Five Tips for Outfitting Your Queer Wedding Party


Plus win $500 toward outfitting your wedding party!

by Kelsey Hopson-Shiller, Contributor

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Last year, I had the pleasure of being both a bride and a bridesmaid (twice) in a span of about three months. I learned a lot about wedding parties, and sartorial choices—especially if you are having a queer wedding or if you have queer friends that you’d like to include in your wedding party, and you want to really make them feel, you know, really included. So, in honor of Pride Week, we’ve partnered up with Brideside to share some tips on how to honor all the people you love who might not fit comfortably in the “Bridesmaid” or “Groomsman” box. Their Warby Parker-esque approach to wedding parties means you can try things on at home, making them a great fit for your wedding party members who aren’t comfortable in a traditional salon setting. To make things easy, Brideside has personal stylists on call—as in, real live people, who aren’t going to push an agenda on anyone—who can help your wedding party members either find a dress that they feel comfortable in or figure out how to make their outfit cohesive with the rest of your wedding party. They even recently added a women’s tux to the mix, which as you can see above, come with built-in attitude. And as an added bonus, Brideside is giving away a $500 credit in conjunction with Pride Week to help outfit your wedding party members, and yes that can totally be applied to the tux. But before we get to that, let’s start with the basics:

Say you are a newly engaged person, and you feel like a fun weekend activity would be to sit down at the bookstore with a stack of wedding magazines (or some quality Pinterest time) and a fancy coffee and soak up some inspiration. As you start to look through these sources, you will notice many examples of the classic “bridal party” photo: a group of thin, young, women, with shoulder-length hair, in identical dresses clutching flowers in symmetrical numbers on either side of the bride, laughing in the dappled sunlight. Or, a group of strapping young men with their hands in the pockets of their matching suits, standing, again, in even numbers on either side of the smiling groom—possibly with cheeky pocket squares, or sassy socks or bow ties.

If you are anything like me (or, um, like a lot of us) and you look at those pictures and imagine your people in those roles, you might see some differences between what Pinterest is offering up, and what your life actually looks like. And, because wedding planning can be tricky, you might start to wonder if having a wedding party that reflects your people is doing it wrong, somehow. Which is why I want to tell you right up front—you are not doing it wrong! You can’t do it wrong! And now that we’ve got that out of the way, allow me to offer some things that I’ve learned about queer wedding parties and how to dress everyone to look and feel their best in order to optimize dancing, or board games, or cake and cocktail consumption.

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1. Screw Everyone’s Opinions. It seems so easy, but anyone who’s ever had a wedding party knows that everyone has an opinion about the makeup (or existence) of your attendants. My guiding rule is to keep in mind that the people you choose will be standing beside you while you commit yourself to another person. Aesthetics aside, who do you and your spouse want standing beside you in that moment? I had my sister, a bestie, my nephew, and our dog. So, demographically, I had tattoos, dreadlocks, an eight-year-old boy, and a Labrador. And that was exactly who I wanted to be there.

2.Pick People, Not Gender Performance. I know there are people who feel very differently than I do on this particular point, but here’s my take. It is not important to have an equal number of attendants on both sides of the aisle. If you can’t imagine picking between six friends you’ve had since you were eleven years old, your sister, and your favorite aunt, I say invite them all. It goes the other way too—if there are only two other people in the entire world you want beside you at this huge emotional moment, then those are all the people you need, regardless of how many people your partner has picked. You don’t have to find eight acquaintances and Cameron Diaz them into your “new best friends” over the course of your engagement. By the same token, you don’t need to stick to people of your same gender. I salute the groomswoman and the bridesman! This is still true if you’re including people in your wedding party who don’t adhere to the gender binary at all. Pick people, not gender performance.

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3.Give your people options. Contrary to the prevailing images in mainstream wedding media, people’s body types don’t change because they’re in a wedding, and perhaps you didn’t choose your friends ten years ago based on their ability to be flattered by a strapless tea length dress or a desire to wear a dress at all. It’s very okay to not have everyone wear the same thing. (See more on mismatched wedding parties here.) This is a great option for queer wedding parties because maybe your people are comfortable in dresses but are really uncomfortable in very femme styles or maybe your people don’t feel comfortable in dresses at all, but still want to feel like they are a cohesive part of your crew. This lets everyone be on the same page visually, and still feel like themselves.

