I'm a feminist bride with a feminist fiance looking for some advice. I was at a good friend's wedding recently and the groom's older brother gave a toast with a whole section on how the groom should just accept that he'll never be right again now that he's married — even when the facts are on his side, he should defer to the wife to keep the peace. To me, this smacks of “Bitches be crazy!” nonsense.
My fiance and I respect each other and I want anyone who speaks at our wedding to honor that, rather than imposing their sexist ideas about marriage. I'd trust our friends to speak to our values, but there are some family members I worry may not be on the same page. How can we give people the opportunity to wish us well without inviting their sexist garbage, however subtle it may be?
Whoo boy, you are tapping into a LOT of couples' fears with this one. Bravo for you for not wanting to put up with the inherent misogyny, commitment “comedy,” and sexist marriage cliches that can accompany so many wedding events. Now, the actual prevention of them is the rub.
There are two tactics I'd suggest implementing: direct or indirect. Here's how both could go down…
Tell 'em straight up
For those family members or friends who are in danger of not being on the same page, you could give them a heads up directly. Give them a call or an email starting with some small talk. Then lead into a quick heads up that you just want to make sure that any toasts avoid any of “those silly tropes that you know are popular.” Feel free to keep the conversation light, but direct.
Try something along these lines:
“We love that you're going to want to say a few kind words, thank you so much! We're just talking to everyone who might plan to speak to make sure that there's a general avoidance of any humor that revolves around stereotypes about women and men. It's just not who we are and we don't want to rub anyone the wrong way.”
With this messaging, you're avoiding calling them out individually and making sure they get that it's just not your style.
Have someone close to them clue them in
Alternately, you could pull in an ally to hint on your behalf. Uncle Bob's sister, a mutual friend, wedding party member, etc.
This could go down as follows:
“Hey, Uncle Bob, I know [couple names] just attended a wedding where there was some uncool content in the speeches that stereotyped men and women in marriages negatively. She seemed like they may not want that kind of humor, in case you were planning it. I'm just letting everyone know so we can all avoid any awkwardness and make the day really awesome for them.”
In this way, you're teaming up other speakers to feel like they're all in on making all the speeches really great for you guys.
Who else has some tips to keep sexist wedding stereotypes out of their otherwise well-meaning speeches?