How to rock your feminist wedding

Hate the idea of being “given away” or wearing white? This month Toria’s thoughts are turning to wedding traditions that may not reconcile with your feminist beliefs. And the best way to ditch them. Over to Toria…

“There is no social occasion that is so steeped in history or tradition as a wedding. Except for, maybe, the coronation of a royal. There are lists of customs, books on etiquette, and a big, long line of expectations heaped on the engaged couple from the offset.

“However, what happens when those of us who do not hold much stead by wedding traditions decide to marry? What about the brides out there who do not like the roots of many of the social constructs of the average wedding day? How does a feminist rock their wedding when many of the traditions have such patriarchal undertones?

“Fear not. There are ways to stay true to your values and beliefs, and still declare your love for your partner, and we have listed just a few of them below…”


“Before there is a wedding, there is generally a proposal (to a greater or lesser degree of formality). If you are gay, one of you will be asking The Question, or at least initiating those types of conversations. If you are straight, however, there is a prevailing assumption that it will be the man who will do the asking. But why do we assume that the propositioning should fall to the male partner?

“When women take on the task, society seems to interpret this as a sign of desperation on the woman’s part, or of weakness on the man’s. And really, this analysis of the situation is merely an antiquated view dictated by a society that is stuck in a gender funk.

“Quite simply put; this is a nonsense. Ladies, you too can be the knight in shining armour (think Brienne of Tarth from GoT, but with flowers not swords).”

Wear colour

“I know, I know, there is something enticing about the idea of wearing white. Probably because it has become so synonymous with bridalwear that you simply do not see women wearing white dresses to other formal occasions. This has some roots in symbolism (it’s all about your purity – ugh), yet the trend for white dresses only became popular in Britain following Queen Victoria’s colour choice for her own wedding dress. That is one long fashion trend.

“Not feeling the whole ‘purity’ vibe? May we suggest a splurge of colour, some pattern, or even – gasp – black?”

Walk together

“You have chosen to walk the path of life together, so why not start as you mean to go on? Forgo the tradition of walking down the aisle with your dad and walk that walk with your partner. This solution also neatly avoids the situation where you may still be viewed (by the less enlightened amongst the congregation) as being ‘given away’ by your father, much like a box of Quality Streets or type of livestock.

“If you still like the idea of strutting your stuff down that runway without your partner, then you can take a female member as your aisle companion. This encourages a feeling of camaraderie (and they may be more understanding if you need to lean on them rather heavily due to your fabulous if impractical footwear choice).

Warn the compere

“Even in these modern times, there is still a casual, archaic assumption that in heterosexual marriages, the woman will take the surname of her husband. As such, ‘Welcome the bride and groom, the new Mr and Mrs XX’ could be an awkward moment were the compere to be unaware that you are not towing the surname line. Enlighten your compere ahead of time, be they a friend, relative, or member of the venue staff, and make sure you are happy with the nature of the announcement.

Give a speech

“Why should the men have all the limelight? Father of the bride, husband, best man; all men. Who is doing it for the ladies? You, that’s who. Slay, girl.

Keep hold of your bouquet

“The tradition of ‘tossing the bouquet’ appears to have reached UK waters from our friends across the pond and seems to be sticking around. And whilst it can seem like a harmless bit of fun (and who doesn’t love a YouTube clip of two female guests knocking each other out of the air mid-jump to reach flying floristry) there is a little bit of the ick factor here.

“Essentially, the unmarried women guests are encouraged to catch the bouquet, and the insinuation is that whoever catches it will be the next to marry. Good fun, yeah? But what if you do not want to get married? Or have recently come out the other side of a messy break-up or divorce? Do you really want to have to explain your life choices or recent history to those well-meaning guests who will try to drag you to the pit of vying women? Or excuse yourself from explaining, only to be perceived as a prude or ‘no fun’. No, I wouldn’t want that either.

“Traditions that do not mean anything to you and your partner are just additional hassles (and usually incur additional costs). Throw them out the window and let your feminist flag fly high.”

Which wedding traditions will you be throwing to the wind? Christina x

Wedding stylist Toria Clarke-Adair runs Arrow and Twine from her home in Aberdeenshire, and loves nothing more than helping couples create an individual, personal style for their day. From sourcing off-beat props from salvage yards to helping brides who have reached peak wedmin burnout, she loves everything about planning a wedding.

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