Wedding Sexism

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

Since we’ve started planning our wedding, I’ve heard more sexist comments I’ve ever heard in my life. Weddings seem to be the last frontier of totally accepted gender stereotypes. We’ve routinely had people say things like “Well, it’s a wedding, I’m sure the groom doesn’t know a thing about the plans.” or “All the groom wants is to get through the wedding so he can get to the honeymoon.” And then there are the condescending things people say just to me. When I was going dress shopping people who found out would say things like, “Well, try not to break the bank. You know you only wear it once.” or “Remember, it’s just one stupid day. Try to reign in the spending.” Right. Because I clearly am not planning a, um, practical wedding.

But I do see how we’ve gotten here. When you look around the wedding world, it’s pretty common to see weddings where it seems clear the groom didn’t have a whole lot of say… unless his favorite color is hot pink, and his number one obsession is princesses and kittens. And much of the discussion of grooms tends to be about how to keep them doing what they are told, not how to make sure that the wedding reflects both of you.

I’m lucky to have a really actively involved planning partner. David and I used to run a small theatre company together, so we already know what our complementary strengths are. He does graphic design, builds websites, builds things out of wood, and handles general artistic directorial questions. I run budgets, plan the schedules, manage hiring, and have tons of opinions. (Oh yes, and I write a wedding blog. But don’t confuse that with the actual planning!)

I know that we are not the only two people out there planning our wedding as a team. How do other people co-manage the wedding? What do your partners care about and what could they care less about? And how do you both handle the ever present wedding sexism?

Picture: Look how important men are in a wedding! No heads! From here.

**Coming tomorrow – a guest blog on this very same subject from my favorite person, my fiance! Please welcome David with open arms, and lots of comments. He loves comments.**

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit #NASTY

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  • awww i think it’s cute that your fiance is going to post tomorrow! looking forward to it!!

  • That is so true! I just had this conversation with a family friend and my fiance. The fiance is so very involved, it’s amazing – he wants to be there every step of the way and I am more than open to it :) Many say that I have influenced his opinions because a lot of what he chose is what I would choose too, but so far I have only had to convince him out of yellow pants! I think it’s great when grooms are involved and care.

  • ley

    Being from the North but living in the South and marrying into a big Southern family, I thought I would meet alot more sexism from his family members about the wedding than I have.

    Honestly, though, it’s been our FRIENDS that have been the worst! And my mom. She says all the time how it was easier when grooms weren’t involved at all. But I think that’s just because my fiance is obscenely opinionated and never wants to compromise. To be honest, even though I want him involved in planning, she is right that it was be easier if he weren’t. lol. But that’s just my guy.

  • Simone

    Amen! You are not lying. And try to say something about equality and people look at you cross eyed.

  • I haven’t had many of those comments yet, but it’s early days. My partner is really engaged and so far I think I’m the one who’s most pleasantly surprised by this. He’s mostly into the vibe of the day, keeping it low-key and not too expensive, but he’s all excited about venues and food and decor. We’re lucky!
    We have blog for our wedding too, and so far I’ve been doing most of the posting but he’s in there too from time to time.
    Keep up the good work!

  • My fiance and I are both architects, and he especially has an opinion on the design of many wedding related items! He’s pickier about bridesmaid fabric than I am! So far we haven’t gotten too many comments from people, but I’m sure once the relatives start to realize how fairly non-traditional we are being we’ll hear some.

    The great part is, he’s tackling all the things that stress me out – like negotiating with vendors and such! We’re each using our own personal strengths to make the whole planning part easier on each other!

  • It’s hard to have my fiance involved in everything since he lives in Philly and I live in RI (and the wedding is in RI), so we decided that I would be in charge of narrowing down things I like, and then together we make the final decision. Also, I am in charge of the to do lists, and then he gets to pick what he wants to be in charge of and what I am in charge of for that week. For actual contracts and colors etc, we just talk and email a lot.

