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How to Make Your Wedding Inclusive

by Travis Zane
how to make your wedding inclusive

An integral part of wedding planning is making sure guests feel welcome and comfortable. With each generation waking up to new expressions of identity, community, and acceptance, try to design your wedding so that everyone can authentically express themselves and feel accomodated. Here are some steps you can take to ensure your wedding is diversity-inclusive, including tasteful methods for how to incorporate inclusivity in each aspect of the wedding planning process.

Invitations

Address pronouns on your wedding website prior to the big day

Use the Q&A section of your wedding website to express your preferred pronouns. Guests will appreciate knowing how to correctly address you and your partner, saving them from making an embarrassing or hurtful faux pas. You can be equally respectful of guests by creating a custom RSVP question that allows them to share the pronoun they identify with, so you can address them correctly in wedding communications.

Inclusively introduce your wedding party

While many wedding websites still have the wedding party section separated into “bridesmaids” and “groomsmen,” Joy provides one section for everyone in your wedding party. This way, you don’t have to label anyone by gender norms.

Survey potential food allergies

To ensure everyone can enjoy the day’s festivities, survey any potential food allergies guests may have by providing them the ability to notify you beforehand. With Joy, you can create an RSVP question that asks guests about allergies. When you begin planning the catering for your big day, be sure to incorporate foods and meals that are allergen-friendly depending on guests’ responses.

Choose a flexible, non-gendered wedding dress code

Gone are the days of “Men wear X” and “Women wear Y.” Gender identity and sexuality exist on fluid, dynamic spectrums, and dress codes should, too. Provide guests with an open-ended dress code that allows for individual interpretation based on their identity, with a dress code that only details the level of sophistication and preferred color palettes (for example, “Semi-Formal”, “Black and White”, or “Anything That’s Not Jeans and a T-Shirt”). To ensure all guests feel encouraged to dress in a way they identify with, explicitly say that the dress code for your wedding is gender-neutral and gender-inclusive (for example, “Dress How You Want!”).

Connect your wedding guests to organize carpools, shared rides, or funded transport

To account for the possibility that someone won’t be able to drive themselves to the wedding or afford transportation, you can encourage guests to notify each other about carpool needs and offers. If you know your wedding will require air travel for some, you can give guests the opportunity to “fund” a flight for people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend the wedding due to the cost of travel.

Wedding planning

Work with inclusive vendors

When choosing vendors for your wedding ceremony and reception, take the time to research who you’re purchasing supplies and services from. Every aspect of the wedding can be an opportunity to support specific businesses and communities, such as Black-owned businesses, AAPI-owned businesses, Latin-X-owned businesses, LGBTQIA+-owned businesses, and more.

Include fun, non-alcoholic drinks for sober goers

Chances are that not everyone who attends your wedding will be drinking alcohol. While a lot of thought tends to go toward what drinks to serve and how to serve them (Champagne? Hosted bar? Open bar?), we suggest putting just as much thought into what non-alcoholic drinks to showcase at your wedding. By incorporating sophisticated, alcohol-free drinks like flavored sparkling waters, juices, and tonics, you can make sure sober guests are equally as excited about the beverages as party-goers.

Give each guest a name tag with pronouns and optional identifiers

By providing each guest with a name tag detailing their preferred pronouns, you can ensure everyone addresses and receives each other with reaffirming warmth. In addition to preferred pronouns, leave a space for guests to write in any other identifiers. If you’re providing pre-printed name tags, you can also ask them for additional details through your wedding website. Optional identifiers can include sexuality, personal interests, or other community identities—a potential opportunity for guests to connect with others they might not already know.

Ensure the venue is handicap-accessible

It’s important to make sure that the venue you book for your wedding and reception is handicap-accessible for guests who use a wheelchair or other mobility-enhancing equipment. If the venue itself is not already accessible, you can work with the venue owner to find a way to make it accessible by adding a portable ramp or renting a wheelchair lift for the day.

Rent wheelchairs for the elderly

While many seniors don’t require wheelchairs, there often comes a point in the day where some may want one. Seniors who are generally mobile can still find it tiresome to walk long distances or stand for hours at a time. By providing a few wheelchairs, you can ensure that everyone is comfortable throughout the celebration and is able to interact throughout the day. With a wheelchair nearby, someone too tired to walk or stand at the end of the night can still scoot around on the dance floor (instead of sitting far away from the crowd).

Create read-along scripts for wedding speeches

To accommodate guests who are hearing-impaired, you can provide printed or digital dictation (on a handout or slideshow) they can follow along to during the ceremony and any accompanying speeches. By asking wedding speakers to send you a transcript of their prepared speech, you can easily prepare a read-along script for guests prior to the big day.

Hire a sign language interpreter

To go the extra mile for guests who have hearing impairments or deafness, hire a sign language interpreter for the day to interpret any speeches at the wedding. Additionally, you can assign an interpreter to assist specific guests who might benefit from interpretation throughout the celebration.

After the wedding

Create easy ways to take and share photos (for non-technology inclined)

After your wedding, remember to share the visual memories with guests, including people who aren’t on social media and those who might lack user knowledge of online photo-sharing services. To ensure everyone is able to relive the big day, you can hire a photo booth service for your wedding, provide a few Instax Polaroid cameras around the venue, or give guests the option to order professional prints to their house prior to or at the celebration.

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