Removing Gendered Language From Your Wedding
For LGBT and forward-thinking couples, navigating gendered language at weddings can be difficult. Fortunately, there are many alternatives that couples should consider.

For LGBT and forward-thinking couples, navigating gendered language at weddings can be difficult. Fortunately, there are many alternatives that couples should consider.

Wedding-related language can be incredibly gender-specific, especially considering that most nuptial traditions developed with a bride and a groom in mind. For LGBTQ individuals as well as couples wishing to adopt forward-thinking approaches, navigating gendered language and finding more inclusive wording alternatives can seem challenging. Fortunately, useful and meaningful replacements do exist. Digging deeper into traditional words while learning about non-gendered alternatives can prove to be fascinating.

Non-Gendered Alternatives for “Bride” and “Groom”

Browse through most wedding websites and you’ll notice the gendered words “bride” and “groom” used heavily, although some now include gender-neutral terms in their planning advice and guides. The Online Etymology Dictionary’s entries for “bride” and “groom” are particularly revealing. While both are derived from Old English and Germanic words, “bride” comes from older words that explicitly referred to a soon-to-be-married woman, while earlier versions of “groom” denoted a young male regardless of his marital status.

Thankfully, The Knot’s Ivy Jacobson divulges that you have some potential replacements for these words at your disposal. When crafting language for your invitations, website, save-the-dates, and other materials, you can swap them out for several alternatives:

  • Partner
  • Life partner
  • Spouse-to-be
  • Combinations such as “gride” or “broom”
  • Nearlyweds
  • Marrier
  • Celebrant

“I Now Pronounce You…”

When pondering how to compose non-gendered language for your wedding, don’t forget to chat with your officiant about your preferred linguistic alternatives. As you collaborate in composing your ceremony script, pay attention to common phrases such as “I now pronounce you man and wife” and “You may kiss the bride.” In a December 2017 Martha Stewart Weddings piece, contributing writer Jenn Sinrich suggests “I now pronounce you married” and “You may kiss your partner” as potential substitutes.

Bon Mots for Your Wedding Party 

A traditional wedding party usually consisted of one maid of honor, one best man, several bridesmaids and groomsmen, junior attendants, and possibly both a ring bearer and a flower girl. Wedding Wire contributor Whitney Teal suggests several alternatives to these customary roles. “Honor attendant” can easily be used in place of “maid of honor” or “best man,” but Teal also proposes other titles such as “best woman,” “man of honor,” or “friend of honor.” Teal also suggests that you could collectively call your attendants a “wedding council” and designate that each person will help you pull off your special day.

How To Handle Honorific Titles 

Honorifics such as “Mr.” and “Ms.” may indicate gender, age, and possibly the marital status of the person in question. However, these titles typically don’t work for nonbinary or genderqueer individuals. The Oxford English Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, and all added “Mx.” to their listings between 2015 and 2017. First coined in the late 1970s, “Mx.” is pronounced “mix” or “mux” and is a gender-neutral honorific that’s now in widespread use.

The Equality Institute lists several additional non-gendered alternatives, including “Ser” and “Ind.” When in doubt, it’s wise to ask your guests about their proper titles before you ship off your save-the-date cards or invitations. As for you and your partner, you can simply omit honorifics for yourselves in your written materials.

Shaping Your Wedding To Fit Your Values

Traditions often morph or fade in the face of new social developments and individual priorities. While nearly every Western culture relied on gender-coded norms to dictate behavior, more people are questioning the need for these norms as well as the very existence of the gender binary. Such changes are also ushering in a deeper examination of the place of gendered language within weddings. With the desire to break free from tradition and choose alternatives, couples are developing new wording or using existing terms in different ways for each other as well as their guests and friends.


Prime Minister Trudeau Introduces Legislation Protecting Gender Diversity
The heart painted

There have been huge strides in the LGBT Community recently.

Even if you don’t follow politics in the United States, you’ve probably seen something about the transgender bathroom policy debate. In a nutshell, there are certain locations in the United States that are passing laws to limit bathroom use based on a person’s sex at birth, whether the person identifies as a different sex today. It’s turned into a national debate, with businesses, states, cities, and the federal government each weighing in. While this situation should be watched, the real news in Canada is that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has introduced a bill that extends human rights protections of gender diversity to all Canadians.

Gender identity is described as an individual’s personal experience of gender. It’s not the same thing as their sexual orientation. Essentially, it is a sense of being a man or woman, or neither, or anywhere along that spectrum. Often, when a person’s gender identity is different than their assigned sex at birth, they may be called transgender. Cisgender is the term for gender identity that conforms to the gender given at birth. Gender expression is how people present the gender in public, which might be through dress, hair style, body language or voice.

Five Key Things to Understand About the Legislation

On May 17, 2016, the Government of Canada introduced a bill that would give basic human rights to the gender-diverse community. According to the Department of Justice website, there are five things that you should understand about the new legislation.

  1. Gender diversity is an umbrella term that includes gender identity, gender expression and transgender.
  2. The “Canadian Human Rights Act” would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression.
  3. The Criminal Code will be amended to include hate crimes based on gender identity or expression. These types of criminal offenses could have longer sentences.
  4. According to a study from 2010, 18 percent of transgender participants had been denied employment based on their gender identity. Transgender individuals face much higher levels of discrimination than cisgender individuals.
  5. Transgender individuals face higher risks of violent crime. One study estimates that at least 20 percent of the participants had been physically or sexually assaulted. Many people do not report these crimes to the police.

Currently, the “Canadian Human Rights Act” prohibits discrimination based on:

  • Race
  • Ethnic origin
  • Sex
  • Religion
  • Colour
  • Age
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marital status
  • Family status
  • Disability
  • Convictions when a pardon or suspension has been ordered

The proposed legislation would make it clear that transgender individuals have protection under the law.

Social Media Discussion

PM Trudeau opened the discussion on Twitter with the hashtag #FreeToBeMe. Overall, the bill has support from many different organizations and leaders, including the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board; Bill Morneau, Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre and Canada’s Minister of Finance; Eric Alper, SiriusXM Host; and TELUS, a communications provider. The hashtag is also being used on Facebook with a great deal of support.

Once the legislation is passed, it will be a huge step forward for LGBT rights in Canada and in the international venue. Canada is on the forefront of human rights for all its citizens. Jody Wilson-Raybould,

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, issued this quote:

“In Canada, we celebrate inclusion and diversity. All Canadians should be safe to be themselves. The law should be clear and explicit: transgender and other gender-diverse persons have a right to live free from discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crime. We are committed to making Canada stronger by ensuring Canadian laws reflect the rich diversity of our people.”

More governments need to take up the fight for inclusion and safety for all their citizens. Trudeau and the other leaders who support this legislation make us proud to live here.