How difficult is planning a wedding when you’re non-binary? “Enby” Will McCreath gives DIVA a peek at their mood board
BY WILL MCCREATH
My partner Bexx and I got engaged in May 2016 and since then I’ve immersed myself in wedding planning – wedding fayres, wedding magazines, mood boards, wish-lists, books, and spreadsheets. I’m planning everything except the alcohol (since my sum total knowledge is that Bexx likes Rioja). It’s important to note at this point that I’m a person who identifies as non-binary – I don’t sit on either side of the man/woman seesaw, instead I stand in the centre.
We headed to our first wedding fayre in autumn of 2016. It was great fun. This was, however, where we encountered our first problem.
“So, which one of you is getting married?”
“Both of us.”
“Oh, a double wedding!”
“No, we are marrying each other…”
The vendor seemed somewhat stumped which I thought was strange, given that equal marriage has been legal in most of the UK for two years. Why did they find this so odd? That didn’t put us off though, and we were soon headed to another wedding fayre. After all, free cake. Again, we were asked some variation of who was getting married, and we answered that we were marrying each other. This was becoming a pattern. The vendors looked us up and down, assessing us as a couple. One person of indeterminate gender in jeans and a hoodie, one person clearly a woman in more feminine clothes. Bride located! So they start asking Bexx questions.“What’s your colour scheme/décor/theme?”
Bexx is panicking. She doesn’t know. She doesn’t really like weddings and her self-chosen jobs are food and honeymoon, along with listening to my rants about heteronormativity and cisnormativity. So I jump in and tell them our colour scheme (rainbow). The conversation stilts and soon the vendor moves on to someone more “traditional”.
In my experience, when a vendor reads us as two brides, they are often reluctant to offer their services. I don’t know if it’s homophobia or if they think two brides equals double bridezilla. Either way, it’s not an encouraging start.
Wedding magazines aren’t much better. I have yet to find one with a substantial section on same-sex weddings – and I have no hope for finding gender-squiggly ones, particularly since under UK law you have to marry under a binary gender title. They are all for the bride planning her hetero wedding. Same-sex relationships might get a fifth of a page regarding legality and the difference between civil partnership and marriage. These magazines have prompted some serious questions though: Is it a gay thing to both be involved in the planning process? Is it a gay thing to understand the expense of a wedding dress? Is it a gay thing (or an us thing) to not argue?
Bexx and I haven’t argued about the wedding once. I suggest something, she vetos it, I sigh because it feels like she isn’t invested, she assures me she is, I tell her I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a tiny enby (although in those days there was a rainbow corset and tear-away skirt for ease of horse riding into the sunset). If these magazines are how to do weddings, then we’re doing it wrong.
Finding inspiration sadly lacking in these mags, we head to Pinterest. I can’t recommend it enough if you’re a queer couple looking for décor and cake ideas. However, if you’re looking for non-binary inspo you’re out of luck. While you can find hundreds of placards, giant cardboard letters, personalised paper napkins and cake toppers, they all say the same things: Mr&Mrs, Mr&Mr, Mrs&Mrs. I’ve yet to find anything that deviates from the norm. We’re looking for Ms&Mx and I challenge you to find that on a cake topper, big cardboard letters, placard, or personalised napkin! Of course, Etsy is a good option if you’re looking for custom-made but telling every potential vendor “this is my gender and this is what it means” is exhausting.
So, why is it so hard to plan your wedding when you’re non-binary? Well, you encounter the same pitfalls that those of us who identify as non-binary experience on a daily basis: namely the lack of recognition. It’s no wonder then that navigating wedding planning is so difficult given its highly gendered history. It’s hard enough planning a same-sex wedding; never mind when one or both of you are non-binary.
I doubt most wedding fayre vendors would recognise an enby even if you carried an explanatory sign; in my experience, homophobia is rampant throughout the wedding planning industry and it makes you wonder if, just because it is legal, you’re meant to marry queer. It seems the only way to have a truly non-binary wedding is to do it yourself.
This article first appeared in the October 2017 issue of DIVA – grab your digital copy right here!
Like many businesses, DIVA has been hit hard by the economic impact of coronavirus and we need your help to keep the presses rolling throughout the pandemic. Visit our PayPal fundraising page and give what you can. Your support means the world.