What is a wedding?

BREAKING NEWS: Tea and Sea are super duper in love. We sicken people with our smittenness. For more about our story, click here, but suffice it to say that we’re bonded for life, soulmates, best friends, etc. Okay, sappiness over.

Being crazy about each other, in the minds of most, leads to a natural conclusion: Marriage! However, there are lots of reasons that being married doesn’t appeal to me: it feels weird to think that The State can make a relationship more valid, especially given that couples of any and all gender combinations aren’t afforded that opportunity; I wholeheartedly disagree that there should be a hierarchy of relationships and want no part of the patriarchal/heterosexist structure that defines a woman’s value (including self-value) by how loved she is by a man; we want to be together because we want to be, not because it’s legally beneficial; studies show that even hetero couples who start with an egalitarian relationship tend to fall into traditional gender roles once married; our relationship is already strong, safe, supportive, and full of love, so why change it? I also happen to think lots of married people are smug, because I’m a hater.

So as this topic came up more and more often—we’re at the age when wedding invites are a monthly occurrence—we started discussing what we should do, given that the institution of marriage really doesn’t seem that awesome. A celebration of our love and happiness (which we hope will last forevz, y’all!) with our friends and folks was something we decided we want. But would it be a “wedding” or not? And is the power of the word “wedding” something a couple can only wield if they agree to join the ranks of the married?

After we ruled out some of our more exciting party ideas (picnic at the Safari Park, anyone? Concert put on by all our most musical friends?), we got down to the nuts and bolts of the celebration. Many aspects of a traditional American wedding ceremony were automatically ruled out because they just aren’t our style: no church, no aisle, no rings, no being given away, no terms like “husband” and “wife” or “bride” and “groom” or even “fiancée” (more on all these in coming posts). So what’s left? Vows: sure, maybe our own version of that. Public proclamation of love: why not. Toasts and embarrassing stories: you bet! Cake: DUH. So what we want boils down to: two people crazy about each other celebrating their happiness with their nearest and dearest, promising in front of their community that they’ll do whatever they can to stay that way, and then pigging out on cake. For some people that might be considered a wedding; for others, it might not be. Which brings into question the entire power of the word itself—if the Thing is so hard to define, why is naming it “wedding” so powerful as to bring people from across the country together?

Which is where we are now: throwing a sorta-wedding. A “wedding” when talking to grandparents and other more traditionally-minded folks who might not understand the difference between a “wedding” and a “once-in-a-lifetime love party”. A “wedding” when further explanation would take too long or be too arduous. A “wedding” when inviting friends from San Diego, Vancouver, and London.

But it’s a “celebration of our love and relationship” to the kindred spirits who can understand how complicated it has been (and will continue to be) as we navigate the scripts of wedding-planning (more on that later), the distillation of why we want a wedding but don’t really dig marriage, and all the associated complications.

Many more thoughts to come…from both of us! Including topics such as:

Why Wedding Rings Are Pretty But Pretty Much Irrelevant
Don’t Call Me A Bride(zilla): Escaping Forced Diva-dom and Other Icky Gender Bullshit
Giant Expectations, Midget Abilities: Letting Go of the Quest for Perfection
Family Members Are Terrible Listeners (Even Though They Try Hard)
Being Married Shouldn’t be a Life Goal
Is a “Feminist” [non-]Wedding Even Possible?



3 responses to “What is a wedding?

  1. julia mcmillan

    Eric and I got married just because it made moving internationally together possible. Talk about privilege! Suddenly, now, we can’t be parted. We did the legal bit last year before we moved, with chinese food and a justice of the peace with a lazy eye, and we’re having a party back in the states in June. Best of luck with yours!

  2. I am super looking forward to your forthcoming posts on these topics! Pseudo-congrats to you both. 😉

  3. Are you familiar with meg keene? Interesting talks often going on over here: http://apracticalwedding.com. some similarly productive and legit communal grappling with what it means to be a feminist, having a wedding, and entering into an historical context that is decidedly NOT feminist. Also, they have fun cheap shindigs.

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