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Debriefing: a wedding

(294 Posts)
vezzie Mon 22-Nov-10 14:01:13

I went to a wedding at the weekend and ended up thoroughly depressed, as I often do after weddings. Please indulge me, because I want to talk about it.
The bride is one of the most dynamic, active, imaginative and intelligent people I know. She was patronised and belittled throughout – “who gives this woman …?”– and during the speeches she looked very uncomfortable. I have never seen her so quiet and when it was clear that she didn’t like what was being said it seemed very strange that there was no opportunity for her to own the floor in her own style. I have never heard so little of her voice, ever, and yet she was notionally the centre of attention.
I suppose what is troubling me – and there is no natural justice in what I am about to say - is that she is so close to the top of so many pecking orders (beautiful, clever, talented, well loved, well educated, professionally respected) that it seems obvious that her husband should be so near to the top of all the male pecking orders (tall, handsome, very rich, in a very well paying job) and yet unfair that this sort of man seems almost inevitably to bring the expectations that his wife will take a very traditional and subservient role. Without wanting to imply that anyone deserves to be pushed about, because they don’t, I suppose I am upset that this woman, who is brilliant, is now going to play second fiddle to a tosser for the rest of her life.

I hate weddings. I always start off all excited and filled with love and joy and enjoy the sentimental moment where you can look at the couple and do a mental 6-Feet-Under-like montage where you imagine them surrounded by children, growing older, surrounded by grand children, retiring together etc. Then at some point I am forced to realise that the whole thing is filling me with profound unease and it is as well if I am not too drunk or I have to find a cupboard to hide in and cry.

DP said, when I was telling him how sad I was feeling on Sunday, “Why do you take it so personally?” I just shrugged and changed the subject. Later I thought, “Because it is like this. Suppose you were invited to a housewarming party and you bought a present and wrote a card expressing all the good wishes that you have for the people in their new house, and you dressed up and turned up ready to celebrate and saw everyone else looking beautiful and happy and joyful, and the hosts offered to show you round and then you realised during the tour that the whole thing runs on a basement floor inhabited by slaves, it would slightly put a dampener on the occasion, especially if you were the same kind of person as the slaves.” This is of course a gross exaggeration.

We are not married. I often think we should be, and then I go to a wedding and I’m back to square 1.
What do feminists do about getting married?

Maisiethemorningsidecat Mon 22-Nov-10 14:08:03

We get married during services that are personal and meaningful to us, and enjoy marriages that are equal.

Why didn't she make the speeches? Did you speak to her afterwards and ask her why she seemed so upset? Your description of marriage isn't one I recognise at all.

ElephantsAndMiasmas Mon 22-Nov-10 14:22:35

arg will come back to this later but I understand EXACTLY what you mean, especially the bloody speeches it makes me feel like I'm witnessing some kind of auction.

yama Mon 22-Nov-10 14:29:17

I gave a speech at my wedding. There was no "Who gives this woman?" - yuck. Dh and I are equal.

I do know what you mean though.

MrsTittleMouse Mon 22-Nov-10 14:29:28

I know what you mean - I went to a wedding of a good friend, and there was nothing in the speeches of the friend that I know. I felt that she was insulted on her own wedding day, and she is fantastic, there was so much great stuff that they could have said!

On the other hand, I didn't think "I don't want to be married", I just thought "I'm glad I'm not married to that man and all his male friends".

SlightlyTubbyHali Mon 22-Nov-10 14:32:00

Well, I consider myself a feminist and am married.

Noone "gave" me away. Dad walked me down the aisle but we skipped the whole "who gives this woman" thing. AFAIK it is not even in the modern ceremony, so she may have asked for it (perhaps it meant a lot to her father).

As for speeches, I was going to make one but on the day felt pretty emotional and would have teared up so didn't. In my career I have spoken to all sorts of groups and I have no problem making speeches normally, but on that day I just didn't want to. My sister was the same at her wedding, and she has a brilliant career working amongst men. I don't think either of us feel somehow "less" because we left the speeches to someone else. Perhaps you should ask your friend whether she considered making a speecha nd why she didn't.

