The transformation of written words into heartfelt spoken ones during a wedding is something that celebrant, Dee Wild of Custom Celebrations By Dee deeply resonates with. The spoken words, especially when delivered before a couple and their community, carry an inclusivity that is crucial for making everyone feel welcomed and valued. Elevating words and inclusivity in wedding ceremonies is about ensuring that every guest, regardless of their gender, sexuality, disability, size, or nationality, feels comfortable and acknowledged. Using thoughtful and inclusive language can transform a wedding ceremony into a truly welcoming and joyous occasion for all attendees.

Photo via Lewis & Ella’s Romantic Wedding Under The Oak Tree 

Maya Angelou wrote “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.”

Now, I know that it may appear quite lofty to quote the wonderful Maya Angelou. However, as celebrant, the idea that written words become so much more when spoken aloud… say, into a microphone and said before a couple in love and their community… Well, that is an idea that I, and my fellow celebrants, can truly endorse.

When we talk about inclusivity, we often think of it from a political or bureaucratic angle. Often, we don’t think of ceremonies and weddings as a place to be conscious of inclusivity.

I prefer to think that not only CAN we can infuse inclusivity throughout a wedding and especially the ceremony, but also, that we SHOULD!

Inclusivity to me, means that everyone at your ceremony, feels welcomed, included and comfortable. Regardless of their gender or sexuality identity, whether they live with a disability or their size or nationality.

Photo via Michaeleah & Zoe’s Whimsical Wedding at Potter’s Reception 

As a celebrant, I am one of the first to arrive at a ceremony. I like to take a few minutes to get myself set up, grounded and walk off those nerves before my couple’s guests arrive. Once they do arrive, I am there, ready to welcome them! To me, how I refer to those guests matters. Not everyone, including myself, responds favourably to Ladies And Gentlemen! However, Family and Friends. Assembled VIPS. Folks. Your Community. These instantly feel much more inclusive, regardless of everyone’s gender or indeed, nobility.

Guests have followed an invite or a website to a wedding and are eager to be part of the day. As a celebrant, I consider it part of my role to let guests know what is going to happen over the next 25 minutes. I invite them to relax, laugh, cry, applaud. Giving them permission to feel and emote.

Photo via Keshya & Laura’s Relaxed Party Wedding at Canvas House 

If as a couple, you can feel and hear that your guests are enjoying your ceremony, there is a very good chance that you will enjoy it even more as well.

Some of the other ways that words help to ensure that everyone feels included…

  • Introducing yourself with your pronoun or wear a pronoun badge
  • Ensuring that everyone can hear the ceremony and see the couple
  • That those that need a seat, feel comfortable in taking on
  • Whilst also ensuring that you are leaving space for any community members who may be arriving with the couple
  • Instead of saying “Please be upstanding…” Try using the more inclusive “If you are able and would like to, please be upstanding”

Kids! I love kids at weddings! However, expecting younger guests to ignore regular nap times and the swirling adrenaline and excitement in the air is futile. Instead, by acknowledging that kids, will indeed be kids, we can make them feel included which in turn will make their parents feel more comfortable.

Can you invite the younger guest members to sit on the grass or floor near the front? What roles can we give the kids to make them feel important and included?

Inclusivity means being aware and conscious of the fact that ‘Not every wedding involves a bride!’ Further to that, not every female-identifying person who is getting married, wants to be called a Bride.

As vendors by asking our couples how they would like us to refer to them and which pronouns to use, are easy ways of being more inclusive.

Photo via Caitlin & Georgia’s Fun and Bright Wedding at Two Ton Max 

For couples, look for this when you are first enquiring with a vendor. If the language being used at the VERY beginning of your planning experience is not inclusive, consider finding a vendor that does make you feel seen.

Following the logic that not every wedding includes a Bride, calling a couple’s support crew, The Bridal Party is illogical and non-inclusive.

Wedding Party, includes both people getting married and their support people.

Their Best People if you will. Ditching Groomsmen and Bridesmaids also allows for those, ever increasing, times when a couple have a Wedding Party of mixed genders. Regardless of who’s side they are standing on!

The Legal Vows no longer assume that every person getting married will identify as a Bride or Groom, so why would we still be doing so in our ceremonies?

Of course, many people will wholeheartedly embrace these terms. Our role as wedding vendors is to ask the questions and then write and speak accordingly.

Fundamentally, I feel that the BEST way for us to be inclusive, is by not making assumptions. Not making assumptions about our couples, their guests, wedding party, and all of their gender and sexual identities, disabilities and neurodivergence.

And the best part…….? None of this is hard!

It’s a matter of taking the time to carefully consider the words we use.

Choosing words that include, rather than exclude.

Photo via Keshya & Laura’s Relaxed Party Wedding at Canvas House 

Dee Wild of Custom Celebrations By Dee is a marriage celebrant based in Melbourne. She is a gay woman, a lesbian and a proud member of the queer community. Dee loves encouraging and enabling her couples to celebrate their love in a way that best reflects them. She will work with you to create a ceremony that is full of love and laughter. Melbourne’s Inner North is where she calls home with her lovely English partner and our two fluffy dogs. All four of them love a road trip, so Dee will happily book regional weddings to facilitate cosy weekends away. When not marrying couples she can be found making my own dresses to wear to weddings. There are very few times when Dee will say no to a glass of prosecco, especially at a wedding.