I’m watching the Royal Wedding and feeling a bit conflicted.
Whilst I love a wedding, and all the traditional touches, there are a few parts that, these days, make me feel really uncomfortable. As I’ve got older and my feminist awareness and opinions have grown I’m now looking at everything with a new lens – one of equality.
Do the traditions allow us to treat the Bride and Groom as equals? As I just heard the words ‘man and wife’ for the umpteenth time, I rolled my eyes and thought ‘fuck this shit!’
I find myself confused about what I would do if I were planning a wedding today – would I make the same choices as I did 10 years ago?
More and more people are ditching traditions to make weddings more personal. I saw this during my days as a wedding photographer. It’s lovely and it makes your wedding YOUR wedding. I did the same, and at the time I thought my wedding was perfect. I still think that. And yet…. let’s just add that equality lens.
Starting with the Bride’s entrance – all eyes are on the Bride, she looks beautiful, she feels special, she smiles and takes it all in. She enjoys feeling beautiful and people recognising how lovely she looks. But hang on…
The Groom doesn’t make that same entrance – he waits at the front, and he sees everyone in advance. This tradition of having the Bride arrive last, builds up an expectation, that the Bride has an extra role – to be seen – to look her best – to make ‘an entrance’.
We keep our dresses secret so it’s a surprise. Often we do our hair differently than we would ever normally wear it.
As guests, we lap it up. “Doesn’t she look beautiful, what a gorgeous dress.”
And as a Bride myself, I wanted that – I wanted to look beautiful. The preparation was not just what I’d wear, but weeks of extra attention on looking after my skin, trying to lose weight, getting new make up. Because if all eyes are on me, I must look my best. Because how you look on your wedding day is one of the most important aspects of planning it. We are taught this through experience of attending other weddings. And in life – how women look is always important.
My husband didn’t do any of that preparation. I doubt he thought much about it all. He got a nice suit and had a hair cut, like he would for any event – he dressed appropriately. He looked nice, but not that different. He looked like the man I spend every day with. He just farted less. Well, we both did – farts are equal too!
Next is the tradition of the father of the Bride walking her down the aisle. I’ve been to many weddings where it’s mum rather than dad for whatever reason. In fact I nearly did the same. But in the end, I asked my shy, Step-dad to walk me, because I knew it would mean a lot to him to be recognised as my father – which he is.
So, let’s just check… does anyone escort the groom down the aisle? Of course not, because… I know you can see it coming:
‘Who gives this woman to this man?”.
OK what the actual fuck?? Why are we still doing this? I did it myself. But now, instead of thinking of it as a gesture to show my dad how much I love him, I’m annoyed that I was ‘given’. Clearly I wasn’t – I made that choice.
No-one was expected to ‘give’ my husband to me. We just chose to be together. Equally. We chose to be a family.
And then to the reception and the speeches – probably the most obvious one that many people are already pushing against the traditions.
Traditionally speeches are by The Men. I’ve always been delighted to see a Bride make a speech, although I didn’t do it myself. I’m still not sure why.
People now ask a Best Friend, rather than a Best Man, and a Parent of the Bride, rather than always the Father. And yet, I’ve not so far seen a Parent of the Groom take up the equal opportunity.
And so, even after writing this (I write to help me think) I find myself still conflicted. Is that because I regret decisions I made at my own wedding? Nope – the problem is, despite my strong opinions, if I had to do it all over again, I would do exactly the same again. I’m conflicted because it turns out that my feminism has boundaries.
And I’m really fucking annoyed with myself for that!!
#feminism #equality #wedding #royalwedding