Maureen & Scott


*Maureen, Archivist & Scott, Digital Collections Manager*

Maureen & Scott | A Practical Wedding

This week we wanted to talk about Curveballs, both in weddings and in married life. And yes, that means there is going to be some difficult but really important posts to read this week. So I thought we’d start it all off with a post that’s just important. Important, and also really really fun (in a fist pumping way YES way) and smart in an “I’m not getting married right now but I wrote notes on a post-it” kind of way. Maureen’s wedding graduate post is about what happens when deciding to get married in the first place is a curveball, and feminism. It’s a read-it-if-you’re-not-wedding-planning-too post.Maureen & Scott | A Practical Wedding

Dear Future Maureen,

Do you remember how concerned you were at first about what feminist-group-house-living, queer, radical, 22-year-old Maureen would think of you (of us) when you decided to marry Scott? Do you remember how unsure you were of the very idea of marriage as an institution, how contractual it seemed, how antithetical to the idea of waking up everyday and choosing to be with your partner because you love him (or her), instead of being there because of some promise you made when you were a much younger and different person?

Maureen & Scott | A Practical Wedding

Now that I’m on the other side of this, I think that 22-year-old us would be very happy with the way we addressed these issues openly, ferociously, and with love and respect for those around us. And now that we’ve been through it—and you’ve been through many years of marriage—let’s take a moment to remember together what we’ve learned about marriage and promises through the process of having a wedding.

Maureen & Scott | A Practical Wedding

Promises are important. They can bring freedom rather than bondage: Scott and I have been living together for years. We went through a devastating fire together. And I didn’t really believe that I would feel differently after getting married—but strangely enough, I do.

Maureen & Scott | A Practical Wedding

Promises are a wonderful foundation on which to make plans, to think about the future, to go deeper with one another. There’s something about the process of committing to each other in front of God and our families (and about them committing to seeing us as a team and supporting us) that has given me a feeling of peace that I didn’t feel before.

Maureen & Scott | A Practical Wedding

Our families and friends have enormous amounts of love and help that they want to give. But things really go best for everyone when we, as a couple, take the lead on making tough, responsible choices and communicate them clearly: Remember how Scott and I decided that we wanted to finance the wedding ourselves? This may have been the single best wedding planning decision that we made. Even though we had been sharing a household for a long time, this was an opportunity to keep long-term savings, to make tough financial choices together, and to help our families understand that we are now a unit.

Maureen & Scott | A Practical Wedding

After all, it seemed kind of strange after ten years of financial independence from my family to have them pay for a celebration that was at some times and in some cultures considered the transfer of a woman from one family to another. And we were able to enjoy other contributions from them (which were extremely generous). Scott’s mother and father whipped their house and backyard into picture-perfect shape so that it could be the venue for our reception. My mother provided her impeccable touch to creating our bouquets and boutonnieres. My stepfather tied Scott’s bowtie. And my dad provided a reading at our ceremony and a moving speech at our reception.

Maureen & Scott | A Practical Wedding

And our friends were generous, too—Anna’s day-of coordination gave the impression that invisible elves made this all happen magically. Valerie’s photography had a way of making everyone relaxed, and she had such a good sense of what to look for. And Joel, who doesn’t “do” weddings, cooked his ass off to make delicious vegan food that everyone, from my 84-year-old grandmother to my hunting-and-fishing brother-in-law, loved.

There’s a lot of love out there for us. Be open to taking it in—and sending it back out, too.

Maureen & Scott | A Practical Wedding

It’s true. The institution of marriage (and traditions around weddings) are indeed steeped in patriarchy: But so is the world. Being a self-actualized woman means seeing the world for what it really is, not pretending that we can ditch it, and committing to making our part of that world what we want it to be.

Maureen & Scott | A Practical Wedding

Remember the long, open, emotionally-honest conversations you and Scott had with your parents, his parents, your priest and your friends about the principles that will be shaping your marriage, and how this all drew you closer together? Yes, experiencing reverberations from the inequities of the past (and new ones that perpetuate themselves into the present and the future) isn’t fun, but you must remember that you belong here too.

Maureen & Scott | A Practical Wedding

You, too, have a place in the church, in the institution of marriage, in your new blended family. So keep talking about why you won’t wear an engagement ring, why you believe that God’s love is deeper and wider and more diverse than humans have ever been able to describe, and the ways your marriage is built on helping each other and being fair to each other. Keep talking about income inequality and housework inequality, sure, and build fair systems within the areas that you can control.

Maureen & Scott | A Practical Wedding

So, Future Maureen, I can’t wait to find out all of the new lessons that you and Scott have learned together, and all of the ways that you’ve reconciled past versions of us.

