Matter

Weddings are meant to be a day full of fun, love, and celebration for everyone to enjoy! But nothing kills a party vibe like some casual transphobia. Though misgendering has no place in the midst of such joyous festivities, the traditional language of matrimony leaves much to be desired on that front. Hence the growing need for more gender-neutral wedding terms.

Pronouns

Weddings are meant to be a day full of fun, love, and celebration for everyone to enjoy! But nothing kills a party vibe like some casual transphobia. Though misgendering has no place in the midst of such joyous festivities, the traditional language of matrimony leaves much to be desired on that front. Hence the growing need for more gender-neutral wedding terms.

Traditional wedding wording is fraught with gendered terms that exclude trans and other gender-nonconforming folks. Though only 0.4% of people in the UK identify as gender nonconforming when focusing on the LGBTQ+ community that figure rises considerably: 6.9%. And either way, that is still hundreds of thousands of people who deserve to be included in the wonderful world of weddings!

Whether you’re a wedding vendor looking to broaden your scope of clients or a nearly wed planning a trans-friendly big day, we’re sharing some gender-neutral wedding terms that are sure to do the trick.

But first…

Pronouns Matter G Wedding Directory
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Pronouns Matter G Wedding Directory
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If you’re new to gendered terminology, this may already seem like a lot, so let’s take a step back and talk about gender in general. Here’s how we define it in our gender-neutral language overview:

 

“The term gender used to be used as essentially a synonym for one’s biological sex, but as language is always changing, this usage has long since been outdated. Today, gender refers to a person’s internal experience of their own identity as it aligns with (or doesn’t align with) society’s perceptions of man, woman or other.”

 

As far as what it has to do with weddings, well, a lot. Because weddings are so deeply steeped in traditional cis and heteronormative ideals, the language surrounding them is, too. Once you know what to look for, it’s clear to see that almost every single role of a wedding from the bride all the way down to the flower girl, is gendered. (Love a good usher though, anyone can be an usher.) But other than your faithful usher of any gender, here are some more gender-neutral wedding terms that will help make anyone feel welcome.

1.  Partner(s) or Significant Other(s)

Use in place of boyfriend or girlfriend.

 

These are two terms you’ve almost certainly heard before, but we’d be remiss not to add them here! We recommend using these terms for folks who are not yet married or engaged, to be most specific. However, the term partner can also refer to a couple in a civil partnership, so do keep that in mind.

2.  Nearlylywed or To-be-wed

Use in place of the bride or groom-to-be.

 

Nearlywed or to-be-wed are both terms that have cropped up in the past few years in online wedding publications as gender-neutral language has become much more commonplace. We love the idea of using a simple twist on the classic wedding term “newlywed” to make these terms instantly recognizable even for folks who haven’t heard them used before.

3.  Fiance or Betrothed

Use in place of fiancé or fiancée.

 

You may not realize that the term fiancé is, in fact, gendered. Though they’re both pronounced the same, “fiancé” is masculine whereas “fiancée” (with an additional e) is feminine. If spelling it out, skip the accent aigu and leave the gendered language to the French. For another alternative, “betrothed” does the same job with a little flair for the dramatic.

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4.  Newlywed or Spouse
Use in place of husband or wife.

Once again, these two terms are already in pretty common usage as alternatives to husband or wife. The choice simply depends on how recently the spouses have been married. See? Gender-neutral language isn’t too tough, you’re probably already using it without even realizing it half of the time!

 


5.  Sten or Fox Party
Use in place of stag or hen parties.

We know people are unlikely to be thinking too deeply about their word choice while they’re partying it up one last time as unmarried folks, but nonetheless, the options exist! Sten is simply a combination of the classic “stag” or “hen,” so that can be a more familiar option to use. Though sometimes it does refer to a combined celebration including the entire wedding party if that’s more your vibe. However, if you’d rather stay within the animal kingdom, “fox” is the way to go!. We’re not exactly sure why “fox” has somehow become the go-to gender-neutral do, but it’s pretty dang cute.

 


6.  Wedding Attendants or Honour Attendants
Use in place of bridesmaids or groomsmen.

Seriously, who decided that brides and grooms could only have close friends that are the same gender as them? In terms of gender-neutral wedding terms, these two were long overdue. Rather than worrying about separate bridesmaids and groomsmen, it’s both easier and more inclusive to just call anyone in your wedding party “attendants.” Win-win!

7.  Chief Attendants
Use in place of chief bridesmaid, maid of honour or best man.

For those wedding party members who are being honoured as a cut above the rest—and are usually in charge of a lot more wedding-related duties—simply tack on the word “chief” for attendants of any gender to denote their important role in the big day.

 


8.  Junior Attendants, Flower Child/Bearer or Pages
Use in place of flower girl or page boy.

If there are any little ones being involved in the responsibilities of the big day, they deserve a title, too! We like the simplicity of simply using “junior attendants” for them all; it’s a nice way to make the kids feel more included with the grown-up attendants. However, if you’d like to denote their specific roles flower child, flower bearer, or page are all valid options. That said, keep in mind that the term “flower bearer” is currently used more in funeral processions, but we included it as a solid alternative to  “flower child,” just in case that was a bit to hippie dippy for some folks’ taste.


9.  Parent, Guardian or Caregiver
Use in place of mother or father of the bride or groom.

There are so many time-honoured wedding traditions that involve a couples’ moms and dads, but there’s no need to split them up by gender when you can just say parent for both! Furthermore, guardian or caregiver are especially inclusive titles to use, because you never know what someone’s family life is like. They may be honoring another relative or even a close family friend instead of a parent for whatever reason. Especially in LGBTQ+ weddings, because chosen family is such an crucial part of queer culture, caregiver can be a title used to honor someone’s importantce regardless of their role in raising someone in the traditional sense.

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Written for G Wedding Directory by Rhys

Photo credits: 

@lexflemingphoto for @thecanaryshed Couple: @meherwe

@daniellevictoriaphoto Couple: @adamski_47. + @benoboyo17⁣

Couple: @wild_in_love_babes Photography: @markhortonphotos Videographer: @HushabyeFilms

 

Photo credits: Real Couple @thosetwoqueerz Photographer @laurenmarchantphotography Concept & Planning @hiresocieties Workshop @Diversityweddingworkshops