Weddings and Feminism

I got married recently and it was really really wonderful. Planning a wedding as a feminist, though, is a weird experience. Here are some things I observed during the process:

  1. People make a lot of assumptions. This ranges from being about name changes to career choices. Most of those assumptions had to do with things I was supposed to do or not do now that we are married.
  2. Another major assumption is that I was in charge of the wedding planning. Actually, my husband and I planned everything together. When we emailed photographers or caterers that we liked, they always responded just to me. When we met with people they directed their questions and comments to me.
  3. My first thought was, “this must be how men feel at car dealerships.”
  4. My second thought was that this is because we teach, through rom coms and Young Women’s lessons and a million other subtle ways, that a wedding is a high achievement for a woman, but we don’t teach the same thing about men.
  5. My third thought was, “gee, great. More emotional labor for me.” Even though my then-fiance was trying to shoulder his fair share of the burden, outside forces made it difficult. It made me wonder how often that is going to happen in our marriage.
  6. Most of the assumptions are well meaning, and the people making them are generally just excited. But does not make it less exhausting to explain that, no, I won’t be quitting my PhD. Or no, I will still use my maiden name professionally. Or yes, we actually both proposed.
  7. There is a definite a common undertone that, while a wedding is an accomplishment for a lady, it is a trap for a man…that somehow I tricked my fiance in to giving up his freedom to get married. Don’t believe me? Just look at all the cake toppers that show a bride dragging a groom. Look at all the pictures of ring bearers carrying signs that say, “too late to run!” or similar phrases. This was really offensive to me, and even more so to my fiance. He is a man who knows his own mind. It is also limiting to men to say that they don’t want connection and commitment just as much as women.
  8. Heterosexual privileged is a real thing, and heteronormativity is strong in the wedding industry. (I already knew this, but it really struck me hard how pervasive it is.)
  9. It is really really meaningful to have all the people you care about in one place, even if it’s just for a few hours and even if you don’t actually get to talk to all of them one on one.
  10. It is also really meaningful to make our commitment to each other explicit, even though we’ve been living together for almost 2 years, and even with all the ways weddings can be problematic. Although I also understand why some people don’t feel the need to do that.
  11. My wedding to a non-LDS church member was just as meaningful, and just as full of God’s presence as any temple sealing I’ve ever been to. I also already knew this would be true, but I had this deeply hidden secret fear that it would feel less or like it was missing something. I don’t think I even realized it was there until the day of. But, on the contrary, I felt my Heavenly Father’s confirmation that we were doing the right thing. And our ceremony reflected both of us so well. We vowed to be equals. We couldn’t have had that in the temple.


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11 Responses

  1. Wendy says:

    Such a beautiful post. Congratulations on your wedding!

  2. Virginia Burnett says:

    “We vowed to be equals. We couldn’t have had that in the temple.”
    Congratulations on your marriage!
    And thank you for so eloquently summarizing my deep unease with the temple.

    • Jess R says:

      Before I met my husband I used to worry so much about being sealed in the temple. I don’t think I could have made myself do it.

  3. Dani Addante says:

    Congrats on your wedding!

    That’s interesting about people directing all the questions to you in regards to your wedding. This didn’t happen to me, since I had other people plan the reception for me. But I do remember that after we had scheduled the appointment to be sealed at the temple, the matron called me on the phone to find out about the sealing arrangements, such as who the witnesses were, how many people were expected, told me where the photographer could go and things like that. I had been pleased that she had specifically called me. I had been having such a hard time with the inequality in the temple and having the matron call me to find out my wishes for the sealing had made me feel better.

    I agree about those cake toppers. I think they are awful. That’s not how marriage should be. Thanks for your wonderful post!

  4. Marie says:

    I just got married as well and all the things you listed resonated with me.

    -People 100% assume you are changing your name. I can’t tell you how many Facebook messages I’ve gotten that are “Congrats Mrs. Husband’s last name!” Even though my Facebook is still my maiden name and the wedding was two months ago.
    -Cards addressed to Mr and Mrs husband’s full name. Like…hello I’m also a human with a name in this relationship!
    -People asking me if I cook and if my husband is handy…neither of us cook very well and I own way more tools than him.
    -Im getting a PhD and he is working a blue collar job with no college degree. So many derogatory jokes about him “marrying up” and me “wearing the pants”. If I was a waitress and he was getting a PhD nobody would think twice about it.

    I could go on….but you get it.

    • Jess R says:

      Ugh, I forgot to add the Mr & Mrs Man’s full name thing. I hate that so much. I got in a small disagreement with my mother-in-law about addressing envelopes. She insisted that it should be Mr. & Mrs. Man’s full name, and I said no. Just because you get married doesn’t mean you loose your individual identity.
      I am also getting a PhD, and also got he marrying up comments.
      I could also go on, but yes, I definitely get it 🙂 Solidarity sister!

      • Moss says:

        Congratulations, Jess!

        Our sealer asked if we had any requests for our sealing, and I asked him to please not introduce us as “Mr & Mrs Husband’sFirstname Husband’sLastname”. After our sealing was over, he turned to our guests and with all the climactic pomp of a wedding did just that, then caught himself about three-quarters of the way through, then backed up and tried again, but it was incredibly awkward.

  5. spunky says:

    Congratulations, Jess! I am so happy for you and your partner!!! <3

  6. TravelGirl says:

    Congratulations on finding a good man to love you and to love. Congratulations on the marriage and sharing it with everyone you loved. The love and commitment you will give to each other is the secret to successful marriages and partnerships. Temple sealing doesn’t not guarantee that.

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