I really don’t like weddings.
They’re just not my thing. For the most part, I don’t like attending them, I don’t like being in them, and I don’t like planning for a hypothetical one that may or may not be in my future. My aversion to weddings stems from my annoyance with the commercialism tied to it, the financial burden placed on family and friends who participate, the focus on the wedding instead of the marriage, and the abundance of patriarchal symbolism intertwined in various parts of the ceremony.
As you can tell, I have strong opinions on the matter, so when The Junia Project admin team talked about writing about weddings for Valentine’s Day, I thought that instead of pushing my opinions on all of you, instead I’d ask you for your thoughts on these very issues. I am very happy with the result, and am encouraged at the varying opinions within egalitarianism. So, without further ado, I give you…
6 Differing Views on Wedding Traditions
What does marriage mean to you?
For me, the meaning of marriage directly relates to my life’s guiding value, and to the heart of the Gospel. It’s all about love. Practically speaking, I see marriage as the perfect avenue for two people to learn how to love. I look to my future spouse as someone who is teaching me and will teach me to love people better, as I also help her to do the same. My hope is that we would both be devoted to learning not only how to love each other better everyday, but to earnestly focus on how we could overwhelm those around us with tangible and spirit-filled love. If marriage were only about us two, I wouldn’t want any part of that. The question for me really is “how can we love other people better together?”
Marriage is a special bond between 2 people. It is a serious commitment that requires much time and energy. I think it is a life long commitment, a special relationship that God has created. A partner that you get to work alongside with, furthering his kingdom. It is something that allows for special love to grow, a love that should show off and compliment your good traits, and at the same time be patient and challenge your faults to make you grow. It can be crazy fun and crazy challenging. It should be there to lift you up in hard times and everyday push you closer and closer to God.
Its about entering into a covenant that suggests that, in being both fully human (and often carrying the burdens of being fully human), we can nonetheless supplement each other’s weaknesses and enhance our corporate strengths.We reflect the relationship Christ has with his church, and we seek to submit and love and laugh forever.
To me marriage is a partnership between two people who have committed themselves unconditionally to the other to support one another’s life journeys while growing together in friendship & intimacy.
Equal, affirming, encouraging, life-giving. As a feminist, I define marriage as a social construct that looks more like a team than a business transaction. Neither person solely benefits more than another; one person is not dominant or only taking, taking, taking. Both people have free will, the decision to consent, and the choice to maintain his or her whole self while at the same time doing life with another entirely whole person.
As a Christian, my view of marriage begins to add elements that are motivated by my faith: now this social construct is intentional in reflecting Christ, and we’ll love one another and pray for one another and maybe on that celebratory day we’ll wash each other’s feet.
If you aren’t married, do you want to get married some day? Why or why not?
I would love to. Not because I’m “supposed to” or because it’s my womanly obligation, but because I’d love to partner with someone through this complicated, yet beautiful journey we call life.
I would love to get married someday. I know that God has created me as an individual, and with Him I can conquer what He needs me to, so it’s not that I need a husband, I would just love to have one. I feel like marriage is such a special relationship. It is nice to have that constant companion and support with you always. I think it would be so fun to have a partner to tackle silly everyday tasks and turn them into adventures. Husband and Wife learn to work as a unit, and know how to truly push each other to become better servants of God.
If I marry someone, I will see marriage as a context in which my calling is extended into. As a romantic partner I would be just as much a whole person as I am as a single individual. As a person united to another, I would still be called to love as Christ has loved me; the difference would simply be to live out my calling in the social context and construct that is marriage.
What do you think of certain wedding traditions such as 1.) The bride wearing white/a veil 2.) The father walking the daughter down the aisle 3.) The “who gives this woman to be married to this man” question? 4.) Engagement rings?
I think it’s very important to acknowledge that symbols and traditions trigger different things in different people. I have discussed these traditions with feminists I hugely respect and I have found that we object to different things. Personally, I think the symbolism of male ownership is too strong in the father walking the daughter down the aisle and the ‘who gives this woman’ question’ and I would not want to do them. However, I don’t really mind the white dress, whereas I can understand how the suggestion of a virginal gift might be too much for others.
The people that I know who have gotten engaged have chosen to express this choice in varying ways: engagement rings for one or both, a ring for one and a watch (or another gift) for the other, simply skipping the rings altogether and using the money for a more desirable use such as a downpayment on a house or saving up for an adventurous trip. Different people do it different ways, and even within differing cultures there is diversity when it comes to expressing the decision to be married.
I believe that wearing white, while a great tradition, is supposed to insinuate purity and unfortunately the groom doesn’t have those same “(white) (purity)” pressures in his outfit choices. For this reason, I’m not 100% sure it’s that helpful to the overall purity message for just one gender to wear white and the other not be encouraged to do so as well.
I am not a big fan of white – not because of the virgin bride, but because it does not look great on many people. I am much more a fan of creams and off whites. And there are some real pretty blushes out there as well. But it is more of a personal taste.
