“The only opinion that matters when it comes to our marriage, is ours”, says Valenti, the founder of the website feministing.com, in an article about her ‘big feminist wedding’. A comment by MrsZang to this article also mentions, “Frankly, it is refreshing to hear about someone who really doesn’t care what pressures friends and family put on a couple when they decide to get married and just do what they want anyway.”
I had a similar opinion before I realized just how deeply my parents had been hurt as a result of my putting my foot down in order to be a subversive bride. I chose not to be given away- my partner and I arrived together without much ado or special music. We didn’t exchange rings. I didn’t hold the bouquet during the ceremony, although it was lovingly made by a neighbour, as I am not a flower-bearing kind of a girl. I think I went too far when I didn’t even put either of my parents’ names down as a witness (whereas my partner chose to put his mother’s name down as a witness), thereby banishing any involvement they might have had in the ceremony. My parents flew in from outside the UK the night before the wedding, and they didn’t know anybody else in the party as well, so they understandably felt quite left out.
Now I tried explaining to them that it really does not matter, and that my wedding day isn’t really a big deal, before I realized that to them it was. And that while ironing out the details that irked me with their meaninglessness or patriarchal symbolism, I had let that day become exactly what I did not want it to be- my big day. As MrsZang perceptively observes, “After all, it is the couple who will remember every detail of the day for the rest of their lives.” I don’t know if I will, but no one else will remember the details for sure. So was fussing over the details really worth the trouble (and sometimes the pain)? Does it really make a political statement that people will remember and be affected by? Or were my parents’ feelings a casualty in a battle against patriarchy that didn’t quite hit the mark?
In retrospect, I do think that as important as making sure the details of the wedding are in defining the relationship and opinions of the people being wed is to the couple themselves (and I speak about why it is important in my last blogpost), in terms of striking a strong blow against patriarchal institutions it doesn’t go very far. So it might be a good idea to weigh whether it is worth displeasing or hurting your family and friends for. I think, therefore, that the battle must be taken up elsewhere. Did you know that Britain’s marriage and civil partnership laws are so antiquated because the MP’s don’t think it is worth their time in the Parliament to discuss these details (according the the Registrar at Trafford Registry Office)? Perhaps we should be pressuring our MP’s to make these issues their priority instead.