To Love is Not to Possess, The Perfect Feminist Wedding Poem


Eschewing wedding traditions for feminist-friendly revisions requires some research, and my husband and I had a helluva time finding appropriate ceremony readings, with one exception: To Love is Not to Possess, by James Kavanaugh. I stumbled across this poem in 2012 and knew it would be included in our wedding ceremony (three years before it actually happened). Although our wedding has passed,  it still crosses my mind frequently, and I hope some of you might use this reading in your big fat feminist weddings.

To Love is Not to Possess
James Kavanaugh

To love is not to possess,
To own or imprison,
Nor to lose one’s self in another.
Love is to join and separate,
To walk alone and together,
To find a laughing freedom
That lonely isolation does not permit.
It is finally to be able
To be who we really are
No longer clinging in childish dependency
Nor docilely living separate lives in silence,
It is to be perfectly one’s self
And perfectly joined in permanent commitment
To another–and to one’s inner self.
Love only endures when it moves like waves,
Receding and returning gently or passionately,
Or moving lovingly like the tide
In the moon’s own predictable harmony,
Because finally, despite a child’s scars
Or an adult’s deepest wounds,
They are openly free to be
Who they really are–and always secretly were,
In the very core of their being
Where true and lasting love can alone abide.

Which feminist readings did you opt for in your wedding?

Why Marrying A Feminist Is All That Matters

“The most important career choice you’ll make is who you marry.”

-Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In and COO of Facebook

I had grand aspirations to write countless posts about our big fat feminist wedding. I was going to regale readers with tips and  tricks on how to navigate the patriarchal state-sanctioned institution of marriage, and in all fairness, I did write a few posts. I talked about picking eco-friendly invitations and getting married before same-sex marriage was legal in Utah (which didn’t end up being the case!), but I didn’t stick to the plan as much as I hoped. As it turns out, planning a wedding is kind of an ordeal.

Blogging be damned, I got married on July 11th.  I walked down the aisle in a blue dress with my best friend as the White Stripes crooned “We’re Going To Be Friends.” We ate Thai food and cupcakes, and drank alllll the sangria. I didn’t throw a bouquet, we didn’t do a first dance, and at the time of writing I still have my last name, but none of the feminist choices we made would’ve meant a damn thing if I didn’t marry a feminist. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s so important to critique and interrogate misogynistic and capitalist traditions, but Sheryl Sandberg was right when she said, “The most important career choice you’ll make is who you marry.” Choosing a feminist partner is the most important decision you can make. It’s one of the most important choices you’ll make for your emotional and physical health and for your career. Choosing the correct partner is everything.

(For the record: choosing a partner, or multiple partners, doesn’t require marriage, because sometimes foregoing it altogether is the best thing you can do for your feminist ideology.)

So here’s the thing, plan the hell out of your feminist union. Don’t wear white, be kind to our environment, and make sure you exercise conscious capitalism throughout. But at the end of the day it doesn’t matter if your wedding vows omit the words “honor and obey” if one person in the relationship exercises privilege and power over the other. You can’t have a feminist wedding without a feminist partner. End of story. So before you plan a wedding make sure you’ve found the right partner, because it really is one of the most important choices you can make. After that the rest just kind of falls into place.

Does your partner identify as a feminist? Why or why not?