A butch bridentity crisis: pretending I don’t care

Guest post by Sians
Art by Etsy seller FelixDion.
Art by Etsy seller FelixDion.

I never wanted to get married. I saw my parents' unhappy marriage and said “Fuck that. Love doesn't last and I will never tie myself into a miserable situation like theirs.” I, like a million other people, thought that a marriage was only about love, and since I decided that love couldn't last, I wanted no part of it.

Not only that, but I am butch. I've softened over the last few years, when I realized that I didn't have to steamroll everyone with my projected invulnerability; nevertheless, I identify as butch. It means a lot of complicated things to me, but the obvious is that I LOOK butch. I have short hair and don't wear bling, or dresses, or sexy underwear, and love button-downs, and am a martial artist… I occupy “masculine” on the public radar.

So, people were surprised when I told them I was getting married.

Even though they all know how happy I am with my relationship, that we had a commitment ceremony at Pride a few years ago, and they've seen me grow out of my general marriage-hating, they were surprised. They try to imagine me, no-frills me, as “a Bride.” Strangers, or customers at work, are surprised because, well, they assume I'm gay. They're shocked, not that I'm getting married, but that I'm a Bride. They were expecting me to fill the quiet groom role, while a femme somewhere picks out flowers and dresses and place-settings. And usually they are polite enough to keep that commentary to themselves, but often it slips out in their faces or in offhanded comments.

What really hurts me is feeling like I SHOULDN'T be excited. Feeling like I have a reputation to uphold.

They mentally re-evaluate everything they know about me, because now I have been reborn as a Bride, a Woman. There have been discussions about forcing one's excitement, about feeling the pressure to smile and be able to pull out a planner at a moment's notice and to allow the wedding production to subsume our entire lives. Sometimes I want to shake those people, those excited wedding industrial complex subscribers, and say: “This is just symbolic! This is just a party! I still have a career and friends and normal interests, thank you very much!” We probably all feel that once in awhile.

But what really hurts me more is feeling like I SHOULDN'T be excited. Feeling like I have a reputation to uphold. I saw a good friend last week and she wanted to know about wedding plans; she was very excited for me. I reluctantly admitted that I had made some plans, reluctantly showed her the rings, reluctantly talked about the guest list. I ended a lot of sentences with “or whatever” and kept my voice neutral so as not to betray myself. I didn't want yet another person to consign me to the restrictive role of Bride.

Then I did something that made me truly ashamed. I showed my friend a picture of the thrift store shoes I bought, the Perfect Wedding Shoes that have been the center of my dreams for quite some time. She asked teasingly “So are those your ‘something old?'” I choked completely. She may not have noticed my pause at all, but within a nanosecond I internally decided that if I admitted to knowing the whole whole “something old, something new” wedding thing, I would throw away every last ounce of my so-called credibility and become a white tulle shell. I floundered for a moment and eventually said, “my what?” She bought my ignorance (to both my shame and relief) and happily explained the whole thing.

I am very excited for the wedding. I am also stressed like hell and occasionally wondering why this symbolic party is so necessary, but at the end of the day I am damn excited to put on fancy clothes and say nice things to my gentleman and eat awesome food and have our parents meet each other and get my relationship validated by our families.

So, why am I so determined to pretend I don't care? Being excited to plan and execute a wedding puts me, socially, heavily into the “female” category that I've avoided so strenuously for so many years. I'm scared because I think that if I show how invested I am in my kick-ass ring and my sexy wedding shoes and the beautiful invitations and the cupcakes my sister is baking, that suddenly I will invalidate the identity I have slowly and painstakingly built. I will have my “butch” card taken away. I will have my “queer” card taken away. I will have my “Practical and Serious Person” card taken away! Ingrained sexism everywhere will call me shallow, needy, vain. I will be relegated to an uncomfortable, ill-suiting, and utterly inauthentic perception of femaleness, and that is unacceptable to me.

I'm learning that “bride” is just a thing I will be for one day, not a personality I have suddenly obtained.

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Comments on A butch bridentity crisis: pretending I don’t care

  1. Wow,
    I feel for you. You know, it is OK to embrace the excitement you truly do feel for your upcoming day. Wearing a mask of not-knowing (something old, something new) or not caring to your close friends is not helping you, and not helping those relationships.

