Traditionally, weddings are based on highly gendered expectations: Brides do this, grooms do that, and that’s how it is. But with weddings not limited to opposite-sex couples and the possibility of guests identifying across the gender spectrum (that is, outside of the gender binary), it’s beyond time to make weddings more equal and inclusive for all. Thinking about gender inclusivity not only liberates the couple getting married from outdated traditions, but it allows everyone involved to feel comfortable, have fun, and, most importantly, celebrate you and your spouse-to-be!
While planning your big day, take these suggestions from wedding pros into account to make your wedding more gender-inclusive.
Forget gender-separated pre-wedding events.
Other than outdated tradition, there’s no real reason your showers and bach parties need to be designated by gender. Just invite whoever means the most to you.
Address your invites inclusively.
“When a couple is writing out save-the-dates, invitations, or any other pieces of mail that are being sent to their guests, they can skip the traditional aspect of putting a title before the name,” suggests Erin M. Kametz, event planner and owner of EMK Events. “Simply address these items to the preferred name of the guest, which can add a more personal touch.”
Avoid honorifics and consider how the invitations will read. While it’s traditional to put the male member of an opposite-sex couple’s name before the woman’s, try switching it up.
Be aware of the “bridal bias.”
“Stop calling everything bridal—the bridal suite, bridal party, etc. That language is out of date,” Renee Scotti Dalo, owner and lead planner at Moxie Bright Events, tells us. Not only is this not applicable to weddings without brides, but it also puts the burden of planning, hosting, and most things wedding-related on a bride rather than a groom. By relabeling classic terms, such as “wedding party” rather than "bridal party," you create a more balanced wedding.
Curate an inclusive wedding party.
“Long gone are the days of boys on one side, girls on the other. Couples of all orientations and identities are having mixed-gender wedding parties,” says Brittny Drye of Love Inc. This can also help make all members of the party feel comfortable in their attire, not forced into wearing a suit or dress if that’s not their thing. “Allow them the option to wear something that is more in line with their identity that still fits with your wedding party attire,” Drye suggests.
Don’t force opposite-sex pairings.
Instead of pairing up your wedding party for the processional, recessional, or reception entrance based on gender, consider having each person walk in solo or partner up based on where they’ll stand at the wedding or who they are closest to.
Reconsider the aisle.
“A processional doesn’t necessarily have to be one person meeting their future spouse at the altar,” Drye says. “Instead, you can both have your moments walking down the aisle, have two aisles, meet halfway down the aisle, walk down the aisle together, or even receive people into the ceremony space.”
Think about flowers for all.
Flowers don’t have a gender, so why limit who gets to carry them? “Don't limit the bouquet to just a bride. Both partners can carry a bouquet. Because who doesn't love gorgeous flowers?” says Liz Mally, owner of Betsy & Bobbie. Janessa White of Simply Eloped has witnessed “amazing” groom’s bouquets that can match bow ties or boutonnieres and make “wedding photos next-level gorgeous.”
Consider gender-nonconforming guests.
Your job as a host is to make everyone feel welcome, so try to break rules of the binary by including preferred pronouns on place cards, ensuring your venue has a gender-neutral bathroom, and not enforcing a strict dress code modeled off traditional gender roles.
Dance with whoever you’re close to.
If you want to dance with an opposite-sex parent, great, and if not, no pressure. Family dances (with basic choreography) and chosen family dances are also totally acceptable and fun to watch! Surprise your guests by breaking out Spice Girls dance moves with a sibling, parents, or grandparents.
Play some gender-inclusive music.
Request that your DJ or band use gender-inclusive language. Rather than calling out husbands and wives to the dance floor, request the word “couples” or “partners” instead. On that same note, bands (and some DJs) may be willing to change the lyrics to songs in a minor way to make them more gender-neutral or even applicable to the couple getting married.