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gender equal opportunity or representationWhen it comes to planning a wedding, what's a self-identifying feminist to do? As beautiful as a traditional ceremony may be, there are some possible landmines for women and men who want everyone sitting on the same tier of the cake, as it were. Plus, not everyone defines "feminist" in the same way. If you and your partner are conscientious about your definition of equality, it cannot hurt to review some of the more prevalent traditions and see whether or not they align with your values.

Taking Someone Else's Name

It is not new for a bride to eschew taking her husband-to-be's name or to combine names with a hyphen. Neither is it a relic of the past to accept another's name when one gets married. The point is, the taking of someone else's name does not necessarily lead to an abnegation of the self. It is certainly not limited to a woman taking a man's name. Check your gut: if being referred to as Mrs. George Clooney or Mr. Angelina Jolie feels uncomfortable, you can make another choice here.

The Vows

It is rare to hear the word "obey" as part of even the most traditional wedding vows these days. Similarly, "man and wife" has largely given way to "husband and wife." Your vows are exactly that: your vows. The general idea is to commit openly and in front of witnesses to a life of devotion to your partner, but how you say that is up to you. You may give yourself in marriage, or take someone in matrimony. Give and take may be considered one of the core operating systems of a marriage of equality. In light of this, and especially if you choose not to write your own vows, make certain the officiant uses language you can live with.

On Being Given Away

One of the many great things about weddings is that quite a few of the ceremonial traditions that seem archaic and patriarchal in their original context may be spun anew for the feminist couple. Being "given away" is a perfect example. Once upon a time, a father or male family member handed the bride off to her groom in a moment that could, in a certain light, look like a horse trade. A contemporary and feminist take on the tradition can highlight a parent's importance by accompanying them up the aisle as they have thus far in life. Other options include:

  • Walking up the aisle with children from a first marriage the second time around
  • Walking up with either or both parents or with whomever fills an important role
  • Traveling up the aisle together as a couple

About the Dress

There is nothing inherently un-feminist or anti-feminist about a dress, even a pouffy taffeta and silk confection of a dress, even a white dress. It is an object. Historically, however, the gown has served as a symbol of a bride's virginity. Back in the day, purity was seen to add value to the bride herself. Even today, the state of one's virginity prior to marriage remains important for many modern day people. The feminist perspective might be that it is not up for public assessment. So, can a card-carrying feminist wear a white dress? The answer is of course or anything else she or he wants. A dress can be a dress and not a symbol, and feminism does not have to preclude a little fantasy.

The Wedding Is a Beginning

In the movies, the story often ends with a wedding. A feminist celebration may indeed acknowledge the couple's individual pasts and give a nod to the unique paths that led to one another. The ceremony may also embrace the celebration as a chance to honor the new path ahead of the couple. It is safe to say that most ceremonies and events do just that. Sometimes, though, the party may eclipse the purpose, and that's where a feminist couple needs to ask themselves if their wedding is a true reflection of their love and respect and hopes for one another.

Category: Wedding Planning Marriage

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