Not another feminist wedding blog

If you’ve been paying any attention at all, you’ll have noticed that last Thursday I got engaged and (as those of you who follow me on Twitter will also know) found out I’ve got a place on the Newspaper Journalism MA at City University.

It’s been a pretty manic long weekend (ok, I realise it’s now Thursday again – make that a pretty manic week!) of celebrating, visiting and repeatedly answering the same questions! I sincerely promise that I’m not going to bore you all by endlessly blogging about feminist wedding planning (there’s really only so much I have to say on the topic), but I thought I’d get some of the FAQs out of the way so I can get back to reality and normal service can resume.

Frequently Asked Questions:
(For the benefit of friends, relatives, anyone else who’s interested.)

So, you’re feminists and you’re getting married?
Yes, we are. For all the soppy romantic reasons why people get married, as well as all the unromantic, practical reasons why people get married. Obviously as feminists we’re very conscious of the glaring patriarchal flaws with marriage as an institution, and we’re going to try our best to make the day (and our lives) as patriarchy-free as possible. In fact, to quote the wonderful and lovely Izzy John, it’s going to be “FEMINISTASTIC!!”

When?! Have you set a date yet? When’s it going to be? How long have I got to save up for my hat? Etc, etc.
Yes, I’ve heard this question a lot. We’re thinking of Spring/Summer 2014 – probably around May or June.

Are you really waiting that long?
Yes. Did I not mention I’ve got a Masters to do? And then a job to find?

How come us men don’t get engagement rings, eh?
Actual question, to which the response was, “his ring’s been ordered, but they didn’t have the right size so it’ll be with us in 3 weeks”. I love rings (this is my sixth) so I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity of another, even prettier one, but engagement rings do have a really sexist history and all sorts of nasty ‘ownership’ connotations. When we very first talked about marriage, about a year ago, his first question was “if we’re doing this equality thing, does that mean I get an engagement ring too?” One year on, he still wanted one but was worried people would “think it’s weird” (to be fair, if they think that’s weird, they’ve got some real surprises to come!) Interestingly, the man in the jewellers told us that he wears an engagement ring himself and that it’s becoming far more common – they currently sell about three men’s engagement rings a week because, as he said, why shouldn’t both partners wear a ring as a symbol of their commitment?

So what makes it a “feminist wedding”?
Or, as my best friend and bridesmaid put it, “you are still going to wear a dress, aren’t you?” Well yes, I am, but we’d like to do away with some of the nastier traditions and focus on what’s important and personal to us. For a start, we don’t want any of that usual “men doing everything while the women just stand around looking pretty” lark. There’ll be no veil, no giving away, no “obeying” or “submitting”, a reading from Simone de Beauvoir, and I’m making a speech. Fortunately we’ve got two years to figure out the finer details of what makes a “feminist wedding”, but that’s our starting point.

What about surnames? Are you keeping yours?
Yes, probably. Or we’ll add each other’s to our own. Discussions are ongoing.

When are you going to have babies? Is it soon?
No, it’s not. Not until at least ten years after people stop asking this question – so stop it!

18 thoughts on “Not another feminist wedding blog

  1. Please have a female equivalent of a Best Man’s speech! I think it’s a lovely tradition to have the groom’s best friend/brother make a speech full of off-colour anecdotes of the groom’s single days followed by something sweet about when he realised his mate had found The One and then wishing the couple all the best etc. I kind of always assumed there was a female equivalent and had lots of funny stories/quotes from love poems/nice things to say about their partners stored away for when my girlfriends started getting married… only to realise that the main role of women in traditional weddings is to stand around looking nice, before expressing their fervent wish to be the next one married by catching the flowers…. anyway, I think having a woman make a speech at some point would be really lovely, and I will encourage all my female friends to do the same when they get married.

    Congrats again!!


    1. Wow! This is news to me! I think in every wedding I have been too one person from each side of the wedding party gave a speech. I think that it is encouraging that there I love that your fiance has an engagement ring as well. Mine doesn’t like wearing jewlery but I have found him stealing my hair-ties and wrapping them around his ring finger as his “wedding ring”. I think that it is cool that more men are getting them.

    1. All rings? Are you including my other five in that?
      Historically engagement and wedding rings were symbols of ownership – only women wore them – which is why I think if you’re using them as symbols of commitment, which most modern couples do, you should either have one each or none at all.

      1. No, sorry. Only wedding/marriage rings. Others are fine. Wedding rings are in some ways more aggregious than changing names since it proclaims ownership even to strangers, like branding livestock. On the other hand, unlike a legal name change, a ring can be removed easily.

      2. I see where you’re coming from, but I think that depends to some extent on how you view marriage. Wedding rings proclaim that you’re married, even to strangers – so if you view marriage as a form of ownership then yes, that’s what you’re proclaiming. It’s one of the reasons I feel very strongly that I don’t want to be Mrs His-Name – I’m happy to be married, and to be open about that fact, but I don’t want it to define who I am as a person any more than it defines who he is. I think you can be a husband/wife while still very much being your own person – men have managed it for centuries!

      3. I’m not criticizing anyone for their personal decisions, and being married doesn’t necessarily define one as a person; I agree. And, not being called Mrs. His name, I get that. However, wearing rings and changing names do the same thing; proclaim the message that s/he belongs to him/her. If I’m going to do one, I may as well do the other, as it’s essentially the same thing.

      4. I don’t think it is the same – the crucial difference being that only women are expected to change their name, whereas generally these days both partners wear a ring as a symbol of their commitment to each other. I agree that both traditions have problematic histories, but I don’t think they carry equivalent connotations anymore – the convention of wearing a ring has modernised much faster than the issue of whether women change their names. We might just have to agree to disagree on this one!

      5. I somewhat agree in that the name change represents unilateral ownership whereas rings (as long as they have an equal number of rings) represent mutual ownership. Again, I’m not criticizing anyone’s choices, just pointing out how I see them.

        I wish you the best.

  2. sorry sarah i feel like a total intra-familial stalker reading your blog – but it occurs to me, in the context of a feminist wedding, and as a former fashionister with a developed sense of the impact and implications of gender codes in dress (thanks mom) that the ultimate feminist wedding outfit would be… i guess you’d still like it to be secret until the big day so i’ll leave it ’til the next time we communicate. until then little one cheers

      1. Yeah we’re great thanks. Can’t wait to tell you my idea. BTW – did you hear the deputy head of journalism at city on the today programme this morning? have a good one cheers

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