Maureen & Scott | A Practical Wedding

The Info—Photography: Our dear friend, Valerie Hinojosa / Venue: Scott’s parents’ home / Caterer: Another dear friend, Joel Panozzo of The Lunch Room (he doesn’t do weddings, but everyone should visit his vegan food cart in Ann Arbor, MI) / Rentals: All American Rentals / Cakes: Take the Cake / Succulents: Succulent Oasis

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  • Megan

    Yes, yes, yes! It took me a while to come around to the idea of being a feminist and getting married as being ok. But having some awesome make-marriage-what-we-want-it-to-be role models and good books like Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Committed’ allowed me to see we can create our own narrative for what being married is.

    I too refuse to wear a ring. But we sure as hell are taking our parent’s money to go on the honeymoon!

  • Brytani

    “You, too, have a place in the church, in the institution of marriage, in your new blended family. So keep talking about why you won’t wear an engagement ring, why you believe that God’s love is deeper and wider and more diverse than humans have ever been able to describe, and the ways your marriage is built on helping each other and being fair to each other. Keep talking about income inequality and housework inequality, sure, and build fair systems within the areas that you can control.”

    I love, love, love this and I’m so glad you’ve found this kind of peace. Sometimes being part of a community or tradition that doesn’t perfectly align with your inner vision and beliefs is uncomfortable, maddening, and at worst, absolutely heartbreaking. There are still those things, places, and families that we feel unspeakably loyal to, though, and couldn’t leave if we tried and I think the only thing to be done with them is to demonstrate our integrity and perseverance within them.

    • Sarah

      Yes! I struggle with reconciling my past self with my imagined future selves. Trying to figure out where I am is harder than it seems. Community and tradition help me even when they don’t perfectly align with me.

  • http://www.essential-images.com Essential Kate

    Thanks, Maureen, for this straight-talking heads up. I especially love your insight into working with what feminism means in 21st century culture — truth? it just IS, like air, and we each deal with it in our own way.

    Good post for a Monday morning!

  • Liz

    “It’s true. The institution of marriage (and traditions around weddings) are indeed steeped in patriarchy: But so is the world. Being a self-actualized woman means seeing the world for what it really is, not pretending that we can ditch it, and committing to making our part of that world what we want it to be.”

    THIS. THIS. THIS. I want to put it on a business card and hand it out to new friends.

    Maureen, this post is totally awesome, thanks for sharing your hard won (emotionally) insights.

    • Maureen

      Thank you! Everything else I learned is (like this) pretty much an echo of Meg’s book — for instance, nobody’s personality is going to change just because I’m getting married. Oh, and that we only put time and effort into the stuff we enjoyed doing and totally half-assed everything else. It was awesome.

  • Nicole

    Maureen, can we be friends?

    Great, thanks.

    • Maureen

      Yes, please! I’ve also been known to go on first-wave feminism road trips through the finger lakes region of New York (Seneca Falls, Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, Harriet Tubman House, etc). We’ll have fun.

      • Nicole

        hahahaha! This sounds excellent. And not that far from Boston!

  • KatieBeth

    I love that last photo of you two cutting the cake with the big-bulb Christmas lights and the tiki torches! It seems like such a fun, relaxed summery time :-)

  • Becky2

    “Promises are important. They can bring freedom rather than bondage.” This is why I’m thinking so hard about our vows and the promises I want to make to my partner, but could never vocalize. Thanks for finding the words for me. Promising to share my life with someone isn’t a bummer because I’m no longer singe, rather it’s been a wonderfully freeing and empowering experience that I never expected. The power of two, indeed!

  • Suzanna

    Yyyyyeeeeessssssss.

    I don’t even know what else to say, except I love this voice. Thank you, Maureen, for saying so eloquently many things I’ve been thinking/feeling/living since I decided I wanted to marry my guy. It’s a beautiful reminder that “complicated” doesn’t have to mean “not doable”. It can be…life-affirming!

  • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

    I loved this bit especially:
    “committing to making our part of that world what we want it to be.”

  • http://blindirishpirate.blogspot.com Blind Irish Pirate

    “It’s true. The institution of marriage (and traditions around weddings) are indeed steeped in patriarchy: But so is the world. Being a self-actualized woman means seeing the world for what it really is, not pretending that we can ditch it, and committing to making our part of that world what we want it to be.”

    Um, hello! Thank you for verbalizing this, plus many other, great important truths! And I second the request above… let’s be buds, mmkthanks!

  • http://bettencourtchase.blogspot.com Helen

    “Promises are important. They can bring freedom rather than bondage.”

    I love this. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  • ChCh

    This is so, so excellent, and so helpful to me as I prepare to get my radically feminist head around the fact that in about a month, I’ll be married, in spite of never believing I’d ever do something like that. I really appreciate this. Thank you.