Proposals and weddings are steeped in tradition, but that doesn’t keep couples from modernizing these special occasions. Some couples are forgoing traditional gender roles in favor of more inclusive celebrations. 


I spoke with Rachel Leonard, Editorial Director of The Bridal Council, an organization focused on trends and insights in the bridal industry, about this trend. Hear more from her below. 


And if you updated traditions at your own proposal or wedding, we want to hear about it. Tell us in the comments!


We’re seeing couples take a new approach to gender-specific wedding traditions. What are the trends? 

The primary trend is the change of language that takes out the male and female roles for a more diverse and inclusive celebration. Words such as “wedding party,” instead of “bridal party,” “attendants” instead of “bridesmaid” and “groomsman,” “Maid of Honor” to “Person of Honor” and “Best Man” to “Best Person.” In addition, there is “flower person,” using only fiancé (instead of fiancée) and “newlywed couple” instead of “the bride and groom.” 


Another trend is dropping gender-specific surnames for addressing invitations and place cards. 


At the reception, some couples are forgoing the traditional garter and bouquet toss.


The actual traditional structure of a wedding mostly stays the same – from the proposal and engagement, to the wedding ceremony and reception, to the honeymoon. It’s just how the couple personalizes each step of the way that makes it unique to them. 


What are some tips you would give couples who want to reimagine gender-based traditions at their weddings? 

Most important is to make all attendants and guests feel comfortable. For wedding invites and pre-wedding events, drop the formal gender titles such as Mr. and Mrs., Ms. or Miss. Instead, use full names. 


Invite both genders to your wedding showers and parties.


Expand attire options for wedding attendants from just dresses to suits or jumpsuits. 


Don’t feel restricted that only the bride can carry a bouquet or walk down the aisle. The bouquet can be carried by one or both. The couple can walk down the aisle together or walk down two aisles then meet up halfway. You don’t need to pair attendants in the processional with the opposite sex; they can walk alone or be paired with what feels right. 


How do you see this trend affecting wedding jewelry? 

This is an exciting opportunity and opens a new category for re-imagining the design of the engagement ring, bands and matching sets. Diamond rings and bands might be less feminine or less masculine and focus on modern diamond shapes, bezels, mix and match stones, and geometric metals. The way we look at engagement rings now is more personal. Rings offered in extended sizing is a big change to be able to fit more hands. 


Gender Neutral Diamond Band in Extended Sizes
Gender Neutral Diamond Band in Extended Sizes



Are both parties more involved in choosing the engagement ring and other wedding jewelry today? 

Yes, it is right to make this big decision together, and so much fun to shop for. The ring or rings are such a major commitment of style, taste and money; you want to make sure both parties love the purchase. They can still celebrate and give it to each other at the engagement, ceremony or both. 


Do you plan to stick to tradition or change things up? Tell us in the comments!