Archive for March, 2009

A Feminist Wedding? Make That an Examined Wedding.

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

A now-deleted post (that you can still see in Google’s archives) by blogger Kathryn Jean Lopez of the National Review has been weighing heavily on my mind. Entitled “You’ve Never Met a Bridezilla Like a Feminist Bridezilla,” the post is little more than an excerpt from a post by blogger Jessica Valenti of Feministing. Valenti, you see, is getting married. She also identifies as a feminist. While Lopez’s post doesn’t include any outright insults directed toward Valenti, the title implies that there is something unusual and perhaps even a little icky about the thoughtful way Valenti is approaching matrimony.

feminist wedding

What, I have to wonder, is wrong with carefully considering whether or not to take the name of one’s partner… with thinking about the plight of those who cannot at this time get legally married… or with delving into the origins of established wedding traditions? My take is that the answer is nothing. Nothing is wrong with planning an examined wedding, and anyone who is threatened by another woman’s choice to plan just such a wedding probably has a pretty big chip on her shoulder.

What it comes down to, in my mind, is this: Not taking a partner’s last name isn’t automatically a feminist decision any more than taking a partner’s last name indicates that you’re a slave to the patriarchy. The same goes for wearing a white wedding gown, tossing the bouquet, including gendered words in your wedding vows, and being walked down the aisle by daddy. The reasons people do or don’t do these things go waaaay beyond “I’m rebelling against socially-sanctioned gender inequality” or “I’m a woman, so this is what I have to do.”

The feminist wedding is basically the examined wedding, which is what most brides and grooms really ought to be planning whether they identify as feminists or not. Sometimes the choices they make will adhere to the tenets of feminism (making it an uppercase Feminist Wedding), and sometimes they won’t, but to imply that Jessica Valenti is a ‘feminist bridezilla’ because she’s exploring all her options is patently absurd.

When Her Perfect Gown Isn’t Your Perfect Gown

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

A year or so ago, ABC News aired a What Would You Do segment called A Wedding to Remember: Shopping for the ‘Perfect’ Dress. In it, brides-to-be took their loved ones wedding gown shopping and pretended that they had fallen in love with dresses that, shall we say, fall outside the current bridal norm. The objective was to find out whether honesty is the best policy when a bride-to-be has found “The One,” even when it’s completely wrong for her.

ugly wedding gown

In reading the summary of the segment, what I found particularly interesting were the different reactions the brides-to-be who participated received from relatives and friends.

As the scenario played out, the [companions of the bride] teetered on just how serious Andrea was about the fuchsia dress. Ultimately, however, Andrea was overruled by her dutiful friends and bridesmaids.

“I don’t approve,” Katie said. “I’m sorry.”

“I won’t let you,” said bridesmaid Maria Cacucciolo. “It’s… it’s a nightmare … I’m gonna be honest with you. It’s all wrong. Absolutely not!”

Now I’m sure that Katie and Maria had the best of intentions. They merely wanted to protect someone they cared about from making what to them must have seemed like a monumental mistake. That said, the fact remains that a dress is just a dress, even when it is a wedding gown, and a tacky, ugly, weird, silly, or just-not-to-your-tastes dress (one that covers everything needing covering, anyway) is never truly a ‘monumental mistake.’ What if the bride-to-be had really adored the fuchsia wedding gown? I somehow doubt that she would have thanked her friends for caring enough not to let her wear her perfect gown!

I much preferred this response:

Rebekah [the sister of another bride-to-be] told us why she supported her sister’s decision.

“There comes a point when it’s your integrity versus … what you think you should say,” she explained. And when it came to her sister, she had to ask herself, “Where’s that line drawn with white lies? Who is it hurting versus who would it help? And so in this case, I think it’s really about supporting her.”

Even though the whole thing was a set-up, that’s more like it. The perfect wedding gown only has to be perfect to the person who is going to wear it, so why browbeat someone you care about into wearing a gown other than the one she really loves? If I knew in my heart of hearts that I’d shamed my sister or my friend into wearing a second-choice gown or, worse, a gown that *I* liked, I would feel terribly guilty. Maybe I’m too sentimental about these things, but it seems to me that if you can’t say anything nice about your loved one’s wedding gown, you should say something benign like “It really is your style” or “Wow, that’s colorful!” No lies, no nastiness, and no one gets hurt.

