I’m a fierce feminist who has always been outspoken about my opinions and beliefs. I’m also a straight, white, cisgendered person who fits squarely in the role that the wedding industrial complex caters to. I want an egalitarian relationship where I can be utterly and completely myself. And I also want a somewhat traditional wedding where my friends and family can come together and celebrate my partner and me.

These things feel like they come into conflict with each other sometimes. Honestly, being engaged to a white man feels like it comes into conflict with many of my beliefs (#banmen)! But it is what it is, and I am who I am. So while I’m going along with some of the expected traditions for weddings and marriage, it’s important to me to incorporate my deeply held values along the way.

We’re Paying for the Wedding Ourselves

This is a big one. Weddings are. so. expensive. But it was important to Dan and me to save up and pay for our own wedding. We did this because on one hand, we’re not entirely sure either of our parents have tens of thousands of dollars just lying around to use for a party. On the other hand, we wanted to be able to do this ourselves and make sure that the wedding was really what we want it to be. Sometimes, when money gets involved, there can be a lot of expectations.

And I’ll be honest here: our wedding is going to be much more expensive than I wanted it to be. Some days, it feels like I’m compromising my financial values by spending as much as we are. And maybe I am. But we are planning the wedding we really want, and weddings cost a lot of money! It’s certainly been a reality check, and we’re privileged enough to have the money to pay for it without going into debt.

Both Parents Are Walking Me Down the Aisle

Years ago, I watched an episode of Brothers and Sisters where Calista Flockhart’s character is getting married. Her father had already passed away, so he couldn’t walk her down the aisle, so she chose her mother to do so. She thought it was unfair to not include her mother in such an important moment. I loved that sentiment so much that I decided I would have both of my parents walk me down the aisle someday. It turns out, one of the only requests my mom had for the wedding was that she and my dad walk me down the aisle together. Win, win!

I’m Not Being “Given Away”

My dad never owned me. My future husband won’t own me. So there’s no reason for anyone to say that I’m being given away to anyone. I’m choosing to get married, and I’ll still be my own person.

Apparently Brothers and Sisters really impacted me, because this is another part of the wedding episode that I remember very well. When the officiant asks who is giving away the bride, her mother says this: “She gives herself freely, with my love and my blessing.” I’m tearing up just typing that! I don’t think that will be said at my wedding, because our officiant likely won’t ask the question, but I still love the sentiment.

I Have a Bridesman

One of my best friends is a great guy named Matt. We’ve been friends since 7th grade and he’s always been there for me. I actually decided years ago that he would be in my bridal party when I got married. It didn’t make sense to me for him to be Dan’s groomsman, and I didn’t want him to not be included. So I proposed that he be my bridesman. Luckily he was thrilled by the ask. He’ll be invited to my bridal shower and bachelorette party, and will hang out with the rest of us while we get our hair and makeup done on the day of the wedding.

PS: Buy Matt’s coffee!

Dan Has Two Groomswomen

Again, we didn’t think it made sense to exclude close family or friends because they weren’t the “right” gender. Dan is having his sister and his good friend Marie as his groomswomen. They’ll be attending his bachelor weekend and will likely be with him and the rest of the groomsmen on the day of the wedding. Their dresses will match my bridesmaids, but if they wanted to wear suits, that would have been totally fine too!

PS: Buy Rachel’s jewelry!

We’re Having the Women Pick Their Dresses

I’ve been in two weddings where the bride let me pick out my own dress. All I had to do was follow a basic color scheme. I thought that was awesome! It allowed me to buy a dress that fit in my budget, that fit my actual body, and that I felt great in! It also helped that I could wear it again. I wanted to pass that favor along to the women in my own bridal party. All the women can pick out their own dress; the only guideline is that it be navy blue to match our theme.

I’m Not Wearing Heels

There’s nothing “unfeminist” about wearing heels. But there’s a lot of pressure to look a certain way on your wedding day, whether you want to or not. I’ve decided that I want to be as comfortable and as true to my normal self as possible. That means I’ll be rocking flats all day and night! I plan to buy some flashy blue shoes that will look great and also feel great to dance in. (I wanted to wear the Rothy’s navy metallic point shoes, but it looks like they aren’t carrying them anymore! If you have any recommendations for cute blue flats, holler at me! Arch support is a must.)