The father walking the daughter down the aisle is a sweet tradition. I have always seen it as such a tender moment between father and daughter before she marries the man of her dreams. For some people a father can be the first person a little girl learns about love from. It can be kinda fun to have it almost come full circle and one of her first loves walks with her to one of her great loves.
The only tradition that I am still not really a big fan of is the garter toss. Only because the way the groom goes to get the garter can be SO awkward and its weird to me to throw part of your new wife’s intimates at a group of your best friends.
How would you prefer to be introduced after the ceremony? (Mr. & Mrs. Johnson, Mr. & Mrs. Bill Johnson, etc.)
I don’t like the “Mr. & Mrs. (insert male’s full name)” at the end of the ceremony. It insinuates that the woman no longer has an identity. I’d prefer “Mr._(insert full name)_____ and Mrs. __(insert her full name)______”. That tradition has never sat well with me.
Thankfully, I’m from a country where the titles Mr. and Mrs. haven’t been used for a generation, so this is not really a very pressing question. I wouldn’t want to be introduced as Mrs. Someone and hopefully I never will.
What do you think about changing your last name when you’re married?
I have always wanted to take his name when I get married. Yes, I do love my last name and love my family, but I am starting a new part of my life, a marriage. And yes, that can go both ways and he should also want to take my name, or make a whole new name…but let’s be honest, La Tondre is too hard to hyphenate 🙂
I’ve spent some time in great thought about certain wedding/marriage traditions. The most important one thus far has been the choice about changing last names once we’re married. At the beginning of our conversations about marriage, I wanted to be clear that I wanted to be thoughtful about the choices we made, and that I valued making choices together rather than upholding certain traditions. For me, every tradition is up for discussion. I value tradition, but I really value discussing things through, being thoughtful, and deciding things together. I proposed the conversation about last names willing to consider options like taking her last name, or creating a new last name together (something creative like “Smith” or “Johnson”). In the end, we decided that we would go with my last name. Mostly because she liked mine a lot. I like mine too. So boom.
I will probably want to hyphenate or have my current last name as my middle and then my husband’s as my last name. A lot of the reason is because I’m in my early 30s and I’ve established myself a bit in my career and life and have somewhat built on this name. If I was really young and getting married I would have possibly dropped my current last name. I also think this is something that is up to the individual/couple. I don’t believe in traditional guidelines making changing last names as something mandatory.
Jill Filipovic wrote a brilliant piece about this last year, where she puts it like this: ‘Identities matter, and the words we put on things are part of how we make them real […] Part of how our brains function and make sense of a vast and confusing universe is by naming and categorizing. When women see our names as temporary or not really ours, and when we understand that part of being a woman is subsuming your own identity into our husband’s, that impacts our perception of ourselves and our role in the world.’ I really think she is on to something there.
My name is very important to me and I find it very difficult to imagine ever changing it. It is socially, professionally and emotionally tied to my identity and personhood; and believing these things matter, I think my name matters too.
Overall, I would say that an egalitarian wedding looks different for each couple, just as I think an egalitarian marriage does. One couple may decide to hold onto certain traditions and attribute little value to their symbolism; while another couple may want to completely flip the way that things are done. I think what is most important here is that both the woman and the man are thoughtful about the traditions that they engage in, and that they decide together. On another note, to the men out there, help your fiancés plan the wedding!! Break the stereotype and be involved.
About the Authors:
Khristi Adams is Chaplain in Residence at Georgetown University, filmmaker, playwright, youth advocate, and author of “The Misinterpreted Gospel of Singleness”. Khristi holds a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. See Khristi’s website for more.
Marianne Akslen Mandujano Is a London-based Norwegian who holds a master’s degree in Political Theory from the London School of Economics, where her interests included feminist and liberal theory. She blogs at mariannemandujano.com and is hoping to one day have the time to write a book about leaving evangelicalism.
Nick Quient is a MAT student in Theology and Biblical Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. He loves bottled coke, his wonderful wife Allison, and coffee. He is also a contributor to the Rethinking Hell project and blogs at splitframeofreference.blogspot.com.
Jordan Williams is a recent Azusa Pacific University graduate and emerging leader making an impact at a Santa Monica-based tech company, Cornerstone OnDemand. He is engaged to Julianna Haykin and anxiously awaits their July wedding!
Margie La Tondre loves good coffee, scarves, and being around good friends. She enjoys sports and can’t wait for baseball season to start, GO GIANTS! She holds a B.S. in Nursing from Azusa Pacific University and works as a nurse in Southern California.
Lauren Ward is a senior Biblical Text major at ACU. Her passions center on feminism and humanitarianism, as well as finding the points where Christianity intersects with such topics.
What do you think? How would you answer these questions?
Editor’s Note: On February 15th email subscribers will get a link to a PDF of an egalitarian wedding ceremony that can be used as a template for creating a ceremony of your own. Use the subscribe button at the top of the right sidebar if you would like to receive this resource.