F**king the patriarchy (without f**king over your patriarch…)

*It’s yet another Two Post Tuesday – don’t forget to check out this morning’s post with some amazing input from the AOW community on combining your finances*

This post is just the very heart of why Any Other Wedding came about. It absolutely sums up one of the reasons that I created AOW – there are a lot of hard choices to be made when wedding planning (and no, I don’t mean which colour napkins to have) and I wanted to create a space where we could all work through these decisions. I am incredibly lucky to have been joined in this by my two batshit wonderful co-conspirators, but also by all of you who keep sending in posts that challenge and educate us, and those of you who comment with your wisdom and advice.

This post is written by Lorna (of Ask AOW – the Budget Edition) and it really spoke to me when it landed in our inbox. Weddings traditionally have a lot of anti-feminist baggage around them, and as modern women we have to wade through a lot of this baggage to decide what is important to us, and what we know deep inside isn’t right for us. And then be prepared to have it all challenged. And that’s exactly what Lorna is going to talk about today…

Iam an unashamed, unabashed ardent feminist. I like my legs hairy (well, I don’talways shave them the first day that I should – that’s the same thing, right?)and my party guests slightly embarrassed by my ravings about equal pay. So whenit came to wedding planning, I was going to do it the feminist way:independent, empowered by my choices, strong and, y’know, feminist-y.
Thismeant banishing traditions that upheld the concept of the patriarchy. I wouldnot have speeches whilst I sat silent, like some sort of mute princess. I hatewedding speeches, personally. I always get up and go to the toilet during them.I can’t listen to them for the same reason I can’t watch The Office- I have anactual, real life physical reaction to cringe-y events. It makes my eyeballsitch or my heart squirm or other things of this nature. My wedding was havingno speeches. Boyfriend agreed, because I had ‘fiery eyes’ when I said it.
Iwas also not going to be ‘given away’ because that is ridiculous. I don’tbelong to anyone but myself. The line ‘who gives this woman…’ raises a sort ofangry bile in my throat at other people’s weddings, never mind the reaction Iwould have at my own. It makes me SO angry, I would probably march out leavingpoor Boyfriend at the altar, a bit confused but mostly regretting asking such acrazy person to marry him in the first place. My solution to this particularproblem was to have both parents walk me down the aisle (I’m not doing it alonebecause I will need someone to remind me I don’t actually need to pee right now,it’s just nerves.) By having both parents, I hoped that everyone would get themessage that I was not another pawn in the patriarchal game, but someone who operatedby her own rules. I felt invincible- a badass feminist, challenging conceptionsand generally being awesome.
Thenmy mum phoned. My dad was hurt. Properly hurt. I’d basically written all hisbits, the bits where he gets to feelawesome and badass, right out of the wedding. This was not a good feeling. SureI had f**ked the patriarchy well and good, but I’d f**ked over my very ownpatriarch, who has feelings and is lovely in the process. Bad times. My dad haseven gone to the trouble of getting a kilt, which is something he hadpreviously said would happen ‘over his cold, dead, rotting body’ (we’re allquite dramatic in our family…)
So,as with so many things in weddings and life, I’ve had to compromise. My dadwill walk WITH me down the aisle, not to give me away, but because of the peething. The priest will not be asking ‘who gives this women…’ (my dad agreedthis is not acceptable, he’s a bit of a feminist too) and dad will thankeveryone for coming in the only speech of the evening.
WhenI talked to him about the speech, I explained how the traditional ‘my daughteris fabulous’ speech bothered me as it promoted the concept that the bride issomehow still being sold in some way- like he’s saying ‘honestly, you got areally good deal, she’s only done 10,000 miles (I’ve probably done nearer50,000…) Instead, I asked him to talk about how he and my mum have made theirmarriage work over the last 27 years. He was excited about it.
Isthis foolproof? Probably not. I will inevitably hurt someone, somewhere in theprocess, but I think I’ve just about managed to make this compromise work forus all. I’m still being a badass feminist, just one who’s nice to her dad. Ihad long ago decided that I didn’t want to change my name, but I didn’t want tohave a different surname from my kids, so double-barrelling was the bestcompromise. In effect, I’ve double-barrelled my wedding. Win-win all round.
Categories: Family, Friends and Relationships, Our Favourite Posts, Politics and Feminism, Wedding Planning
19 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted October 18, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Good for you double-barrelling your wedding! Fantastic post and I very much relate to a lot of the points you've raised. I had big issue with being given away so like you I just had accompaniment down the aisle. I counteracted the traditional speeches thing by having speeches from the bridesmaids not just the best men, and me doing a speech as well as hubby.