Oh! Forgot to say, ironically my sister (who spent her entire childhood duffing up boys for calling girls "stupid" and never thought not having a penis would impact on her life in any way) promised to obey. Can't get my head around that but since she seems anything but obedient in general I guess it doesn't matter!

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 22-Nov-10 14:32:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ProfessorLaytonIsMyLoveSlave Mon 22-Nov-10 14:37:39

I gave a speech, and bullied encouraged a bridesmaid to give a speech as well, and there was none of the "who gives this woman" stuff.

She will have presumably planned her own wedding so chose to be silent and comparatively passive?

There was an interesting thread on this (well, it started off on this at least) earlier this year.

HeadFairy Mon 22-Nov-10 14:40:42

I'm also married and had none of the "who gives this woman" etc, I did not promise to obey my husband, and I gave a speech (albeit a very short one) To be honest these days you can tailor a wedding ceremony to your own preferences, obviously your friend either didn't realise this or decided she wanted to leave things as they were, for whatever reasons of her own.

purits Mon 22-Nov-10 14:42:17

It's when I read postings like this that I wonder if I live on a different planet to most MNers.hmm
People get married because they are happily in love. I sit there is the congregation getting all dewy-eyed with the mother of the bride thinking "aw, isn't that lovely" and "ahh, reminds me of my happy day" and "love is all you need". Why spoil a happy day?
I am a feminist and married for over 20 years. I can think of better things to get uptight about than wedding day customs. I'm with your DH and feel that you are overthinking it and projecting your views onto someone else's wedding.

darleneconnor Mon 22-Nov-10 14:42:18

I think you can have a feminist wedding and marriage. Just read wifework first.

melrose Mon 22-Nov-10 14:48:39

I am married and have a very equal relationship with my DH, and have always considered myself a bit of a feminist. I had a fairly traditional wedding because I wanted to, no other reason, and I loved every minute.I considered making a speech, but didn't in the end as I wanted to let DH do it. My Mum made the "father of the bride" speech so did her bit to redress the balance!

If the OP wouldn't want a wedding of this type that is fine, but don't judge the bride because of it. WE are all welcome to have whatever wedding day we want!

TeiTetua Mon 22-Nov-10 14:56:04

Yeah, it's what you make it (the wedding, and the marriage). If the bride was feeling intimidated into silence, that's too bad. Actually what I expect to see is the chief bridesmaid and best man giving speeches, and the married couple just saying "Thanks to everyone for coming." Anyway let's hope things improve.

It's fine to drop the word "obey" but my favourite is "With my body I thee worship" (if said by both).

Poledra Mon 22-Nov-10 15:00:59

You can be a feminist and married. I also had none of that 'who gives this woman' or 'obey' shit at my wedding. I specifically asked the minister to be sure it wasn't there (he said he was uncomfortable with it too, TBH, as a marriage should be of equals. DH PHSL at the thought I might obey him). I did not give a speech (my choice) but did heckle my father's grin. Also, in our family, my mum always had a hard and fast rule of 'No Speeches Longer than 15 Minutes, Thanks. And Shorter Would Be Good.'

If you are uncomfortable with the idea of marriage and your perception of it as patriarchal, then don't do it. But do not assume that all marriages are based outdated (I hope!) ideas of female submission.

Beachcomber Mon 22-Nov-10 15:02:45

I have been thinking a lot about this lately.

I know exactly what you mean vezzie. Don't have time to expand just now but marking my place as I'm very interested in this subject.

Ragwort Mon 22-Nov-10 15:08:14

What always amazes me is when strong, independent women put on a big white/cream 'wedding dress' - I just do not get it. NB: have been married twice myself, in short non-traditional dresses grin.

What did the bride wear to this wedding vezzie?

dittany Mon 22-Nov-10 15:12:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tabouleh Mon 22-Nov-10 15:41:16

I had a very traditional wedding before I found feminism - and I had a great day etc.

If anything it was the fact that my Dad was paying it that rankled - I remember wanting to have prawn cocktail or salmon or something for the starter and mum saying "oh no someone might be allergic to see food" and me saying well we'll have a veg option and ask on the invites etc hmm.

