and its so true that they forgot what they want and believe that what they want is the expected wedding.- One's groom's mother even tried to change the bride's honeymoon destination choice! Sometimes what is labeled "conservative" is laughable, cause it really means: a small group forces others to follow suit or be scorned. Yet, they too changed so many original things. For example, fervent belief is for the bride standing to the left of the groom, but that was because the groom wielded a sword with his right to fend off a bride stealer. No sword use need now days, so why scream tradition? The best man: origin was a very strong man chosen by a man to help steal a woman from her family and fight the family should they try to rescue her. The hirer of course is the groom, and the bride had no choice- I'm pretty sure this tradition would go out the window if the real tradition was followed- only cause no one would want to get beat up by the groom and best man! People used to tears pieces of the brides dress off for their own good luck, so the brides started tossing their bouquets to escape the guest and hit the ground running to save their dress, ....and etc. And wedding bands have a cute meaning now, but still is a man's owned property symbol- frankly someone should a respect a woman anyway, not just to respect the husband. Last name identity lost would be sad, and you eventually lose the brides relatives even when moving to a new home. I like the men that keep their mother's maiden name as a last name too (having 2 last names)- it shows she is loved and existed, and that the grandkids can follow that connection to find relatives on the mother's side. You can believe that when someone old in the family dies, that knew the other relatives in the family , that part of the family is lost, broke. Anyway, my favorite color is blue :D, enough people are doing white, and who made up the rule your wedding has to look like the last 10million on earth...boring! :D I like pant, cause hitting my knee against a tarp is annoying (for me anyway). If they don't like it, they're not invited :P!No time for drama, only happiness, and the drama will pass, cause they probably wished they done the same thing :). A day to remember love not regret :)

    11 years ago

  • spongetta

    Betsy from spongetta says:

    I wish I had your voice in my head when we planned ours 7 years ago. My favorite line, "The toughest part is, whatever decision we make on a given issue, our resulting choice is going to be very very public, and we’re going to have a lot of ‘splaining to do." It is so true. I hate the virginal bride thing, so designed my own dress in dark orange silk. It certainly got attention and I was forgiven my most. The name thing was decided for me when he would not even consider theoretically taking mine. The worst backlash was from family members, but my mother always had my back. To solve the problem of being given away, my husband and I walked in together (to an acoustic version of Surrender by Cheap Trick.) Oh, the many times I was told, that is how a wedding is done. But the best weddings are fun relaxed parties because they reflect best of the couple. Marriage is a lifestyle choice, It should be entered as a testament to how you want to live that life.

    11 years ago

  • larkrose

    Cynthia Sillitoe from LarkroseInspirations says:

    Very interesting read, both the blog and comments. I'm 35, not married, and don't really want to marry. If I did, I wouldn't consider changing my name. I guess if the groom wanted to take mine, that would be ok, but it seems kind of strange. A lot of my female relatives don't have middle names because it was seen as superfluous...they'd just drop the middle name when they married, using their maiden name as a new middle name. Some things I 've changed my mind on. I never liked the idea of being given away, but now that my mom has died, I think I would want my dad to walk me down the aisle because it would be a special moment and a great memory. My biggest peeve about weddings is the whole garter thing. It just seems crass to me. There is no way my groom would be reaching up my skirt in front of a crowd of people and then throwing it out to his friends

    11 years ago

  • AbleAprons

    Erika Kelly from PortlandApronCompany says:

    Thank you so much for writing this! It makes me feel so much better to know how many other women have gone through the same as I have. It's funny how mine and my husbands families continue to write "Mr. & Mrs. Soderlind" on cards addressed to us, when I've told them again and again, I didn't (and won't) change my last name. It's my name. I like it. Why should I have to change it? Why is it SUCH a big deal? Part of me feels like I am overreacting when a simple letter can cause me to feel such irritation; but I think people are being inconsiderate. Thank you for writing this!

    11 years ago

  • madebymara

    madebymara says:

    Over a week ago: we had a small ceremony with only 20 people, a family friend married us, reading the ceremony I had written. The next day, a picnic with friends, followed by a pig roast and potluck with dancing on the third day where we had 12 pies, instead of cake. My only regret: that we didn't take more pictures together, and I didn't stop for a second piece of pie, but we were too busy having a good time! I kept my name. And I'm re-selling my dress immediately.

    11 years ago

  • TheJollyKnitter

    TheJollyKnitter says:

    I'm getting married in October. I will be walking myself down the aisle, to meet my groom halfway, and we'll walk the rest together. This has been met with some raised eyebrows, my fiancés sister in law offered to walk me, as clearly I had no one else! I will be taking his last name, as I would like our family to share a surname. If anything, his family has counselled me against this.

