Searching for Masculinity in Wedding Planning

31 May

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I’ve always been the kind of person who LOVED helping other people plan their weddings, decision-making is easy when you aren’t held accountable for any of the decisions. Chris may have had the right idea, if he had his way we would have 10 people in our backyard and call it a day. I, on the other hand, I grew up Italian Catholic and have at this writing been in 8 wedding parties, not to mention attending umpteen weddings in the last five years. I can’t help but want a little piece of the spectacle. Yet the moment your fingers type in wedding planning in your nearest search engine you are bombarded with more information than any human could possibly handle or organize.

do not type wedding planning in google

do not type wedding planning in google

Then I made the mistake of going to my nearest bookstore to look for wedding books. My initial goal of replacing bride and groom with groom and groom did not work as well as I thought. I knew that they generally did not make books for our special brand of nuptials but I thought even if I have to cross out some gendered terminology there’s surely something I can take away. Yet while there isn’t exactly a queer perspective on wedding planning, there also isn’t a male perspective on wedding planning.

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First, everything written about weddings is written from the bride’s point of view. The magazines have women on the covers; the books and the self-help guides are all entirely feminized.  This I understand, it is a market after all and the market must cater to the widest possible demographics. However, this got me thinking: is a wedding just for the Bride?

I find it odd that not a single book, blog, or horribly organized website I’ve found or looked at speak to the wedding as something two people are doing. These treasure troves of gendered expectations come complete with phrases like “something you and your groom will decide,” or “once you’ve gotten your groom to do x, y, and z.” Worse yet  brides are encouraged to analyze their future partners in order to better maneuver the planning process. In these wedding websites men are generally associated with deciding the budget, and the woman is supposed to simply make do.  What do heterosexual men do during the wedding planning process? If a wedding is supposed to reflect the symbols of marriage then what does it mean that the role of traditional manhood in the ritual of marriage is to be seen and sign checks? Is there no unity to becoming united?

Hegemonic masculinity would suggest that a key part of the proper performance of masculinity is an absence of care in all that is supposedly  domestic.  Wedding planning, with its emphasis on fragility, flowers, and sentiment seems to be no exception. One wonders at the raised eyebrows and confusion that would result should the groom be more involved in the process than the bride. More troubling are the  supposed “survival guides” for men to “make it through the process.”  Masculine discourse on wedding planning frame wedding talk as the disastrous deeds of the wildly irrational female as she is slowly poisoned by the wedding industry.

According to these websites a wedding seems nothing more than the first chance for the stereotypical heterosexual dynamic to begin to form. The women slowly encompass all domestic decision-making, while the men sit at the sides and begin what I can only assume to be their coffee drip pace towards a steaming cup of resentment. You can see these men on any given Saturday surrounded by bridesmaids in some abysmal shades of pink and taffeta.

Aside from my cynicism there is an interesting conversation to be had about gender roles in wedding planning. As a CIS privileged male planning a wedding I recognize that  I am in uncharted territory as wedding planning books and websites are rarely written from a groom’s perspective. However, as Chris and I try to make our wedding feel slightly masculine to reflect our personalities I remain daunted by the gendered language and experience of the whole process.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/myeye/458651355/”>MyEyeSees</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;
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One Response to “Searching for Masculinity in Wedding Planning”

  1. outofthenight June 7, 2013 at 12:14 am #

    The traditional wedding does seem to be all about the bride, but I have always thought this was ridiculous. But, to some extent, the traditional wedding is encrusted with ceremonial displays that were designed to mark the transfer of the bride as property to the groom from her father. In such a perverse situation, it should be all about her – it is after all her last day of freedom. I’m not convinced that the ceremonial vestiges necessarily make it hegemonic but I always appreciate it when the couple have made an effort to root out all the symbols of power etc…

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