Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wedding Invitations (and Staying a Feminist)

When we first got engaged, lots of people warned us not to take things too seriously. And luckily, Z and I are pretty good at remembering that the font on our wedding invitations and the exact style of bentcher we choose and the color shade of the dresses that our sisters wear are not crucial decisions and also not the parts of our wedding that will make it special for us. This doesn't mean there's no stress in wedding planning—there's plenty, but I think we're decent at mostly getting stressed about the right things. (I should probably speak for myself here. The only thing that seems to get Z stressed is how stressed I am.)

But it's funny to see which things end up bothering me and which don't.

I didn't think twice about changing my last name after I get married. I think it's nice for a family to have the same last name, and though I recognize the convention of the woman taking the man's name has a sexist feel, I have no particular inclination to be unconventional on this. I don't have a strong attachment to my own last name, which is a run-of-the-mill Jewish one, and any combinations of my last name and Z's last name sound horrendous. Had I published extensively under my name and built a strong professional identity, I would have considered using my maiden name, at least professionally, but, alas, I haven't published extensively. So, taking on Z's last name was an easy decision for me.

But you know what does bother me? The way our parents' names are supposed to appear on our invitation. A standard invitation looks something like this:

Mr & Mrs. Joe Schmo
Mr. & Mrs. John Doe
request the honor of your presence
[Also lots of people seem to feel the need to spell "honor" the British way, which makes no sense to me since this is America and all.]
at the marriage of their children
blah blah blah

But why does the only way to make our parents' names formal involve pretending that women don't have names at all? I've scoured the web for solutions to this problem, and there really isn't one. "John & Jane Doe" is too informal for some tastes, and "Mr. John & Mrs. Jane Doe" seems remarkably clunky. This blog post–"Addressing Wedding Invitations (and staying a feminist)"—helped a bit but doesn't really solve the clunky problem. I don't want to erase my mother and mother-in-law from the wedding invitation. Does that seem unreasonable?


At 2/28/12, 9:46 PM, Blogger bopbeeboop said...

I felt the same way when we did ours. Unable to find a solution that made me happy, I got all the parentals to agree to put their names at the bottom (where the grandparents' names sometimes go). So it read:

With gratitude to Hashem
we invite you to join us
at the marriage of our children
John and Jane Smith
John and Jane Doe

Somehow burying the names at the bottom sort of pushed aside the problem of informal feel? Maybe? Dunno. Thoughts?

Also, while we're ranting about this: the local community bulletin, when it announced our baby's birth, deleted my first name in just this very way. Not like I did the birthing or anything. That drove me crazy for a couple of weeks, at least.

This was the longest comment ever,

At 3/1/12, 1:08 PM, Blogger dd said...

if you plan on having English and Hebrew then you can put the full names on Hebrew side. Many ppl. do it that way. For some reason in Hebrew it sounds less formal.

At 4/25/12, 2:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is exactly the problem my fiance and I are having right now. What makes it so frustrating is that my mom thinks her name is included in "Mr. and Mrs. Man's First and Last Name" because it has "Mrs." in it. She has absolutely no problem with the sexist wording because it's the "formal" way to do it. And you're right, there really isn't any information on the internet about how to keep formality and still be egalitarian. Hopefully someone out there will solve this problem for us feminists before our invitation deadlines come around! :)


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