I’ve just come out of a wedding dress fitting with a bride who loved her dress bit now wants me to restyle the neckline of her dress because the priest (Catholic, if it’s relevant) conducting her church ceremony asked her:
“How revealing is your dress?”
Consequently, she has gone from loving her dress and feeling confident with the V-neck illusion panel (ie skin-toned translucent tulle) to being paranoid and wanting to add approx 4″ of lace to conceal her cleavage.
I’m not religious so wanted to get perspective(s) on whether I’m right to be feeling angry on her behalf. I feel the priest is policing her body, was sexist to ask her this (he didn’t ask the groom) and what she chooses to show of her own body at her own wedding is no concern of anyone else.
If it even makes a modicum of difference to the priest, should he even be a bloody priest? If he’s worried about what other people think, that’s irrelevant. If he’s worried about being distracted himself, or having “impure” thoughts provoked, that’s a him problem, not a neckline issue.
If he’s concerned about some epidermis causing a distraction, I’ve offered to dance at the back in a bikini.
I realise this is technically none of my business either but I’m feeling invested now after seeing the effect his probing has had on the bride.
Fifteen years ago, I was excitedly, a little smugly and absolutely bloody FINALLY making my betrothal to my favourite human official: I changed my relationship status on Facebook to ‘Engaged’.
The effect was immediate. In addition to the flattering influx of likes, comments and messages of congratulations, the adverts in my newsfeed changed. Wedding dress boutiques, honeymoon destinations, venues, and, most noticeably, ways to lose weight. This diet, that meal replacement, hashtag ‘Shredding for the wedding’.
The algorithms that determine the ads you see on social media might be more sophisticated these days. When we changed our relationship statuses again to ‘Married’, I started getting ads for fertility treatments and nursery furniture; my husband to ‘Meet hot singles online in your area.’
However, these algorithms remain slave to market correlations, including that planning a wedding also often means wanting to lose weight. A highly unscientific poll I’m running on Instagram currently says two thirds of people saw more weight loss ads after they got engaged.
Reasons for deliberately changing your body are complex and personal so this isn’t a post about whether ads for weight loss treatments are right or wrong, nor whether anyone should or should not lose weight.
But the issue is close to my heart. Brides sometimes come to me because they dread – or have had – horrible experiences in bridal boutiques. In my own case, I have come through eating disorders so it would have been good to have not had to see these ads.
TIL how to stop weight loss ads on Instagram
So, I thought it would be useful to share a tip I learned today to avoid seeing weight-loss ads, on Instagram at least:
From the menu on your profile page, go to Settings > Ads > Ad Topics. If you’ve not done this before, it’s quite interesting to see what The Algorithm thinks you’re interested in based on your Meta (i.e. Instagram, Facebook, Messenger) activity. If your list was anything like mine, it should also reassure you that the social media companies actually know bugger all about you.
Tap on one you’re not interested in (my first one was Stargate 🤷♀️) and you’ll be given to options about it: ‘No preference’ and ‘Show less (sic) ads about this topic’. Even if its slovenly grammar makes you twitch as much as it did me, tap the second option and that should do the trick.
You can then also search all of the ad topics; the one you need is ‘Body Weight Control’. Choose the second option again and you should hopefully start seeing the adverts diminish, rather than your mental health.
My lovely friend Alex shared photos of her brother’s wedding last week, featuring the happy couple flanked by male family members clutching bouquets of broccoli.
It seems to be a growing trend in Asia. Alex’s new sister-in-law YaChun Yang (aka Allie) had seen a YouTuber in her native Hong Kong propose to her boyfriend with broccoli, and there are plenty of examples from Japan too (although I never saw it when I lived there 20-odd years ago).
I’m absolutely here for bouquets for all. They’ve only become associated with women/brides because they were originally composed of fragrant herbs to ward off evil spirits marauding for virgins. And as we know, all brides are virgins, because who in their right mind would marry a woman who wasn’t?
These days of course, wedding bouquets are more for aesthetics than their proficiency at repelling randy wraiths. Grooms and their parties usually wear flowers in their buttonholes, so it’s no great leap to give them something floral to hold and save them awkwardly twiddling their thumbs in the photos.
In Japan, where the garter toss has never taken hold, grooms now have their own bouquet to throw.
And why broccoli in particular? Some say the way it grows, with many stems branching out from the central stalk symbolises a growing family, and so brings fertility to whoever catches it. But don’t let that put you off; an alternative theory is that the nutrient-rich brassica simply brings good health.
But it doesn’t have to be broccoli. Ornamental cabbages are fairly common here in the UK and I’ve seen chillis used in bouquets and decor. A cauliflower or brightly coloured vegetable selection could also look elegant.
