05/24/2012 04:40 pm ET Updated Jul 23, 2012

What Do You Think of the Beer-Swilling Bride?

A photo of a beer-drinking bride has sparked controversy in New Zealand. The 34-year-old woman initially found herself in the spotlight because she was a was a contestant in a Bride of the Year competition. When the photograph of her drinking from a bottle of beer while wearing her wedding dress ran on the front page of a newspaper, it provoked online debate. Some called it disgusting and the contest's organizers demanded an apology from the newspaper for running the picture.

So what's the problem here?

The bride, Katrina Hayman, explained that she was drinking a beer to relieve the stress of the competition. She said she was just being herself, and that no one would have batted an eyelash if she had been photographed sipping a glass of wine.

"I mean that is just the type of person I am," Hayman, a pig midwife by profession, said, according to World News MSNBC. "I don't like to portray myself as someone I am not. A lot of females drink beer and it's just I felt more comfortable having a beer than having a wine."

One person commented: "Clearly it's a surprise to some people that not all women drink champagne with their pinky finger out."

Hayman did not win the competition.

When it comes to the idealization of weddings and brides, we can all benefit from loosening up and laughing at ourselves. Didn't so many of us laugh until we cried during the movie Bridesmaids, when Kristin Wiig and her fellow bridesmaids had diarrhea attacks in the fancy dresses they were trying on?

I think the photo is candid -- a refreshing change from all the "virginal bride" stereotypes. It portrays a bride-to-be's real drinking story (I unwind by taking a swig of beer) rather than what we might prefer to be true (a sip of champagne is all I can handle!).

What do you think of the beer-swilling bride?

Leah Odze Epstein is a writer and co-founder of the Drinking Diaries. She is currently working on a young adult novel about a character who is the daughter of an alcoholic. She has reviewed books for BookPage and Publisher's Weekly, among other publications. She also writes poetry, and her poems can be found on the website Literary Mama.

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