    11 years ago

  • Alicebr1

    Alicebr1 says:

    I wouldn't say I was a feminist, but when I did become engaged to a fabulous man (I never expected to get married, and my mother was stunned for weeks!), the wedding tizz become something else. I put my foot down, and refused to wear a veil. I wore a scarlet dress. There was no church, and certainly no chance of me taking my husband's name- although I did try to convince him to take mine. I was lucky that one of my aunts had refused to take her husband's name in the 70's, so it wasn't seen as too out there by my family. And my ring? Well, at the time I was the main earner, so I bought my own engagement ring, which was most definitely not a standard engagement ring.

    11 years ago

  • yellowlux

    yellowlux from yellowlux says:

    I'm a total feminist. Like, tattoo it on my forehead, I don't care who knows. And it IS troubling to have to face head-on these assumptions ingrained in our society - the ring, the gender roles, the wedding traditions. One of the things that my husband and I did that I felt most strongly about, and still feel pleased with - we walked down the "aisle" together. Granted, we were married at a beautiful old barn, and there was no aisle, but we approached our guests together. Side-by-side, hand-in-hand. It wasn't just a message we were sending. It's how we wanted to start our marriage. No taking, no giving away. Just two people moving toward a life together as equal partners. And to anyone else planning a less "traditional" wedding, I will say this: I think an off-beat location helps guests accept off-beat wedding traditions more easily. When you're not standing at an altar, at the front of an old church, it's easier to get away with putting in what's important to you and taking out anything old or staid that you don't agree with.

    11 years ago

  • vespertillio

    Aztrid says:

    I didn't suffer any loss of my feminist pride when I got engaged. I proposed to my man AND gave HIM a diamond ring! It wasn't even a leap year ;)

    11 years ago

  • carambas

    Maria from CarambasVintage says:

    A very interesting article. I see lots of newly weds here! I married many years ago and I remember my mother telling me to keep my own last name as that was the only one that was really mine. I still am grateful for that advise.

    11 years ago

  • tlholland

    tlholland says:

    I have been battling many of these same issues over the last year of my engagement (I am getting married next month). My ring is a small, pretty band with small, pretty diamonds that is perfect for me, but raises eyebrows. My fiance and I are paying for the wedding (which is outside on a deck at a lighthouse), we are walking out together, there is no wedding party, the dinner is a curry buffet, and he is taking my name! His family is freaking out (mostly about the curry and the name thing); mine loves it and our friends are relieved to not be burdened with the wedding party pressure. It's OUR day and we are doing it exactly how WE want (although admittedly, I have done all the planning. No one is perfect).

    11 years ago

  • carolinabenoit11

    Carolina Benoit from carolinabenoit says:

    Wow! For a moment I felt it was me talking. I never changed my name (I don't want to go through the hassle and I love my name), the ring talk Annoys me to death! And my wedding hopefully will be a reflection of me, not what others want.

    11 years ago

  • evadintino

    Eva says:

    Let's not overlook the heteronormativity of the institution of marriage. Doesn't that deserve at least a mention?

    11 years ago

  • ndngirl4ever

    Sarah from TheVeganHippieFreak says:

    I love this article! I've never been married, but I am very proud to be a (rather outspoken) feminist. If I do get married, you can bet it will be a feminist wedding!

    11 years ago

  • TeenyJo

    Kristine Harrington says:

    I've been in the throes of a conversation about this very subject. A blogger I read who is planning her wedding mentioned that she was hyphenating her new name because she didn't want to completely give up her current last name. Someone called this decision "selfish". And thus began a lively debate...

    11 years ago

  • essentialimages

    Kate from essentialimages says:

    I find it eternally refreshing that "we" women can do what we d*mn well please, what fits us and what works for our relationship in regards to marriage in 2012. And, btw, thanks Meg Keene for reinforcing that refreshing concept every day over at A Practical Wedding!

    11 years ago

  • Tweevil

    Courtney Bennett from Tweevil says:

    I don't consider "my" name passed via paternal lineage a particularly feminist thing to keep, so I'm changing my name because the URL and Gmail address was available. Just something to consider if you missed out on your birth name!

    11 years ago

  • gloucester

    gloucester says:

    Fascinating thoughts, Courtney, on the patrilineal origins of many surnames! To me, feminism is about unsettling assumptions (in addition to fighting for equality, of course!), and to offer another view, I feel uneasy assuming that the surname I was given by my family is automatically my father's and grandfather's property. Part of the reason I chose to "keep" my surname (argh! hate the patrilineal phrasing here!) is that it's something I share with the most important woman in my life--my mom. But I like your idea that we can tell feminist stories about any number of choices in this area!

