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Gender-neutral wedding terms and pronouns made simple

November 2023

Getting married is such a joyful time and here at {10-11} Carlton House Terrace, we want to make sure that wonderful, fuzzy feeling is extended to all of our couples, their families and friends. The last thing any of us would want, is for any member of a wedding party, or one of our couples’ guests, to feel uncomfortable or upset because we’ve not been mindful of the pronouns or wedding terminology we’re using. ​

We thought there must be other individuals working within the wedding industry who might also want to ensure they are making their weddings as inclusive as possible, so we reached out to our friends over at G Wedding Directory where we’ve been listed as a gay friendly wedding venue for a number of years, to get some advice. They have very kindly shared their thoughts on or gender-neutral wedding language and LGBTQ+-friendly pronouns.

So, at this point, we’d like to hand over to Rhys, who works for G Wedding Directory, who is going to take us through his thoughts on the subject…

Demystifying pronouns

“Pronouns, like gender, are a very personal thing and you can’t just assume someone’s pronouns based on how they look or even how they identify. Not all feminine people use she/her and not all masculine people use he/him! Some trans people even use multiple sets of pronouns, such as he/they, they/she or even he/she/they. In any case, it’s best to either ask or do your own research to see how to refer to the person properly. Depending on the setting, it can be helpful (especially as a cisgender person) to offer up your own pronouns when introducing yourself, so others can feel comfortable sharing theirs, in return. Or a polite, “May I ask what your pronouns are?” is a great go-to.

Most of us are already familiar with how to use basic she/her and he/him pronouns, but what really seems to trip people up are they/them pronouns. However, as nonbinary activist Jeffrey Marsh, you’re probably already using them without even realizing it! To put it simply, all you have to do is replace he/she with they and him/her with them, and then conjugate the sentence as you would normally.

For example:

He went to the store. → They went to the store.

Her outfit is really cute! → Their outfit is really cute.

She is an amazing artist. → They are* an amazing artist.

*This is the one thing that tends to trip people up. When using ‘they’ as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun, you should still conjugate the verb in the plural form.”

Glossary of gender-neutral wedding terms

Swap bride or groom for the gender-neutral alternatives of nearlywed or to-be-wed.

“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.”

​Swap fiancé or fiancée for the gender-neutral alternatives of fiance or betrothed.

 “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 and leave the gendered language to the French. For another alternative, “betrothed” does the same job with a little flair for the dramatic.”

Swap husband or wife for the gender-neutral alternatives of newlywed or spouse,

“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.”

Swap stag and hen parties for the gender-neutral alternatives of sten or fox parties.

“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.”

Swap bridesmaid or groomsmen for the gender-neutral alternatives of wedding attendants or honour attendants.

​“Rather than worrying about separate bridesmaids and groomsmen, it’s both easier and more inclusive to just call anyone in your wedding party an attendant.”

 Swap chief bridesmaid, maid of honour and best man for the gender alternative of chief attendant.

“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.”

 Swap flower girl or page boy for the gender-neutral alternatives of junior attendants, flower child/bearer or pages.

 "We like the simplicity of simply using ‘junior attendants’ for them all. 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.”

Swap mother of the bride or father of the bride or groom for the gender-neutral alternatives parent, guardian or caregiver.

​"There are so many time-honoured wedding traditions that involve a couples’ mums 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 honouring another relative or even a close family friend instead of a parent for whatever reason. Especially in LGBTQ+ weddings, because chosen family is such a crucial part of queer culture, caregiver can be a title used to honour someone’s importance regardless of their role in raising someone in the traditional sense.”

 “Language is powerful. We’ve all had those days when just one wrong word can send us into a total downward spiral, and when it comes to someone’s identity this can be a particularly prickly subject. Depending on your own personal experience of privilege and/or marginalisation, it can be hard to recognise when one wrong word, phrase or pronoun could totally upend someone’s day.

 Whether you’re a business owner looking to attract a more diverse group of clients or just someone who wants to be a good ally to the trans community, educating yourself on gender is a must. And we’ve got you covered.”

{10-11} Carlton House Terrace to feel welcome and these values are strongly reflected in our EDI Manifesto. Inclusivity is at the core of everything we do here at our London wedding venue and we are proud of the relationships we’ve built with companies, associations and charities who represent the often-marginalised communities.’

G Wedding Directory is the UK’s leading online LGBTQ+ wedding directory. The site lists suppliers that are 100% LGBTQ+ accepting and inclusive, features real life wedding inspiration, thought-provoking blogs and fabulous offers and discounts.

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