    Really good luck- it sounds perfect! Yay for feminists! X

  2. Posted October 18, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Very well written post. I nodded my head all the way through it.

    I know what you mean about speeches, I felt uncomfortable during ours. On hindsight, I'd have liked to do a speech, but I didn't want the added and unnecessary stress.


  3. Posted October 18, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Lorna this post is hilarious and also thoughtful and smart. Is it okay if I say that it makes me really excited to be your wedding photographer? Because it does. We are a lot alike you and I. Hairy feminists FTW!

  4. Posted October 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Permalink


    It makes me happy that so many women of our generation are out and proud feminists.

  5. Sarah
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Great post! I agree with lots of this. Part of me felt uncomfortable with the idea of being 'given away' for the same reasons, but equally I wanted to walk in with my dad because it's 'special', I love my dad and I'm lucky to have one. I just asked for the registrar to take out the 'who gives this woman' bit out – for me, it was a step too far!
    Overall, I reasoned that if I was uncomfortable with the connotations of walking in with my dad, why was I wearing an ivory dress, why was I getting married at all if I was a feminist?! In the end I chose to view it as culture and tradition thing and not a reflection on my feminist viewpoints. I also felt quite strongly against sitting silently at the speeches while men spoke about me, but in the end, like Katie, I realised I'm actually quite shy, and did not need the added stress of a speech!
    Bad/lazy feminist : ) x

  6. Posted October 18, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Permalink


    Luckily for me I'm not close to my dad so while he is coming I knew he wouldn't be expecting to be doing any of the traditional father of the bride stuff.

    We ditched speeches for lots of reasons and me and my man will be walking down the aisle together (on Saturday aaaaaaaah!).

    We were at a wedding last month and when the bride said '..and obey' in her vows I physically flinched.

    Good for you doing things differently and making people rethink how and why we do traditional things, while being sensitive to others' needs too.

  7. Posted October 18, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Also, I think any choice made is a feminist choice. If you consider your options and the pros and cons of each then the final decision must be suitable and appropriate to your feminist values or you wouldn't have chosen it.

    I think the enemy of feminism is a lack of choice not the "wrong" choices.

  8. Posted October 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Ms Fran, I agree 100% with your last sentence. That we have a choice is so crucial and so important. I don't think feminism should ever be about judging people for making the "wrong" or "anti-feminist" choice, it should be about our freedom to make the choice that suits us, whoever the hell we are.

    My Dad IS giving me away, I think, because it is a special moment for him and for me & him as Father & daughter, I want him there with me. But I think we will dispense with the "who gives this woman" bit, not least because everyone in the congregation would collapse in hysterics at the thought of me meekly being handed over into G's possession.

    I love this post.

    K x

  9. Mahj
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Lorna, this may be a bit weird but I think I love you! Also, I get 'angry eyes' which is the same as your 'fiery eyes' I think. Except Martin says I'm just squinting when I tell him I'm showing him my angry eyes. Anyway, I digress…

    Great post, my Dad walked me down the aisle as he is quite tradational that way. But he was the one who vetoed the "who gives the bride away" part. Maybe he is a closet feminist?!

    I think when it comes to weddings, you have to do whats right for you as a couple and it sounds like you have reached an amazing compromise with your Dad. Good for you for finding a balance that suits you both.


  10. Helen
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    I loved this post, it sums up the reason I am so so glad to have found AOW. I love a wedding blog where feminism is not an embarrassing word!

    I am marrying my Argentinian boyfriend in Buenos Aires where we live and the legal wedding takes ten minutes and is fuss-free and very gender-neutral in its language. Easy. Then we're having a humanist ceremony that we're writing ourselves, which is causing all sorts of raised eyebrows amongst my in-laws, but of the puzzled rather than the disapproving variety. I will wear white and my dad will 'walk me down the aisle' for that bit because I know he will enjoy it, but there will be no representative of patriarchal religion or even the state performing the ceremony, just a friend of ours, so no scary 'who gives this woman…' type thing.

    When we have our second party in London with my friends my husband and I will be entering the venue together, and I think I'm looking forward to that bit most of all!

    Thanks for posting, Lorna, and I'm really glad you found a way to keep the people you love happy without doing something you don't believe in.

  11. Posted October 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    so nice to hear people finding their own way to be strong feminist-type ladies. i am definitely all about the choices- amazing women fought hard so that we can have them, and we owe it to them to OWN the decisions we make, regardless of what they are.

    ps. mahj, it is definitely mutual. i am a HUGE fan of your amazing writing.

    pps. going to be very girly and have a little 'squee' because i just realised i'm getting married in 10 weeks. so exciting!

