Kaytlin & Ben

*Kaytlin, Graduate Student/Professional Job Seeker & Ben, Dental Student*

After this morning’s Ask Team Practical, we figured there was no better way to end the week than with an overtly feminist wedding. Because sometimes when people make blanket statements like, “Feminist weddings don’t exist,” the best you can do is point, and say, “Oh look! There is one!” And it turns out feminist weddings are a lot easier to find than say, heffalumps. So here is Kaytlin, proving it.

How being a feminist made my wedding rock.

I’m a queer-friendly, shaved-head, rainbow-wearing, Vagina Monologues-performing feminist. My partner, Ben, is a quiet, levelheaded, subdued, anti-sexual assault, pro-choice, dental schooling feminist. Getting married was a little outside of the box for us. And yet, we took the plunge anyway.

Coming from a rural, conservative town in Southern Illinois, it was difficult for people to understand why we had been together for six years and gasp we still hadn’t gotten hitched. It was even more difficult to tell people that, well, not everyone can get married, so why should we? So we conveniently let school and money and family and age and everything else speak to why we didn’t get married sooner like other people our age (to be sure: twenty-two and twenty-three years old, respectively is still very young to get married). Finally, we were getting ready to graduate from college, move into our real first home, and begin graduate schooling—a pretty grueling, time consuming process. Suddenly, it seemed like if it wasn’t going to happen now, then it wouldn’t happen for another four years—at least.

And even still, Feminist Kaytlin nagged at me. “Patriarchy,” ze* cried, “Institution. PROPERTY. Blood Diamonds. Tradition. Bullsh*t.” And I didn’t know what to do. I hid my engagement ring in my Gender Studies classes for fear of being called out as a phony. I told a few people that we were engaged but, “You know, it’s no big deal… I’m not excited about it or anything…” (I was so excited!). And I struggled. So I wrote a blog. And I researched. And I realized that a lot of my mentors and heroes and role models were MARRIED women. How did they do that?! How did they give into this industry and still manage to be awesome? And then I knew what I had to do. (Spoiler Alert: The answer is “get married and be really good at it.”)

So Ben and I sat down with one of those books that you buy automatically because you think it will plan the wedding for you (it doesn’t). But what it does do is lay out everything that you are supposed to do and makes a convenient list of things to cross out. Like a garter toss, a groom’s cake, and a crazy hectic schedule that requires you to reduce your calorie intakes to 250 calories a day, preferably all celery, and give up those things that we like to call responsibilities. We made a list of the things that we really important to us, like beer.** And then we set a very, very small budget and said this will work because it has to. I found APW and my feminist wet dreams came true.

“But Kaytlin, none of this sounds like your wedding really rocked. I mean, anyone can say that…. What did being a feminist have to do with it?” you may be asking yourself.

Well, you are right. I imagine that most weddings are pretty awesome, feminist or not. But what was particularly awesome is that through the wedding process, I discovered what being a feminist meant to me. It meant that Ben and I made decisions based on our values and beliefs, and it meant that I was willing to advocate for those things without fear of being judged as hypocritical. It meant that I was willing to make people uncomfortable: like letting them know that we, as a couple, recognized our privilege of being able to be married, and that we wished that everyone could have that privilege, or rather, what it really is—a right. It meant telling people “no.” And “yes.” And it meant that, for one time in our lives, Ben and I were going to be the center of attention and we were going to use that as a platform to tell the people in our lives what was important to us, and that, to us, was social justice.

That, to us, looked like a wedding ceremony that was largely secular, though held in the church I grew up in. It looked like a ceremony that was opened with the court decision from Massachusetts that legalized same-sex marriages. It looked like silly poems for readings*** and a humorous pastor who dubbed us “Benaytlin.” It looked like using my grandma’s vintage ring that was made from her original wedding set (no blood diamonds). It also looked like a wedding program that explained marriage traditions and why we were shirking or subverting them.

While we certainly value our marriage and we take our commitment to each other very seriously, we also take marriage equality and LGBTQ rights very seriously, and there are some things that are NOT better left unsaid.

During the reception, we danced, and people boozed, and we had a homemade photo booth that turned into the makeout spot that every good party has. And people loved it. And I love it.

The greatest compliment we received was that the wedding was “so Ben and Kaytlin.” And that, to me, is a feminist wedding.

The Info—Photography: Candice Ivie / Venue: Highland Masonic Lodge / Invitations: Glö / Photobooth Video: Put together by Ben / Kaytlin’s Ring: Her grandmother’s / Kaytlin’s Dress: Jasmine Bridal / Kaytlin’s and Bridesmaid’s shoes: TOMS / Ben’s Outfit: Express / Ben’s Shoes: Converse

*ze: Gender-neutral term; I imagine Feminist Kaytlin is pretty androgynous.
**For real, though, Ben is a beer connoisseur and a microbrewer. This was huge.
***”I Like You” by Sandol Stoddard and “A Lovely Love Story” by Edward Monkton

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