    I have a gender queer friend who often identifies masculine, but when she (yes she) has a night where she talks about emotions n all with her girl (Some gay, some not) friends, she feels so surprised, and yet so much more well-centered, because she (in the brief moments) realizes it’s ‘OK’ to accept her female side as well.

    Rejoice in every part of you. Walls don’t have to stay up you know. But I do wish u the best.

  2. This article really touched me. It seems to me like you’re simply adding more dimension to your identity and showing your friends and family a fuller picture yourself. How wonderful! Congratulations, I hope you love every second of your wedding!

  3. This. Oh, yes. Thanks, Sians, for articulating everything I’ve been feeling (the excitement, the ambivalence, the extreme anxiety about stepping too far outside self-imposed and externally-imposed boundaries of ‘queerness’). That final paragraph, especially: “I will have my ‘butch’ card taken away. I will have my ‘queer’ card taken away. I will have my ‘Practical and Serious Person’ card taken away.” This makes me feel not so alone.

  4. I can relate to this very well. I was very similar for a long time, playing the Butch part and getting endless teasing whenever I did something that stepped out of that mold. It got to a point where it felt more like a mask than anything. I still have friends who tease me about whether or not I’m a girl because I get called ‘Sir’ a lot out in public.

    Being excited about your wedding doesn’t make you a different person, doesn’t make you weak, doesn’t make you instantly shallow, vain, or needy. I think you will enjoy the process a lot more if you own it. “Hell, yes, I got awesome shoes! And I’ll be wearing this blue tiny hat, because it is also awesome.” People will give you a whole lot more leeway in these things for a wedding.

    I’ve only been planning for a little over a week, and so far no one has batted an eye at the things I have suggested or requested. I am, like I said, pretty butch. I wear jeans, sneakers, and a men’s Polo to work every day. I sword fight. I’m in martial arts. I’m near 6′ tall and my hands are larger than most men’s. I want amazing shoes and a long skirt with a bustle and a pretty cake.

    As long as it makes you feel like a rock star, own it. I have a feeling you aren’t giving your friends enough credit. And if they do give you flak, use those martial arts skills and/or a smile, a nod, and a quick exit.

  5. I planned a Halloween Costume Wedding- and I loved it. I secretly hoarded ‘normal’ bridal magazines, picked out a white ‘bridal’ gown, flowers, the vision in my head. I did not really WANT it, but I LIKED it. If I had to have a traditional affair, that would have been it (beach or garden, both were planned). I hid my obsession from all but my now husband. He would tease and tell me how great our wedding would be, how special and different. It made me feel better about my pretend wedding, because it was what was expected. Therefore, my pretend helped me in my Halloween Wedding. If the choice was b/t ‘traditional-like’ or ‘Halloween’, the Halloween won b/c my pretend wedding covered the other things.

    Not sure if that helped, but embrace the ‘being different’ and imagine what people expect of you. It will make your day stand out even more and your event even more special that it is so ‘not you’, everyone will know just how special it is! Revel in the fact you WANT different! You live the way you feel you should the rest of the time!

  6. I think being excited about the wedding, doesn’t mean you are any less Butch, it just means you are super excited to commit totally (and legally YAY!) to your partner. You just found the perfect person that’s all!

    My Boy (super manly butch type man) is psyched about wedding planning and flowers and decorations. If Mr. Guns-Trucks-NASCAR is allowed to giggle about centerpieces you are too!

  7. I think this also says a lot about gender roles in general, but I have to ask, WHY have you avoided a feminine expression of yourself? I realize that you identify as butch, and to do anything else may not feel right to you, but to say that you don’t want to be perceived as a feminine woman who is excited to be a bride is to basically say that 1) only women get excited about weddings and 2) being feminine is a bad thing.

    I don’t point this out because I think you actually feel that way. I point it out because I think acknowledging it may help you accept what you’re really feeling. There is nothing wrong with being excited about something that makes you happy, and just as important, there is nothing distinctly feminine about being excited about something that makes you happy. I see no conflict of interest here.

    You’re only a bride for a day. You’re a wife presumably forever. I say if being a married woman doesn’t make you question yourself than why worry about the bride part?

  8. I understand that your identity has been given a title by others “Butch” that you like to identify it. But why can’t you be a “Butch Bride” or a “Butch Woman”

    It seems almost like you are willing to let others perceptions of you limit who you are. Which is a shame.

