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MY BIG FAT FEMINIST WEDDING

How to throw your own nuptial bash without wanting to throw up.

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A lot of people can’t stand the thought of weddings. Not because they hate love, but because of the sexist culture and consumerist industry in which the ceremony is frequently entrenched. Many bridal traditions come from the bullshit concept that women are property who get handed off from father to husband. And for a feminist, it can be hard to back that BS up. So rather than subscribe to what society says a wedding should be, you just have to make sure you do you. Here at BUST, we believe in a woman’s right to choose—and some feminists choose to get married. (We support you!) So we gathered some tips and tricks for throwing an affordable, misogyny-free celebration that will make planning your wedding as painless as possible.

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GETTING STARTED

Budget Basics

  • Figure out what you can spend before you start planning, and look only at venues, dresses, caterers, etc. within your budget. (Of course, the more you DIY, the less you’ll shell out.) Allot five percent of your budget to surprise costs.

  • Things to factor in: hair and makeup, transportation, DJ or band, marriage license, tips for everyone you hire.

  • Put this budget in a Google doc and keep it updated so you don’t fuck yourself.

  • Will you need flatware, glasses, candles, or flower vases? Are you renting tables, chairs, and trash cans? You may want to look for venues that will supply these instead.

  • If your family is helping cover costs, be warned they may want planning input.

  • Make a Facebook group for your guests to see who can contribute and how. Is there a hair stylist, makeup artist, photographer, or baker in your midst? Maybe someone has 200 wine glasses in storage or a hook up at a venue!

  • Don’t be a jerk, spring for an open bar. Weddings need open bars. Stick with beer and wine if you want to keep things from getting out of hand—both financially and literally.

  • If you aren’t crafty or detail-oriented, save yourself the anguish and hire a wedding planner to handle the stuff you hate, or even just to keep things moving on the day of so you don’t have to.

  • Sites to help you plan: apracticalwedding.comtoastedweddingevent.comoffbeatbride.comcatalystwedco.com.

Planning Primer

  • Decide when you want to have your wedding (make sure the date works for all the important people) and set a realistic planning timetable. Decide with your boo who wants to do what.

  • Pick a theme, any theme: Star Wars, an era, weed, Beetlejuice, Beyoncé, or simply a color scheme. This is a huge time saver. The wedding tag on Etsy is a never-ending pit. But if you’re searching for, say, “mermaid dishes” you’ll get a more manageable result. Plus, people overprice the shit out of something the minute it gets associated with saying “I do.”

  • Get your paperwork in order. Go to USmarriagelaws.com to make sure you don’t screw up the actual getting legally married part.

  • Find ways to incorporate traditions from both of your families in interesting ways; you can do this with food, music, dancing, etc.

 

 

Going to the Chapel—Or Somewhere Else 

  • Picking a venue can be one of the most stressful and expensive parts. Negotiate and lean the fuck in.

  • I love camping weddings, but if there’s a batshit-crazy 
    family member on your guest list you may not want them drinking all night with no escape route planned.

  • Know someone with a dope backyard? Ask dat bitch!

  • Don’t do a destination wedding unless you actually don’t want people to come.

GUEST LIST

  • Lots of people are going to have input on a lot of shit. If you don’t care, why not make them happy? But don’t agree to just anything. You don’t want to look at your pics and be like, “I can’t believe my deep, dark, goth soul wore white. Why did I listen to my great uncle?”

  • If someone wants you to do something you aren’t into, but you don’t want to offend them, having a wedding planner can be an awesome scapegoat—blame everything on them!

  • Guest-list-trimming tip: would you want to see this friend/coworker for a one-on-one hang? If not, don’t invite them.

  • Do you really have to invite your crazy aunt who just got out of jail for running an underground fight club? No, you don’t have to invite anyone. Maybe you only want 5 people there, maybe 100. No one should be throwing shade about this.

The Wedding Party: A Who's Who of Boos

  • You don’t have to have a wedding party, but if you want one there are no obligations. The maid of honor doesn’t have to be a girl. The best man doesn’t have to be a man. The “sides” don’t have to be even.