    11 years ago

  • Tvan

    Tracey Vandenberg says:

    I'll be changing my name, and oddly enough it's the thing I feel most pressure about actually doing. All my married friends have kept their name, but I feel quite strongly that my surname is my dads family name, and since he and I have quite a rocky relationship it's not something that I treasure in any way. But in a small way I feel like I am somehow not honouring a new feminist tradition by not keeping my name. Ideally my partner and I would both change our names to a new family name, but since he has an awesome surname I'm just going to take that. I've also chosen to walk down the aisle on my own, because I really don't want my dad to do it, but I also don't want to hurt his feelings by having my mum or someone else do it. Besides I'm a pretty independent lady so what the hell! Hear hear that grooms have it easy - There's almost no tricky decisions for him to make.

    11 years ago

  • MrsMoriartyB

    Brooke Steel from MrsMoriartyB says:

    I was just like you always saying a girl could do anything, everyone was so surprised when I got engaged. They certainly couldn't believe that I was wearing a large (for me, the right size for my hand, small compared to most) sparkly engagement ring. But saving and buying a beautiful ring was something my husband wanted to do as a promise to himself that he would work hard for our marriage. Wearing it reminds me of the effort I am to put in. It funny I've never really though of the ring being a symbol of him being the provider, maybe its because always finically supported us. I really hope that isn't the way people view my ring. As for changing my name we had one conversion about would he change his name to mine, no, ok we'll have different names. My commitment to the marriage is questioned all the time because of it and I want to scream. Why does not changing my name equal that I think we might end up divorced.

    11 years ago

  • cindylouwho2

    Cindy from cindylouwho2 says:

    I've always been a feminist & have never been a fan of marriage, but ended up having to get legally married so we could live in the same country. Since it was for immigration purposes, we did need to have a public ceremony to "prove" it was real. I wore black, didn't get "given away" & did not take his last name. Relaxed little ceremony on the river, with a picnic lunch afterwards. As for the relatives who kept sending things to Mr. & Mrs., since they refused to change their behaviour after years of explanations, we have simply cut them out of our lives (they were rather miserable people to begin with, & my partner is a lot happier that he doesn't have to ever see them!) It's really not possible to partake in a public institution such as marriage without being affected by the social norms attached. That does not mean you have to succumb to them, but you must go in with open eyes & realize that the treatment you receive & the situations you encounter WILL be different afterwards when people know. I sometimes don't bother to mention it, & just refer to having a partner, then I track the different treatment I receive compared to when people know I am married. It's a real eye opener. Eva, yes, I hope the article on heteronormativity of marriage will be posted soon. Once you have spouses of the same gender it becomes painfully obvious how ridiculous many "traditions" are.

    11 years ago

  • broop

    Beaula from broop says:

    I know a couple who took half of each of their last names and combined them to create their own last name. So cool. My boyfriend and I are planning on following the Dutch tradition of wearing our wedding bands on our right ring finger until our wedding day, where you than move it to your left finger. Girls gotta know he's taken!!

    11 years ago

  • RoyalMenagerie

    Alison from RoyalMenagerie says:

    Interesting article! I'm not a feminist, but I liked hearing your opinions on this. I, personally, want a pretty traditional wedding, but I think it's totally cool to just do whatever you want at your wedding!

    11 years ago

  • ralexandrap

    Rachel Parkerson from AdornedinString says:

    madebymara, you guys had the right idea. This is a great article that elicits the questions that need to be asked about our traditions. I don't ever plan on getting married, for my own personal reasons, but really want to read Meg's book now because it looks like it adds sanity to an otherwise thoughtless, insane business!

    11 years ago

  • wildplummosaics

    Megan Cain from wildplummosaics says:

    My version of a low cost, low planning wedding: No proposal - it was a joint decision to get married. No engagement ring - I just wasn't into it. Two months of planning - not enough time for it to get complicated. $40 wedding dress (just a brown and turquoise sundress) and $50 wedding rings. I made the invites and we had them printed at a local shop. Got married outside in the prairie with 25 friends/family. Two friends officiated. Our family and friends performed music and read poems. We all went out to dinner afterwards. The next day we had a potluck for 50 at our very small house with no gifts. (Best wedding food I've ever had!) We provided cake and kegs. Our number one requirement was little to no planning and expense - we'd rather spend the time and money traveling. Spent $2000 on the whole thing. We went camping and canoeing for a week afterwards and then spent 5 weeks in Mexico several months later. It was awesome all around!