    I lost a good friends years ago, transgender, because they were so insistance that my like for heels, earrings and makeup was because I was brainwashed by society.

    I’ve always believed in a motto, that I want to share – Play the Role that makes YOU happy. Be who you are, Do what you want.

  9. This post really moved me too! I agree with a lot of the other commenters, but I still wanted to say a little something 🙂

    I am a woman marrying a man, and I feel like the sentiment you express in this post is relevant to pretty much every person. Every person is cast into a stereotype by society, be it malicious or benign in motive, and yet, although there are enough commonalities to create the stereotypes, no one is really exactly like that, right? Its the Yin-Yang of the universe, after all. We are conveniently reminded of this via a little graphic adjacent to this topic’s title even!

    So to refresh (selectively excerpted from “The Web That Has No Weaver”): Yin and Yang are two polar complements. They are convenient labels used to describe how things function in relation to each other and to the universe. They are used to explain the continuous process of natural change. They also represent a way of thinking. In this system of thought, all things are seen as parts of a whole. Fixed essences are abstractions; there are no absolutes. The character for Yin originally meant the shady side of a slope. The original meaning of Yang was the sunny side of a slope… Any Yin or Yang aspect can be further divided into Yin and Yang. “There is nothing in the world greater than the tip of a hair that grows in the autumn, while Mount Tai is small. No one lives a longer life than a child who dies in infancy, but Peng Zu (who lived many hundred years) died prematurely.”

    I bring this up because: wearing a dress doesn’t get your butch card revoked, and in fact, so what if it does? That card isn’t all of who you are, YOU are who you are, so if you want to be an exciting mixture of coexisting opposites, contradictions, and conundrums, rock on with your bad self! Reality is so multiplied by peoples’ perceptions, so if one person sees you as butch and another as a tulle shell, and a third sees you as practical and serious and a fourth as quixotic and whimsical, they could all be right in some fashion or facet, and in the end the important thing is that you and your life partner see you as honest-to-goodness 100% YOU. Be yourself, get excited and squeal about frosting and then go to the dojo and be a bad ass.

    Other people’s categorizing sounds like other people’s problems, not yours. Let them squirm in their categories and just be true to yourself! Best wishes 🙂

  10. Thank you for this. I never wanted to get married either, and although I don’t associate with butch, per se, my personality has always been perceived (by others as well as myself) as masculine. And I truly struggle with the same thing. Trying to balance my real self with this weird amalgam of what-it-is-to-be-a-bride.

    Like trying on dresses at the big box store and saying, “it’s too… i don’t know….. bridal?” To which the saleslady responds, “that’s okay; you’re going to be a BRIDE.” And instead of squeeing like I should, I just fake a wince, swallow that i-look-good-in-white smile/smirk, and try to think of it like shopping for a party dress at Ross. And then I feel guilty and unauthentic about it later.

    There’s no win. I’m a party pooper if I don’t look forward to it enough, and I’m a boring/girly/crazy-like-leading-up-to-bridezilla if I look forward to it at all. I’m not allowed to love it or I’m a stereotypical woman who finally trapped a man (by seeming all cool at first) and is now gonna bleed daddy dry for my big white wedding. But if I hate it, I get treated like I shouldn’t be having it.

    It’s ok to want both, and the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

  11. I definitely understand how you feel on a certain level. I am not butch but am considered by most and even by myself emotionally masculine. I don’t do froufy feelings like alot of girls do. I don’t feel especially giddy about boys, emotions, or relationships. However, I have a total secret wedding stash filled with little, okay big, wedding hopes. If anyone ever saw it I totally feel like I would be mocked. I feel like they would say in that annoying sing song voice “See you do feel just like all the other girls.” I am not at all openly emotional and I just feel like letting all my wedding wishes out is very closely aligned to crying at rom coms. This said I am going to be a total hypocrite and tell you that I think it would be okay for you to come out and say things like I totally want to rock something old and something blue. I feel it simply would add to your character. We are all individuals with individual dreams and we do not ever perfectly fit into our defined box, because wearing a dress once or twice does not a femme make. You are you and you can be a butch bride there is no law, grammatical or otherwise that says those two words are oxymorons. Yes, the masculine get excited for weddings too!

  12. My husband and I had a short engagement (4 months). This was lucky because it ended up being a very stressful period. One big stressor was that, as someone who had never wanted to get married, I felt judged for (1) not being excited and giggly enough and/or (2) being too excited (with the sometimes implied, sometimes overt comment that all those years that I said I didn’t want to get married, I was just pretending).

