I always knew there was a hint of sexism in traditional American wedding ceremonies (I mean, how can you not notice it?), but now that I’m planning my own wedding I am beginning to realize just how sexist the traditional wedding ceremony is. While most people don’t think it’s a big enough deal to care about, I do.
To start with, having the bride’s family pay for the wedding festivities actually streams from the old custom of giving the man’s family a dowry. Almost as if to say, “Here, we’ll pay you to take her!” In other cases, the man would give livestock to the father in exchange for the daughter. Essentially, the daughter’s worth was based on how much the father could make off of her.
One of the most disturbing things I hear at weddings is when the wedding minister says, “Who gives this woman to this man?” The father proudly says, “I do.” as if she is property to be given away. This would make sense if we were living in the 1200s where fathers chose husbands for their daughters, but this is no longer the case for the most part. There is not a trade off between the father and the groom, the woman chooses for herself who she wants to marry. There really is no good reason to include this tradition anymore.
I must have come out of the womb as a feminist because this next point has troubled me for as long as I can remember. Traditionally, the woman takes the man’s last name, but this isn’t really the problem for me. The problem is when the minister announces the couple as, “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.” So now the woman completely loses her identity because she gets married? Once again, this isn’t the first century. Women are getting married because they want to, not because they must do so for survival.
Why do we romanticize something that people fought so hard to change?
It is the small things like the man standing on the right side (symbolizing the right hand of God), the veil being worn over the bride’s face, the minister saying, “You may now kiss the bride,” that make me throw up a little. Basically, the whole traditional wedding ceremony is just one big, sexist mess. This is 2015 and you should be able to have a wedding without the pressure of following these unnecessary traditions. If these traditions are what you choose, then that’s your own right, but please remember the people who fought to give you your individual status and remember that your identity doesn’t lie within a man or a marriage license.