    11 years ago

  • elevenOne

    Toni Craig from elevenOne says:

    This is an ironic article for me because I had the same problems (I think every woman does). People assuming and telling you how to they think you should put on your wedding celebration. But I had the problem in reverse - I'm VERY conservative. I wanted my husband's name; very deeply. And my family came to me with very long faces asking me to hyphenate my name...well; I'm usually a pretty obliging person but I didn't cave on that one.

    11 years ago

  • elevenOne

    Toni Craig from elevenOne says:

    oh; and the looks we get sometimes for not wearing our wedding bands currently. I mean; I LOVE some traditions but they are not always practical. My husbands ring no longer fits over his man-hands. I love my rings; they are special mementos from my beloved. My wedding band doesn't fit on my pregnant-ever-changing-hands. My engagement ring I only wear when we go out bc it scratches the kids legs during diaper changes. Also; I walked my-self down the aisle but my dad still "gave me away"; and I didn't want people standing when I walked down the aisle...I'm not a judge; and it makes it hard for people to see. (I usually can't see the bride walking down the aisle when I go to weddings. I want to see them!) Oh; and did I mention there was no alcohol? Yeah - that stirred some folks.

    11 years ago

  • CherrypitAnna

    Anna says:

    i always find the last name topic interesting. for me i simple couldn't imagine my last name being any other than the one i've had all my life. my mother kept hers, and when we were talking about it at a cousin's wedding the other night said "i don't think it ever occured to your father that i would change my name" yet all my cousins who have married so far have taken their husband's name.

    11 years ago

  • fantasygarden

    Anna Kikute from fantasygarden says:

    Very good story

    11 years ago

  • aniera

    Christine says:

    On the topic of changing last names, I think the important point with marriage is that you are creating a new family. (for background, I am a feminist in the sense I ignore any disparities we as women face and chose to show that, I want people to value me for what I do). I am choosing to change my last name, not because I am marrying into a different family, but because we are creating a new one. We both talked it over, and decided to keep his last name. Though, I will keep my last name as a middle name though, since it is important to me. I think this story and all of the comments show that everyone is doing a great job making marriage about themselves and their new lives, which I feel is the whole point of it anyways.

    11 years ago

  • lnb2002

    lnb2002 says:

    Thanks for writing this. I'm not a ring person so my fiancee presented me with a necklace when he proposed. I think people would've been more okay with the necklace option if it had been bigger, but they often responded with awkwardness or discomfort when they saw how little it was. Truth is the size is perfectly me; I hardly wear any jewelry ever and I like how small it is (like a mustard seed of faith). I do not plan to change my name after we wed. My last name is distinct and is usually said in conjunction with my first name like it's all one word. I've always liked that and having asked my fiancee long ago if he would mind--he does not care--I am going to continue with my maiden name.

    11 years ago

  • DCbamafan

    nicole tidwell says:

    I've never realized I'm much of a feminist or "non-traditionalist" either until I started planning my wedding. We are getting married on the beach with just our parents and siblings in attendance and turning our weekend into more of a party or second honeymoon for our parents, siblings and their spouses. Our vows are non-religious and very non-traditional. There is no mention of "giving me away" or "obeying my husband." Our "reception" will just be the 10 of us enjoying a meal at a restaurant after the wedding. No first dance, no bridesmaids or groomsmen, cutting the cake, etc. A month after the wedding we are throwing a big party for our friends to help us celebrate our marriage. No worrying about inviting our parent's friends from 15 years ago or our second cousins and their dates... just our best friends, some booze and some food. We are so thankful that our parents and families are supporting our wishes in every way and are not pressuring us into having the wedding that society expects us to have.

    11 years ago

  • Darling54

    Christine from Jovindale says:

    The most annoying thing for me was the fact that I COULDN'T change my last name! I really wanted to change my name, to me it just represents becoming a family and as long as I live in my province (Quebec) I am legally not allowed to change my last name. Sure socially we are known by my husbands last name but I always feel that I have to explain when I am in a more formal setting (like at the doctor's or work) that I am married. To me that is something to be proud of and changing my last name is just a step to recognize that we have made this commitment to one another and our family. I even faced major backlash from some friends because I was lamenting the fact that I wanted to change my name, but couldn't. Ultimately I believe in choice and I feel cheated that the government won't let me have the choice that I want!

