Nine Ways To Have a Feminist Wedding

As a proud feminist wedding photographer, I often encourage my clients to interrogate their wedding day & ask themselves 'why' or 'do we really want it'? I'm not suggesting that you throw all tradition out as an act of rebellion, (there are so many things about traditional weddings that work!), but the best wedding days are those that are a true representation of the couple and what they want. So... here are nine ways to have a feminist wedding to ensure your special day is equal & inclusive. You can check out a blog I wrote about this a few months ago (3 tips for a feminist wedding) here.

1. Ignore diet culture

The world tells women they need to be a small as they possibly can be on their wedding days. From 'shred for the wed' workout plans to dress shops exclusively holding sample sizes 8 to 10, it's so easy to get sucked into the trend of losing weight for your wedding. Diet culture is a part of patriarchy, and in my opinion it's a feminist act to stick two fingers up to it. Get yourself a copy of Sofie Hagen's 'Happy Fat' and embrace every part of you exactly the way it is.

2. Reframe being 'given away'

The traditional act of a father walking his daughter down the aisle comes from a time where women were owned by men. Yet still today, in church and registry office ceremonies, the question: 'who gives this women to be married to this man?' is still asked. There's so many problematic points about this sentence (not all couples are cis-het for a start) and it is a sentence you can ask to be removed from your ceremony. I've seen couples (of all genders) walk to down the aisle together, separately with both parents, with mums or by themselves. There's heaps of ways to make an entrance without having to be physically passed from one man to another.

3. Keep your names or pick new ones together

When I tell *some* people I'm keeping my name, they act as though I'm telling them I'm cutting off a limb for our wedding. Interestingly, they don't act the same way when my cis-male partner says the same thing. There's an argument floating around tiktok that keeping your 'fathers' name is no more of a feminist act than taking on your 'husbands' but the point is it's not just my fathers name, it's mine. It's always been mine and I like it. Keep your name, double-barrel them, change it to a new one altogether, toss a coin, or do what a couple of mine have done recently and get your guests to vote on whose name both are taking! You have the right to do whatever you want with your name, and it's absolutely ok to take your partner's - the feminist point of view is that it is *your* choice alone.

4. Let women speak

The traditional line up of speeches at weddings is: Father of the Bride, Groom, Best Man. What if you don't have any of those? What if you do, but they are all terrible public speakers?! By not including women in speeches we are perpetuating the idea that we should remain silent, we aren't capable and therefore less confident. In my years of shooting weddings I can categorically say that women give incredible speeches. Mums in particular! The majority of my couples have a mix of genders speaking at their weddings and the more we include people other than cis-men, the more they will see themselves as worthy in weddings and beyond.

5. Hire suppliers that share your values

It's so easy to find suppliers that share your feminist values through instagram, tik tok and places the the Rebel Love Directory. A lot of my clients have shared they feel more comfortable with a female photographer as to avoid the male gaze. Many of them get their cakes through Luminary Bakery who are a social enterprise designed to offer opportunities for women to build a future for themselves. Hiring humanist celebrants like Kathryn (who has an amazing blog around feminist wedding ceremonies) means you can customise your ceremony to celebrate your feminist beliefs. And supporting feminist and LGBTQIA+ suppliers by hiring them for your wedding is a wonderful way to actively engage in allyship and being surrounded by the BEST people on your wedding day!

6. Avoid Cultural Appropriation

Festival Brides have written a wonderful article: 'Cultural Appropriation vs Appreciation in the Wedding Industry' and I have nothing more to add other than go read it here! It's a wonderful insight into what can feel like a difficult topic to navigate and gives so much clarity.

7. Have Mixed Gender Hen/Stag/Sten/Hag Dos

There's a part of me that has always struggled with the segregating of genders when it comes to weddings, in particular Hen and Stag dos. I remember my boyfriend of a few months being invited to my own Dad's stag (he'd met him twice) over me, or more recently being invited to a friend of my partners hen do (someone I barely know but who he has been friends with for years) and wondering why our body parts get to define which spaces we are allowed into when it comes to weddings. Maybe you are someone who only has close friends of the same gender, and that's totally cool if so. Many of my couples have joint Sten/Hag dos, including one who took all their mates out to Ibiza for a weekend of celebrating them both. Get creative!

8. Ban Sexist Jokes

I remember shooting at a venue that just so happened to have a gong in the space, and the couple decided to name it 'the sexist gong' stating that if anyone made any of the usual sexist wedding jokes (i.e. the old 'this is the last time you'll have the upper hand' joke) then the gong would be used to shame the remarker. Personally I love this idea and think sexist gongs should be a part of every day life.

9. Donate to an organisation or ask guests to donate in leiu of gifts

Many of my clients in the last few years have donated to charities or organisations that mean something to them instead of having wedding favours. An alternative could be to ask guests to donate to a certain organisation instead of having a gift list or honeymoon fund etc. Both are wonderfully feminist acts.

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