  12. Posted October 18, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Excellent post, Lorna. I too, am glad you managed to find a middle ground that suited your wedding and didn't make your Dad all sad.

    We originally banned speeches at our wedding and hubby was just going to get up and say thank you. Then my Dad wanted to say a few words so we let him. Then on the day we had at least two extra impromptu short and sweet speeches, so we went from having none to having more than average! I kinda wish I'd gotten up with my hubby so it was a joint thank you but I didn't have the brain space left for speech planning too! Plus it was kinda fun to sit and bask in the glory of his nice words! ;)

    I totally agree about the 'who gives this woman' part and how it feels a bit like an auction for you. I'm sat here (embarrasingly) trying to think whether it featured in our ceremony or not. I wasn't a very switched on feminist on our wedding day clearly! Good on you Lorna for thinking ahead and getting it sorted whilst you have time!


    P.S. I'm loving all these discussion topics AOW!

    P.P.S. Mahj, your angry eyes made me think of Mr Potato Head in Toy Story!

  13. Posted October 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Lorna, are you getting married at actual Christmas then?

  14. Posted October 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lorna and everybody… what a cracking day today on AOW?! (I'm heading back to this mornings post next to have my say!)

    This is probably the first time I've ever bothered to comment on a post I disagreed* with as I usually feel it's better to just keep you opinions to yourself. I know how much heart and soul goes into a blog post.

    I also usually refrain from comments like this because I know how bad it makes people feel… and please understand that's the last thing I would want by posting this. Just telling people my Dad died makes them look like they would rather hang themselves on the spot than have made me utter the words, whereas to me it's a fact of life.

    I can identify so much with what you have written Lorna, because I felt exactly the same… no man has the right to give me away god damn it, I'm my own independent lady! … except for the man who made me that strong independent woman and taught me I could be anything that I wanted to be. My Dad.

    Don't feel bad for being a feminist, or for saying these things. Your decisions have been very wise with a little bit of early hindsight gifted to you by your Mum. Instead revel in being the woman your Dad made you and the fact that he is there to give you away :)


    *Said with a pinch of salt.

  15. Posted October 18, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    hi rebecca, i think i should start by saying that I am painfully aware that I am incredibly lucky to be able to HAVE the choice about my dad's involvement in my wedding, and I am so sorry that you didn't get that opportunity.

    For me, though, my father did help shape who I am, but so did my mum, sister, brother and granny eileen. If I were to be 'given away' it would have to be by them all, en masse, as the people who raised and nurtured me to be strong and independent. None of them are afforded a place in a traditional wedding for that purpose(especially not in a catholic wedding!) I am happy with the decisions I made, not just because it feels like the best way to reflect my political beliefs, but because it feels like I am honouring the whole family who raised me. Dad will accompany me, but they will all 'release' me into my new family.

  16. Posted October 18, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Thats very true Lorna, it's all too easy to overly glorify those you miss and I as I wrote that comment I thought of my Mum… equally integral to my upbringing. Ironically though, (for me) it was my Dad who was more of the feminist! ;)


  17. Posted October 18, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Lorna, thank you so much for putting your excellent point across so eloquently here on AOW. I love the double-barrelling concept-it sounds like it will work perfectly for you and your lovely pa.

    Incidentally, I read a BEAUTIFUL tweet from a follower today who said that your father was the kind of father they hoped to be to their daughters when they grow up-you can tell your dad that and be proud!

    Rebecca-I know your persepctive is, as you say, a way of life for you, and I'm sorry that it has to be so. But, I hope you'll allow me to say that I know your dad and ALL your family will be immeasurably proud of the woman you've become.

    I appear to be rather soppy this evening!


  18. Posted October 18, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    As a feminist who was a) given away b) vowed to obey in a c of e ceremony and c) had speeches I'm not sure I fit in with the mould here…but I thought it was worth piping up to say I entirely agree with what ms fran said about the enemy of feminism being a lack of choice.

    There's a huge misconception about the christian meaning of obey within the marriage vows. I have to say that before I learnt about it in our marriage preparation classes I also thought it was outdated and pointless. But I can honestly say I was wrong and now I know what it means, I'm glad I said it. It was right for me.

  19. Lia
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    I think that what is important is the meaning you take from your vows and any other traditions or whatever you do for your wedding.

    The vows are the promises you make to each other so say what you want/mean and let others do the same.
    I guess I agree with the choice thing. Not being able to do something because its 'unfeminist' seems silly

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