    11 years ago

  • ilenesl

    ilenesl says:

    I loved this article, and equally loved the voices of the women who responded. I am to be married in August, and I can't wait to take my soon-to-be husband's name. It comes with some sadness, in saying goodbye to my father's name (which i may just make my middle name), but seems like a fitting right of passage to begin my own family with the love of my life. It is sad that, as someone put it, all these new beginnings follow the paternal name line -- why couldn't we just pick a new name out of the hat? Although, to be sure, if my fiance's last name (Dubin) wasn't far cooler than my own (Leventhal) i bet he'd take mine instead. Anyway, i digress. I do consider myself a feminist, in a dress, who works as an attorney in the human rights touchy feely liberal world. And I have had in my life as many eye rolls from women who I told I WILL change my name, as you may have had from women when you tell them you WON'T. It is especially unnerving when it comes from my future mother-in-law, who when married in the 70's didn't change her own last name. I think, as with everything, being a true feminist is about being true to yourself, you inner core woman, and making damn well sure people know you have the right to do so. So i'm sticking with what i like, the name Dubin, the man behind it, and a gorgeous grecian gown that will knock his socks off! Feminist or not, i see nothing wrong with that!

    11 years ago

  • NatalieLevang

    Natalie Levang says:

    Thank you SOOO much for writing this. I have been freaking out quite a bit while planning things as if I have bell hooks in the back of my head asking is this feminist? is that? It's been driving me insane. I am so worried about having "talked the talk" to everyone who would listen about how I am a feminist and how awesome it is-and then to adhere to all these old sexist traditions? They are going to think I am a fraud! The name change: His last name is way cooler than mine! I feel no affection towards my own, partial because my paternal grandfather was a big A-hole and if I change mine his name dies out. Dad walking me down the aisle: Honestly I have always been a daddy's girl, he is a very special part of the day for me and I want that to happen. Basically I am really happy that other people are feeling the same issues. HIT ME UP IF YOU WANNA VENT YO

    11 years ago

  • victoriaml13

    victoriaml13 says:

    I love my engagement ring, which has a heart-shaped pink sapphire instead of a diamond. Both my parents are walking me down the aisle (at least of now, this may change after reading about other ideas). My wedding will be a handfasting instead of a traditional wedding. But I am still undecided on the issue of changing my name. I think I am hyphenating my last name with my fiance's in order to reflect both sides of ancestry. I don't understand how girls don't even think twice about changing their names. However, I do understand that names are often given or changed in indigenous cultures to mark a change in identity. Perhaps that is why I am having so much trouble with it.

    11 years ago

  • kingj3481

    kingj3481 says:

    My only comment is concerning the name-change issue. [It may be a bit misleading to frame that particular conversation under the heading of 'wedding' because it actually concerns the entire 'marriage' (no just the 5-6 hour wedding festivities lol). But I digress...] Ladies just consider your choice wisely because the implications of the name-change will last far beyond the bliss of the wedding day. How will you feel about your decision in fifty years, when you are (undoubtedly) the matriarch of your family with grandchildren and great-grandchildren to boast! Then again, in the States you can always pay to change your name AGAIN later on (smile)! Happy Planning Brides-to-be!

    11 years ago

  • keelywheely

    Keely Malady from ModernMalady says:

    great article! i might marry it, it makes so much sense of the whole issue :-)

    11 years ago

  • TheScarletSageTree

    Suzanne Furtado from TheScarletSageTree says:

    Gosh, a great read. And I felt so much of this at my own wedding - but it was my Mum who put things in perspective when I voiced my doubt about a dress that I loved but was not the traditional white. She told me, never mind what others expect or think, this is your wedding and you should wear exactly what you want. Her answer just made all my other questions that I was grappling with go away as well :) And I have to add here that the fact that I have kept my maiden name is always a conversation starter, here in India :D

    11 years ago

  • lprestonsidler

    Lela Preston-Sidler says:

    oh how this resonated! i was married about one month ago and, as a feminist (even a Women's Studies prof;), we had lots to think about. my husband and i both wore rings through the engagement (he was away on a ship for much of our engagement and wore his late father's wedding band throughout), both of my parents walked me down the aisle, and we both changed our last names (combining his and mine--it made the most sense to both of us). we had some tradition in our wedding but wrote the *entire* ceremony ourselves, created the song lists for all music, and pretty much did things our way. many people said it was the best, most personal wedding they had been to--and mostly that it was so "us." it's so important to realize we have choices about these things and, if we do choose the 'oh-so-patriarchal-institution,' we can reinvent it, claim it, make it right for the most important parties involved--the lovebirds.

