A Conclusion About Feminist WeddingsJune 11, 2012 3 Comments
As this is my final Lifting the Veil column, I thought a bit of summing up might be in order. While the mission statement of this column was to impart information about wedding traditions and their feminist implications, you may have noticed that much of these entries consisted of a somewhat confused woman, caught between tradition and principle, thinking out loud about how to approach a societal custom that seems, in many respects, incredibly odd in today’s world.
Primarily, I’ve come to the conclusion that having a wedding requires couples not to take themselves too seriously at the same time they take themselves very seriously indeed. I suppose a tiresome person would put it by saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” but I think there’s a much better way to articulate it.
The wisest thing I’ve ever heard said about marriage and weddings was said by my father: You have to get married as if no one has done it before.
In other words, don’t get bogged down in what vows so-and-so said at their wedding, or what Aunt Whaz-‘er-face will think if you don’t wear a veil. Be mindful. Think about why you’re doing this in the first place: Is it to have a party at which the table settings are just so? Probably not (and if it is, you might seriously want to rethink a few life priorities). The purpose of having a wedding is to pledge, publicly, your intention to spend the rest of your life with someone. That’s a decision, in this day and age, you’ve made on your own terms, so why would the process of publicly announcing said decision be on any other terms? Surely, if you’re reading this, you’re a person with feminist ideals: Why should getting married prompt you to revert to customs created before women had the right to vote?
Do it as if no one ever thought of it before.
Weddings can be daunting, but they also present one of the few opportunities in life to stand up in front of all of your nearest and dearest and say what you truly believe (a right usually reserved for Grandma after she’s hit the Scotch at Christmas). Don’t just promise “to have and to hold” – or, if you do, consider what that actually means (what does that actually mean?) and work out whether that works for you as a couple. Think, sincerely, what you want to promise each other. Always remember: this is your marriage, not your mother’s, or your father’s, or your friends’, or your future sister-in-law’s, or the bridal magazine’s – yours.
So much of feminism today is about choice, about having a mind of one’s own. So exercise that. Make your wedding your own. Do it as if you and your beloved are the first ever to think of such a thing.
Trust me, it’s more fun that way.
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