We’re Using All Local Food and Drink

I’m both an environmentalist and a small business owner. Those are two of the reasons that it’s important to me to use small, local vendors for our wedding. We’re getting married at a small farm and vineyard in Maryland and we are buying our wedding wine from them. We will also be serving only local beer at the reception, though we haven’t chosen the breweries yet. (Got recommendations from the DC/MD/VA area? Leave them in the comments!)

Our caterer runs a small pizza food truck (Pizza Brama) and sources all of his ingredients from local farmers. He may not be as fast or efficient as other, larger caterers, but we love his mission and he’s been great to work with. Plus, his pizza is amazing and his prices are super reasonable! For dessert, we are serving donuts from Sugar Shack, which originates in Dan’s hometown of Richmond, but has spread to the DC area in recent years. Even better, Sugar Shack makes extra large donuts that can serve as the wedding cake that we cut at the reception.

My Dress Only Cost $240

I didn’t even want to go dress shopping when I first got engaged. I knew I’d be pressured to spend a ton of money and get overwhelmed by all the choices. But my mom and my bridesmaids wanted to go dress shopping with me, so I relented. (Plus, I got to see my niece try on flower girl dresses.) The boutique was cute and the woman helping us was very nice, but one of the first things she told me is that the average bride spends about $1,500 on her wedding dress. NOPE, not this bride.

My mom offered to buy my wedding dress for me, so I didn’t have to worry about my own budget, but it was still important to me to not spend a lot on my dress. I don’t have very fancy taste, so none of the poofy, sparkly dresses appealed to me. After rejecting several dresses, the woman at the boutique finally started bringing me bridesmaids dresses that come in white and only cost $300. Pro tip: you can buy white bridesmaids dresses and use them as your wedding dress! That was a game changer for me. I ultimately ended up buying my dress from BHLDN, but it was only $240 and is technically a bridesmaids dress. To make things even better, it’s exactly what I had in mind and will be comfortable and simple. I even got a little emotional when I tried it on, which I was not expecting to happen.

Our Officiant is a Dear Friend

Two years ago, I officiated the wedding of my bridesman, Matt, and my friend (his now wife, my wifey for life) Kristen. I introduced them to each other, so it was a special honor for me to marry them. I loved being able to add personal touches to the ceremony based on my friendship with both of them, and that is something I really want for my own wedding.

We aren’t having a religious wedding ceremony (Dan is Jewish and I’m a recovering Catholic), so there wasn’t a religious officiant to choose from. There is the option of hiring a secular celebrant but we didn’t really want a stranger to preside over the ceremony. Ultimately, the only officiant who made sense is our dear friend, Brian. I’ve known Brian since the 7th grade and he’s been Dan’s best friend since college. He is the one who introduced us to each other too! So we asked, and he graciously accepted. Brian will be both the officiant and Dan’s best man, and I can’t wait to hear what he comes up with for the ceremony.

We Aren’t Throwing a Bouquet or a Garter

And I’ve sat out the bouquet toss at weddings for probably the last 5 years. I didn’t like the idea of a bunch of women rushing at each other to catch a bouquet, which somehow meant they were next to get married. It’s pretty heteronormative and also pits women against each other. And, honestly, the part where a random guy puts a garter on the thigh of a random woman is really creepy to me.

Also, I did a little research about the history of the garter toss, and it’s actually worse than I expected. This is what I found from How Stuff Works:

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The garter toss tradition was created to avoid the scene mentioned above. I think I’ll pass on both counts. Plus, these days, florists charge you for an extra “tossing bouquet” instead of tossing your own bridal bouquet!

We Won’t Be Pronounced Mr. and Mrs.

I’m keeping my last name after I get married. I also don’t plan on ever writing “Mrs. Maggie Germano” on anything. I don’t think anyone needs to know my marital status just by looking at my name. I know a lot of people don’t feel strongly about this issue, but it means a lot to me. I want to maintain the identity that I’ve had for my entire life, and not change it just because I’ve gotten married. Yes, I’ll still have a husband and we’ll still be a family, but I’ll always be Maggie Germano. Keep that in mind, family members who send us mail!

What kinds of values did you incorporate into your own wedding? Is there anything you compromised on? Share in the comments!