[Guest Post] Gender Divide: His and Hers Wedding Parties
In the third of my series of guest posts on the trials of being a feminist while getting married (previously: being given away; the Name Issue), I’m going to take a look at the issues of bridesmaids, best men, hen parties and stag dos.
On the surface, it doesn’t seem like it would be a big deal, right? I mean, you say bride, you think ‘bridesmaids’. What wedding photographer doesn’t have a plethora of pictures of a girl in white, smiling, with five other women of varying ages in a terrifying shade of coral, looking less happy? If you’re the bride, you’re meant to be surrounded by loads of female extras being feminine and cooing about appearance and hair and The Dress and flowers – that’s what the media show. But I had a big issue when it came to my bridesmaids. I have a lot of friends and they are’t all female, and lots of them are in different groups and some are in different countries. In the end, I have a family member (stepsister), my best mate (who lives in South Korea) and a bridesman.
Yup, that’s right. I’ve known Dan since I was 18 and he knows me almost as well as my fiancé, so screw it, he’s in my bridal party. I have a bridesman. There are actually some great sides to this. For one thing, like my fiancé, he doesn’t drink, so he’ll be very helpful in negotiating the family tensions on the day when it comes to the group photographs. For another, he’s great at calming me down and getting me to remember to have some perspective. And he’s funny and can cheer me up when I’m stressed and grumpy.
Needless to say, my mother does not approve. ‘Why can’t he be part of Future Husband’s party?’ she wailed. It is seemingly ‘not done’ to have men in your wedding entourage if you’re a woman, I imagine because of women not having male friends in the same way in the old days, because, tradition implies, that would surely lead to romance. (Although I have in fact slept with him. I am not revealing this fact to my mother.) A couple of other people have joked ‘Oh, in a dress?’ and I’ve just stared at them until they stop with their gender stereotyping.
The idea of just having your female friends is a lovely one but a little outdated when you a) know what sex is and don’t need your married friends telling you before your wedding night, and b) regularly talk to men without the worry that someone will see you and call you a strumpet. We’ve moved on as a society, haven’t we? It’s nicely balanced by the fact that Future Husband chose his sister as his best man. I love that our wedding party is made up of a mix of men and women on both sides.
It’s also nice to have an additional excuse for extra parties. I’ve always said I would have a Cock Party as well as a Hen Do. Future Husband is having a Doe Night as well as a Stag Do. Fine, we’ll segregate by gender but by god we’ll have both. It shakes it up from the normal alternative of one single party we could throw, but also means that I’m not just hanging out in a female-only group.
It’s not even that I’ve set out to be ‘controversial’ (my mother, yet again), it’s just that I couldn’t see how I could organise my wedding and not be non-gender biased. We have too many friends, male and female, to simply be that abrupt and schismatic.
- Lizzie is getting married in 2013 and has already planned roughly 5,748 weddings in her head. You can find more of her musings, wedding-themed reviews and rantings at Wedding Belles UK.