On the Social Pressures around Weddings and How to Maintain a Sense of Self Despite Them

I think part of the reason I struggle with having a wedding is that I am new to it. I have identified as a queer, white woman for years. I have had years to grapple with heteropatriarchal systems and my position as a financially privileged white person, even before I had a critical vocabulary to discuss them. But I am only newly a bride-to-be and only newly have to confront the related assumptions that are made about me.

So here are some thoughts:

I have identified as a queer, white woman for years. I have had years to grapple with heteropatriarchal systems and my position as a financially privileged white person, even before I had a critical vocabulary to discuss them. But I am only newly a bride-to-be and only newly have to confront the related assumptions that are made about me.

Even if I can avoid wedding media, the culture at large can’t, and many people I interact with accept the traditional view of weddings. It is a given in our society that brides are asked certain questions (“How did he propose?”) and are treated a certain way (like this aspect of you is more important than the rest of your being). I answer the engagement question by saying, truthfully, that our decision came out of a series of conversations and that there is no one date or moment that was The Moment. I do have a few engagement stories I can tell when I want to because we had that moment several times. I even had him hide the ring after we’d bought it and surprise me with it because I like surprises. But overall, it was more a process of becoming than a single decision.

I am not immune to the social pressures. I have a family and a partner with wants, and an idea of how weddings generally go and what I am expected to want. On top of that, I, as a woman, was not taught to be assertive. I was taught to please: sexually, socially, and professionally. I can be guilty of acquiescing to others’ suggestions, even when they don’t line up with what I would prefer. This is not the same as compromising — a necessary skill. It is, rather, bowing out of the way for fear of causing conflict. In repeating that practice, it can become hard to keep a grasp on what I my preferences are.  I don’t want to excuse bridezillas (and I don’t know yet how I feel about that term) but maybe they are just women who are asserting their desires for what they have been repeatedly told is the most important day of their lives.

This piece was originally posted on the blog Straight Marriage for the Queer Feminist


Galen Beebe is a writer, interdisciplinary artist, and educator. Her work had been featured in Hypocrite Reader, Satellite Collectives's Telephone project, Patient Sounds, and Hound. She is the co-founder of Et Cetera Gallery, a home for web-, print-, an experience-based narrative experiments.