Okay, before we begin:
Some argue that “feminist wedding” is really just an oxymoron. A more important conversation yet is feminist marriage. Not because of cliché and incorrect beliefs regarding feminism, but rather because of legitimate concerns of the history and traditions (however recent) of what happens at weddings and (more importantly) in marriage. I myself never planned on getting married, but I was not vehemently against marriage either…
Of course marriage is now an option for many folks in the U.S., which was important to me before I got (straight) married. It is still not an option to the many child brides and adult women forced into marriage in the U.S. and around the world.
Many couples (who have the choice) choose never to get married, which is totally cool too. To each their own!
But super serious conversations are for another day, as I am trying to keep this conversation relatively light (while still acknowledging some seriousness). I also completely and totally agree that weddings are not really all that important…
So, why now?
This is a difficult question. My cop out answer for the wedding portion (although one that carries some truth) is that I wanted a nice and quirky party with close friends and family. I wanted a ceremony in front of people that we love to share our growth and union. We are both sometimes shy (at least in front of crowds) so we’ve narrowed down our wedding list to be mostly (minus a few significant others/partners/spouses) people we are incredibly close to and share a history.
And there will be dancing like it is Rex Manning day…I hope. (I’ll watch).
But the marriage portion? Well, let’s be honest some of this is for practical reasons like being able to share health insurance! We would not get married solely for the economic benefits though…plus, these “benefits” do not benefit everyone.
Dying is a driving factor! Let me explain…since Ryan is a paramedic and I am a nurse we have seen many deaths over the years. Unfortunately many of these near death (or critical illness) situations involve layers of complexity between family members. Often one family member wishes something opposite of the partner. While our families are close, these healthcare situations can add intense amounts of stress and pressure and cause people to act differently (even hostile) to each other. Creating a clear and legal living will or similar document can decrease some ambiguity, but not all. Marriage won’t make a dying process magically simple, but it can help the process.
Too many times I have seen a lifelong partner (but not legal partner) fighting for the wishes of their partner (now incapable of making decisions for themselves) overturned by legal family member wishes. This is devastating to watch as a nurse, and I can only imagine millions of times more devastating as a partner. Obviously the partner is not always “in the right” but…Ryan and I are very clear on what the other wants as far as healthcare decision-making. We want that to be completely and legally legit as to hopefully avoid some painful choices in the (hopefully far, far away) future.
Whew. Okay. Moving on…
Many other reasons for getting married I disagree with, such as “your relationship will have more substance.” I do not view our non-married lifelong partner friends as having “less substance” in their relationships than our married friends. I do dislike the term “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” as these terms (to me) imply some sort of flimsy relationship. This is why I like that partner terminology. Of course there are stupid stereotypes of husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend and partner, etc. I’m sure we’ll interchange partner/wife/husband as terms and that doesn’t mean we have “more substance” and the terminology isn’t the real issue anyway. Getting married seems like a more solid commitment for us.
People need to do what is right for them, but often those decisions are not really seriously considered. Our friend Jennifer (the one who spent a month with us in Nepal) said it best when we told her about the proposal, “You’ve had time to try each other out!” For us, being together for seven years (plus years before that as friends) through good shit and bad shit (and one near-breakup) was so fucking important to really solidify our reasons for being a team/staying together/growing through and beyond things. Maybe marriage is a “Whoo-hoo! 7 years! Go you!” congratulations gift to ourselves. Like, we want to keep us together and learn new things about each other and work through shit. And have a little party, right?
I asked him. Big. damn. deal. I thought about all those reasons listed above, and thought about our previous conversations about marriage (er…why people, like, don’t have conversations about marriage before getting engaged is a bit perplexing to me…because it is pretty important). And I thought about how I am the organized, planning one in the relationship, so it really makes more sense for me to propose anyway. There is a weird power difference when a woman “waits” for a man (in a hetero relationship, obviously) to “ask” when she really wants to be married. I mean, why would I want to wait around if I knew Ryan and I were already on the same page? I don’t even like surprises. For me (for us) this was really just a fine proposal!
So I bought two mini chocolate bars (the miniature, fancy organic kind with the word Love on them), and a four-pack of mini champagne (yes, mini champagne exists!) I already bought this hilariously adorable card on-line and pinned inside our handmade Grape soda top from our Carl & Ellie Halloween costumes. I packed all this inside a plastic bag and rolled it into my rain pants (good thing I didn’t need my rain pants). I stuffed all that into my backpack and we headed up a mountain west of town.
One wrong route attempt and hours later we were at the top of a peak with a massive, shifted moonscape summit. There was a hatch of ladybugs at the top (which I could not have planned any better). It was a gorgeous, warm June day with snow on the mountains surrounding us. So, I sort of awkwardly gave him the card…and that was that. (He did say yes, of course). The champagne was warm and the chocolate melted.
Of course, women don’t have to ask men (in hetero relationships, that is), but hey, if she wants to get married…why the hell not? This movie engagement surprise shit is not the way it has to go down so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
The Wedding Planning
First of all, I am not the only one planning this wedding. I am not sure why women in hetero relationships are expected to care more about weddings and plan everything about them down to the last boutonniere (which we won’t be having, thanks). Realistically I am planning more, but this is mostly (again) because I am a planner (Ryan is not) and I have solid Internet access (Ryan doesn’t most of the time).
It is annoying when people always refer to anything (hetero) wedding related as “I had a bride choose A…” or “some brides do B…” Really? What about the other person involved? Again, much of this is all really heteronormative too…Most wedding marketing, wedding related anything really is super cis-straight oriented.
But, I don’t want the entire thing to be “my” plan alone.
When we set down with our friend Joe (the officiant) to discuss some ceremony details, I realized that the planning was really all in my head! I hadn’t really discussed much of the details with Ryan, so he looked a little unsure during the conversation. Of course, that isn’t fair to him, and I’m not married (Ha. Ha.) to any of my ideas (well, with a few exceptions).
So. We talked.
We are over worrying about the guest list. The list could be endless, but for sensible reasons of money, venue, etc. we are keeping it under eighty. Plus, then we get to spend some time with the guests! Plus, shyness/public-speaking terror as described previously.
Other people get more worked up about your wedding list than you do. At the end of the day, the word is final and nope, [insert name] is not invited. Big deal. None of the few kids are allowed at the ceremony, because kids don’t like ceremonies anyway and I don’t particularly like kids at ceremonies. Hooray. Issues solved.
On that note…
No kids (mostly)
If you don’t want kids at your ceremony and/or reception, do not cave. People might tell you that their children are the best, which is all fine and dandy but not the point. We will have 5 kids MAX at the reception, which greatly decreases cost, chaos, and tantrums.
If you want to invite kids, then invite.all.the.kids. To each their own!
Honestly, most of the parents are thrilled to have a night out per reports thus far…
And we can stress less because less people=less food=less money. And again, more intimate/close celebration rather than a big crowd. That is what works best for us.
Part 2 coming soon…
Ceremony, rituals, decorations?, and money.