Having a big gay wedding? Your wedding attendant is non-binary and definitely doesn’t want to wear a ‘bridesmaid dress’?
4.5 minutes to read
Weddings are about love, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. But the wedding industry can be very heteronormative. This can be demoralizing and exhausting if you don’t feel like you or people you love fit that binary. Same-sex and queer-identified people get married too, and the discrimination and negative gender assumptions need to be gone.
If you are attending a gay wedding, or planning a non-binary wedding, or have plans to have a non-binary attendant, are there different rules?
It’s important to remember that every couple, and every person, is unique. So, the first rule is to ask the person involved. Be polite and respectful. If you’re going to their wedding or they are involved with yours, it’s safe to say you should be close enough that you should know their preferences anyway, but if in doubt, ask (with love and care). Not everyone wants to see rainbows everywhere; being queer doesn’t define someone.
That said, there’s some things that are worth thinking about before getting any further into wedding planning.
Bridesmaids and Groomsmen
For a start, ditch these titles. ‘Wedding attendant’ is gender neutral, and easily covers every situation. The days of women having female-only attendants, or men only having male-only attendants are over anyway. The wedding party can choose their own titles too; if a ‘flower girl’ is actually a flamboyant adult, they can opt for whatever fits their personality.
What about the bride and groom? There can be a bride and bride, a groom and groom, partner and partner, or simply ‘marriers’, if they want to remove all denotations to gender. It is up to them. In New Zealand, people get the choice between bride, groom, or partner on the legal paperwork.
Think about pets in this space too; queer people can face huge difficulties when it comes to having children. As a result, pets can be deeply loved pseudo-children family members, and could be incorporated as part of the ceremony. There is literally nothing more delightful than a dog wearing a bow tie, just as long as the couple are prepared to be entirely upstaged by their pets.
Not everyone is comfortable in a dress or a suit.
This is really about the relationship between the one planning the wedding and the attendants; what are they comfortable in? If dresses are out, there are suits, jumpsuits… take a leaf from Queera Wang’s book, and have clothes that fit the body, not define the gender.
It is that simple.
If there is still a desire for a consistent look, choose the same colours and have a suit made to match the dress-wearing attendants, or have them all in a suit, or mix and match. Maybe the attendants wear separates, with a matching top and the option of pants or a skirt on the bottom. There are no rules—the tradition of having matchy-matchy attendants is so that if someone wants to kidnap the bride, they’ll get confused and opt for a random attendant instead (for real).
The more hetero-normative the fashion choices are, the easier it will be to find what is needed. That said, it’s entirely possible to buy a traditional bridesmaid dress and get a tailor to turn it into a jumpsuit. Also, there are cheap-ish suits at some men’s clothing stores, these can be tailored to fit any shape.
What About All the Religious Stuff?
To be honest, this blog shouldn’t even need to written. People should be able to marry who they want, in the way they want to, and be treated with respect and understanding. But marriage has roots in religious ceremonies, and historically, that’s a hot mess filled with guidelines originating from murky sources and twisted to suit individual narratives.
Luckily, there are celebrants, religious officials, churches, temples, and mosques that are happy to support LGBTIQA+ marriages. They might require a bit of hunting down, but they exist.
And, vows can be adjusted to suit, even in a traditional ceremony. It’s been a long time since any woman seriously agreed to obey her husband. And there are ceremonies now that go way beyond the traditional.
- Handfasting originated in pagan beliefs, and ties the newlywed’s hands
- Walking down the aisle together can be very freeing from traditional gender and family expectations
- A sand ceremony is where the couple mix different colours of sand together in a glass vase to symbolise two souls becoming one
- A tree planting ceremony is a beautiful eco-positive symbol, and as the marriage grows, so does the tree
- Wine ceremony, where the couple pour their glasses of wine into one, and then each take a sip
- Candle lighting is a traditional way to show unity
Thinking about the slightly cringey ‘you may now kiss the bride’, as though the male now owns the female, how can that be turned around? What suits the ceremony and the couple? And, the most important question; what kind of kiss? (You need to practice in order to get it perfect).
If you are getting married, remember that navigating a very heteronormative space can be overwhelming and stressful. Take it easy, and be kind to yourself and each other throughout the process. If you have non-binary wedding attendants, guests, or are attending a LGBTIQA+ wedding, just keep in mind that this process could be more arduous for non-binary people. By reading this article, you are showing that you care and love this person- and their future spouse- and that is awesome.
If you are a guest or are a wedding planner, there are many amazing gay community support groups. They are super inclusive and welcoming because of how stigmatised the gay community has been in the past. If you want some extra resources, or simply have a question you’d love answered, reach out.
Love is not black and white, and queer relationships reflect this. Non-binary people love each other in an often unaccepting world. It’s time we change that.