Friday, May 20, 2011

My Ideal Catholic, Feminist Wedding

DISCLAIMER: This does NOT mean I'm thinking of getting married quite yet. I need at least two years to get my life together first!

Now that I've hopefully addressed concerns that Katie may be rushing things (when you end up in a relationship, everybody's got an opinion.....Sheesh), I think I should mention what sparked this blog post. The Washington Post published a "Spring Cleaning" article, one that listed twenty things our society needs to purge. One of the authors wrote about the engagement ring. Long treasured as a symbol of romance and commitment, the author mentions the implications of consumerism, ownership, and self-entitlement that go along with it. To me, that's how I see most modern weddings. Of course, in my opinion, we've cheapened the ideals of marriage in the first place and placed greater emphasis on "her" day while including traditions that imply male ownership simply because it's "tradition." Don't even get me started. Anyway, being a both a fiery feminist and a devout Catholic, I thought I should talk about my ideal Catholic, feminist wedding.

For the engagement, I would not want a proposal or a ring. To be honest, I would not date if we were not discerning some type of future ( and I believe discussions of marriage should be frequent. It's so easy for us to stay with someone because the emotions are strong, thinking at first that we don't have to marry them, but becoming so devoted to them that it takes us by surprise. I think that, for a relationship to be successful, a couple needs to constantly discuss their future. Once we've decided that, yes, marriage is in our future, we both can pick a day to "become" engaged. For me, this would involve hosting a party for our friends and families (not telling them why) and then reciting heartfelt promises to marry each other. We would exchange small tokens (matching wristbands or something) that mark us as engaged. To me, it shows that the decision to marry is a mutual decision, that we will belong to each other, not solely me to him.

For the wedding, I'd walk down the aisle with my intended and instead, have my family serve as my wedding party. Why not my father? In a Catholic wedding, no one "gives me away." The man and the woman are ministers of the sacrament of marriage and, while a priest or deacon is present, they are there simply to witness and officiate at other parts of the ceremony. It makes more sense for me to walk down with my intended because we are giving ourselves to each other. Having our families participate in the ceremony makes more sense because it shows how they both prepared us for this journey and served as the first to teach us about relationships. Now, I'd still dance with my father afterward, because I am a daddy's girl and I think it's cute (I vote a Springsteen song for that). I just think the idea of the father bringing the woman to her husband smacks of old ideas of women as property and it doesn't sit well with me. Unless the groom walks down with his mom, or both walk down with their parents, it doesn't make sense to me. Also, having my family as my wedding party removes the drama behind choosing bridesmaids (plus, I don't want to have to deal with picking dresses).

For my dress, I don't want white. I've heard so many times that people will, "Think I'm a slut." OK, in our culture, how many of those brides are virgins? Second, why isn't the man showcasing HIS purity? Last I checked, Catholic teaching applies to him too (and yes, whomever I marry will be Catholic). Also, if people really know me and love me, would they really refer to me by degrading names because of a friggin' color? To me, white isn't even about virginity, as most Christian women did NOT wear white dresses until Queen Victoria made it popular. White became the fashion because it symbolized wealth (it's difficult to clean so you could only wear it once). To me, symbols of consumption seem incompatible with Christian teachings on sacrifice. Also, I tend to be loud, fiery, and crazy, which means color is in order! To me, I'm thinking royal blue. Why? Blue showcases everything I love like Mary's mantle (Mary's painted in many ways but we all know her by a blue mantle), the ocean, the Kenyan sky, parts of my ancestry (Italy's team is the Forza Azzuri or the Blue Force and it's also part of the tartan that marks the clan of my Scots ancestry), my graduation from university (our robes were royal blue). Royal blue because everyone always told me it flatters me. To me, it seems to reflect my essence. My essence is what I present to my groom on my wedding day. Why shouldn't my dress reflect that?

No diamonds for this chick. Exploitation of children in Africa does not seem like the greatest aphrodisiac in the world. Even conflict free ones just smack of expense and extraction of minerals just reminds me of environmental damage. Maybe wedding rings made out of recycled metals? They can still be beautiful, meaningful and appreciative, while also affirming our love for the earth. To me, that's another theological incite, as Adam came from the soil, so man was to be connected with the soil. Original sin broke relationships between men, women and the earth so I see it as a symbol of attempts at reunion and reconciliation.

Reception time? Everyone dances. Everyone eats. Everyone drinks (responsibly, I WILL throw you out if you're a drunken buffoon). I dance with my husband, with my dad, and with my friends. I like the whole, bride dances with her dad, groom with his mom. There will probably be a lot of Springsteen, U2, and the Eagles as well as whatever he likes. Oh, did I mention there will be food? Mangia, mangia!

I also will keep my maiden name. My refusal to change it does not lessen our unity. Our unity will be showcased through our home, our life and our children. Yes, I know, it's my father's last name so I still have a man's name. But that's because it's from a long tradition of women changing their names. I also don't mind mine too much. Marriage makes us one but it doesn't mean I forsake my identity. I am open to giving my kids their father's name, simply because everyone will know they're my kids (hard to hide a pregnant belly, especially on a skinny frame). Or name blending. I just want to keep mine. Many Latin cultures (which are very Catholic, by the way) involve women keeping their names and giving both to the kids. To me, there's no theological reasoning for it, so I won't bother myself with it.

I'm not knocking anyone who chooses to go the traditional route. Rather, I'm proposing we reflect on WHY we choose the traditions we choose. To me, (yes, to ME), may of these traditions have become meaningless and don't coincide with my understanding of both femininity and my faith. To me, unity implies a combining of souls, bodies, houses, and resources to produce something powerful. We both bring unique talents, personalities and thoughts to the table so marriage should be an equal partnership. Not me under him, nor him under me, but both at an equal level. If we are truly ministers of the sacrament, and if women are also made in the image of God (and therefore, powerful in their own right), our ceremonies and customs should reflect this. So, for me (again, for ME), this is what a Catholic, feminist wedding looks like.

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