*Maureen, Archivist & Scott, Digital Collections Manager*
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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