Debunking Wedding “Have To’s” | Part I

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How many times can a girl say in her blog that she loves weddings? But I really do, and sometimes I feel like I am alone in a sea of wedding vendors because I really do love weddings! But….I have to have a but…

Just because I love weddings doesn’t mean I love the Wedding Industry. Which is to say that I definitely don’t love the straight, white, hyper-gendered, hetero-normative, bride-centric, over-comsumptive, lose-10-pounds-to-fit-in-your-dress, expectations that go with weddings. I hate those things. I feel strongly that wedding celebrations should be special and unique to the people getting married – not a carbon copy of something we’ve all seen touted in Bride Magazine as the next big wedding trend. So when I hear people say things like, “What color dresses will your bridesmaids wear?” I just cringe. Who said I have bridesmaids? And if I do, who said they’re wearing dresses?

I am working quietly over here in my corner of the world to support LGBTQ+ couples and their allies who feel like they aren’t represented in the traditional American-style Wedding Industry and would like to do things a little more…their own way. Maybe it’s walking down an aisle together or not having an aisle at all. Maybe it’s wearing something other than white. Maybe it’s having a private ceremony or just skipping a ceremony altogether. My opinion is that whatever it is, it is fair game for a wedding.

In honor of this, I am going to be writing an ongoing series of blog posts about wedding “Have To’s” that really aren’t anything anyone HAS to do at all. I’ll show some examples of how I have seen these “Have To’s” subverted, but of course there are hundreds of ways to subvert dominant paradigms and I hardly profess to know or have seen them all. I only offer what I have seen and what I do know as proof to you – the people out there wondering if you belong in this Wedding Industry, wondering if what you envision for your wedding can actually work – that yes YOU DO and yes IT CAN. And I look forward to getting feedback and comments about these Have To’s and others you’d like to talk about.

First let’s tackle an easy one: The couple has to fit into a binary of “bride” and “groom.”

It kills me to have to address this because really, it’s 2019, marriage equality is the law of the land, even my five year old has an understanding of gender as fluid, and there are many people in relationships with more than one other person. And yet, I am astounded by the number of wedding professionals I see who still use the words “Bride” and “Groom” explicitly and exclusively in their marketing materials. Even here, in Massachusetts! Not every wedding has a “bride,” not every wedding has a “groom” and no weddings need these two identifiers to be valid and honored. I more often use the word “couple” when referring to the marriers at a wedding, but I also recognize that not all marriers are couples, so even I have some work to do here. Really, I think “marrier” is the right word here (defined as “someone who gets married.”) I like to let each person define for themselves if they’d like to be called a Bride or a Groom. (And in the meantime, we need some more options for words!)

Assuming that people want to be referred to as “bride” and “groom” perpetuates the myths that weddings should only be between men and women and that everyone fits within a gender binary. Weddings don’t have to have “brides” and “grooms.” They only have to have people who are ready to commit their lives together and work together through the sorrows and joys of their human lives.

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