  • Jenna

    I am actually in the exact opposite situation, as I have a groom who doesn’t want to be involved at all, and I am okay with that. I am not going to force him to try to devote time to something he is interested in, and I try to find opportunities where he can get involved and enjoy it.

    I actually had a DOC refuse to work with me because I told her that she would never get to meet with Fiance and that he wasn’t interested in being involved with the planning. I get aggravated with vendors who aren’t willing to tailor their services to the individual couple. Such as photographers who were attempting to force me to pay for engagement when there was no possible way for us to do them. I can’t help that I have an uninvolved Fiance who will be living in a different state than me for 3 months before the wedding.

  • ‘princess and kittens’
    ‘No heads!’

    you crack me up girl

    alright, i’ll give david a shot, but no promises! he better show up with something that wows me, i don’t just throw my comments out there for nothing! ;)

  • Anne O.

    Thank you! My fiance and I are equally involved. Or UNinvolved, depending on the day, haha. Neither of us is a wedding fanatic, and we are taking a stance on only what’s important to us. I would make no decision without him and wouldn’t dream of this becoming a fairy princess wedding.

    I am always in fear of the comments I’ll get for my offbeat ideas. I want a red dress and people get weirded out. He came with me when I did try on some white dresses for ideas on style and the lady said “He’s going to be here to witness this?” Um, yes…

    We don’t have a bridal party. I am not being “given away” by my father. He and I will enter together. Etc…

    In fact for my wedding “favor” I actually want to celebrate true equality and make a donation in everyone’s name to the Human Rights Campaign so that same-sex couples can share what we share on our wedding day. Surely people will have problems with this too.

  • I am very excited about David’s guest post and will be sure to give him plenty of comment love.

    My fiancĂŠ has an opinion about most aspects of our wedding. Admittedly his opinion most often boils down to the question “is that really necessary?” but even that shows he does care!

    What I hate most is the suggestion that I should / will just become “the bride” and my wants will fall into place.

    I want to shout, “hello! I’m still me! I didn’t want to be a princess yesterday and I don’t today!”

  • Ha. My Mother was actually shocked and offended that Kory wanted to have anything to do with the wedding planning. It became an ongoing battle.
    I’ll tell Kory that David is posting tomorrow. Look out for fun comments.

  • I agree 110%. I’ve actually been getting calls from grooms about planning their wedding (I’m a planner) and not the brides. So I’m hoping change is in the air.

  • Anonymous

    LOL, you just cracked me up at work with the ‘no heads!’ !! Oh how obvious and sad at the same time. Fortunately, my fiance is interested in helping, and is great at compromising. Unfortunately, he is very focused on the aspects you would expect a guy to be focused on (music, honeymoon.) I get exasperated trying to get him to even LOOK at flowers. Oh well. I haven’t had many comments made by others yet, but somehow find myself settling into sexist roles naturally, and then noticing afterwards with awkward silence. I swear the industry sneakily makes us assume these stereotypes unconsciously.

  • You are so right about the sexist comments. It’s pretty sad actually. And I’ve also encountered what Peonies n’ Polaroids was talking about – where people will say to my fiancee (“Run!!”) ARGH!!! Grrrr…..

    Unfortunately, fiancee doesn’t really care to have that much to do with it. I’m constantly asking his opinion on things, and for most of them he doesn’t care. When he does have an opinion, I go with his choice. I do want our wedding to reflect both of us, but it’s hard when one person of the team doesn’t share input.

  • fathead bride

    HERE HERE!!! It’s about time someone pointed that out!!! Drives me nuts… I went to a wedding several years ago where all the guys had to wear hot pink checkered vests. They HATED them. They still give the groom a hard time about them (another thing to think of, you don’t want your beloved to get teased the rest of his life ’cause you think it’s all about you!)…
    Thanks for bringing it up!

  • Peonies and Polaroids

    Hell yes! This drives both me and The Boy mad.

