25 Ways to Plan a Feminist Wedding
Feminist wedding ideas, from Suffragette colour themes to gender-neutral wedding favours. May your day be just right for you.
Feminism was Merriam Webster’s Word of the Year in 2017, but unlike most words that receive the honour, feminism isn’t a trending topic that will fade in relevance over the coming years. That’s why more and more young women are looking to incorporate feminism into their wedding day.
Some believe that true feminists shouldn’t be getting married, but feminism doesn’t stop you falling in love or wanting to build a life with someone. It shouldn’t stop you from getting married, either.
Feminism and marriage can coexist
Source: Alice Donovan Rouse
For many centuries, marriage was an institution that helped uphold the patriarchy by keeping women subservient to men. Marriage excluded LGBTQ+ individuals, and all manner of other oppressions.
Women were considered to be the property of men. They were often forced into marriages (sometimes at unbelievably young ages) to suit their families, and had no legal recourse if their husbands beat, raped, or otherwise mistreated them.
In some environments that’s still how marriage works, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t get married if we want to. We can – and should! – divorce sexism from marriage.
While some feminists perceive marriage as an inherently sexist institution, I believe marriage is what you make it. After all, if you choose a feminist partner – I can’t help with that, sorry –then your marriage will bypass traditional gender roles, embrace equality, and have the potential to make you much happier.
How to make your wedding more feminist?
Source: Sharon McCutcheon
If you and your partner are having a celebration to mark your union, here are a few ways to make your day more feminist. If you want to skip any of these suggestions, that’s your choice. That’s what feminism is all about.
Please note: This guide specifically refers to heterosexual cis-gender couples, as queer couples often bypass traditional gender roles as a matter of course. However, there are still some feminist wedding hacks that queer couples can benefit from in the latter part of the article.
Feminist Wedding Proposals
Source: Gift Haeshaw
Okay, so this one starts waaaay before the wedding day itself, but it’s the start of the whole wedding planning process.
- Be the one to propose: In the past, men used to propose because they earned more – granted, they still do – and it was the done thing. But it’s 2018, so women shouldn’t need to wait for their man to pop the question. Get some Champagne, buy a ring, and ask him to be your one and only.
- Plan a joint proposal: Ideally, you’ve already talked about marriage with your partner and you want to build the rest of your life on an equal footing, so why not plan a joint proposal? Perhaps you could both wrap up your engagement rings as anniversary presents? Or send each other out on simultaneous treasure hunts which will end at the proposal spot?
- Choose your own ring: This is an item of jewelry that you’ll be wearing for years to come, so it might be best if you pick it yourself even if tradition dictates otherwise. That way it’s something you love and you know it’ll fit.
- Give your fiancé an engagement ring: The tradition of only women wearing an engagement ring has hugely sexist undertones because it wards off potential suitors from the woman alone. Your partner is as committed as you are, so he should get a ring too.
- Don’t have your partner ask for a parent’s permission: This dates back to a time when women were the property of a man and so your future husband would ask your dad’s permission to “take” you. Besides, if you’re getting married, don’t you want to be the first to know?
Feminist wedding planning ideas
Source: James Discombe
- Have your groom plan the wedding too: If the two of you are going to have an equal union, then you should both be planning the wedding. After all, the day is for both of you.
- Split the wedding costs: The idea that the bride’s parent should pay for the wedding comes from a time where the family would have been happy to get their incomeless daughter off their hands. As weddings are for both sides of the family, if the families are helping out with wedding costs perhaps they can contribute equally – unless there’s a massive wealth gap between the families.
- Invite everyone to the wedding shower: The days when only women would give presents (typically kitchenware) to the bride should be long gone. If you’re having a wedding shower, there’s nothing wrong with inviting your partner’s friends as well, and you can share the presents equally.
- Keep your surname or make a joint one: Our names are important. Depending on when you get married, you may have already gotten pretty far in your career with your surname. Instead of changing your name altogether, why not keep your own or create a double-barrelled one? Your husband could also take your name.