  • Don’t ask your besties to pay a shit-ton of money for bridesmaid dresses. Everyone doesn’t have to wear the exact same thing. Having everyone wear the same color, length, or general style instead ensures that all your wedding party people can pick something flattering and reasonably priced.

  • If someone in your party hates dresses, maybe treat your friend like a friend and let them wear a suit in the same color.

  • Don’t go full force with an engagement party, bridal shower, bachelorette party, and rehearsal dinner. Do you want people to be able to afford to give you nice things (i.e. dat cash, see right)? If so, don’t make them throw down on so many pre-parties.

Invitation Summation 

 

  • Save money and time by sending out email invites. But for those who don’t live on the Internet (your grandparents, for example) pick up the phone. When was the last time you called your Nana anyway?

  • Specify whether or not kids are invited. If you don’t want the lil’ ones at your adult party, but have families coming from out of town, consider hiring a group sitter.

  • Make sure the RSVP includes space for guests to relay special needs, accommodation questions, and dietary restrictions.

Register Shmegister

Fuck a registry. You probably don’t need housewares; what you need is cash. So start up a campaign at gofundme.com to raise some dollars for your honeymoon, the wedding itself, or to give to a charity you love.

DRESS YOU UP IN MY LOVE

  • You don’t have to wear white. Chances are, you are not a virgin and everybody knows it.

  • Search dresses by style or color (e.g. strapless gown) for cheaper options than simply “wedding dresses.” There are tons of used dresses to be found online, or customize a dress at Fame and Partners.

  • For affordable wedding lines try Asos and ModCloth, which also has plus options.

  • Bindle and Keep and BookATailor specialize in custom women’s suits. Stylewe, Asos, and H&M have tons of affordable options.

 

#HairGoals

Gold trimming is a cheap and easy way to jazz up your updo.

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A raw quartz crystal crown will make your mane the main focus. 

BUST Indie Wedding 2670 2HERMES CROWN, $80, HOWLINGMOONUK.ETSY.COM

Put a Ring on it (If You Want to)

ravitkaplanjewelryringsetMODERN DIAMOND RING SET, $185, RAVITKAPLANJEWELRY.ETSY.COM
Black Equilibrium Cuff Ring Line copy


Equilibrium Pearl Ring Top LineBLACK EQUILIBRIUM CUFF RING, $465; EQUILIBRIUM PEARL RING, $455, JENNIEKWONDESGINS.COM

thelma

louise ringCUSTOM NAME PLATE RINGS, $120 EACH, SNASHJEWELRY.COM

 

Opal and diamond ringREVOLVE RING, $400, KMCNY.COM

 

Dress For Success

BUST Indie Wedding Studio 3028BELLADONNA, $299, FAMEANDPARTNERS.COM
BUST Indie Wedding Studio 3034HZY GREEN FLORAL-PRINT ELEGANT MAXI DRESS, $108, STYLEWE.COM
BUST Indie Wedding Studio 3014HEIRESS OF THEM ALL DRESS, $400, MODCLOTH.COM
suit top
suit bottomSELECTE BUTTONED WORK LONG SLEEVE BLAZER, $68; SELECTE BLACK COTTON-BLEND PLAIN SIMPLE SKINNY LEG PANTS, $46, STYLEWE.COM
sneakerFLEURS OF ACTION SNEAKER, $69.99, MODCLOTH.COM
fairy shoeFAIRIES IN A JAR, £89.99, IRREGULARCHOICE.COM
Cream CarlaSHOES OF PREY X CARLA ZAMPATTI IVORY SILK HEELS, $279, SHOESOFPREY.COM
The Magic is in the Details

