Reading About Feminist Weddings Is Exhausting

Illustration for article titled Reading About Feminist Weddings Is Exhausting

The New York Times has focused on another feminist wedding, and though the couple seems genuinely lovely and in love, talking about how to infuse your wedding with womyn power is taxing me.


Cristen Conger actually contributed to I Thee Dread in 2013, explaining why she didn’t, as a single person, need the single person’s equivalent of a wedding ceremony, which must have been a fleeting fear 3 years ago. According to her website, she is currently “a digital creator, speaker and host specializing in women, gender and sexuality.” She seems fun:


In a perfect world, a cool lady with a workflow like Conger’s would hopefully attract an equally cool and educated mate. It seems like she has, in her husband Christopher Ahnberg. I have no idea how they feel about how the NYT wrote about their union, but the entire first four paragraphs are about establishing Ahnberg’s feminist credentials, and by then I was thinking, “He doth protest too much!” This is the opening:

Christopher Ahnberg cannot quite put his finger on the moment he started identifying as a feminist. But his appreciation for women who aren’t the shrinking-violet type goes way back, and for the sake of his future happiness, it should probably go way forward, too.

Yeah, cuz if it doesn’t she’ll rip yer balls off. Smdh. The words feminist or feminism appear 19 times in this article.

The tone of the article can probably be attributed to the tendency the NYT has of describing old trends with the breathless wonder of a teen magazine combined with the self-importance of, oh, I don’t know, The New York Times. This is how I picture the conversation about this couple between writer and editor going:

“We need a spin on this wedding thing, boss.”

“Well, howsabout the girl? That dame got any quirks?”

“She admits she’s a feminist.”

“Holy moly! We have our story, gentlemen.”

There are certainly challenges to being a feminist and navigating the world of heteronormative dating. There are so many well worn paths you can easily fall into, especially around planning a wedding, but they’re also very well worn points of conversation. Do you let your dad walk you down the aisle, knowing what it symbolizes, but also knowing what it means to your dad? Do you accept a ring, though it was originally intended as a down payment on your hoo ha? Conger did:

For Ms. Conger, deciding which elements of a traditional wedding to keep and which to toss in the name of feminism [writer’s note: she’s throwing holy traditions in the trash for feminism?!] involved careful consideration.

“Ultimately, we’ve moved away from the wedding-industrial complex to do what honors us,” she said.

But some rituals proved trickier to excise than others.

Accepting an engagement ring, for example, required some soul-searching. “In its historic sense, the ring signified possession rather than partnership,” she explained. “But I also knew it meant a lot to Chris to make the gesture. And I know that does harken back to old-school gender norms, but I wasn’t going to trivialize something that was important to him.”


You know why a lot of these things have been discussed to death? Because there are a lot of feminists, who have been getting married for many, many years and they have covered it.

Buried in this strange treatise on the rare wonder of dating a feminist man or woman are details of their courtship that were genuinely personal and sweet, like:

And despite her status as an emerging feminist voice, Ms. Conger had to concede that mustering up the courage to ask Mr. Ahnberg to be her date was a little unsettling.

“I was nervous because I liked him,” she said. “I tried to play it off as a friend-date, like, ‘I have to go to this wedding; can you come with me?’ But I didn’t tell him I had been counting down the days, that it was really such an event for me.”


Every time two people fall in love it feels like the first time to them. It is rarely the first time that a couple tries to fit their wedding ceremony to their ideologies.

Image via Flickr.

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin

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wedding-industrial complex

Ughhhhggghhh. This makes me ragey every time. I run my own wedding-related creative business. Nearly all of the other people I collaborate with in this industry, excuse me “industrial complex,” are women who own their own businesses. Shitting on the wedding industry — which employs many, many small local businesses run by women — is so so tired. Fine artists, musicians, photographers, clothing designers, floral designers, and many more creative businesses are helmed by women who, like me, keep the lights on by working in the wedding industry. We’re not an industrial complex. We are women — feminists even! — doing creative work that brings people happiness. Don’t go broke, spend as little as you want, but don’t crap on the work good people do. The patriarchy isn’t inflated more because you chose to buy your invitations instead of make them yourselves.