Move over, penis straws. There's a new must-have item for the bachelorette swag bag: protest signs. Or at least that's the case for one Illinois bride-to-be, who is celebrating her upcoming wedding by meeting her friends at the Women's March on Washington. Growing up, Rachel Ellison attended many demonstrations with her politically active grandmother. And in college, she and her dad went to Washington together to protest the war in Iraq. So, when the Chicago-based artist, now 31, first heard about the massive January 21 protest, she was flooded with memories of "expressing my voice with people I love." With a July wedding around the corner, she floated the idea of taking the prenuptial tradition of a night out with friends to the nation's capital. "I was joking, 'This is my bachelorette party! Who's coming?'…And people started being like, 'I'm in!'" she told Refinery29.
The plan "snowballed" from there, with at least nine friends now confirmed to meet in the Washington area to join in the festivities. She even invited her partner, but he decided to stay home. "He [said], 'I'm into women’s rights, but that’s your bachelorette party!'" she recalled. The agenda includes sign making ahead of the trip, a 6:30 a.m. Greyhound from Baltimore to D.C. on the day of the march, and post-protest "drinks and other things," planned by her friends. For Ellison, an artist whose practice includes prints related to rituals, such as traditional Jewish wedding contracts, the bachelorette plan has taken on an extra special meaning. "I think that the bachelorette is sort of [a] ritual and the protest is kind of a ritual, so what does it mean to combine them?" she asked. "It also feels like the biggest bachelorette, ever. The idea of taking this thing that is about my experience in some ways, but looking at it as [part of] a bigger picture event is cool to me." And at the very least, she knows it will be a weekend she'll never forget. "It will definitely be memorable," she said. For more on the march, including how to support the effort, click here.