Want to Be Gender Fabulous on Your Wedding Day?

Challenge Traditional Gender Performance at Your Wedding

The famous feminist theorist Judith Butler likens gender to a performance. According to Butler, gender roles derive from a never-ending cultural script that either reinforces or reinvents what it means to be a woman, a man, or any other gender identity. Weddings often heighten the traditional performance of gender, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Let the idea of performance empower you to rewrite, reclaim, or reinvent gender roles to express your unique identity. 

Here Are Seven Ideas to Spark Your Gender Creativity!

1. Style Your Wardrobe to Suit Your Unique Identity.

Practice the art of artifice to express what your gender means to you. Throw sneakers on with your dress, soften your crisp angles with flowers, or cross gender lines completely in suiting made for women or a glamorous dress fitted to your masculine frame. Let authenticity and celebration be your guide.

2. Rewrite Roles with Words.

Traditionally the language of weddings is heavily gendered. Here are some terms that can help you shake off the patriarchy:

  • Instead of bride and groom, try spouse, partner, mate, lover, or beloved.

  • Instead of bridesmaids and groomsmen, try attendants, bridesmen, groomsmaids, peeps, supporters, or squad.

  • Instead of Mr. and Mrs., try Mx (for both, pronounced Mix) or opt for first names.

  • Instead of he/him or she/her, try they/them or xey/xem.

See genderneutralpronoun.wordpress.com for more information.

3. Revise Rituals to Reflect Gender Equality.

Arrange for both partners to walk down the aisle accompanied by both parents. Be sure your vows reflect your gender values. Close the ceremony with an announcement such as, “I present Partner 1 and Partner 2 as a married couple for the first time!” Or “Partner 1 and Partner 2, we celebrate your lifelong partnership. On behalf of this community, I invite you to seal this moment with a public kiss!” Use these revisions as models for crafting your own.

4. Don’t Let Gender Determine Who Pays, Plans, or Speaks.

Long gone are the days when the bride’s family foots the bill. Be up front about sharing costs, and then share the responsibility for planning equally. On the big day, be sure traditional gender roles do not determine who gets the microphone. Remind anyone who is planning to make a toast to keep their remarks short and sweet. To encourage more soft-spoken supporters, ask folks to read a favorite poem or a quote, and then remind them that it’s always okay to read from notes.

5. Take a Stand for Inclusion.

Assure that people of all genders have an appropriate bathroom on your wedding day. If the facilities you are using only offer binary restrooms, create restroom signs indicating that your party is gender-friendly and your bathrooms are gender neutral. Stick them to restroom doors so everyone gets the message. 

6. Appoint a “Keeper of the Peace.”

Unfortunately, sometimes a wedding guest is not supportive of the gender values at a wedding. If you fear this could happen, follow wedding celebrant Kim Kirkley’s wise suggestion, “Appoint a ‘keeper of the peace’ to insulate you from less than supportive remarks and guests. Whatever happens, do your best to keep your cool, focus on the power of love, and remember love is stronger than fear. Love always wins.” 

7. Traverse Gender Lines in Style.

Get help from these vendors: Sharpe Suiting, Kipper Clothiers, Tomboy Toes, Wildfang, and Le Dame.

This article originally appeared in Volume Four of Catalyst Wedding Magazine.


Cristina Spencer is a writer & ceremony celebrant from Palo Alto, CA. She is the author of the book, Writing Your Own Wedding: A Simple Guide for Modern Couples