Weddings

Is it possible to have a wedding ceremony that isn’t sexist?

I want my wedding to reflect the things I want in my life and my marriage.

Someone once told me that life was a lot easier before they became “woke.” Ignorance is bliss and all of that.

Sometimes, I think they’re right, particularly when someone brings up something that they think will be relatively innocuous and it sends me on a five-minute rant about the patriarchy, institutional racism, and global warming.

And nothing seems to cause this lately like wedding season.

I am finally old enough to have friends who are getting married en masse.

Every time I look up, someone else has announced a new engagement. As a lover of tasteful weddings, I’m excited (*Oscar Martinez voice*) but it inevitably results in people close to me – as well as complete strangers – asking me when I plan to get married.

Honestly, I’m not sure if I really care about getting married. I’ve been a serial monogamist since ninth grade and I’m really trying to break the habit of measuring my happiness by whether or not I’m with someone. (Note: That’s not a dig at people who want to be married. Just at people who act as if it’s the ONLY goal a woman in her mid-20’s should have.)

Despite the fact that my current boo and I are galloping toward our fifth anniversary, I’m not in a real rush to “lock that down” as people (problematically) say. He and I are both focused on our individual goals, I don’t feel like I’m actually adult enough to be someone’s actual WIFE, and frankly, I’m not even sure how people decide to get married.

Are you going to try to be with this person FOREVER? I can’t even commit to a tattoo.

You’re going to try to be with this person FOREVER? I can’t even commit to a tattoo. Click To Tweet

Thanks to a little project I worked on at my day job, I’ve also been thinking a lot about the troubling origins of most American wedding traditions.

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Surprisingly, the history of the white wedding dress has nothing to do with virginity. Instead, it started with Queen Victoria, who bucked tradition by wearing white to her wedding, despite the fact that it was then considered to be a color of mourning. The fact of the matter is, everything from giving the bride away (dowries, natch) to the garter toss (proving you’ve consummated the marriage) is steeped in sexism.

How do you decide to get married? How do you choose to do so in a way that doesn’t mean compromising any of your personal beliefs? Do you separate a tradition from its ugly origins in order to extract some of its beauty and symbolism?

Aside from the wedding colors I decided upon at a middle school sleepover (lavender and cream), I haven’t really done any premature wedding planning. I am, however, keeping vigilant, watching to see how others around me parse through the sexism that is at the very core of so many aspects of weddings to keep the things they want and do away with the traditions that make them uncomfortable.

For example, a few years ago, my mother joined her first husband as he walked my sister down the aisle. For me, it stripped that particular tradition of “here is my daughter, whose hand I promised you in exchange for a bag of gold and some livestock,” and turned it into what I think most people want it to be: the bride’s parents giving the union their blessing.

I want the ceremony to reflect the things I want in an actual marriage, Click To Tweet

In my opinion, my mother’s blessing is just as important as my father’s.

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If I ever marry someone in a formal ceremony, I want to be given away by both of my parents. Their roles in my life have been equal and I want their roles in my wedding to be the same.

I want the ceremony to reflect the things I want in an actual marriage: equality, respect, and the ability to question the status quo in order to live a life, in which we are both happy, loved, and respected.

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Lauren McEwen

Lauren McEwen

Lauren McEwen is a freelance writer based in the Atlanta area. She has written about everything from pop culture to gender to business. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Madame Noire, The Baltimore Sun, Bitch Magazine, Ebony.com and Comic Book Resources. Although she likes a ton of things, her three true loves are cheese, Harry Potter, and Beyonce. She also really enjoys horror movies and music with lyrics that would make an upstanding citizen cringe.

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