Wedding Cake With Neutral TopperAs more LGBTQ+ persons enter into legal marriages, many so-called wedding traditions don’t hold up to scrutiny in the light of inclusivity and gender diversity. Weddings are a classic example of an event that traditionally emphasizes gender-specific roles. The idea of a bride and groom becomes absurd for those who live outside of the gender binary. Even with gay and lesbian cis couples, wedding parlance based on the bride and groom can seem outdated, if not ridiculous. Regardless of how non-binary or gender-fluid persons are involved in this celebration, here are a few ideas to degenderize the event to be more inclusive.

Redefining the Wedding Party

A great place to start is by doing away with the idea of a bridal party. Not only are terms such as “bride,” “groom,” “maid of honor” and “best man” not gender-inclusive, they limit wedding roles to a specific identity that may not be accurate, even in a ceremony for a straight, cis couple. A non-binary person wouldn’t want to identify as a bridesmaid or a groomsman. Moreover, a man may choose to have his female best friend by his side on the big day or vice versa. Think of the bridal party as a wedding party instead.

Changing the Visuals

In most ceremonies, half of the wedding party is wearing gowns and carrying bouquets while the other half wears tuxedos or suits. The processional usually involves couples walking together as pairs symbolic of the pair to be wed. For a more inclusive ceremony, consider changing up typical fashion choices. There’s no rule that says a gown or tuxedo has to be worn by anyone in the wedding party. Think about doing away with traditional attire and allowing each person to wear an outfit that is consistent with their particular gender expression and having solo entrances for the processional. Gender-neutral apparel for the wedding party is another idea worth contemplating.

Normalizing Non-Binary Language

After a formal exchange of vows, a couple is often pronounced to be man and wife. In many ceremonies for straight couples, the man is instructed to kiss “his bride.” Normalize the use of non-binary language in the wedding script. This can be worked out with the officiant in advance. Using words such as “partner” also helps to de-emphasize patriarchal-based gender roles such as a male partner formalizing the union by initiating a kiss.

Sending Inclusive Invitations

Often wedding invitations and save-the-date notices will include titles for the engaged couple. Irrespective of the orientation and gender identities of the spouses to be, it’s easy enough to remove references to “Mr.” and “Ms.” in your greeting card. A more inclusive approach would be to stick to first names or go with something as simple as “We’d love to have you celebrate our special day.” You can take things a step further by removing honorifics and titles in the names of addressees.

Degenderizing the Reception

Receptions are also events that emphasize a gender binary. Many receptions feature cakes with a pair of figurines in typical outfits representing the couple. It’s not uncommon to have separate cakes for the bride and groom with decorations based on gender. You can forgo these approaches to the wedding cake altogether. Other popular gender-based traditions include tossing of a bouquet and throwing a garter to indicate future brides and grooms. Either ditch these altogether or make them all-inclusive. A dance for the new spouses is also appropriate, but partnered dancing does reinforce gender roles and may inadvertently exclude some of your guests.

Wedding ceremonies are about coming together to celebrate a life with family and friends. Nothing says togetherness quite like intentional inclusivity, especially when persons of diverse genders are in the wedding party or among the invited guests. Degenderizing this celebration and other traditional elements is a great way to truly bring everyone together.

Category: Wedding Planning Society

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