What Is A Feminist Wedding?

Heather Saunders Photography

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me catch you up to speed. A recent story by the The Daily Mail called “Rise of the Feminist Wedding,” reported that a growing number of brides are avoiding common wedding traditions because they’re perceived as “anti-feminist”.  The numbers they used came from a 200-person bride survey conducted by WeddingDays.co.uk that concluded 9% of brides aren’t wearing white wedding dresses, 24% won’t have their father walk them down the aisle, and 26% will keep their maiden name after the wedding.

Our findings are similar. We recently surveyed more than 1,000 engaged couples and found that 13% of brides plan to hyphenate or add their husbands name to theirs full names, while just 8% are planning to keep their maiden name. Also, according to our bridal fashion study from 2011, only 4% of brides are wearing a non-white wedding dress.

But is that what a feminist wedding really means? We see couples putting a spin on traditions or creating new ones all the time (from matching personalized Nike dunks to the best friend’s mom escorting the bride down the aisle and couples with flower girls AND boys). Not to mention all of the celebs like Jessica Biel, Anne Hathaway and Avril Lavigne who’ve worn colored gowns, and all the bridal fashion designers (like Vera Wang) who have added lots of non-white options to their collections. There could be several reasons for these changes including fashion trends and personal preference, but I think there’s a bigger point to be made here. The meaning of these traditions varies from person to person. While one bride might see a father walking his daughter down the aisle as a tradition that signifies women as property, another might see it as a way for a father to show his love.

So isn’t that exactly what feminists movements fought to do, to give women the freedom and choice to pick the traditions that feel right to them?  Because that’s exactly what I see every day — call it feminist or not.

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  • Marissa
    07/30/13 at 08:06

    “So isn’t that exactly what feminists movements fought to do” <– This line is entirely out of place. There are feminists movements and then there is feminism. No one is thinking of specific feminist movements when choosing to uphold certain traditions – it's the basis of feminism at a broad level.

  • Marissa
    07/30/13 at 08:08

    More specifically, the feminist movements weren’t about free-reign choices for weddings.

  • 07/31/13 at 09:59

    Yes, thank you. I’m so sick of I-choose-my-choice feminism. It’s not about allowing women to choose to make unfeminist choices. Feminism is about equality. And upholding traditions that signify inequality, like women being property, is not feminist.

  • 07/30/13 at 08:43

    Oh, please! If feminists are so worried about seeming to be “anti-feminist” on a day when they should be enjoying the celebration of their union with their husband, there is something seriously wrong with their priorities. I WISH my Dad had been alive to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day! I wore a cream-colored (almost white) wedding gown for my second marriage. I figured a light and lacy wedding gown has more to do with the tradition of celebrating a wedding in our finest apparel than the significance of virginal purity. (Although that is still a nice thought for first time brides.) I hyphenated my last name, not to make a feminist statement, but to make it easier for people who knew me throughout my career to remember and to distinguish me from all of the other Mrs. Joneses out there. I like knowing that our two families were joined and it is reflected in my conjoined name. The term, ‘feminist wedding’ or ‘anti-feminist wedding’ seems to ignore the fact that there is a husband involved.

  • 07/31/13 at 10:04

    First, white doesn’t equal virginity. It was a tradition started by Queen Victoria. Really, it signified wealth, in that you had enough money to buy a dress that couldn’t be worn often since laundering a white dress was difficult and most people wore clothes several times before washing.

    Second, bringing elements of feminism into a wedding doesn’t ignore the fact that there’s a husband. How could it? My husband is also a feminist; I wouldn’t have married him otherwise. He’s also horrified by the mentality that women are property and very much believes in equality in everything.

  • iristaci
    09/08/13 at 04:29

    Yes, we all know about Queen Victoria’s white wedding gown, but you are forgetting Greek Vestal Virgins and many religious traditions such as white christening gowns, communion dresses and the historical American etiquette of white gowns for virgins only. It was a quaint symbolism that has only been ignored in the past 25 years or so. Feminism is a political movement. Politics do not belong at weddings. If a feminist is adamant enough to make a political statement at her wedding, then why is she even bothering to get married. Study up on the history of marriage and you will see that there are two main reasons for it: procreation and the joining of families for commercial or political alliances. Since most of those political alliances involved royals giving their daughters to other kingdoms in an effort to gain loyalty or dominion, wouldn’t feminists reject that? The only remaining reason would be so that children would have parents. Society seems to have rejected that notion as well, so what reason is left? If you are a feminist, then, you should be rejecting the whole notion of marriage.

  • Tracey
    09/08/13 at 07:19

    Adamant? It’s their wedding. No one is asking them to fight their beliefs and go along with someone else’s wedding demands. A bride takes into account traditions and picks and choses what works for her and her groom at her wedding. Feminism is not just a political movement. It is a state of mind. A feminist would bother to get married for love, money, religious beliefs or any of the other reasons that anyone else gets married. Old definitions are a nice beginning in understanding why people get married but a snapshot of the past few decades show that some still believe in love, making a public declaration, reaping those legal benefits, and tying together financial and other legal rewards.

  • Tracey
    07/31/13 at 04:23

    I don’t think that anyone is worried about being anti-feminist. You simply chose not to continue certain practices’ whose history is not exactly a positive for women.
    A feminist wedding has nothing to do with acknowledging a husband. It is simply about acknowledging the history of a tradition and a choice to keep the tradition going or not.
    I will have a husband regardless of how my gown looks, who walks me down the aisle, what I chose my last name to be etc but I may not choose to follow the common traditions when it comes to these things.

  • Kayt
    07/31/13 at 06:39

    I hate the word “feminist.” Feminism, to me, makes women sound like they are better than men. I am one of those women that is keeping their last name, and I am not having my father walk down the aisle, because I am the equivalent of the man I am about to marry. I also want to thank my dad who threatened to punch the man who asked his permission to marry me and who said he would prefer not to walk me down the aisle because “he did not raise me as a possession.” Thanks, Dad!

  • Tracey
    07/31/13 at 04:24

    Really? I think it sounds like people want to gain historical ground not be better than anyone. How do you think it reflects such uneven superior standing?

  • 09/08/13 at 01:31

    an Idea: why dont the feminisit bride insist that the groom wear a bra as well or she wont. Isnt that a bit of equality at the alter as wel. For heavens sake what happened to sensible women. Long extinct before men I suppose!

  • Tracey
    09/08/13 at 07:15

    Unless her husband has breasts that move around a lot, droop, or need to be propped up a bit for a ‘better” fit why on earth would he be wearing a bra? Which wedding decision have people mentioned that is so insensible?

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Escort cards are extremely easy to personalize and an excellent way to bring in your wedding day colors -- from calligraphed seating cards set atop a textured linen to apples tagged with each guest's name or small personalized bundles of lavender tied off with string. Other ways to display escort cards: Pin them to a clothesline, post them on a board covered in color-coordinated ribbon, or incorporate them into your cocktail hour using personalized stirrers tagged with guests' names.
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