    For me it is my bridesmaid, who constantly tells me that I’m ‘doing it all wrong’ by showing The Boy the dress and crime of all crimes, asking his opinion!

    For him it is the men he meets who constantly tell him to

    “Run while you can! ha ha”

    “Good luck, you’ll need it” and

    “I got married 2 years ago, worst mistake I ever made! ha ha”

    It’s the constant attitude that men are dragged kicking and screaming into marriage that really pisses us both off. And really upsets The Boy. And these aren’t even people who have ever met me, just men he meets in day to day life – at the bank, in shops, etc. It’s pathetic.

    He’s very involved in planning the big things – food, venue, music and not so much in the ‘pretties’ – invites, programs etc. I tend to design stuff and he admires it then shows me how to make it work technically! Although he is very interested in the flowers and we’ll be arranging them together!

    I can’t wait to hear from your guest blogger! It will be good to hear what the Men Folk have to say on the matter!

  • I just discovered your blog a couple weeks ago. I totally agree with what you’ve said about the genders being stereotyped when it comes to weddings! It’s been rather awful the number of comments I’ve gotten about how it’s my (the bride’s) day… as if it wasn’t his too! Or how I should do things my way, etc., etc. Though I am handling most of the planning and creative vision (he job takes him elsewhere very often), I always double check all my decisions with him, not to mention I ask for his opinion and ideas too!

    The thing I’ve really striven for it to keep our wedding from becoming either too focused on me, or frilly in any way. Since it our wedding, I’m trying very hard to have the decor, choice of music, and such reflect who we are… not one exclusively.

    We are both finding each of us has certain strengths and areas of weakness with planning this event. And that is what is so great about having my fiance actively involved: he can do things I can’t or don’t have the ability to! I couldn’t have done the tiny bit of planning done so far, without him. ;)

  • Dude! Right!
    I love reading your insights into this bizarre world of pink tulle frosted land mines.

    My sweetie was getting the “are you getting cold feet” question from everyone and their dog, me not a one.
    His response was that after opening two businesses, buying a house and adopting four cats together he felt pretty sure “I was the one”.

    We also loved to remind people when they got confused that it was actually his special day, I wanted to elope.

    I’ve been married just over a week and am so glad I stumbled across your blog a few weeks out- it made me feel less like a crazy person. So thank you!

  • Yes. Barfola. I like the Knot, not so much. They make too many assumptions about me and how I want to plan my party. Bleah. I’m not a damn sheep. Way to call it.

  • Moira

    My fiance is very involved, we’re in this together, 50-50. I wouldn’t have it any other way because it’s the only way the celebration will be a reflection of US. That said, we are only 2 weeks out and if your partner has a tendency to procrastinate like my soon-to-be husband, you’ll have moments of wishing decisons could be all up to you. Okay, that felt good to get off my chest, thanks. Back to the final details, which will be made in conjunction with my very participatory groomm.

  • I think marriage and birth are two occasions when perfect strangers and relatives alike think they have permission to offer “advice” and “wisdom” at free will.

  • April

    My fiance is not very involved, and that is OK with him and me. He does weigh in on the big stuff: budget, photographer, DJ, colors, guest list and venue. Now and then he’ll ask me for an update.

    He’s really excited for the wedding though, and tells me I’m doing a great job “handling the minutiae”. He’s not a detail person and I am, so I’m OK with doing the lion’s share of the work right now.

  • Peonies and Polaroids

    Oh I forgot about the dress shopping expedition! At the first shop I went to The Boy was refused entry! I was horrified!

    And then at another shop we went to the assistants stood and bitched about how weird we were less than 10 feet away from us. Needless to say those shops did not get our custom.

    I thought that as a shop your job was to serve your customers, whomever they may be, whether or not they share the same outdated views as you. By being utterly sexist they lost out on our money.

  • I (girl) was responsible for
    wedding venue and legal paperwork, paper for stationery, my dress, flowers, transportation for guests, catering arrangements.