    I feel for you, but please listen to this: you are who you are and it is ok to be excited about this tremendous, extraordinary journey you’re embarking on. It’s also ok to be excited about your dress, your shoes, your cake and whatever else you feel excited about. You are an individual, a butch who is excited about her wedding. Heck, you could be a total femme who does not care about her wedding and that would be no more or less noteworthy. You are you. Let yourself be you.

  13. I had a lot of people tell me they hadn’t expected my dress to be so girly, ’cause they always see me in jeans and trainers and in an overall masculine look. But I may not have patience for everyday make-up or not be into skirts and accessories, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want that one day, my wedding day, to be a bride, not completely traditional, but certainly girly!
    I guess I didn’t share much of the preparations, so I didn’t get many comments beforehand. That could be a solution: you do whatever you want and don’t talk about it with a lot of people, so you won’t get those looks… and afterwards it’s done, and everyone may be surprised but then they’ll see you go back to your usual self! And they’ll see it was an exception you made in your style for an exceptional day! That way, you won’t feel your butch is in question.

  14. While I don’t think people would consider me ‘butch’, I’ve always walked the fine line between masculine and feminine. What’s crazy is that I feel very strongly female where as many people in my position seem to be somewhat ambivalent about the whole ‘gender’ deal.

    So every morning it’s a balancing act for me – jeans and a t-shirt? I’ll spend just a touch more time on my hair. Wearing something form-fitting or feminine? Makeup is forgotten.

    I know it’s going to be difficult when I get married because overall I’ve been practical my entire life and a wedding seems like the most impractical thing ever. But, I’ve got to learn that by being impractical every once in a while, you’re actually being ‘meta-practical’ as no one can be practical all the time, so choosing when to be impractical can actually be practical. 🙂

  15. I’m having a similar problem. My girl and I are both pretty femme. I am usually cast into the more feminine role around friends, and I embrace it. However, she wants to wear a big princessy dress on the day and I would rather die. I have never been able to picture myself in the kind of dress she will wear. I’m really struggling to let myself make the steampunk tuxedo dress I truely want at the risk of compromising my identity and the dynamic of our relationship. We’ve always been proud that there isn’t a real male or female role in our relationship, and I’m afraid of messing that up on the day when we will be in the spotlight. So yeah, feel your pain a little. Wish I had advice.

    • Why would making a super rad steampunk tuxedo *dress* ruin the dynamic?? I mean, if it’s still a dress – just not a big puffy floofy dress (i dont blame u for not wanting to look like a puffy princess) then whats the prob? Sounds awesome 🙂
      My fiance isn’t steam punk at ALL but he really admires the style. When I said I wanted to buy keys to hang from branches and use as potential table cards he accepted the idea because he rationalized it as steampunk.
      Ok cool;) Having a goth history (fairly far in the past now that im 31) i always find it cute when he likes things that i prolly would have loved 15 years ago.

      That being said, a steampunk tuxedo dress sounds FANTASTIC! You are going to make it yourself? I can’t wait to see it!

    • A steampunk tuxedo dress!? That sounds glorious! I wouldn’t worry about accidentally ruining your entire identity or the gender dynamic of your relationship in one day. Weddings are often pageants, in which people put on things they wouldn’t normally (I would never wear white-anything in my daily life, and only wear skirts in leap years). Your gender identity, and the dynamic of your relationship, on the other hand, are influenced by millions of tiny and large decisions and experiences and reactions and urges that you have every single day. I suspect very few people would spot you wearing a tuxedo dress on one day of your life, shout “omg, I knew it! she’s such a dude!” and then refused to acknowledge your feminine side for the entire rest of your life. Also, consider how much body language impacts the way clothing is seen…. a business suit on one woman can look delicate, while a skirt on another (ie, me) can look… well, awkward. The way you walk and speak may help your friends and family see that unusual dress as being surprisingly “you,” and therefore just as “feminine” or “masculine” as they know you to be, even if you currently feel it’s incongruous.