    11 years ago

  • juliannepigeon

    Julianne Louise from heartbeasthandmade says:

    I've never had much grief about changing my surname, as our naming system is patrilineal to begin with. If our naming system were matrilineal or otherwise well organized, I would still choose to follow it because it's a simplifying practice. Consider the Icelandics whose naming system is patronymic, (sometimes matronymic) in which children are given the father's (sometimes mother's) first name with son or daughter attached to the end (think Sigurbjorn Bjornson; Sigur Rose Bjornsdottir). There aren't many Icelandics in comparison to the US or even the UK, so it seems they make it work. They don't even really consider their "last name" as their identifying name. I doubt the US and UK or the rest of the developed world could get by with essentially only first names. Or, consider the new problem of when those with hyphenated last names choose to marry those with hyphenated last names and then have children. You have an incredibly unwiedly naming system from all families that newlyweds have to navigate. How do you fit all of those names into one? How can you saddle a child with four hyphenated names? How does that help the cause of feminism? Surnames are, in the Anglo lineal system, a link to the past in a culture currently obsessed with its roots. I am a woman who makes it my life's purpose to be a feminist. I fully acknowledge the roots and the reasons for a patrilineal system, and why it has such a stronghold on the patriarchal Western and Westernizing world. However, for me personally, having the choice to take the name of the man that I love and who stands beside me in all things, who is the kindest, most intelligent, and most stalwart feminist, trumps the name I had no choice over at birth, the roots of which are my father's and his father's, and not even our ancestral Polish name, stripped at immigration. That is my choice, and feminism in its most current iteration is about CHOICE. Whatever a woman do, as long as she has made the educated decision for herself, can be considered a feminist act.

    11 years ago

  • teaganchapman1

    Teagan Chapman says:

    Thank you so much. I can relate so well, and found myself nodding continuously as I read.

    11 years ago

  • futuremrsjerz

    Danielle says:

    I totally think people should do whatever is right for them and their relationships. I, on the other hand, am a more traditional bride, and I don't want other women who choose not to change their names or who have non-traditional weddings to accuse women who do change their names and have traditional weddings of "succumbing" to antiquated traditions. I think of a marriage as 2 becoming one and changing my name is one way to symbolize that. We will be playing on the same team, so to speak, so what better way to acknowledge that than to have the same "team name?" I'm not losing my identity but gaining the added aspect of being a wife and future mother. I want to have the same last name as my children and my husband. We will, after all, be a family unit and I want to reflect that in every way possible.

    11 years ago

  • erikjohannsen

    Erik Johannsen says:

    From a feminist perspective, I wouldn't expect her to take my name nor will I wear a ring to label myself as someone's property in any sense. Of course, she is free to purchase and wear a diamond or whatever other kind of rings she wishes.

    11 years ago

  • mlezcano

    Mary Lezcano from BellaBboutique says:

    I'm not offended by the symbolic meaning of the wedding ring, I wear my ring happily without feeling marked as 'taken' or someone else's property. I do however have a bit of an issue when it comes to changing my name. I've been married six months and still haven't made a decision. I've kept my last name up to this point but haven't tossed out the idea of adopting a hyphenated married name...it just seems so long! I don't plan on settling too much, having babies any time soon, or getting boring. I'm young in spirit and try and translate that into my marriage every day.

    11 years ago

  • camilleslack

    Camille O'Bryan-Herriott from MamaCamille says:

    Not one question as to why these traditions were there in the first place? This is a grave disparity from the wisdom of the ages. For example, one of the reasons for having your father walk you down the aisle and for leaving his name and taking your husband's, is because it ritually and socially recognizes that you now are an emancipated adult from your parents and that you are entering into a new covenant with a man with whom you will share single and mutual endeavor. It is an aspect to marriage that is pre-cultural. The old idea of ownership is clearly unethical, but this has a much more real presence in the idea of loyalty and defining clear boundaries within the realm of interpersonal relationships. Forget legalities. It asks, will you ever put yourself ahead of the marriage, or do we work together to establish this institution in our mutual love for each other? It also may have a retroactive function of showing our parents that we are independent of them, and now take on the responsibilities of our households and our civic vocations ourselves, and perhaps more importantly, keep them out of our bedrooms. So, these traditions should not to be so easily overlooked. They address human weaknesses in the light of hope and love and give us something to adhere to when we fail. And we will do that a lot. There is always an antecedent to a tradition. And antecedents before antecedents. Marriage is a pre-cultural institution, with many, many post-cultural addendums, none of which should be used at the expense of the true hope of marriage. If a tradition has been around for SO long, perhaps that is because it actually works. It may enhance some aspect of our marriage that we will need to cling to way down the road, which is why you may be getting a lot of grief from your parents and older family members about your deviation from these traditions. It may just be because they really hold some deeply practical function for keeping your marriage from weakness and conflict, and they love us and really want our marriages to be happy ones. If we are all just now getting married, then we are hardly experts in our field. Maybe, it's actually because they know better.

