How to Avoid Using Gendered Wording at Your Wedding
It's much easier than you might think.
Recognizing the love a couple shares, regardless of their gender, is something worth celebrating. But it was only a few years ago that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned restrictions on same-sex marriages and effectively ruled them constitutional. As the world's perception of marriage changes, so has the traditional nature and language used around weddings.
"With the legalization of gay marriage and the increasingly open dialogue about the LGBTQ community, people are becoming more and more educated and aware of how they label or identify their friends and family," explains Gina Wade, a leading entertaining and lifestyle expert and special events planner in Los Angeles and owner of Gina Wade Creative. To ensure your day is representative of who you and your guests are, consider swapping gendered wording for something more inclusive. Here, some easy alternatives to traditional wedding wording.
Your Wedding Party
Stick with the term "wedding party" instead of "bridal party," and avoid breaking the group intro groomsmen and bridesmaids. What if you choose to have your male best friend stand by your side during the ceremony? He shouldn't have to go by "bridesmaid," (unless he wants to, of course!). "Strict lines between bridesmaids and groomsmen are already being blurred anyway, as many brides choose to have a man of honor instead of a maid of a honor," says Erika Couto, queer leadership coach and PR strategist. "Going with a non-gendered word better represents what's happening in wedding parties with a bride and groom or same-gendered partners."
If you want to send gender-neutral save-the-dates, do away with "Mr." and "Mrs.," says Wade. For example: "We are excited to announce the date of our upcoming wedding" with the couple's names noted on the bottom. Another option Wade suggests is "John and Joe ask you to save the date to celebrate their marriage." You can also keep it simple with something like "Please Save the Date!"
During the Ceremony
"I now pronounce you man and wife," is a long-standing phrase used in wedding ceremonies, but Wade notes that this can easily be changed to anything you like, including "I now pronounce you married." "Vows can be changed to 'I take you as my partner and as my beloved' instead of taking as husband or wife," she adds. The same is true for, "You may kiss the bride." This can be swapped for "You may kiss your partner." "This removes the patriarchal implication that it's the man's honor to kiss his bride, and again, works for any configuration, whether or not the parties getting hitched identify with a particular gender or not," says Couto.
At the Venue
Couto suggests venues change the name "bridal suite," the room where the bride can get ready, to "party suite," "Removing the emphasis on the bride de-genders the language, but it also indicates that this can be a place for members of the wedding party to rest or get away for a moment, since often they've done a lot of work in preparation for the big day, too!" she says. "Weddings can bring up lots of positive and negative emotions, especially for those close to the couple, so making the space a safe haven for the entire group is a great idea."