  16. Thank you so much for the great post! I’m not butch, but I am definitely more masculine than most of my friends. When I was starting to plan our wedding, I felt SO stupid talking about it. Then I got pregnant (wedding’s been put on hold… it’s been 7 years so we’re not really worried about rushing) and it’s even worse. I thought at first it might have been fear of miscarriage, especially as I have PCOS… but now that I’m starting my 2nd trimester and STILL feeling skeevy about talking about it, I think it’s just that it feels like such a GIRLY thing to be excited about.

    Which is dumb, of course. My boyfriend is SO excited, I don’t know why I’m having such a hard time with it. I guess I’ve always been really proud to be one of the guys, the ‘awesome’ girlfriend who can shoot and gut a deer without squealing and who’s always up for a weekend on a boat drinking beer. Being excited to be a bride, or a mother, kind of feels like being one of the squealing, giggling, look-at-me! type girls that I’ve always been so glad NOT to be. (Disclaimer: not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not who I am).

  17. The role of “Bride” is a loaded one for many of us, butch, femme, or somewhere in between. For those of us who have turned away from the fluffier cultural expectations of what it is to be a woman, it’s frightening to feel like entering the epitome of cultural femaleness isn’t going to erode who you are in some way. It’s hard not to feel fake or weird about girlish moments. Our wedding is turning into something far more refined than I ever intended it to be, and it’s very difficult to not apologize for it being nice every time I talk about it with someone.

    I’m sure that the close friends you’re sharing details with are excited and honored to interact with a part of you that doesn’t come out to play very often. We all have permission to surrender to the pleasures of creating something so special with our partners, no matter what forms and flavors they take on in the end. Accepting that it’s ok to do that is, by far, the most difficult part of the entire process for a lot of people.

  18. Wow. I thought I was alone in these sort of feelings until I read this post and the ensuing comments. Thank you, everyone, for sharing. I love this community.

  19. To me it sounds like you’re a very balanced person. You’re someone who has an identity that you’ve built and it is you, but you’re also enjoying this planning process that is temporary. That’s totally cool.

    I’m a tomboy, I’m totally invested in being non-girly and have been forever. When I wore a wedding dress people said things like, “You’re going to wear a dress! Wow! I’ve never seen you in one!” Then after the wedding I was back to jeans, skate shoes, and t-shirts. I think in the end everyone you know understands that it is just a day and that you aren’t compromising your identity. We all do things a little different the day we get married.

    Have a great wedding and have a great life 😀

  20. Oh, man. As a bisexual queer woman who’s marrying a man… when it comes to feeling ambivalent about how much a bride is allowed to like weddings, and what it means to be a bride with a queer identity, join the club.

    I’ve fought since coming out (at age 13–now 15 years ago) against erasure. I’m from a small, conservative town, where the general wisdom was that I (for a few years the only out queer in my age group, who all went through the same high school) was only “doing it”–performative sexual identity, apparently–to get men. And within the lesbian community at my college, I was dismissed as somehow not actually into women, not committed to gay rights (I don’t even get to be in the name), not involved in the political aspect of being queer. I also got flak from straight people for being too queer, too sensitive, too invested in gay rights. Which was all bullshit. Every last piece of that was identity politics, gender normative bullshit. And somehow I didn’t have a problem recognizing that and, in general, telling people to go hang.

    But now that it’s about weddings I’m once again in that corner: am I being queer enough? Too queer? Will people take away my queer card? I “earned” it, in the eyes of my alleged peers, by sleeping with women–which still seems ridiculous: I didn’t have to sleep with them to know I wanted to, any more than I have to actually go to Hawaii to know I’d like to vacation there–and now that I have a male fiance, it’s like the years that I have spent out, aggressively political, aggressively visible, coming out to the people I go to school with and work with because I know that if I’d known a single queer person in a responsible position as a teenager it would have meant so much to me, mean nothing.

    So I’ve felt the urge to react in both ways–to go uber-femme about it because I want to and for no other reason and to hell with the haters, and to go uber-butch about it because I hate the wedding-industrial complex and to hell with the homophobes. It’s been a huge challenge to keep it on track and keep it about the love, rather than the hate.

    Because that’s the whole point behind everything, that I love the person I’m committing to, that I would love whoever I chose to commit to like this, that love is more than a feeling–it’s a series of decisions that are made over and over again.

    So it’s tough. No easy answers. Except to tell the haters of whatever stripe to go hang.

  21. Although I can’t relate, I do understand the need to feel like you are fulfilling the role that you feel best represents you.

