There are so many ways that weddings interact and sometimes contradict with feminism, at least my feminism. Starting with the pre-proposal and going all the way through the reception, weddings can embody traditional gender and family roles so completely that it makes my head spin, and, truth be told, can make me super-ragey.
I was prepared for these issues coming into wedding planning. For god’s sake, I’ve been reading A Practical Wedding for two years now. But I wasn’t prepared for what came up this week, already, in my first month of being engaged.
Steve and I worked hard to come up with an ideal date for the wedding. Originally, we had been thinking about October 2012. That would have given us about a 10-month engagement, which I thought was ideal. Then, I started to think about what this fall already looks like. I am a Maid of Honor (for the first time!!) in a wedding in September. Then, the Jewish High Holy Days, which all take place on weekdays, will be happening. By the time we got to October, I will have taken four of my six personal days off from work. I won’t really be able to take off any time for the wedding, and I’ll be trying to get everything together during one of the busiest times of the year. Plus, having the wedding in October would make it extremely difficulty, and probably impossible, for Steve’s family to come from England.
Starting to despair, I searched around for another possible date. And then, miraculously, I found a Sunday in March where my Spring Break and UK Spring Holidays overlapped. Brilliant! Wonderful weather, time off, and the chance for Steve’s family to make it work made this date look beautiful. Plus, it would give us a few extra months to plan and save. I felt really excited when we committed to this date and started telling our families and friends. It was finally real!
Then, at work this week, I got word that my principal had agreed to send a group of us to the national school social work conference next year. This was great news! I have been wanting to present at a national conference and I was planning to apply to this one. It’s in San Diego, where I’ve never been. I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time.
You probably see where this is going, right? The conference ends the day before the wedding. On the Saturday. My brain searched frantically to try to find a way to make it work, but it is just not going happen. I am heartbroken. I told myself, “But you’re getting married! That should be enough to make you happy! It’s worth missing the conference!”
The truth is, of course it is worth missing the conference for my wedding. But, the wedding is not enough to make me happy. It will make me happy, obviously, but I’m not just a bride. I’m a person, with other interests and other ambitions. As I tried to convince myself that I shouldn’t be upset because, come on, I get to have a wedding, I felt squeamish and uncomfortable. Being totally ok with forgoing everything else for the wedding would for sure betray my feminist beliefs. And luckily, my squeamish-ness reminded me that those beliefs are part of my core.
So, I’m allowing myself to be upset about missing the conference. I’m disappointed. I will probably be disappointed and frustrated when my colleagues fly off to San Diego to present on my program that I’ve worked hard to make a success. Being excited about the wedding won’t change that. And it shouldn’t.