    10 years ago

  • artXchic

    Hannah M. from artXchic says:

    I really enjoyed this post. I don't consider myself a strong feminist but it raises real issues that women encounter when they get engaged and plan a wedding. Real issues that we sometimes may overlook.

    10 years ago

  • sandboxcastle

    H Wang from sandboxcastle says:

    My boyfriend and I are just starting to think of getting hitched. For him getting married has a lot of emotional baggage and his warming up to the idea included wanting ditch a lot of the traditions like the diamond engagement ring and changing my last name etc. Its funny because I'm more the traditionalist between us and actually was looking forward to the idea of sharing a name. Thank you for writing this article because I feel like it really hits home with me as we've been examining each tradition and trying to come to a conclusion what is right for us.

    10 years ago

  • audrabelle

    Audra says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I was an etsy bride 2 years ago who just happens to be a schoolyard feminist also :-D I struggled and worked my way through all the things you wrote about and I am so happy the next group of brides have this community. Choose what works for you, ditch anything that doesn't and enjoy your day of love celebration! I didn't change my name, my brother walked WITH me down the aisle and our mothers signed the registry. We emphasised our equal relationship in our ceremony, wrote our own vows and had the best day. It won't be the BEST day of our lives, but it was a perfect day that represented us and our love.

    10 years ago

  • andyk23

    Andressa Kristine says:

    I would consider myself somewhat of a feminist. I don't follow politics but I 100% believe we are equal, if not better ;). But why even pay attention to "traditions" or raised eyebrows? It is YOUR wedding. I could care less what any one thinks, besides my fiance. People will raise their eyebrows at every decision you make in life. My advice? Don't even give them the gratification of knowing you've noticed.

    10 years ago

  • CoconutCake

    Susan Denney from CoconutCake says:

    My generation pretty much invented women's lib. And I'm all for it. But the "congratulations" thing I must speak to. My mother (still alive and well at 91) told me that you don't congratulate a bride because it is the man who is lucky (or blessed) to have gotten such a wonderful companion. I felt like that when my girls got married.

    10 years ago

  • kaseytveit

    Kasey Tveit says:

    Thank you for this article! I am feeling a lot of pressure to change my name to my fiancés last name and have been trying to suppress the mourning for my own last name which is so unique and, i feel, so much a part of my identity. I actually HATE his last name because it is so common and so many people have it who are not even related to him. This article helped me make the decision that I have been struggling with, and that is to keep my name. If I feel like changing it later, I can always do that. So thank you! Also, what do you think about couples being addressed as "Mr. and Mrs. Mike Johnson." What about Mr. Mike and Mrs. Michelle Johnson? Why does the wife's name get lost? Why is she Mrs. Mike? A wife is still a person with her own name. Weddings are SO chauvinist, like everything else in this world.

    10 years ago

  • annhaycox

    annhaycox says:

    Terrific! Here's a great book - extremely well researched and a good read: Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage, by Stephanie Coontz. http://www.stephaniecoontz.com/books/marriage/ I've given it to a number of my younger women friends who struggle with the personal politics of marriage. It really uncorks it with a vigorous historical and anthropological context. Your article is great!

    10 years ago

  • mjones1824

    Megan Jones says:

    I absolutely love your article! Although I don't consider myself a feminist, per se, I do NOT and will NOT change my name for family idenity reasons. My fiance and I got in such an arguement about it, I considered not getting married at all. Luckily we have worked it out but your article provided the reassurance and encouragement I need at this time when there are so many opinions flying in so many directions.

    10 years ago

  • simplicityfits

    simplicityfits from simplicityfits says:

    I don't need my father to walk me down the aisle to symbolize my emancipation into adulthood. That makes sense in a time where women married young, and stayed under their father's care until they married. I moved out after high school graduation, and have supported myself ever since. I already run my own household, as my parents are well aware of. I think it's very common in modern times for a woman to live independently between needing her parents' care as a child until adulthood and getting married. I think that moving out of your parents' house is what declares your autonomy, not having your father "give you away" to another man. That's not to say that I think it's absolutely terrible, if it holds special meaning for you then all means do it, it's your wedding for goodness sake. But it's not a necessity that society would crumble without.

    10 years ago

  • courtneyfleur

    Courtney Neuendorf says:

    I love this article! I have been engaged since November 2012 and people constantly ask me 'how's the wedding planning going' and to be honest I hate it and they always seem so stunned by that answer. I am truly looking forward to being married, but I think the actual wedding day itself is ridiculous - so much money spent on one day to play dress ups and buy things that will never be used again. That is why I am being so careful in what I choose to have at the wedding and who I invite. I am also looking forward to taking my fiances name. Besides that, we aren't trying to be traditional and are doing as well please. The strong opinions of family members is still difficult to get around, but we have realised we will simply need to deal with the arguments so that we can have the day that we want - simple and US.

