An increase in LGBTQ weddings means that we are also seeing more diverse wedding parties. It’s important to be inclusive when considering these changing trends and to look beyond the language and preconceptions that are traditionally attached to wedding parties.
My partner and I selected our wedding party based on people who had been there to love and support us both as individuals and a couple. We have a diverse group of friends and refused to have our decision making process be limited by the traditional concept of a wedding party.
It was really very easy for us to select our wedding party. My brother was the only one who was difficult to place, as he was my brother but one of my partner’s best friend. In the end, he ended up on my partner’s side and I think that made the most sense because of his connection both to my partner but also everyone else on that side of the wedding party.
Collectively, we referred to people as the wedding party since that was gender neutral and inclusive. I had all women on my side so I did refer to them as bridesmaids. My partner had both men and women on his side, so we referred to his side as groomspeople. If my brother was on my side, then I would have used different language to describe my half of the party.
We also thought about attire and people’s preferences. So many weddings want each side to wear the same thing in order to be balanced. The problem I have with this is that you could very well be asking someone to change who they are or ignore a piece of their identity. When we still so often have to fight to be accepted as LGBTQ first by ourselves and then society, it is a shame that we try to stifle the identity of those closest to us for a one-day event.
When I asked one of my friends to be a bridesmaid, she looked excited but hesitant. She said that she wanted to be involved in the wedding but would prefer to be on my partner’s side so that she could wear pants. That’s how ingrained wedding rules and etiquette are—my friend thought that I would ask her to wear a dress which is something she hadn’t done since high school.
My partner and I gave everyone the choice of wearing either a dress or a pants/vest combination. Two of the women on my side preferred to wear the pants/vest which was fine by me because it meant they would be happy and comfortable during the ceremony and reception. On the other side of the aisle, most of my partner’s friends opted for the pants/vest except for one friend. When crafting communications, we didn’t split people by side but rather emailed everyone and created separate segments within the email for “people wearing pants” and “people wearing dresses”.
Our wedding day was a celebration of our love, relationship, and commitment to each other. But it was a celebration with those who had been there to laugh, support, and be there with us along the way. By recognizing their identities and preferences, we ensured that they were able to be a full part of the celebration.
Image by Derek Chad Photography