And there’s another benefit to clutching your five-a-day at your wedding: a vegetable bouquet would inflict a weighty blunt-force trauma to any lurking demon, should the bride or groom – both virgins of course – find themselves so accosted. 🥦
I didn’t attend many weddings when I lived in Japan 20-odd years ago and only found out today that the traditional Japanese bridal head-dress, tsunokakushi (角隠し), literally means HORN CONCEALER!
It was/is believed to hide the bride’s “horns” of jealousy, ego and selfishness, and is a sign of her commitment to be a gentle and obedient wife.
With the gorgeously ornate tsunokakushi worn by brides now, I imagine (read hope) that the origins of the tradition are somewhat lost, and wearing one is now more an aesthetic decision, much like the western wedding veil. But that’s for another blog post.
Either way, take this as another reminder that the world is full of wedding traditions and you only have to follow the ones that work for you. Traditions are just peer pressure from dead people.
Photo from M’s One beauty salon (coincidentally in Gifu, my nearest city when I lived in Japan) via Wedded Wonderland 😈
Not in an epically understated way, like my gracious German cousins last week ⚽️🎉.
More like when I go out for Chinese food and the main course never seems to live up to splendiferous platter of prawn toasts, satay chicken sticks, spring rolls and duck pancakes we had for the starter.
I blame husband. Not my husband, nor anyone else’s, but the word ‘husband’ itself. Specifically, its etymology. Because after I learned that it shares its origin with 007 and bondage for my last blog post, I had high hopes for its feminine counterpart.
Alas, ‘wife’ began its recorded life as Old English wif, meaning… wife.
However, ‘wif’ could also mean woman, irrespective of marital status. So I researched ‘woman’. And here I found my nugget of geek gold.
An anomalous quirk of English language evolution is that the word ‘wife’, i.e. a woman as a man’s possession (the predominant mentality of the time), predates ‘woman’ as a female person generally.
Disappointed AND retroactively outraged.
So I embroidered the shit out of a veil and felt much better.
Matron. Matriarch. Maternity. Matricide. All share a common root: the Latin ‘mater’, meaning mother. So why does ‘matrimony’ derive from the same?
As with many marriage traditions, the answer is in its patriarchal origins. Marriage was seen as literally the act of establishing a mother in the household.
Clearly this is problematic. It is male-centric, where the man is the active participant bringing the passive woman/mother figure into his domicile. It is hetero/cis-normative. It also assumes that every woman getting married wants to, and will, become a mother, not to mention that this is the primary purpose of marriage.
So, does this mean that technically only hetero/cis couples planning children can be joined in matrimony? Of course not. It’s not the 1300s, from when ‘matrimony’ was first recorded, spelled ‘matrymony’ at the time. Language evolves. Spellings and semantics change. Mercifully, so do (some) patriarchal social norms.
I received a press inquiry this week asking whether couples should coordinate their wedding outfits. This question both resonated with and rankled me.
It was a well timed question; this week alone I’ve been working on coordinating outfits for three couples and it’s certainly something I’m seeing more of, for different reasons.
That said, my couple planning their traditional white wedding are also incorporating the same fabric for elements of their outfits. In this case, the bride is wearing a hooded cape and the groom a bowtie in the same pale pink velvet.
It can be a cultural, which is true for my bride and groom planning their Ghanaian-British fusion wedding. In Ghana, the bride and groom’s outfits are made from the same fabrics, which is what I’m doing for the them, making the bride’s dress from the same traditional kente fabrics as the groom’s outfit.
The third couple are both wearing black with custom embroidered motifs that tell each of their stories.
Now for why the question rankled. First, being for a western publication, it was inherently western-focused but this excluded the cultures and traditions of other countries that are honoured here, such as my British-Ghanaian couple.
I also (politely I hope) asked the journalist not to forget weddings involving two grooms, two brides or non-binary couples who I also see coordinating their outfits, probably more so than heterosexual couples.
And finally, the classic word “Should.” I don’t like to see “should” in any question about weddings, other than that the couple should love each other and should wear whatever the hell they want, matching or not. 😊
NB photos are not of my work or couples; their weddings are still to come so the details are top secret!
Someone I know who was stridently opposed to same-sex marriage is now engaged and trying to plan a wedding. And she is stridently complaining that it can’t currently happen because of Covid-19 laws (in our part of the UK, we’re in Tier 4, which essentially means we’re in lockdown and weddings can only take place in exceptional circumstances, usually to do with terminal illness).
Apparently, she doesn’t like being legally prevented from marrying the man she loves. Imagine that! Isn’t it outrageous?
My heart goes out to everyone trying to organise a wedding at the moment. I don’t wish the stress, hassle and expense of replanning a wedding on anyone. Even her. Seriously.
But. Still. Mwahahaha!
It is all I can do to resist replying with something about them apples.