Saturday, June 28, 2008


Ashley Ann got me thinking about marriage again. For some reason the threads that pop up on Feministing always seem to come up with the most diverse set of opinions. And that always gets me thinking.

It's especially interesting for me to see how other people conceptualize marriage. See, I definitely noticed the incredibly sexist conditions under which the institution of marriage has and continues to thrive. The thing of it is though, it seems like a lot of people thus feel that the institution of marriage is consequently fucked. That their options are to have THAT kind of marriage and wedding, or none at all.

That's not my conclusion.

My basic premise: marriage is beholden to the people undertaking it. Therefore it is as malleable as the people who are getting married. The traditions surrounding it are symbols. And symbols require people to give them meaning. Therefore the symbols are just as malleable as the people invoking them.

My husband and I, our marriage is exactly what we want it to be, and designing the wedding ceremony to reflect that was incredibly important to us. And design we did, from start to finish, including the vows. The fact is it never even occurred to me not to do so. A wedding ceremony is far too important to ever attempt a "cookie cutter" version.

Traditional elements that were included:

Engagement ring. I got a wedding set from an estate case (woot recycling!). My husband paid for it, I felt that was important because it was for me a sign of commitment. I also got him a ring sometime earlier which he felt served the same purpose.

Asking dad. We did not do this. I thought it would be "cute" in a very ironic sort of way given how untraditional both my relationship and my family was. But it didn't happen. What I suppose I was more looking for was the two men I cared most about to sit down and have a heart to heart, for my dad to be able to trust my husband and for them to be on the same page. I am a Daddy's girl, and I wanted them to get along. Turns out they ended up having that without the "asking for" thing included. That's even better.

Walking down the aisle. We did not do this either. And I told my Dad right from the beginning we wouldn't be. I am not a fucking parcel to be given away, no thank you. I understand why the engagment ring is looked at as a dowry or down payment or something and why some people are against that, but this giving away shit was just too much for me. Husband and I walked down the aisle together. We both felt that was far more appropriate, I mean we're undertaking this life together, right?

Name change. Didn't do this. We talked a lot about it. He'd prefer to take my name as he has no attachments to the family his last name comes from. We also discussed both changing our names to his mother's maiden name, as that is the family he is connected to. Honestly, I doubt either of us will actually change our names unless we have kids, I dislike the way our names would look hyphenated.

"Mrs". Yes, I use this. I like it. I've seen arguments against it, and I understand them. But I still like it. It's a spiffy new title. Honestly I think it's stupid that guys don't get their own new title! In the name of equality I think we should come up with one!

I guess my point is, you can take one symbol and it can mean something to you and something to other people. I think what disturbs me about marriage and weddings as general concepts is that people take what is one of the most important commitments of their life and simply use the symbols laid out for them. They don't talk about their wants and needs, what traditions are meaningful to them, what exactly they're vowing to... Without that people are adopting essentially meaningless symbols, or worse, symbols with deeply ingrained meanings for those around them, which they have no real interest in, never understanding that they're missing the entire point. Ending up unhappy in that situation seems a no-brainer to me.


  1. Your wedding was one of my favorites ever, too. It really was all-around excellence.

  2. I have a tendency to wear black to weddings as I see them to more like funerals than celebrations. I know that the man is gaining and ultimately the woman is losing.

  3. I'd have given anything, anything,
    to have my beloved Dad walk me
    down the aisle - I never looked
    at me as being a parcel.
    I'm glad you did it your way.
    I miss my Dad. He died before
    we had that beautiful memory to hold onto.

    Everyone is entitled to what they
    feel though.


  4. Found this post through the Carnival of Feminists.

    I'm glad you got to do your wedding your way. My blog featured a lot of marriage-related posts recently because I got married 10 days ago, and I bet you enjoyed your wedding way more than you enjoyed mine. My husband is Jewish, I'm completely 100% secular. While we tried to mesh things and make our wedding unique, my mother got ahold of it and made it too traditional and too circus-y, and nobody was really happy. There were some great moments; it wasn't all bad. But if I had to do it again I'd go to the courthouse and save myself the trouble.

    Ugh, I don't mean to be a downer. Great post!

  5. I'm sorry to hear that yours was less than satisfactory.

    I think I was fortunate in that 1) we paid for everything, and therefore etiquette prevented people from feeling they had any ownership of the goings on 2) that we were states away planning, and it was therefore harder for folks to butt in and 3) that I was always a hard headed child and stubborn grown up and therefore my parents must have known from the get go that if I needed help I would ask and other than that don't bother. lol.

    But hey, you can always do a vow renewal ceremony down the line, and don't even bother telling mom you're doing it, she'll get her invitation like every one else!


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