The Modern Couple’s Guide To Gender-neutral Wedding Etiquette

Of everything you have to take care of when planning a wedding, addressing invitations or labeling escort cards may not seem like the most fun items on your to-do list! But getting those little details done just right is an important personal touch. Accurate and respectful wording and gender-neutral wedding etiquette will show your friends and family just how excited you are to have them there on your big day— no matter what their identities are! But it’s not as easy as just defaulting to “Mr. And Mrs. So-and-so” anymore. Yes, traditional etiquette is still worth valuing (sometimes), but it just doesn’t work for everyone in 2020. Weddings have to keep up with society’s ever-changing social landscape.

Seriously, who needs a gender binary when you have wedding cake? The only binary we’re interested in is chocolate or vanilla! But then again there’s also lemon, dulce de leche, strawberry… Okay, that’s it. Down with all the binaries! We’re over it.

With LGBTQ+ and nonbinary gender identities gaining greater prominence, how can the modern couple update traditional wedding wording to better suit their own preferences as well as their diverse guest list?

1. Lean Into Gender-neutral Language

For hundreds of years, marriage had only been about one husband and one wife, but that generality is over. Many couples, whether LGBTQ+ identified or otherwise, are forgoing traditional titles in favor of more gender-neutral options. And you may be surprised to find that there’s a lot to work with! Some alternatives to husband and wife are life partners, significant others, or spouses. And when it comes to addressing nonbinary individuals, you should definitely forgo the traditional Mr., Mrs., or Ms. in favor of the modern Mx. Or, maybe just forget the titles altogether and stick to your guests’ full names!

2. Lead By Example With Your Identity and Preferences

Existing on the LGBTQ+ spectrum is a minefield all its own. And it is crucial that your loved ones respect that, every single day. But especially on your wedding day. Every wedding is a sacred time for celebrating love, but when you and your partner may not have even had that right even just ten years ago, it is even more special.

Hopefully, most of your invitees already know of and respect your identity and preferences. But you may also want to include some references to it in your invitation. For example, if you and your fiancé refer to each other as “partners,” include that wording on your invitation. And instead of a typical “bridal party,” simply refer to it as a “wedding party!” Other gender-neutral alternatives to common heteronormative wedding wording include broomsmaid (a combination of bride and groom), bridesmate, or even your “I Do” Crew! If you take the lead, your guests will follow.

3. Ask Questions!

Someone’s identity is a very personal matter, and you may not know exactly how they or their partner prefers to be addressed. Thankfully, there’s a very simple way to find out—just ask! Chances are, most people already know you’re getting married by the time you send out invitations and print the placards. If you have a moment to reach out to someone and make sure that you are addressing them correctly, take that opportunity. You should do this at any stage of a relationship, but it’s always good to check before a big event like a wedding! Making the time to reaffirm your loved one’s gender identity or sexuality can make all the difference.

4. Don’t be Afraid to Forgo Tradition

Even though many people want to respect the traditions of the past, there’s no reason you can’t blend tradition with whatever works best for you, your partner, and your guests! Weddings are about celebrating the love between one couple amongst family and friends. So, if your celebration doesn’t align with prior etiquette, you do you. Maybe you don’t want to send out classically addressed invitations. Or you don’t want to use gendered language in your ceremony. You can still exchange vows, celebrate your partnership, and eat cake without all the added stress of following along with each and every conventional rule. It’s your day—let’s keep it that way!

Weddings, even at the simplest of times, have always been a huge undertaking! Every single word and phrase can carry a whole lot of meaning. It may seem like too much to manage now, but on your special day, it will all feel worth it.

Your wedding should align with your ideals, and modern couples are changing the wedding game every single day. We just hope this guide will make navigating that process a little bit easier for you!