Cream Ruffled Flounce Pagoda UmbrellaCREAM RUFFLED FLOUNCE PAGODA UMBRELLA, $34, UNIQUEVINTAGE.COM
crownCESARION LAUREL CROWN, $150, LITTLESHOPOFPROGRESS.ETSY.COM
TheWeekendStoretandem cuffsTANDEM CUFF LINKS, $21, THEWEEKENDSTORE.ETSY.COM
flaskCUSTOM PHOTO FLASK, $24.95, FLASKSHOP.COM
You Hit the Veil on the Head DIY

BUST Indie Wedding 2538 2DRESS: MODCLOTH.COM

Veils are insanely expensive, but they are so simple to make. Wearing it over the bride’s face, then having the father lift it, used to signify the transfer of property from dad to hub. So if you like the look, consider wearing it back.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1.  Decide where you want the veil to sit on your head and where you want it to end; add two inches. Iron a length of tulle (standard three-yard width) and then very carefully cut it to this measurement (you’ll be leaving this bottom edge raw).

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  2. Sew a running stitch across the top of the tulle, gathering it onto the needle as you go; leave a long tail of thread on each side.

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  3. Spread the gathered fabric out to the length of a plastic hair comb. Wrap the thread tails around the top corners of the comb and the first comb tooth on each side, and knot. Knot a new length of thread around the top and first tooth of one side and secure the fabric by weaving your thread through the tulle and each tooth of the comb all the way across; knot the second side. To add a second layer, repeat with a shorter piece of tulle.

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    THE CEREMONY

  • Throw tradition to the wind; cut or alter anything about the “standard” wedding ceremony that offends you or feels sexist. Instead of having the officiant say, “You may now kiss the bride,” Offbeat Bride suggests saying, “You may now kiss each other.” Use the term “partner” instead of husband or wife, and consider eschewing a more traditional text and read something from a feminist poet instead.

  • Rather than having your dad “give you away,” have both parents walk each of you down the aisle. Or go full matriarchy and have the moms do the honors.

  • Conventionally the groom gives his vows first; if you’re marrying a man, why not switch it up? It’s also tradition for the groom to stand on the right, so his “fighting hand” would be open for battle in case someone tried to steal the bride; stand on whatever side you want.

  • It is so easy to have someone ordained to perform your ceremony. The Universal Life Church charges $29.99 for the certificate. Your officiant will need to register at the County Clerk’s office in the city where you’re getting married.

  • Livestream the ceremony for people who can’t make it! Learn how here

Photographic Evidence

  • Have other guests snap away too, so if the photographer loses all your pictures you still have proof that you threw a massive shindig.

  • Find a photographer who gets you. Carly Romeo of Two Spoons Photography (twospoonsphoto.com) specializes in shooting for people who “have mixed feelings about the whole ‘wedding thing.’”

SETTING THE SCENE

BUST Indie Wedding 2836 2PLATES (TOP TO BOTTOM): KATE LEWIS MADE, HENRY STREET STUDIO, FEFOSTUDIO; FLOWERS COURTESY OF ROSE RED & LAVENDER
Set It Off

Here are a few of prop stylist Robin Zachary’s favorite tips for making your wedding table banging without breaking the bank:

I’m totally crushing on handmade pottery and love to stack plates for bread, salad, and the main course. Get the look by shopping local artisan-made wares at fairs like the BUST Craftacular, Etsy, or Instagram using hashtags like #pottery and #ceramics.

If you like the mismatched vintage vibe, shop thrift stores and flea markets months in advance. Seek out shapes and detailing that may not be exactly the same but work together. Plates with simple silver banding can coordinate even if they’re not from the same brand; vintage florals look especially good when mixed together. For glassware, look for varying heights of goblets and flutes. Linens can be washed with OxyClean to remove dinginess or that musty vintage smell. Tie vintage hankies and a fresh floral sprig with twine to decorate the place setting.

Cheesecloth from the grocery store makes a great table runner. Change the hue with tea, dye made from plants and vegetables, or food coloring.

Flower Power

  • Skip the florist and DIY it. Go wildflower collecting the day before, stop by your local deli for fresh affordable blooms, or, if you have a green thumb, plan ahead and grow your own damn bouquet.

