I used to dream about my wedding day.
The perfect prince, the fairytale gown, and the enchanting garden.
Marriage used to be one of my life goals.
As a naive teenager, I imagined I’d be married with kids by the time I was 25.
Then I got to 25 and realised I still couldn’t take care of myself.
I’m now 29, in a committed 3 year relationship with a man I love, and I have mixed feelings about marriage.
I’d like to express my commitment to the one I love, and make it more official. If we ever have children, I don’t want the fact that we’re unmarried to hinder any of us in the eye of the law.
But I’ve also learned marriage was invented just so that women’s rights to property could be removed.
In England in the 1100s, women were seen as property of their husbands. They weren’t allowed to own property, run taverns or stores, or sue in court – except in the case of being a widow or spinster; which we know was frowned upon by society at the time (and kind of still is).
Our society has evolved since then, but has our attitude towards weddings and marriage changed much? Or are we still firmly under the patriarchy’s thumb as women?
Women are still choosing to wear white on their wedding day – a symbol of purity & the virgin. By “virgin” I mean the relatively new, Biblical version of the word, which describes a sexually chaste woman. The original definition meant a woman who was independent, sexually liberated, and free from society’s control.
Women are still choosing to have their father walk them down the aisle, and “give them away,” as though we’re in agreement of the idea that we somehow belong to the men in our life.
Women are still choosing to take their partner’s last name. There is a new wave of women who opt for double barrelling, but the double standards remain. Find me a man who is adding his wife’s last name to his? Why is it only women continuing to change their names?
Do we continue to abide by these patriarchal ways simply because they’re tradition, and that’s what everybody else is doing?
Are we questioning the choices we’re making – for our wedding day and beyond?
Are we even making a conscious choice?
Or are we accepting the way it is, and the way it always has been?
Are we allowing ourselves to be brainwashed and dragged along the bride-to-be conveyor-belt, then spat out the other side; our foreheads branded with the word “wife.”
I still believe in the idea of marriage, when you strip it back to what it’s supposed to mean: the union of two people in love becoming a partnership.
But I don’t have any plans to wear a white dress.
I’m not a Christian, and I son’t intend to be a part of the virgin charade that a white dress connotes.
I’m reclaiming the word virgin.
I won’t be asking my dad to walk me down the isle.
Because I am not his to give away. I do not need permission to say or do anything in this life.
I don’t have any plans to take my partner’s last name.
It must be strange to wake up one day with a different name – a sign of you leaving one family and entering the next. But why does it have to be that way? When we get married, we are still daughters and sisters. Becoming a wife and a mother doesn’t erase that; and it shouldn’t.
I used to think nothing of signing away my name for my future husband’s. I thought that was just what you did when you got married.
But you don’t have to do anything.
You don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations of you.
You don’t have to follow tired traditions, or the crowd.
If it really is supposed to be “our day,” isn’t it about time we started making it ours?