Postfeminist wedding cultures
: temporality, materiality and embodiment

  • Francien Broekhuizen

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis analyses the location of wedding cultures within a postfeminist sensibility, focusing on the way brides construct their wedding planning and bridal experience in online spaces, for example, the Dutch online wedding forum [trans:], as well as in interviews with brides I have met online and through snowball sampling. Connecting wedding cultures with postfeminist sensibility allows me to contribute an analysis of retraditionalisation. I do this by focusing on the location of happiness within popular wedding culture that present the wedding as the happiest day of your life. Connecting happiness with retraditionalisation enables me to research how the wedding day has maintained its central location, in societies where the blueprints of how to live well are fading. This thesis establishes the connection between happiness, postfeminism and retraditionalisation via the notion of the perfect (McRobbie 2015). The perfect provides a postfeminist idea of the fantasy of the good life focusing on perfect bodies, homes and happy families, which are obtained via intense body work and consumer practices. Using the perfect in relation to wedding cultures is fruitful, due to the way popular culture presents the wedding as an ultimate moment of postfeminist perfection.

To research contemporary postfeminist wedding cultures as a moment of happiness and perfection through discourses of retraditionalisation, I propose a feminist conceptual framework. This framework is born out of my position in the research as both the researcher and a bride-to-be. With the framework, I have been able to further decentralise the position of the researcher by moving the attention to the research assemblage. The framework I propose is based on feminist theorists, such as Ringrose and Coleman (2013), picking up the work of Deleuze and Guattari.

Employing this framework not only to frame my position as a researcher but also to think about my data, I have been able to distil three analytic themes: temporality, materiality and embodiment. Via these themes, I have analysed how the brides make sense of the wedding planning and recount their experience as a bride. I have also been able to outline how the affective textures on the forum shape the forum discussion, creating repeating rhythmic movements across time. The first analytical theme, temporality, analyses how notions of always on-ness reconnect the abstract time of to-do lists back into the body. For the second theme, I connect the material objects of the wedding with the promise of happiness that create a glue within the bridal community. In doing so, I have framed the materiality of the objects as lively (Bennett 2010), moving the agency outside of the human into the assemblage. The last chapter focuses on the embodied experience of being a bride, and on the connection of the wedding dress with the bridal body. The analysis of these three themes enabled me to research the location of happiness within wedding cultures and how this has shaped the notion of perfection and the bride as the ultimate orchestrator of the wedding event.
Date of AwardJan 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorAdrienne Evans (Supervisor), Shaun Hides (Supervisor) & Damian Sutton (Supervisor)

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