Taking Care of Wedding Tikes

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Whether or not to include children in your wedding party and/or guest list is a purely personal decision. I want to make it very clear that if you choose not to include kids, I’m not going to make any sort of attempt to change your mind. Make your day adult, and have a great time with it.

If, however, you’ve decided to include children in your celebration, whether as guests or as participants, there are a few things you may want to consider in making your plans. After all, you want them to have a good time…and you want their parents to have a good time, too.

Don’t panic. It really isn’t that hard to do. If you follow a few simple tips, even your youngest guests and attendants will remember your day fondly.

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It’s the Little Things

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

The other day I ran across an article in which several men told about the little moments and tiny things that made their current relationships so strong and likely to last. Reading it over, I couldn’t help but think about some of the things that have made my relationship with Mr. Twistie so rich, so rewarding, and so unquestionably forever.

After all, marriage is made up of those tiny moments far more than it is of the big things. It’s how you get along in the lull between storms, how you cope with the mundane details of life that determine how strong your partnership really is. But every relationship has a series of moments that remind us how special our partners are, and why we chose them rather than someone else.

The article had several wonderful quotes, but I was particularly struck with a couple I’d like to share with you.

Andrew Zimmerman has been with his girlfriend for fifteen months. This is an incident that happened early on in their relationship:

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Designer Dresses. Low Mileage.

Friday, March 20th, 2009

If you’re in the market for a secondhand… or shall we say pre-loved designer wedding gown, you should have a look at SmartBride, a site offering a simple and free means to buy and sell wedding dresses.

secondhand wedding dresses

What’s great about SmartBride is the interface, which allows brides to set and save search parameters for everything from sleeve styles to train lengths. What’s less great is that there aren’t currently that many wedding gowns for sale. Case in point: I set my search to include just about everything in sizes 10 to 15+ and only got 15 results. The good news is that the site’s creator is actively soliciting for gowns on her blog, so there will hopefully be more inventory in the near future.

The Myth of ‘Covering Your Plate’

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

I generally agree with Nina Callaway from About.com when it comes to issues of wedding etiquette, but I was surprised to see her promoting the old “cover your plate” myth. When it comes to buying wedding gifts, she writes: “The general rule of thumb is to try to estimate how much your meal will cost, or generally between $65 and $150 per person.”

wedding gifts

While that is a reasonable amount to budget for a wedding gift, associating how much you spend with the cost of the wedding strikes me as highly ridiculous. Putting aside the fact that it is perfectly polite (though not at all socially acceptable) to attend a wedding without sending a gift, when else would you consider basing the value of a gift on how much a host or hostess has spent? Do you select a bottle of wine only after estimating how much the dinner party will have cost? Or choose presents based on how big of a bash the birthday boy will throw? Probably not.

The cover your plate myth is likely an offshoot of the pernicious idea that brides and grooms will recoup the cost of the wedding in wedding gifts. For some couples, this may be true, but I wouldn’t recommend counting on it when you’re putting together your wedding budget… and if you’re choosing well-off wedding guests in the hopes of making back the cost of your wedding you have bigger issues than we here at Manolo for the Brides can fix.

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Weddings at La Casa di Giulietta

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Those brides (and perhaps grooms) whose hearts are set aflutter thinking about Romeo wooing Juliet can soon see their Shakespearean dreams come true* because authorities in the Italian city of Verona have decided to allow weddings to take place at La Casa di Giulietta. Specifically, the city will permit couples to exchange vows on the balcony where, according to William Shakespeare, Romeo macked on Juliet.

juliet balcony

While evidence proving that La Casa di Giulietta was the home of the Cappello family upon which the Capulets were based is flimsy at best, that doesn’t stop lovebirds from visiting the balcony, making the 14th century building one of Verona’s most visited tourist sites. And, as of next month, that tourist site will become a wedding ceremony venue for anyone with a Romeo and Juliet fetish and $770 to $1,300 to spend.

*While living out your fantasy, be sure to stop before the play’s end