Conventional weddings are built on rigid gender roles: the bride does this, the groom does that. It’s past time for weddings to be more equal and inclusive for all, especially considering that they aren’t limited to couples of opposite sex and that guests may identify anywhere along the gender spectrum (rather than only as men or women). Gender-inclusive wedding planning not only frees the couple from stale rituals, but also ensures that you and your soon-to-be spouse-to-be are celebrated by everyone present.
You can make your wedding more welcoming to guests of both sexes by considering the following advice from the experts as you plan your big day. Or you can just simply elope.
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01. Throw out the idea of separate bachelor and bachelorette parties.
There is no real need to have separate showers and beach parties for the bride and groom, other than anachronistic tradition. Just tell those you care about the most.
02 Include all possible invitees in your greetings.
Erin M. Kametz, owner of EMK Events and a professional event planner, advises couples to forgo the customary practice of including a title before the name when addressing correspondence to their guests, such as save-the-date cards, invitations, and other announcements. For a more thoughtful gesture, simply use the guest’s preferred name when addressing the gifts.
03 There may be a “bridal bias” at play, so be cautious.
Don’t refer to anything related to a wedding as a bridal suite, bridal party, etc. Not only does this not apply to weddings in which the bride is absent, but it also places the onus of organizing and hosting the event squarely on the shoulders of the bride rather than the groom. The traditional term “bridal party” has been replaced by the more inclusive “wedding party,” which helps to ensure that everyone is treated equally on this special day.
04 Plan a wedding that everyone can attend.
We’ve come a long way from the days of boys and girls sitting on opposite sides of the room. According to Brittny Drye of Love Inc., “couples of all orientations and identities are having mixed-gender wedding parties.” If everyone isn’t expected to dress formally, it’s easier for them to relax and enjoy themselves. Drye recommends giving wedding party members the freedom to express themselves through their clothing while still following the established dress code.
05 In other words, don’t make people of different sexes hang out together.
Consider having your wedding party walk in alone or forming couples based on where they will stand at the ceremony or who is closest to them instead of pairing them up based on gender for the processional, recessional, or entrance to the reception.
06 Don’t rush down that aisle.
Drye argues that not every processional involves one person meeting their future spouse at the altar. Instead, “you can both have your moments walking down the aisle,” “you can have two aisles,” “you can meet halfway down the aisle,” “you can walk down the aisle together,” and “you can even receive guests into the ceremony space.”
07 Flower power: a thought for all.
There should be no discrimination based on gender when it comes to carrying flowers. Don’t think of the bride as the only person who can carry a bouquet. A flower bouquet is appropriate for both partners to hold. Because, really, who doesn’t adore beautiful flowers? owner of Betsy & Bobbie Liz Mally says. Janessa White raves about “amazing” groom’s bouquets that coordinate with bow ties and boutonnieres to create “next-level gorgeous” wedding photographs.
08 Don’t forget about your gender-variant visitors!
If you want to do a good job of hosting, you should try to break the binary by including preferred pronouns on place cards, making sure there are gender-neutral restrooms, and not enforcing a strict dress code based on traditional gender roles.
09 Take the time to dance with the people you care about.
You are under no obligation to dance with a parent of the opposite sex if you don’t want to. Other acceptable and entertaining forms of family dancing include those with minimal choreography performed by selected families. Whether you’re accompanied by a sibling, parent, or grandparent, you can surprise your guests by busting out some Spice Girls dance moves.
10 Guests of any gender can participate in the bouquet and garter toss.
All the single guests or the entire wedding party can be enlisted in the bouquet or garter toss if that’s what you’d like to do. Kametz suggests a lighthearted dance-off for the recipient of the bouquet and garter.