  • Check what flowers will be in season; choose two or three colors. Use eucalyptus or another long-lasting greenery for filler. Watch out for flowers that wilt fast like hydrangeas. When arranging, start with the greenery first, cut the flowers at various lengths, and work with odd numbers (of each kind of flower and total blooms in a vase) to make it look more organic.

  • Centerpieces can be made two days before, bouquets and boutonnieres the day before. Refrigerate them.

  • Succulents can be bought in bulk online and double as party favors.

  • After the wedding, donate your flowers (The Full Bloom)

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Bundle Up DIY

This take on the classic smudge stick, which smells amazing when burned and is thought to clear out negative energy, pulls double duty as a beautiful tabletop addition and a wedding favor for your guests. You will need enough sage (either grown yourself, foraged, or picked from a grocery store bunch or a plant bought at a garden center) for each bundle to be about an inch thick. You can incorporate lavender, rosemary, thyme, rose petals, or other flowers and herbs that dry well (just check that they smell good when burned). Make sure the plants aren’t damp, then arrange the bundle as desired. Tie the bottom with embroidery floss and wrap it up the bundle and down. Secure it with another knot, leaving three inches of string. Attach a tiny card to each finished smudge stick letting guests know to take it home and hang it upside down. Once it’s completely dry they can light the end of the smudge stick, rest it in a fireproof dish, and enjoy the smell of love in the air.

Cake Cake Cake

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You don’t need a cake from some fancy-shmancy bakery. Turn a cheap box cake into the wedding dessert of your dreams with these tips from former professional baker Melissa Bradley.

  1. Go to a bakery website; look up their cake sizes and how many people they feed to help you determine what size cake you want and how many tiers. Go to your supermarket and load up on box cake and frosting. 

  2. Grab some cake boards and dowels—which prevent the tiers from sinking and sliding—at Michael’s or a baking supply store. Each tier should sit on its own board, sized to the cake. Cut a hole slightly bigger than the dowel in the middle of each tier’s board (except the base) so you can easily slip in your center dowel, which will go through the entire cake. All other dowels (three to four per tier) should be sized to the cake layer you are trying to support.

  3. After baking your cakes, refrigerate them overnight. Keep your frosting at room temperature. You’ll be frosting your cake in two stages. The first is a nifty little baking secret called the crumb coating, a thin layer of frosting that seals in crumbs. Set aside some frosting just for this, because it will get full of crumbs in the process. Use it to thinly frost the top of the base layer. Insert your tallest dowel into the center of your base layer. Insert a few more dowels sized to the height of your base layer, keeping them within the radius of the cake you’ll be stacking on top. Secure the next layer over the center dowel and repeat as necessary (the top tier is dowel-free). Frost the outside of the stacked cake with the crumb coating frosting. Clean up any frosting that collected around the bottom of the cake, refrigerate until firm, and then frost again, this time with the un-crumbed portion of frosting. Take your time making it perfect.

  4. Once you have your cake stacked and frosted, decorate it however you want. (A cake topper and edible flowers are both good looks!)

She Put A Ring On It Cake TopperSHE PUT A RING ON IT CAKE TOPPER, $24.92, MISSSARAHCAKE.ETSY.COM
Food For Thought

  • The benefits of getting a caterer are that they bring all the serving dishes needed and will know how much food to prepare for the number of guests.

  • Save money and find a venue where you can bring your own food and, hopefully, booze. (If you have kegs you don’t need to pay a bartender.)

  • Print out a cake box template online so people can take their piece to go!

Chair Envy

Seating arrangements can be a real ordeal. But some people just cannot be trusted to pick their own seats. Make sure every guest knows at least one person at their table. For the ceremony, try seating everyone in a semicircle. That way they can see each other instead of staring at someone’s back.

--
By Callie Watts
Photographer: Yudi Ela
Pop Stylist: Robin Zachary
Hair: Michelle Casino 
Makeup: Candice Forness
Models: Melissa Bradley & Courtney Bissonette

This article originally appeared in the August/September 2016 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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