I Do … & I Don’t: The First Year of a Feminist Marriage – What it Means to be a Rock n Roll Bride

In 2021, we had the pleasure of publishing Rachel’s journey of planning her feminist wedding. We loved her contributions so much that we’ve invited her back to continue the series by talking about the first year of her feminist marriage.

But aren’t you already married, Rachel? You can’t be a rock ‘n roll bride anymore, can you?” I spy in the comment section. Well, yes, I can actually. And in my first addition to this next series, in an issue dedicated to self-love, I’m going to explore why.

A while back, Kat had an online interaction with an individual who claimed that the title of the brand made this magazine inaccessible and exclusive; that the inclusion of the word ‘bride’ shut out many potential members of the club, who may not have identified as female but who wanted to be able to get married their way.

In a previous column, I talked about the origins of the word ‘wife’, and how the archaic definitions of the word had really put me off the idea of ever being one (my two least favourite definitions were: ‘a woman, especially an old or uneducated one’ and ‘female servant’). I talked about how language is in a constant state of flux and how the meaning of words is ever-changing. So, collectively, I think it’s fair to say we can change up the definition of the word ‘bride’ here, right? Well… it may interest you to know that, actually, this changing-of-definition has already happened without us realising it.

We all know the word ‘bride’ to mean ‘a woman engaged to be married’ or something to that effect. But one quick Google shows us that, actually, the word ‘bride’ comes from the Old English ‘bryd’, which is said to be derived from an old Proto-Germanic verb meaning ‘to cook, brew or make a broth’. Given that this tedious task was usually dished out to the daughter-in-law of the intergenerational German household, arguably, the original meaning of the word ‘bride’ could basically be translated as ‘the girl who makes the soup’.

Now… I don’t think it’s outrageous to assume— whether you’re planning an alternative wedding or a traditional one— that there are very few people in this modern world who would be okay with getting engaged and then being labelled as ‘the girl who makes the soup’. So, you see? Already the definition of the word has been changed, so why on earth shouldn’t it happen again?

Being a rock ‘n roll bride is not something you can be only if you are a cis, straight woman engaged to be married. It is a ticket into a space where anyone and everyone gets to be their authentic self and be accepted and celebrated for it. Being a rock ‘n roll bride is, in a way, defined by its lack of definition, or, at least, its refusal to put anyone who wants to be one in a box.

At the time of writing this, I have been married for six months, and I’m looking forward to sharing some of the things I’ve experienced so far as a rock ’n roll wife in this column. I know one of the things I was most intrigued about was whether anything would actually feel different between us once we did get hitched.

So… can you believe that I got that horrific super-cough virus… ON THE SECOND DAY OF OUR MINI-MOON?! Less than a week after the wedding I lost my entire voice for nearly a month. Every time I tried to speak, I would cough… and cough… and cough. Imagine that for the start of a feminist marriage: woman marries man and is immediately silenced. Great stuff, Mrs D. Really sticking it to the patriarchy with that one. Cough, cough.

I know, inevitably, the future will hold far bigger challenges for us to overcome than one of us having a heinous chest infection made worse by a pre-existing auto-immune disease. But, for the first month of our marriage, my husband patiently played charades with me because I literally could not talk. He cooked and cleaned and ran me baths and did my laundry and took over all the things I couldn’t do because if I moved, I coughed. Imagine that for the start of a feminist marriage: woman marries man and HE’S the one who makes the damn soup!

What I learned in those weeks was… something was different between us. I can’t put my finger on exactly what, but since we got married it truly feels set in stone— promised, vowed, however you might put it— that whatever one of us needs, for however long, whatever it might be, for the rest of our lives, the other will just step up and provide. He’s my ride or die, and I’m his. And that feels pretty rock ’n roll to me.

No matter who you are— how you identify, who you love, whether you’re engaged, in a
relationship, completely single (I bought my first ever issue of this magazine five years before I even met my husband because, as a wedding singer, I was so excited by how it was about to disrupt the wedding industry!), or even if, like me, you’re already married but the concept still brings you joy, inspiration and a warm, fuzzy feeling that reminds you it’s okay to be you— if you are someone bold and brave enough to take the ancient institution of love-and-marriage and mark it in your own life how you want to, then, baby, you’re a rock ‘n roll bride.

ABOUT RACHEL

Rachel is a writer and contemporary singing teacher. Her children’s book, The Doll’s House Mouse, won the Bath Children’s Novel Award 2021. She lives in southwest London with her husband. You can find her online at racheldarwin.com and on Instagram @rachelbdarwin.

This article originally appeared in issue 44 of Rock n Roll Bride magazine. You can purchase the latest copy here, or why not subscribe to never miss an issue?

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