This feminist wedding planner wants to challenge nuptial traditions

Vows, wearing white, bouquets — weddings have many traditions that often draw on times were women were considered property or unequal.

Maggie Barton Baird plans alternative events and weddings for her Edmonton and area clients

Maggie Barton Baird wants to help plan your feminist wedding. (Mat Simpson Photography)

Vows, wearing white, bouquets — weddings have many traditions that often draw on times where women were considered property or unequal.

Maggie Barton Baird hopes to change that.

"There's so many things that happen in a wedding that make you think you have to do something and you don't have to," Barton Baird told CBC's Radio Active.

Barton Baird is the owner of MB&COMPANY, an Edmonton-based event planning business that specializes in alternative events and weddings.

She wants to help her clients challenge traditions and create feminist weddings for them.

"The key is to question every single detail," Barton Baird said.

Barton Baird says she questions every single detail of a traditional wedding to create alternative weddings like this one. (Buffy Goodman Photography)

Barton Baird always considered herself a feminist, but she didn't see the need for a planner dedicated to breaking norms until a few years ago.

"One of my first clients was a pretty inspiring feminist," Barton Baird said. "Planning with her was a big eyeopener for me."

Challenging traditions

Together, they challenged everything. They looked at the history of the bouquet — which Barton Baird said was derived from brides carrying dill and garlic as aphrodisiacs.

"The idea was that on your wedding night, as a woman, that would be the first time you'd be going to bed with somebody," she said.

Other things they changed were much smaller — like switching the bride and groom sides when they're standing at the altar.

A simple switch of the sides might not be noticeable to most, but it's a nod to feminism, Barton Baird says. (Mat Simpson Photography)

Barton Baird said traditionally, in a heteronormative wedding, the woman is on the left and the man is on the right so the man would be in ideal position to protect the woman with his sword.

"A simple thing if you are doing a feminist wedding is to flip the sides," she said. "Nobody notices, but it's kind of a nice little nod."

There are also some more traditions, like why women wear white on their wedding days.

"The only reason why women wear white to weddings is because Queen Victoria did, and it's just a tradition that has lasted forever," Barton Baird said.

'Do whatever you want'

Barton Baird said there are still some quotas couples need to fulfil before they throw everything out the window.

Both parties have to say two phrases to one another and sign the registrar for their marriage to be considered legal.

Barton Baird says above all, she wants the wedding to be whatever the two getting married want. (Blake Loates Photography)

Barton Baird also advises to concede a bit on what she calls one of the most challenging pieces of a wedding to navigate: keeping your parents happy.

"I do often advise my clients to let their parents win a few battles, but you have to make sure that the ones that you're letting them win aren't ones that are necessarily deterring from your value of creating a wedding," she said.

Above all, she said, the wedding is about what the two people getting married want — regardless of what it means or not.

"This stuff isn't necessarily just about being a feminist — it's about being really active and conscious in planning," she said. "You literally don't have to do anything. Just do whatever you want."

With files from Tanara McLean