Planning a wedding is stressful for any couple, but for same-sex couples and gender nonconforming people, navigating the Mr. and Mrs. mold presents obstacles at every step. Here are five ways we bucked tradition and created a more gender fluid wedding that worked for us.
Invitations and Titles
Deanne: There are so many rules with addressing wedding invitations, from hand lettering to correctly titling people. And, let’s be real. You spend $$$$ and go to great lengths to make sure a piece of a paper is perfect just so people look at it and then throw it in the trash. It’s silly, but I will admit, I got caught up in the rules and etiquette. Rachael reminded me to take a step back and do things our way. We started questioning the rules. Why do married couples have to be addressed by husband first and then wife second? We flipped it and put a woman’s name first before her husband on the invitations. And for couples living together, we definitely addressed both parties not just the homeowner because this is not the 1950s.
We also didn’t use Miss or Mrs. for ourselves because the actual meaning of Mrs. literally stands for “Mr’s,” as in a Mr’s property. Yeah, nope to that. So, we streamlined our names and basically branded ourselves. We’re now Revel & Jones on envelopes. I even got a custom address stamp to make it official.
Labels and Names
Rachael: As a person who identifies as androgynous, or two-spirit, and not a lover of labels, I felt conflicted when I realized that much of our wedding to-dos would involve giving ourselves a preferred word: bride or groom. I felt a little weird being labeled as bride, as that comes with some connotations thanks to archaic stereotypes and shows like Bridezillas. So, I started making a joke—that I’ll just combine the two, bride and groom, and go by broom. While I didn’t use this on vendor forms or on the invites, the idea of having my own label was fun. And my sister even made a “broom” t-shirt for me for my stag party.
We also made some tweaks to our wedding party names and instead of saying groomsmen or bridesmaids, we just used the phrase wedding party for everyone involved. Traditionally, grooms have a best man, a dedicated brother or a best friend to help with wedding duties. In my case, I had a best woman. I simply didn’t see the point in using titles for others that wouldn’t translate to my life and experiences. While there are a lot of really amazing men in my life, it just so happened that my best man was actually a best woman.
Deanne: When you think of a wedding cake topper you likely imagine two plastic people–a man in a tux and a woman in a white dress. Finding same-sex representation in cake toppers is difficult. Online sites such as Etsy are making it easier to find same-sex toppers, but the options are still pretty cis-gendered. Not every couple looks like two femmes. So, we just scratched the idea of people toppers all together and went with a word. “Always” has a lot of meaning for both of us. It’s something we say to each other and what we used in our vows, so we had the word engraved on an Art-Deco style acrylic topper. And, now that the wedding is over, we’re going to sand it down and make a Christmas tree ornament out of it.
Deanne: Even though I look pretty femme, I wouldn’t say that my design style is girlie. Both Rachael and I have decorated our home in a more masculine color palette with lots of dark wood and navy and we wanted our wedding color palette to reflect our aesthetic, too. So, for our palette, we chose navy, sage, dark wood and a mix of patinated brass and silver. We also swapped florals for foliage. This is a great way to make a scene less girlie. Instead of tons of romantic flowers, we used an abundance of lamb’s ear and silver-blue brunia berries.
And for our wedding party, we dressed the ushers in grey suits and the wedding attendants and officiants in nude, almost taupe dresses. Before we set the final outfit, we made sure that each attendant was comfortable in either a dress or suit and let them know that they had an option. I’ve been forced to wear some crazy shit as a bridesmaid, so it was important to us to make sure that everyone felt comfortable.
Deanne: One of the biggest challenges we faced in wedding planning was drafting the ceremony script. Even in non-religious scripts, the language is heavily peppered with “husband and wife” or “Mr. and Mrs.” so we had to make some adjustments and rewrites, but in the end, it made our ceremony all the more personalized and special. Rachael’s sister was our officiant and worked with us to craft a script and program with language that worked for us. For example, instead of saying, “I now pronounce you husband and wife,” she said, “I now pronounce you united in marriage.”
Rachael: For the reception, one of our must-haves was a great DJ—and we were very fortunate to have an amazing one. We didn’t change either of our last names so when the DJ asked us what our entrance names would be, along with the pronouncement of introducing us as a couple for the first time, we were really stumped on what to say. The traditional phrase, “Please welcome for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Smith!” didn’t apply here, and we felt that “Welcome the married couple!” seemed a little too generic. So, we decided to simply use our first names. We walked in to the song “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel as the DJ announced, “Please welcome the happy couple, Rachael and Deanne!”
Remember, It’s Your Day
Deanne: Our wedding was perfect and full of so much love and support, but I’d be lying if I said the planning process was a dream. It’s upsetting when you feel like you have to make changes and go out of your way to make something work for you and your partner. Or the feeling that the wedding industry doesn’t want you or that you don’t fit in. But just remember, there is no normal. If I had to give someone planning a wedding some advice? I’d say: Celebrate the unique elements that make your wedding different instead of focusing on and worrying about the ways in which it doesn’t fit the mold.
Photos by Jennie Andrews