How to Plan a Wedding with a Mixed Gender Bridal Party

So you’re getting married?

Before you get wrapped up in all the little details of planning the perfect wedding, you’ve got one BIG choice to make – who will stand with you during the ceremony?

Odds are you both want someone who’s dependable, someone who’s family whether or not they are related by blood. And if you really think about it, some of those people may just happen to be members of the opposite sex. Maybe the bride has a best friend who’s been the big brother she never had. Perhaps the groom is super close with his sister and they do everything together.

Newly engaged couples are choosing the most important people in their lives to share their most important day, regardless of gender. To help honor those special relationships, a new trend is popping up in wedding planning – mixed gender bridal parties. They’re facing some difficulty though, and we are exploring why.

The Challenges of Change

Honor attendant, bridesman, groomswoman…no matter what you call these non-traditional wedding party members, if you choose a member of the opposite sex to stand with you on your big day, you may have to do a little extra work to ensure your wedding runs smoothly.

Attire – Having a non-traditional wedding party may be the end of your dreams of perfectly matched attendants. Do you want a woman on the groom’s side wearing a tux to match the rest of the guys? Would it be appropriate for a man on the bride’s side to dress like the other bridesmaids?
grey white and yellow bridal party with female groomsman
{ image credit : Kate Johansen }

You may have to change the bridal party clothing scheme to make it all work, like having a female groom’s attendant wear a slightly different color dress that matches the mens’ tuxes, or having a male bride’s attendant wear a different colored vest/tie to match the ladies.

Roles – Along with attire, gender roles will have to be considered. Take the time to sit down and think about who does what and when. By switching up the genders in your bridal party, you’ll also be changing some more traditional wedding roles. Is the bride OK with a male attendant holding her bouquet or helping her get dressed? Will the female groom’s attendant help the other groomsmen act as ushers?
green yellow and white bridal party with two male bridesmaids
{ image credit : Brian Cribb }

You may also have to explicitly tell the photographer that the bridal party choice was intentional and request they not reorganize according to gender.

Processional and recessional– Are you getting married in a church or temple? Some religions have a specific, proper order for the wedding processional. It’s a good idea to check with the wedding coordinator at your church or temple to see if you can mix it up.

Then, think about how everyone should enter. The old standby of male/female couples may no longer be an option depending on the makeup of your bridal party. Play with the order of entry and having attendants come in alone or with two others. If you find the appearance of an unbalanced party unappealing, have your attendants form a circle around you as the wedding ceremony starts. Then make sure to figure out how everyone will exit!

Most importantly, communication is key to keeping it all together. Once you’ve figured out how to incorporate your mixed-gender bridal party into your ceremony, explain what needs to happen and when, as well as who is responsible for what. You’ll find that your nearest and dearest are more than happy to share in your big day, even if it’s not so traditional.

What do you think about having a mixed gender or non-traditional bridal party? Share your thoughts in the comments or click “Like” to get the conversation started on Facebook!