    10 years ago

  • TheKnightErrant

    TheKnightErrant from TheKnightErrant says:

    Nice! the facts: I'm married 40 years, we planned and paid for our own wedding, invited people by phone, and served lemonade and cake. We also married at our favorite time of year, outside, coming to each other and our circle of guests under the golden aspen trees. I love, love, LOVE that you made the point that we can take OR leave elements of the ceremony. Too often, women feel pressured to leave some aspect of tradition [like your dress] because that not what a "new woman" would do. The freedom to do what we wish, old or new [borrowed or blue] is one I rejoice to see other women pursue. That is real freedom - when you can truly choose from all the choices.

    10 years ago

  • minas82

    minas82 says:

    What a great article. I am so glad someone finally highlighted it;) i live in Norway, and we are pretty much equal to our men. But I often find that new american traditions tend become more and more popular here, because they think they are cute or nice.. In Norway it has been tradion that the bride and groom walk down the aisle together, as did our king and queen, and crown princess couple. This marks that the bride and groom starts together and reach a common goal together, it is also important because it symbolized that it was the womens choice. We have never had a tradition on dowries here. as said it symbolizes that the couple stands together form beginning to end... how cute is that??? and still ,the last years, it has become so normal that the dad walks the daughter down the aisle, that people have forgotten the real traditions... I also find this a bit funny, when a couple have lived together for several years,and still the dad has to walk her down and "give her away" to the groom. recently a new tradition has also come, the american diamond ring... In Norway it has been traditions that both bride and groom wear matching wedding bands, often hers accentuated with diamonds. this is noramlly chosen by the couple together:)As morning gift, the groom has often presented his bride with jewelry or a diamond ring to match. But still many considers it to be the mans job to propose, and this is what wakes up the feminist in me.... We as women are expected to participate on an equal level finacially, on redorations, mowing the lawn etc... we are expted so be able to change tires and cower our parts of the morgage... and this i completely fine with me... but i do not appreciate that the decision on getting married is down to the men, and when they find it is the right time. i feel all seriuos life changes, children, marriage,house, relocating should be talked about and discussed... i do belive many women have said yes, because they fond it pretty hard to say no! When it comes to the name, it has become more and more normal that the couple take her last name as a middle name, and his as the last middle name:) Some couple also chooses to keep her name, if she has a spesial family name..or she keeps her family name, and some still chooses his name.

    10 years ago

  • PaperFriend

    Teresa Braune from PaperFriend says:

    I just short: Thank you for putting what I feel and felt on the table...well...blog. My husband and I just went to the court house and had a week later a backyard BBQ. Maybe we are doing something for our 10 year anniversary...not so easy with a deep conservative catholic family-in-law. :)

    10 years ago

  • whatascene

    whatascene says:

    Just found this post now. Thanks for putting this out there, Meg! I was rudely awakened to the completely non-glamorous side of weddings upon getting engaged and making "non-traditional" choices (even when some of these traditions are artificial/commercial or are traditional only to some cultures). My fiance and I opted not to get engagement rings, so I'm still working on "owning" our decision, especially when people make all kinds of awkward, sometimes vaguely hostile remarks (why is he so cheap? uh...or that's great--he got to save a bundle), when it was a decision based on avoiding conflict diamonds and consciously deciding not to another promoter of the clear stone ring (a more severe stance than even green karat's insistence that there is no such thing as a conflict-free diamond, since people see a diamond and think that diamonds are still the way to go, so they keep buying diamonds, keeping prices inflating and continuing this industry where conflict diamonds still slip through), not to mention the gender unfairness that it's obvious from the ring that a woman is "taken" and non-obvious that a man is "taken." I'm still questioning the fact that my fiance was the one to propose, and still trying to figure out my views. Meg's words ring true--weddings do bring up all of these perplexing decisions and things that people take for granted, despite that they may be anachronistic. Great food for thought!

    10 years ago

  • alexdaponte

    Alex DaPonte says:

    This was fantastic! I'm newly engaged and facing a lot of the same questions, and giving a lot of the same answers--both parents are walking me down the aisle, I picked out and we both paid for my own engagement ring, I'm not going anywhere near a veil, we have at least one gender swapped usher, list goes on. It's tough and a lot of people won't understand but you just have to keep saying "this day is for us." (I also totally relate to your school yard feminism--I was basically Lisa Simpson)

    10 years ago