- You don’t need to have gender-segregated wedding parties: Both partners are likely have friends from more than one gender. If you have a close male friend that you’d like to be in your bridal party, ask him. If your partner has a close female friend, then he should be able to invite her to be in his wedding party.
- A joint bachelor/bachelorette party: Most partners will already socialize together, so you may not think it makes sense to separate into two separate groups.
Source: Biruk Masresha
- Pick a progressive officiate: If you’re planning to make your ceremony a feminist one, then you want to choose someone who is on the same page as you. You might even choose a friend who can get ordained via the internet.
- Choose a local place of feminist importance as your venue: Wherever you live, seek a venue that feels right. Perhaps there are feminist history sites in your locality that fit the bill? In the US there are plenty of feminist history sites in every state that are now owned by the National Parks Service, meaning that you can often get married at or near them. They include:
- Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, NY: It was here that the Seneca Fall Convention on women’s rights was held in 1848.
- Sewall-Belmont House in Washington D.C.: This was the home of the National Women’s Party from 1929, where suffragists planned how to advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment – it still hasn’t passed btw!
- Barnett House in Chicago, Illinois: The home of journalist, newspaper editor, and civil rights advocate Ida B. Wells.
- Forego the white wedding dress: White has been the traditional colour for wedding dresses since the time of Queen Victoria because it symbolizes virginity and purity. Judging a woman based on whether or not she’s had sex is incredibly sexist, so why not buck the trend and wear a beautiful, bold wedding dress in the colour of your choice? Yes, you can wed in red.
- Choose a bigger wedding dress: Women are always receiving subtle signs about making themselves as small as possible (i.e. dieting, or crossing your legs on the subway). You are allowed to take up space. Why not choose a big ball gown wedding dress that makes you the centre of attention? While we’re at it, why not find a wedding dress with pockets?
- Have mixed seating: Why split your guests up if you all have mutual friends? You can also have a cute “Pick a seat, not a side” sign.
- Don’t let your father give you away: Again, this dates back to a time where women were property and had to be given away. You can still have your dad walk you down the aisle, just without the actual “who gives this woman away?” question.
- Have the bride stood on the right: This is a bit of a silly one, but do you know why brides traditionally stand on the left in weddings? So, the groom can keep his sword fighting arm free to defend his bride in case bandits swept in to steal her away.
- Don’t promise to obey: The traditional Anglican wedding vows printed in the Book of Common Prayer have the bride promise to obey her husband. The groom’s vows do not have this quote. Scrap this sexist vow or write your own personalized promises that mean more to the both of you.
- Use feminist wedding readings: If you want to honour your favorite feminists, why not feature some of their writings on love or marriage at your wedding?
- Don’t throw your bouquet: The woman who catches the bouquet will supposedly be the next to get married. That only makes sense if we think of a single woman as needing or wanting to get married. So keep your flowers– you can always dry them out and store them in a memory box.
Source: Daniel Storek
- Use the Suffragette colours in your décor: Why not honour the Sufragettes who won us the vote by using purple, white, and green as your colour scheme?
- Pass women the mic: Traditionally, all of the wedding speeches are given by men. It’s now time to let women tell their stories… “except that really embarrassing one, mom!”
- Ask for donations to feminist charities in lieu of gifts: If you’ve already been a couple for a long time (and you have everything that you want for a life together) they why not ask for donations to Planned Parenthood, Emily’s List, or your local domestic abuse shelter?
- Choose gender-neutral wedding favors: There no reason to break out separate favours for your guests based on gender. Instead, choose something that can be enjoyed by everyone. Bonus: You’re even more likely to get a bulk discount.
Okay, so that’s about it for my ideas for a feminist wedding, but you’re most welcome to share your own insights on Twitter with @Mookychick. Are you getting married soon? Have you hosted a feminist wedding? How did it go? However you spend your joining day, I hope it’s special for you!