If parents want to have a bloody big party for their friends they can do it separately and not attached to a wedding. confused

I would have quite a different wedding now grin.

Maybe I'll look into renewing our vows but making our own up etc.

On a related note:

I have become aware of some of my DHs wider cirlce of school friends treating their spouses as "the wife".

eg a FB status such as: Family house check, Volvo estate check, Pregnant wife CHECK............. ;)

To me it's very "I got my wife pregnant" - what a top bloke I am etc - rather than we're having a baby or in fact X is pregnant/having a baby.

tabouleh Mon 22-Nov-10 15:41:56

ahem - sea food! (must be thinking of the see food diet...)

HopeForTheBestExpectTheWorst Mon 22-Nov-10 16:18:43

Interesting to read this.
I've always had a problem with people getting married in church when they in fact do not believe in God, have no religion etc.
I suspect that the whole issue of the ceremony wording and vows is similar - people do not necessarily believe any of it, it's all about "tradition", and for some people the outward appearance of following this tradition is very important.
(Christmas is another one - people who only go to church at Christmas, or put up Nativity Scenes when they do not actually believe a word of it).

But I think that it is worth noting that for most people this really will be only the appearance of tradition. How their marriage actually plays out will no doubt be very different.
(Despite so many couples being transported to the wedding reception by horse and carriage, I doubt that this has any say in their future mode of transport )

I do not call myself a feminist, but on our wedding day, dh and I did things our way, which meant:

- we drove together to the registry office

- we walked down the aisle at the registry office together ie nobody "gave me away"

- we did our own vows which had nothing to do with obeying or any such bizareness

- my dad gave a speech (he loves public speaking), my dh gave a speech and I gave a speech; there was no way I wasn't going to say anything on my wedding day!

But I think it's worth remembering that much of the wedding is just "show"; what is much more important is the relationship between the bride and groom for the rest of their lives, rather than just on this one day.

AMumInScotland Mon 22-Nov-10 16:32:23

I can see why you were uncomfortable at this particular wedding, but you have to realise that this woman deliberately chose to have the elements which make you unhappy. The "who gives this woman" is not in the normal marriage service these days, and there are different versions of the vows so no-one should have to say "obey" if they don't want to. Same with the speeches - it was up to the bride and groom to decide who made speeches, though you can still be caught off-guard by what individuals choose to say.

So your question shouldn't be "why are weddings like this" but "why did this woman choose to have this type of wedding". Maybe what depresses you is that you don't feel you know and understand her as well as you thought? That someone you respected turned out to have a very different set of priorities to yours?

BlingLoving Mon 22-Nov-10 16:43:14

On the one hand, i do understand how you feel about this - listening to the "obey" part of a wedding and hearing the minister talk about how the woman will support her husband etc is something I always find pretty difficult as it's a blatant statement you know simply isn't true for most of these women.

On the other hand, to have an issue with how a couple choose to do things like speeches seems a bit petty. I chose not to speak formally at my wedding but I did speak informally to thank everyone towards the end. This is because a) I hate speaking in public and b) DH is great at that kind of thing. My father spoke and did a wonderful job of talking about me. I also had one of my oldest (female) friends as MC and she took the gap to do some general ribbing, not dissimilar to what a best man would do for the groom (we didn't have a traditional best man so missed that part!).

purits Mon 22-Nov-10 17:53:03

"But I think that it is worth noting that for most people this really will be only the appearance of tradition. How their marriage actually plays out will no doubt be very different."

Spot on, Hope. I love your analogy with the transport.grin

Bue Mon 22-Nov-10 18:01:29

I must agree with the others - the CofE wedding service is actually extremely equal. The "giving away" thing doesn't exist anymore, nor does "obey". That is, unless you are using some ancient BCP service - and if a couple is choosing to use that language it probably tells you a lot about the couple.

snowflake69 Mon 22-Nov-10 18:49:38

I am not a feminist but I ran away to the caribbean. No speeches, no dancing, nobody to worry about. No traditionalness and in the pool in your bikini with your fiance/soon to be hubby 2 hours before. It was perfect

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