It goes far beyond being just concerned about money or time too. For me, the idea of a traditional wedding is the epitome of gender segregation. Historically, it’s been the moment when a bride is handed over to her husband; she leaves the safe, comforting nest of her female friends behind and transitions into becoming the matriarch of her new family.
Sure, now things are different; in the UK and US at least, same-sex marriage is legal, and it's likely that your best friend, whether you're a man or a woman, could be of the opposite gender. So why are weddings still structured around gendered roles? Some of us wonder how to ask our male friends to be our bridesmaids, or invite our favourite male cousin to the hen party. Gender segregation is alive and kicking on a day that’s meant to be celebratory, and for me it feels outdated.
It turns out I’m not alone. Olivia, a 25-year-old from London thinks that “the notion of a bridesmaid is archaic and ridiculous." She asks: "What do I do if I have male friends?”
For Katherine*, the tradition of having bridesmaids and not "bridespeople" meant she ended up without the people she cared about by her side when she got married last year. “I didn’t think not having bridesmaids was a ‘thing’. My three best and oldest friends are male. And, although I have close female friends, they’re not the people whose shoulders I usually cry on, so I had to go through my very terrifying and emotionally stressful wedding day without the people I needed around me.”
“I feel the term bridesmaid is laden with meaning”, says Annie. “It’s exactly the reason why I didn’t want to have bridesmaids at my wedding. It makes my group of super-strong female and male friends sound weak. Rather than teachers, civil servants, journalists, and doctors, my friends have become a clump of women with their hair done up all nicely, wearing frilly dresses. My friends and I are the furthest thing from meek or maid-like you could imagine.”