There are plenty of reasons to get married (romance, commitment, some sweet, sweet tax breaks), but many modern brides worry about the symbolism of the marriage ceremony, and what it really means.
You see, whilst some wedding traditions are fun and romantic, others just seem old fashioned and, well, a tiny bit sexist.
So is it possible to have a truly feminist wedding?
Well we think so, yes. And you don’t have to even ditch all the old traditions to do it. You might find some just need reframing.
After all, bridesmaids were traditionally used to confuse the devil so he couldn’t run off with the innocent and virginal bride. Now they’re mainly used to show off the bride’s kick ass girl gang.
So when it comes to feminist weddings, the important thing is to think through what feels authentic to you and your partner.
And here are our tips on how to do just that.
Traditionally planning the wedding has always been the bride’s role- see every episode of Bridezilla, or any wedding movie.
But we feel that nowadays the groom should have just as much say on how the day will unfold. After all, it’s supposed to be the happiest day of both of your lives, right?
Sit down and work out which bits of the day both of you care about the most, and divide the work that way. Whilst you may be super into vintage cars, your partner might be happy to turn up on your big day in a uber. Both options are fine, as long as you talk about it.
Rock and Roll Bride is a great planning resource for all kinds of alternative wedding options.
And One Fab Day has collated a great list of groom’s duties for you groom to get started on.
If you’re going traditional, here’s a 12 month checklist of jobs for planning a wedding you can use as a starting point to delegate tasks.
Yes, traditionally the white wedding dress was said to represent the bride’s virginity, but clearly that’s not a thing anymore, or else no white wedding dress would have been seen in the UK since the 1960s.
So can a real feminist still rock a big old Princess Di meringue dress? Of course! If you’ve been dreaming of a big white dress since you were 8 years old, don’t let your politics stop you. Feminism is about being who YOU want to be.
Alternatively, if you want to wear a little black dress, a tux, or a dinosaur costume, this is your day, and you should wear whatever makes you comfortable.
Do make sure that your outfit is practical for what is going to be a pretty long and active day though. For example, you will want to make sure that dinosaur costume won’t impede your Running Man moves in your first dance.
For comfort and style, we’re big fans of these gorgeous Keds for under a wedding dress. Pretty, and also practical to dance in.
And don’t feel like you need to break the bank to look amazing. If you’re going traditional, chances are you’re only going to wear it once. Plenty of places hire out wedding dresses, and Oxfam have a whole range of second hand dresses available. You may even find an original vintage classic.
If you’re looking for something less trad, why not try some of these sites specifically curated for the more alternative bride.
Lucy Can't Dance
Rock the Frock
We’re also big fans of just finding something that makes us feel fabulous on ASOS, and saving the big bucks for extra mojitos on the honeymoon!
Making Yourself Heard
One of the biggest changes in wedding culture recently has been the speeches. More specifically, we’re seeing more and more brides getting up and rocking that mic.
Yes, we know public speaking is one of many women’s biggest fears, but do you really want only the men speaking for you?
Get up there and let the people you love know how much you love them. Thank the people you want to thank. And remember, you are in a room full of people who adore you. You will literally never get another audience so delighted to hear you talk. Make the most of it!
If you have no idea where to start when writing a speech, then Speechy can help. Not only does their site have tips and advice, but if you need extra help you can pay for a speech template, or hire one of their team to write a bespoke speech for you.
All of their speech writers are TV comedy professionals, so you know you will be getting the best jokes, and they can even give you coaching sessions on how to perform the speech on the big day.
Don’t forget to encourage other women within the party to make a speech too. Mother of the Bride, Maid of Honour, or big sister, whoever is closest to you would be a great addition to the speeches (as long as you bribe them heavily in advance not to share your worst stories).
Make sure speeches don’t go on too long though. You don’t want the guests falling asleep in their profiteroles.
The average wedding cost in 2018 was £30355!
