New Survey Raises Questions of Feminism in Weddings

Engagement rings, veils and white dresses are reportedly falling by the wayside

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Getty Images / Sharon Montrose

A recent study conducted by online wedding directory surveyed 200 soon-to-be-brides and concluded that “feminist weddings” are on the rise, with 26 percent of those surveyed planning to keep their maiden name in some form. But recent studies — including one conducted by Facebook this spring with 14 million married female participants — indicate that the survey’s conclusions are debatable at best.

Of the 14 million women included in the study, which Facebook conducted in partnership with The Daily Beast, 65 percent of women changed their name on the social media site, and that number leaves out those who might have neglected to update their name change. The old-fashioned trend is being spearheaded by the youngest generation, too — women who marry in their mid to late thirties were 6.4 times more likely to keep their maiden names than 20 to 24-year-old brides, according to a 2011 study published in Names: A Journal of Onomastics.

Another study, conducted by TheKnot in 2011 of 19,000 women, found that only eight percent of brides decided to keep their maiden names — down from 23 percent in the nineties, when the trend peaked. The nineties were rife with conversation about weddings and feminism. In a now-famous 1987 op-ed piece for The New York Times, writer Anna Quindlen penned “The Name is Mine,” meditating on her choice to keep hold of her original name. The decision was for political and professional reasons, but Quindlen wrote about the feeling of separation in a family with two last names. “Now, there are two me’s, the me who is the individual and the me who is part of a family of four, a family of four in which, in a small way, I am left out,” she wrote.

The Wedding Days survey also claimed that other wedding trappings such as engagement rings, veils and white dresses were falling by the wayside. The conclusions aren’t all wrong, though. White dresses, which connote virginity, seem to be falling out of fashion in favor of pink or black. Oscar De La Renta and Vera Wang have recently debuted non-white wedding dress collections, and celebrities like Reese Witherspoon, Jessica Biel and Anne Hathaway have been opting for pink dresses on their big days in the last few years.

A feminist decision? Maybe. Or perhaps the brides think they look pretty in pink.