    However (and it’s a big one!), I don’t think it is fair to yourself to try and push back agaimst your emotions, denying yourself the experiences you are having.

    Why can’t you careabout having something pretty, or something the way you imagine things? Why can’t you think about what you want to see and do during your wedding? Why can’t you share that (or those) idea(s) with others?

    My fiance is more heavily invested in various parts of the wedding than I am. He is the one that wants chair covers (I think they’re a waste of money), he wants things to be pretty, and elegant, while I could care less. I am the bargain hunter of the two of us, and search out used things or work with him to adjust and scale things down to a more affordable thing. And he scales things up, because he isn’t comfortable with lollipop centrepieces and bouquets.

    Just because we have pre-defined notions of what the gender roles are expected to be during the wedding planning, that doesn’t mean these roles exist when heterosexual couples are planning their weddings, so I suppose I wonder why you feel the need to rebel against your desires so that you perpetuate the expected roles.

    I get that there may be some more societal expectations that you are working with and expressing yourself isn’t as easy, and I also understand that I am asking these questions not being able to identify personally with your situation. I hope you aren’t offended – I am coming from a place where I want to understand why you can’t be butch but also embrace this side of you that does care. In my eyes, it isn’t an all or nothing type of thing, that’s all.

  22. I always think that it is more masculine (for want of a better phrase) to be yourself and accept your feelings than to try to conform to other peoples expectations of how you should be. It is hard, because people put you in a box, but identity is fluid and we always evolve. You can be butch and girly. You can be butch and like weddings.

    I have greatly enjoyed watching my more masculine fiancee get excited over her ring, while also preparing her mum for the possibility of a dress or suit at the wedding.

    I know you the above poster feels – I often point out that lesbian relationships don’t have to have a “man” and a “woman”, almost as if it feels less valid that way, or leaves you more open to acusations that you just need a good man. But actually, one of the things I find attractive about my fiancee is her masculineness. But that she is a woman nonetheless.

    This whole discussion has the potential to be taken the wrong way, I hope that nobody does.

    I suppose what I’m really trying to say is, we all need to just be ourselves – which means accepting our desires – and stop feeling the need to justify ourselves to others.

  23. Oh, I hear you! I am a femme boy and I have (to some extent — being The Bride is a whole new level) similar kinds of anxiety whenever I’m called upon to do things that are more masculine. I don’t want people who don’t know me to look at me and think “regular dude” because it feels like a lie!

    (and to those commenters who are imputing some sort of disdain for feminine stuff — there’s a big difference between looking down your nose at anything feminine — or masculine, for that matter — and feeling discomfort when it is applied TO YOU in a way that is normative and full of assumptions and doesn’t match who you are.)

    Actually, though, a month or two ago (around Halloween, not coincidentally) I went through a little period of rocking total butch drag — plaid shirt, sleeveless parka, even a Canadian Tire hat. I found that it was actually really fun because I was thinking of it as drag and the whole thing as a big old camp.

    Maybe that could make things easier? You’re not metamorphosing into The Standard-Issue Bride Woman but rather trying on (metaphorical or literal) drag for a fun occasion. Just a thought. Queer hugs!

  24. I sort of feel that in a some of these comments and slightly in the original post, there’s a bit of an unnecessary link between being a female who is getting married and wants a wedding, and being a traditional bride. I know that nobody has explicitly said that they feel obliged to put on the white puffy dress and be girly, but it feels like that for a lot of you it’s a very conflicting thing, and I’m really interested in whether that’s the case – whether some of these commenters have felt obliged to go into bridal shops and let themselves be put into dresses they could probably already tell just looking at them were too “bridal”? It’s just a curiosity thing for me – why try it on? Why go to a bridal store at all instead of choosing a route you’re comfortable with?

    It’s just that I feel from personal experience that if you’re embarrassed about telling other people something because it feels like a betrayal of who you “are”, then that’s sometimes a sign. I did a year of tertiary study and felt embarrassed telling anyone what I was studying – it took a year to realise that if I was feeling that way I wasn’t doing what truly made me happy, something that was “me” – I swapped courses. It sounds so simple but that gut feeling of embarrassment was a telltale that things weren’t right and that I wasn’t living my most authentic life – sure, I was doing something that was interesting and that I liked and that was valuable, but it wasn’t “me”, and there was no point in forcing it.