    He was in charge of dealing with the hotel (because it was in France and my french wasn’t good enough), and travel bookings.

    Everything else we did together – wedding ceremony and music, venue choice, his outfit, DJ, invitations, everything.

    Mind you, it can be easier sometimes if only one person is in charge because decisions are quicker. But consensus (though slower) is much more in line with what a wedding is *supposed* to be about, right?

  • nothing irked me more than the stereotype that the guy knows nothing and “just shows up’. i went into weddin gplanning fiercely determined that it would not be that way…..

    a huge deal was made when in the early beginnings my very own FI seemed to buy into this stereotype. i explained (heatedly) that i was NOT marrying myself and that this day was NOT all about me.

    he got my point. this wedding is about us. though he’s not as involved as i would like (bc we have a long distance engagement) he’s a lot more involved than the sterotype deems.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you totally! Nothing annoys me more when I hear ‘It’s YOUR day, when it totally isn’t. It’s OUR day! We have organised the wedding 50/50 and he has even taken over with some things when I’ve been so busy with work and busy with reading wedding blogs :)
    Thank you so much for your blog – it truly is wonderful and sane!

  • Amy

    Oh, you should refer to my blog about my groomzilla. Sorry if I seem to be blog stalking you. I love your writing style and when I happened upon your blog a few days ago I was like.. oh hells yeah. Anyway.

  • Mister E

    Well there is an element of truth behind the sexism.

    It’s fantastic that a lot of you know men that are involved in the process but most men I know (including myself) could care less.

    Weddings are typically, although certainly not ALWAYS, the girls day.

    I would be perfectly happy to marry in front of a Justice of the Peace with only the legally required witnesses present dressed in clothes we already own and no gifts, thanks. In and out in an hour, tops onto the honeymoon and back to regular life (we’ve been living together for several years already).

    My fiance would not have it that way. She wants a cake, flowers, a nice dress, pretty much every person she’s ever met in her life (EV-ER)invited, enough food to feed an army and hoping for all sorts of gifts and cash. This affair will take an entire DAY, early morning to late at night.

    So we compromised. She gets whatever she wants as long as she plans it and comes in under budget and I get to have nothing to do with any of it until it’s time to get fitted for my tux. Win/win.

  • Meg

    Well, yes, Mister E, but the point is, lots of us are not like that at all. And it doesn’t have to be that way. Our wedding day is *our* wedding day, not my wedding day. If we don’t both want it, we don’t do it. I run the budget (not my fiance) and I run a tight ship, believe you me. As for gifts? I could care less, that’s the fiance’s thing. And who cuts down the guest list? Yup, that’s normally me. We’re not even having tuxes at our wedding. My groom is wearing a suit of his own choosing. I suggested he wear the one he already had (it’s nice) but he wanted a new one. Fine.

    My point is, it’s fine if you happen to follow the more traditional gender roles. If it works for you, rock it. But remember that lots of us don’t. And I’m tired of people assuming that we all do.

    And look around this blog. I’m all about weddings in front of a justice of the peace. Maybe you should send your lovely bride the link!

  • Mister E

    Best of luck to you Meg, you sound like a very practical person (hmm..)

    I’d love to send a link, but I’m not sure how well received it would be.


  • My fiance is not so great at the planning thing, though he sure tries. The problem is that his idea of planning is radically different than mine. Where I like to obsessively research something and think about it, he is more of a last minute planner…so trying to get him to plan anything a year in advance is impossible.

    I tried discussing cake ideas with him, but when I couldn’t get a discussion out of him, I went ahead and decided to do a dessert table instead since I don’t even like cake. A couple weeks later we went to a wedding where they had a beautiful cake and the cake designer was actually there. Midway through the wedding he came running over to me all excited saying that he found someone who could make us a really awesome cake…..I thanked him and then had to disappoint him by letting him know I was already one step ahead! Poor guy!