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SB&G Tips: All-inclusive Ceremony Language for LGBT Weddings

The language used in an LGBT wedding should be inclusive, not only welcoming to the couple, but also to the guests in attendance.

In the past, when same-sex marriages were not legal but were instead classified as “commitment ceremonies” or “holy unions,” there were differences in the scripts used in same-sex ceremonies, but all that changed in late June 2015 when gay marriage was legalized in all 50 states!Same sex wedding ceremonyWhile there is no longer a difference in the script itself, there are still decisions to be made about how the couple prefers to be addressed, and it is important that this language is inclusive. The standard, “We now pronounce you husband and wife,” needs respectful modification.

“In all my ceremonies, whether hetero couples or LGBT couples, I make sure that I don’t have any language that implies that marriage is only between a man and a woman,” says Reverend Kayelily Middleton. She uses the term “partner” when referring to the couple in a ceremony. “At the end of the ceremony when I make the pronouncement of marriage I say, “I pronounce you equal partners joined in marriage,’” she explains.Same sex weddingsSimilarly, the only way Reverend Robin Renteria changes the language for an LGBT wedding is asking how the couple prefers to describe their marriage. Alternatives include, ‘I pronounce you a married couple’ or ‘partners for life’ or ‘husbands together’ or ‘wife and wife.’ “Each couple knows what they want and it’s up to the officiant to honor that,” Rev. Renteria says. It’s important to discuss your preferences ahead of time with the officiant and make sure he or she is willing to respect your requests.

Other people involved in the wedding, such as DJs, announcers (wedding planners), or family members, may also need to be reminded about what kind of inclusive language is preferred prior to the reception, as they may be in the position to make introductions or address the couple during toasts.

Photos (top to bottom): Riley MacLean Photography and Rev. Kayelily Middleton

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