    Of course the marriage part is right for all of you, and the wanting a wedding part, and even the wanting to be a bride part, but I’m just worried that in some cases people don’t see the alternative and are signing up for what they think being a bride is when really almost every single part of the day is negotiable other than signing the contract. You might, for instance (I don’t know anyone personally here) find it a lot easier to talk excitedly about wedding plans if they were more of a reflection of not only who everyone else thinks you are, but of who you feel you are yourself. A more hardy dinner of steaks and carbs? A beer menu? Going out for your hens night to the shooting range? Wearing something of your grandfather’s with special meaning? Wearing hot jeans and a pretty white blouse, or cowboy boots/military boots under a simple, tea-length dress? And then all the girly stuff you really want would just be icing. I might be missing the point and you all might be dying to get into the makeup and wedding dress, and that’s what you’re feeling so conflicted about – in that case of course go for frilly and girly! It’s your one chance to have it all your way! But if planning things a different way would make you happier – if getting excited about different sorts of things and eliciting a “heck yes, that’s so “you” sentiment about the planning from either you or your friends, then maybe focus on those things and cut out all the frilly stuff that doesn’t feel authentic, or just downplay it. Don’t do anything that is going to make you feel ashamed or self-conscious on what is meant to be such a proud, happy day – it’s not worth it. Also, you’re allowed conflicting wants – I really would be excited to try on the “big white dress” and love looking at designers and would feel like I was missing out by not going that route. However, at the exact same time, I ALSO feel like the big white dress isn’t me, that it’s commercial, that I’d like to wear something else . I can (and do) want both of those things, but at the end of the day I’ll just sacrifice the feelings of wanting the “big white dress” (which I know I probably just want out of social constructions) and go with what makes me feel comfortable within myself, like I’m being authentic. I’ll go with what will make me feel proud to show off. That’s just me, though.

    (I feel like I’ve just said a lot of stuff everyone already knows – you’re here at offbeat bride after all – but I thought it was worth repeating.)

  25. I think this is such a brilliant post. My wife and I had a lot of discussions around this topic when planning our wedding – everyone automatically turned to me when asking about wedding details, and my poor wife, who is an architect and very girly underneath her butch exterior, was totally left out of the conversation. In the end she did most of the planning because I was too busy making myself a pretty dress. I love that you’re excited for your wedding, and your own fabulous outfit. Just because you’re not always dressed in frilly outfits doesn’t mean you can’t want to wear one for your big day. Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel/act/think.

  26. Thanks for posting this, Sians! I feel like I’m in the “excited but oblivious” camp when it comes to my wedding (mainly because what I know of weddings is traditional and religious – neither of which fits me) and it can be hard to reach out to people for help when they default to thinking that I will be a bride like any other bride (You expect me to know what kind of dress/jewelry/colors/flowers I want? Boy are you going to be confused when I don’t want some of those things at all…).

    Anyway, long story short: thanks for acknowledging the identity conflict. Whenever I feel like I hate everything to do with weddings, people like you on OBB remind me that I’m not the only one having WTF moments in their planning process.

  27. Thiiiiis. Whilst I wouldn’t say I identify as butch or masculine, I definitely exhibit a lot of gender neutral behaviours and attitudes and a lot of friends (and all of my family) were surprised that I wanted a wedding, and a “nice girly” one at that, especially in a white (..ish) dress. My dad’s first words were “I never thought you’d get married” because he didn’t think I was interested in that (more of a projection of his own attitudes but that’s a different story). Given a lot of the diverse and chill company I surround myself with, who I adore, many of them aren’t interested in weddings or gushing over dresses or centrepieces, and I find myself either feeling alone in my excitement (my partner is only interested in the cake and music, with good reason, those things are great) or embarrassed by my enthusiasm as it “betrays” my identity.
    On the plus side, the one part of the wedding industrial complex I have embraced is the “its all about the bride” show, and turned that into a “this is what I want, regardless of who I am/how you see me” which has been a nice bit of self-confidence development for me. Though it is still a bit of a lonely road choosing fonts and other trivial (read: details that I think are both dumb but that I also am allowed to care about because it’s my wedding) with no “woo girl” posse to indulge in this with.

  28. THANK YOU!! from an increasingly “masculine”-presenting genderqueer woman engaged to a fabulous not-queer man.

    We’re both gonna be wearing suits at the altar and it’s so so nice to know there are other folks out there with somewhat similar experiences!!!! <3

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