This post has been on my mind since Christmas, and has yet to make it to published status (until now!). The reality is that my thoughts on this subject are still evolving and tend to occur on buses and metros where my tendency for motion sickness limits my ability to write.
But I have a confession.
I want a wedding.
A big wedding that’s all about me and make me feel like a frickin’ princess.
From the dress to the music, I want it all. Despite my best intentions to quell the deeply-buried urging to but into all the trappings of weddings, there is it. A song comes on that I can see us dancing our first dance to; I picture the layout of the room; I pick bridesmaids and what they will wear.
Keep in mind that I in no way want to get married. My present politics do not support the idea. And the awesome thing is, my partner does not express a desire for marriage either. Although to what extent he agrees with me simply because I will not take no for an answer on the subject is unclear…
I recently read an amazing book by Rebecca Walker called To Be Real. In this book was an essay by Naomi Wolf (called Brideland) about the push for weddings and her feminist response to this. I found this essay to be wonderful, although too short. The essay looks at the complicated relationship that feminist have to weddings in particular – leaving out the politics of marriage. Her essay focuses mostly on the dress, and how women are ‘programmed’ to imagine that perfect dress as the epitome of that day.
Not even close to being a bride myself, I can identify with Wolf’s descent into brideland. Two of my best friends are currently planning their weddings, and it seems everyone is asking when I and my partner will be engaged. Needless to say, weddings are on the brain.
As I help my friends plan their big day, and pick out bridesmaid dresses and decide on wedding makeup and what not, I find myself picturing what my day will be like. My partner and I point out things that we would like at our ‘fake wedding’ all the time. So far, this ‘wedding wish list’ has included everything from barefoot bridesmaids to winery/beach settings.
But I have to stop and question myself on this descent in Brideland. First, am I falling prey to the endless media attention to the wedding day as that one perfect day in a woman’s life? Am I just buying into what I am ‘supposed’ to do? Second, so much of this is influenced by the fact that my two friends are getting married, and I desperately want to be a part of the crowd. But is what I want really a wedding or just a big party?
To address the first, I think there is extreme pressure to plan the perfect wedding and to dream of that wedding from early on. From a feminist standpoint I don’t think this is a bad thing. My daydreams of a wedding day are not of a traditional wedding but of a day that expresses who I am, who he is, and who we are together. When I plan my ‘fake wedding’ its a day that rejects the traditional trappings of brides as property or the day being a display of how much I’m worth. I plan a feminist wedding.
However, this could very well be a rationalization to make myself feel better about secretly planning an awesome wedding. So here’s my question to you all: can weddings be feminist? or does the very act of daydreaming and planning a wedding buy into the patriarchal norms?