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Making Your Wedding Inclusive from Beginning to End

Photography by: Colby Campbell Photography


Congratulations - your big day is coming! You found your person and are ready to throw the greatest party your loved ones have ever seen. To ensure that all of your guests feel the love that day, here are some considerations to help make your wedding inclusive and accessible from beginning to end.


PRE-WEDDING CONSIDERATIONS

  • Vendor Choices. Do your vendors share your value of inclusivity? Look for vendors that match your style, will support you, and also reflect what means most to you as a couple. How do you find out if they are inclusive? Start by reviewing their website and social media. Who do you see on their website: a diverse group of couples (LGBTQ+, BIPOC), or the same photos with the same faces? What is their mission statement as a business? You can also ask them questions that are important to you before you book - it is your day.

  • Money Mindfulness. Let’s face it: weddings are expensive. You can do things to work within your budget, but it’s also important to consider your wedding party and guests when it comes to money. Asking someone to be in your wedding is a special ask (and we know they’d love to be there to support you!). But oftentimes, attendants would prefer not to break their bank to be by your side. If you’re hosting many parties and showers, consider not making it required to be at every single event that is part of your wedding festivities. Travel, gifts, along with what to wear on the day of your wedding, can add up fast. As for guests, keep in mind that not everyone can afford an expensive gift or attire. Having a range of price points on your registry can be helpful as guests want to show you their love that day, and for some, getting there (travel, hotel, etc.) will be a big part of their budget already. Consider dress code: having formal attire required can also be a deciding factor for some guests if they can’t afford that attire for the day of. Sometimes it is asking yourself if you’d rather have certain people at your celebrations or a certain look of those who are there - and that is for you to decide as a couple.

  • Anticipate Needs. As you work on invites and planning your meals, consider the possibility of all of your guests not being able to eat the meal(s) you chose. While they may be far and few between, don’t forget your vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free loved ones as you plan meals. Inclusive caterers will be happy to make special accommodations and will work with you to make sure there is a meal these guests can eat in full and enjoy. It could also be having a small amount of gluten free desserts to show that friend you care! Needs of guests can be also considered when it comes to the physical space of your day - more on that to come.


CEREMONY CONSIDERATIONS

  • Space Accessibility. When planning your location for your celebrations, it’s important to think of the accessibility of the location. This means asking yourselves questions such as: is it wheelchair accessible for those who need it? How much travel is there from parking to the entrance for those who have difficulties? Are there microphones available for the ceremony so everyone can hear what is being said? While these may seem little in the grand scheme of things, they may be a huge barrier to those attending your ceremony. Even if you don’t have someone in a wheelchair consistently, someone may need one unexpectedly the day of and it’s good to know they can make it to your space. Those who are hearing impaired or hard of hearing will appreciate microphone usage (even if your officiant thinks they can project) as it makes a big difference for them. The people in back will be grateful too!

  • Wedding Party. When thinking about those who you want to be by your side on your big day, invite your nearest and dearest. You do not need to have a split of dresses on one side and tuxes on the other. There are great ways to mix and match and have those you really want to be part of your wedding party. Speaking of what to have your attendants wear (or anyone involved in the big day), think about them being comfortable. Don’t enforce gendered dress codes and allow your attendants to express themselves for who they are - because that’s why you want them by your side.


COCKTAIL HOUR + RECEPTION CONSIDERATIONS

  • Space Accessibility. Similar to the Ceremony Considerations, you’ll want to make sure those all are true for your reception. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure there is seating available for cocktail hour and all places you’re asking guests to be. While cocktail hour may seem like a quick part of the day, for those who have trouble standing for long periods of time, it can be unbearable. If you’re planning a picnic-style wedding, seating can also be difficult with benches that are connected to the table itself. Consider detached benches or chairs instead. While not all reception locations are on a main floor, you’ll want to make sure there is an elevator for your guests (your caterers will be appreciative too!).

  • Cocktails & Mocktails. While everyone loves a signature cocktail, have you considered a signature mocktail? For those who don’t drink, there are often limited non-alcoholic drink options for party goers. If you’re having a hosted bar, consider adding in a mocktail option that still suits you as a couple, or connect with the bar at your venue to special order some non-alcoholic options!

  • DJ + Decorations. The DJ is the person who will get the party started after the ceremony is completed. They are often capable of providing a variety of dance floor lighting options, and something to consider is asking them to skip the flashing lights. Some guests may be sensitive to bright or flashing lights (another thing to consider is disclosing this information when it comes to photography as well.) Whether it is your DJ or another person who will be announcing you for the grand march into the reception for dinner, connect with them to make sure they can both pronounce the names they will be introducing (yours, attendants, family) and that if pronouns are used, they do not misgender any of your guests. Another way to make sure misgendering doesn’t happen throughout the day is to ask for pronouns on RSVPs so you can add them to guests’ place cards!


POST-WEDDING CONSIDERATIONS

  • You did it! The union is sealed, the party rocked, and now you’re enjoying marital bliss. You‘ll want to thank your guests for all the love and support that day. Remember to address your thank you cards with inclusive language, titles, and names.


When you do non-traditional things (or participate in age-old practices), you need to think about who that will affect. We often fall in love with ideas and want to jump right in, but we need to consider our guests’ experience and abilities to enjoy our big day. This is not an all encompassing list of ways to make your day inclusive and accessible for your loved ones. You know your guests best. Think about each of them individually and anticipate the needs they may have to enjoy your day to the fullest. You won’t have everything perfect for every person there, but you can show your guests the love as they come to celebrate yours.


Happy Planning!


Hannah (she/her)

La Crosse Wedding EXPO Coordinator



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