Nothing is loaded down with gender-based cultural baggage like a wedding.
Granted, weddings generally bring out the crazy in everyone. The only fight I’ve ever had with my mother-in-law was over the invitations for my wedding. Everyone is stressed, everyone has different expectations, and society says the stakes are impossibly high because it’s “the most important day of your life.”
But what I’m thinking about right at this moment is the issue of attendants: Bridesmaids and groomsmen. By cultural fiat, they must always be the same gender as the person they’re supporting. I’ve been to a dozen weddings of people my age, and only one has ever dared to break this particular taboo (the bride had no close female friends, so she had a “man of honor” on her side). I have seen a lot of hurt feelings based around it, and some just odd choices.
At a wedding I attended recently, a friend of the groom’s was very upset she couldn’t attend the bachelor party and couldn’t be a groomsman. I cheated by having my best female friend do a reading; she had me as an usher. My sister-in-law stocked her bridal party with women she’d barely seen in years, because she’s in a male-dominated field now and all of her close friends were on the other side of the aisle as groomsmen. And my wife keeps getting invited to the bridal showers and bachelorette parties for women who are much closer friends with me, which is awkward for her and disappointing in general.
I wonder if the greater acceptance of marriage equality (Go NY!) will have an impact on this? I suppose I’ll find out if I get invited to a bachelor party for my lesbian friends.
(If you need any advice on picking attendants: Always pick people who will calm you down, who can deal with problems, and who cause minimal drama. If that means snubbing a drama queen and dealing with whining for years after, so be it. Weddings are hella stressful; get your support from people who can actually be supportive.)