Create a safe and welcoming space!
A wedding is a celebration of love—and if you want your guests to really feel the love, it's time to be intentional about inclusion! Being mindful of the diverse needs and situations of your wedding guests will ensure they feel seen, valued, comfortable, and cared for on your big day. And while this is just the tip of the iceberg, we've listed 7 things you can do to make your event more inclusive.
1. Get A Read On Your Guests
When we say the words "inclusive" and "accessible", they can relate to a lot of different things. So to best anticipate what will make your guests most comfortable, you may want to ask them! We recommend putting a note on your wedding website encouraging guests to give you a heads up on any limitations they may have, any special requests that would improve their experience, or any extra accommodations they may need.
For example, you may have guests with hearing impairments who would be most appreciative of a sign language interpreter for your ceremony and speeches. Perhaps you'll have guests with mobility issues who'd be thrilled to have access to a wheelchair as the event progresses. Or, maybe you have family coming from outside the country who don't speak the native language. From strategic seating arrangements to bilingual wedding programs, there are so many things you can do to help everyone have an equally enjoyable time at your wedding.
2. Find An Accessible (and Inclusive!) Venue
When considering a wedding venue, you'll want to go on a site visit so you can see for yourself how accessible it is. Make sure the venue has a wheelchair ramp and/or elevators for elderly or disabled guests, as well as dedicated parking spaces. Ask if the restrooms are accessible with at least one spacious stall, and ask if there are automatic door openers. You'll also want to work with the venue coordinator on reception layouts that provide plenty of space for wheelchairs or larger bodies, or even varying height tables and chairs for those with limited mobility. If for some reason the venue you've landed on isn't fully accessible, you can consider renting a portable wheelchair ramp, standalone handrails, or outdoor flooring for uneven surfaces.
It's not only important to book a venue that meets your vision, but also your values! Whether that's an LGBTQ+ friendly wedding venue or one that's Latinx-owned, Black-owned, or LGBTQ+ owned, it's important to support the businesses that align with your ideals and embrace your entire guest list. This goes for your wedding vendors, too! Do an audit of their website and social media to see if they're inclusive in their language, and that they showcase diversity in their wedding posts.
Lastly, give your entire venue + vendor team the heads up on any guests with special considerations. Your coordinator, photographer, caterer, and DJ will be extra mindful on the day-of if you inform them in advance.
3. Make Your Paper Goods Pop
If you have guests with limited vision or color blindness, you'll want to pay special attention to your stationery. Make sure you're using easy-to-read fonts in a larger, more legible size with plenty of contrast. If you're inviting guests who are blind, ask your stationer to help you create a braille version of your wedding paper goods.
You'll also want to be mindful of how you address your guests on the front of the envelope. If you're unsure about a particular guest's pronouns, feel free to leave the prefix off and simply address them by their full name. This applies to escort cards and place cards, too. If you want to be sure before writing them out, ask them to specify their pronouns on the RSVP card.
4. Ask About Allergies and Dietary Restrictions
Put a small note on your RSVP card to survey guests about any food allergies, dietary restrictions, or preferences. Chat with your caterer about alternative meal choices and any strategies to avoid cross contamination for people with allergies. If you're opting for a buffet, label the dishes with their ingredients so your guests can make informed choices. And it's always nice to provide a super-tasty vegetarian or vegan entrée alongside the chicken or fish!
When it comes to signature cocktails, have a "mocktail" version so that your pregnant or sober friends can join in on the fun. You can also provide sparkling apple cider for the toasts!
5. Be Mindful About Money
Weddings aren't just expensive for the couple—they're expensive for the guests, too! They may need to invest in appropriate attire, transportation, lodging, and gifts for not only your big day, but perhaps also the pre-wedding celebrations like the engagement party or shower. Give your guests some grace here, as everyone's financial situation is different. You can help offset costs for your guests by setting up a group carpool, providing on-site childcare, or putting a "gifts optional; your presence at our wedding is gift enough" note on your registry.
For the guests that just can't swing it—financially or otherwise—you can always livestream your ceremony so they can be included, too! Those that aren't super tech savvy would appreciate an easy-to-use app like Lovecast. It's free to use and offers a simple one-click link for guests to participate. No login required!
6. Acknowledge Neurodiversity
If you have guests who are on the autism spectrum, have SPD, ADHD, or other neurological differences, consider making some accommodations. It can be challenging for those with different sensory concerns and needs to attend a wedding: Oftentimes the ceremonies are long, the receptions are loud, the unknowns abound, and the societal expectation to "behave" in a certain way can be overwhelming.
Acknowledging that you're aware of these challenges by making some adjustments will go a long way to ensure your neurodiverse guests feel welcome. You may want to consider creating a "Pre-Wedding Guide" to cut down on the surprises and give any routine-favoring guests the heads up on what to expect. You might shorten the ceremony and/or offer access to alternative seating, noise-canceling headphones, or fidget gadgets. And we love the idea of a Silent Disco-style reception! But you can also work with the venue to create a designated quiet zone in case anyone needs a break from the party. Whatever you decide to do, just remember that weddings are a lot to take in—and can be physically and emotionally taxing—so don't take it personally if some of your guests tap out early.
7. Form Your Own Formalities
If you really want to make your wedding more inclusive, it's time to reimagine some deeply-rooted traditions (garter toss, anyone?). From rethinking the traditional children's roles (say YES to a Flower Grandma!) to having mixed gender wedding parties and requesting your DJ use gender-neutral language in their announcements, there are plenty of ways to modernize formalities to make them your own—and to make them more embracive!
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Some clients may have paid to be placed in our editorial and some of these links may be affiliate; however, we never include a venue, vendor, or product unless they have a proper place here. This is part of our Core Values. We create our website first and foremost to be good for the couples using it to plan their Big Day. We won't stray from that for a few advertising dollars. #scoutshonor