Now, if you have that kind money to spare, good for you. Have a great wedding, and don’t forget to send us an invite.
But there is no need nowadays to spend such a huge amount of money on a wedding. As a feminist you know that finding the love of your life isn’t going to be your greatest ever achievement, so maybe you can hold back on spending three months salary on seat covers.
There are plenty of tips online on how to have a fabulous wedding on a budget. Here are a few of ours:
Utilize the skills of friends. Would anyone be up for baking the cake or being DJ as their wedding gift to you?
Keep the guest list short. Think about who you know who you are still likely be in contact with on your 10th wedding anniversary. Yes, Linda on reception is lovely, but will she still be on your speed dial in 2040?
Think about what’s important to you, instead of what you think other people will expect. Prefer cup cakes to wedding cake? Go with that. Love tiny poesies of daisies and wild flowers? You’ve just saved a fortune on a bouquet.
Something old and something borrowed isn’t just for the bridal outfit nowadays. You’re going to be using things for one day only. See what your friends and family already have that you can borrow, or check out sites like Freecycle to save on buying things new. Vintage is in style for a reason!
And remember, there’s no assumption nowadays that the bride’s parents will pay for the wedding. If they want to help out, that’s great, but wait for them to offer.
Even non-traditional weddings can add up, so it could be time for you to start saving. If budgeting isn’t your strong point, then this wedding budgeting tool could be of use. It can also help everyone to see who is paying for what, which is especially useful if your parents are contributing.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the party planning that it’s easy to forget that this is the important bit! It’s also the bit that’s the most traditional, and may feel like it compromises your politics the most.
But it doesn’t have to. There are alternatives even to the ceremony nowadays.
Maybe your father has always dreamt of “Giving You Away,” but this feels antiquated to you. Would it be possible for both him and your mother to walk you down the aisle? Could they walk in front or behind you to the aisle? Be open and talk about it with your parents if it’s possible. You might find that your dad has been dreading having all the attention on him, and he’s happy to have you walk alone, or share the limelight with your mum?
Another alternative is for the bride and groom to walk down the aisle together, and to provide some other role for both sets of parents. So much of a wedding is about imagery and symbolism for the future of your relationship, so make sure you think about what represents your relationship best.
And let the wedding venue represent your relationship too! Here are some great alternatives for those couples who aren’t religious.
Now, we know you’re not going to promise to honour and obey anyone. But the vows can be the most beautiful and personal part of a wedding when they are done right.
Do you and your partner want to promise the same things, and therefore write the vows together? Or do you each want to write your own vows? After all, equality doesn’t mean everything being the same. A promise from you to always listen before you talk may be far more meaningful from you than from your already pretty thoughtful partner.
However you want to do it, this is one part of the day we really would encourage all feminists to throw tradition out of the window, and do it your way. As always, there are plenty of tips online for writing your own wedding vows. We’re big fans of incorporating quotes. Or, for something ultra bespoke, check out what the professionals can come up with.
And if they’re really great, you can even turn them into a work of art for your marital home, such as example from Not On The High Street.
Although of course, if you are planning to do that, make sure you come up with vows you are sure you can stick by. The last thing you want is evidence up on the wall of a promise you’d broken by the end of the honeymoon.
Have Fun and Do It Your Way
If there’s one thing us feminists do well, it’s shaking things up and doing it our way, and a wedding is as good a place to do that as any!
Yes, a wedding shouldn’t have to be the happiest day of a woman’s life, just because they managed to catch themselves a husband/wife. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be.
All the people you love the most will be in one place, celebrating the love you share with your partner, and that sounds pretty perfect to us, no matter how you decide to celebrate it.
So if a cheesy first dance is your thing? Then shake that bridal booty. Feel like jumping over broomsticks? Get your wicca wedding on. A feminist wedding can be traditional, unique or anything in between, and with a bit of thought, it will hopefully be your very special day.