Mr, Mrs, Mx: Genderqueer and gender-neutral wedding wording

August 26 | Guest post by Aeron Gray

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Weddings aren't a strictly gendered thing, as all of us reading Offbeat Bride are likely aware of… but many of the words around weddings and marriage are very gendered. Even if you’re having a completely gender-neutral wedding, it’s really hard to talk about it without using gendered verbiage. But I've tried to find some ways around that!

Sometimes gender-neutral wedding wording already exists, and sometimes there are gender-neutral or other-gender words that somebody else has coined.

Here are a few of the ideas I'm playing with to try de-gender some typically gendered wedding words…

Bride/Groom:

The most obvious words are the hardest to find gender-neutral replacements for. I've thought about mixing the words bride and groom to make gride.

Husband/Wife:

Spouse is the generic word for husband and wife. But words like partner are more common, if you don’t need to specify that you’re married.

Fiancé/Fiancée:

Luckily, the pronunciations of these words are exactly the same, so when you’re speaking, they’re gender neutral anyway. Words like betrothed have a very old-fashioned, romantic feel, and you can always just call them your spouse-to-be or similar.

Mrs/Mr:

Titles come up as an issue for genderqueer people way before weddings, but there are some wedding-specific issues. Some people don’t like the sound of Mr and Mr or Mrs and Mrs, or the fact that the order is always Mr and Mrs. Other title options include Mx, which uses the X for none or other and sounds like "mix," and Misc, which is short for miscellaneous.

Bridesmaid/Groomsman:

The generic name is attendant, and you can have a bit of fun with words like crew or team for the whole group. If you do have a bride and groom but have other-gender attendants, words like groomsmaid or bridesman can just swap them around. Likewise, you can follow bride and groom with a neutral word like mate or peep instead of maid or man. If you have a gender-neutral couple and a word instead of bride or groom, you can follow that with any of those words, or make up a new word that matches your bride or groom word replacement.

Best Man/Maid of Honour:

Like bridesmaid and groomsmen, there’s the option to swap or replace maid and man, but there’s also a lot of fun to have. You might have chosen your Best Friend, Best Cousin, or even your Best Alex! Maid of Honour can become Made of Honour, or another quality like Awesome. Chief, as in Chief Bridesmaid, is gender neutral, so everyone can be given titles to match their roles; you can have a Chief Ringbearer. Check the comments on this post for SO many great ideas.

Hen/Stag Night:

Hens are female chickens, and stags are male deer — any gender-neutral animal name would be a gender-neutral replacement, and animals like fox work well. There’s also the option to use chicken, rooster, or cockerel instead of hen, and deer or doe instead of stag.

Bachelor/Bachelorette party:

Moving away from animal names, and away from the UK, bachelor/ette or bachelor(ette) are one way of making bachelor and bachelorette gender neutral. Bachelor is technically neutral like in Bachelor of Arts, but it is used for men in this context. The "ette" ending is used to feminise bachelor, like "ess" is commonly in English (princess, hostess, waitress), so a similar ending would make an other-gendered third word. Easy options could be bacheloren, bachelorelle, bachelorine or even just bachelorre.

If all else fails, I like making up my own words; someone had to coin every other word, after all!

Did any of my words resonate with you? Which gender-neutral words are you using? How can we all be more aware of gender-inclusive language in wedding planning?

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  1. I called the women who supported me during my wedding my "posse". They were fabulous!!

    2 agree
  2. I use the word "broom" to describe myself during the wedding process. I also like using the term Gentlenewt in general as I use "newt" instead of man/woman.

    3 agree
  3. As we have a Best (Wo)man and two Maid of Honors (Maids of Honor?), we knew we traditional names/titles would be …odd. The best idea we've had so far for next year's heavily Doctor Who-themed nuptials is we're both the Doctor, and our attendants are our three Companions.

    3 agree
  4. When my friend married her wife, she called herself the bridegroom to her bride. It's a real word that she said described her perfectly, so it worked very well.

    And when my husband and I married, we had a bridesman and a groomswoman in our wedding party. Nobody batted an eye.

    1 agrees
  5. I've been calling mine the group of wedding awesomeness. I've named my sister the prime minister of awesome. She's married, but I hate matron of honor.

    1 agrees
  6. My best man (and partner's little brother, age 10) came up with "marrier" for me!! I liked it better than the bride/groom portmanteau and it has personal meaning because he came up with it. It's so simple. Marrier: one who marries. It also sounds happy because it's pronounced the same as "merrier," so that's a plus. Feel free to steal!

    14 agree
  7. Love this article 🙂

    My partner has referred to herself as the 'broom' since we got engaged and asked her posse to be broomsmaids/broomspeople. My partner uses female (or sometimes GN pronouns) but didn't feel like either bride or groom was appropriate so just called herself a broom.

  8. As a metal-head marrying a metal-head our wedding cru was already pre-named. After all they're more like our roadies 🙂 .

    I also love the idea of a Fox party… Gonna go suggest that to my Man of Honour right this moment…

    2 agree
  9. I'm currently on rounds as a student teacher and had the gender title discussion with my mentor who said she wishes we didnt have just mr or miss/ms/miss to choose from…now I can tell her about Mx 🙂

    Also, friends/family helping to plan our wedding (no bridal party just having people with specfic tasks to help with) are called our 'bridal brigade'

    1 agrees
  10. We allowed our wedding ninjas/wedding partiers to choose their own titles, so we got stuff like "Grand Moff Marken" and "Most Noble Cheese" on my side, and "Lead Rollerboy" and "Master Gender Bender" on Partner's. We also created a program for each of us, one with his name 1st and one with my name 1st, and chose to call our parents "parental units" on both of them. I am happy to say that NYC's marriage licenses call for "Spouse A" and "Spouse B" so we alternated being A and B.

    3 agree
  11. My sweetie and I are using "entourage" for our wedding parties and – my favorite – "butchelorette party" for their sexy night on the town! I do still find "bride"/"groom" very challenging. We are opting for our names instead… Though I do have a friend who referred to her partner as "Emily the bride-groom" on their wedding night which was pretty cute 🙂

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