4. Let everyone be Themselves. If you started with the first point here, the people in your wedding party will be people you love who you want to be happy, and who you want to enjoy your wedding day. When you start making attire decisions, take what you know about them already into account. If your friend Maria is going to be a bridesmaid, and you usually see her wearing dapper suits at formal events, make some time and talk to her about what would make her feel comfortable. A suit and a shirt that matches the other attendants outfits? Or maybe she’s fine with wearing dresses, but the salespeople make her feel weird when she goes to try them on, and so she sticks to suits. Ask her! Also, try to give your queer or gender outlaw friends as much time as you can to shop. It can be more challenging to fit a body that doesn’t match a person’s gender into clothes that do. Give them time to shop, and time for alterations.

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5.Alternatively, do nothing at all. Sometimes the easiest way to honor your queer friends (and maybe save yourself some time and effort) is to let your people just go wild with it. Let them know you’d like them to stand up with you (or however your ceremony looks) and if there’s any weather/formality/activities they may want to plan their attire around, and then let them do their thing.  This goes beyond attire too. Feel free to not separate your attendants by partner, let alone by gender, or to skip having a wedding party altogether!  There are plenty of other opportunities to show your friends and family your warm, fuzzy feelings at your wedding if having attendants doesn’t resonate for you and your partner.

As long as you’re keeping love at the forefront of your mind, the people standing beside you on your wedding day are going to look and feel amazing. Being thoughtful about the way you ask your people to dress just lets them stay focused on the most important part of being in a wedding party—how honored they are that you asked them to do this for you.

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This post was sponsored by Brideside. Brideside is committed to making the wedding party shopping experience as comfortable and stress-free as possible, by allowing at-home try-on, and offering bridesmaid dresses in sizes 00–30. Brideside even recently added a tux jacket and pants, plus dapper accessories to the mix. Click here to browse their selection and order your Brideside box today!

Kelsey Hopson-Shiller

Kelsey lives in Los Angeles, CA. with her wife, Julie, a nice Jewish girl from New Jersey. They have too many pets for a one bedroom apartment. Kelsey really likes reading books in the sunshine, as well as hunting for donuts and superior happy hours in their new neighborhood.

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  • MABie

    Wow, this is so cool! The tux option is off the chain. I wish I had known about this before trying to outfit our bridal party. We just gave our people (1) a color for either pants or a dress (navy blue), and (2) a store – J.Crew. I’m hoping it ends up looking like that last picture.

  • jubeee

    These are really good suggestions for all wedding parties, queer, straight or whatever you define yourself!

  • Megan

    I love these ideas but taking a look at Brideside’s site, their “real wedding” page is exclusively hetero couples… What’s up with that?

  • Kate

    We had 10 people total in our wedding party. 6 on my side(Kate’s mates) and 4 on my husband’s (Pete’s pals)
    My side was my childhood best friend(R), my college roommate who is bisexual(P), my brother(J), my closest (male) coworker(D), my cousin who is gay(F) and her wife(A). My husband’s side was his two sisters (L and K), his college best friend(S) and his best friend from junior high who is a lesbian(E). So 7 girls, 4 of which are LGBT and 3 guys. We told them our colors of light blue and gray with navy accents. R wore a long light blue maternity dress , P wore a gray dress pants and a light blue sweater over a white dress shirt, my brother wore a dark grey suit with a light blue dress shirt and a navy bowtie, D wore gray pants with a white dress shirt and a light blue paisley tie, F wore a knee length light blue dress, A wore gray pants, a light blue dress shirt and a navy bowtie, L and K wore knee length light blue strapless dresses, S wore grey pants with a white dress shirt and light blue/ navy tie, and E wore grey pants with a light blue blouse.
    It worked and everyone looked cohesive.

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  • Kelsie B.

    When I got engaged it was a no-brainer for me to ask my closest sibling to be my “Sibling of Honor.” In a nice bit of symmetry, my FH wanted his sister to be his “Best Sibling” (and only sibling, haha). However figuring out what my sibling “D” should wear for the wedding has be difficult. She identifies as gender variant (or genderqueer), but presents as biologically male yet femme (most people use male pronouns, and she’s happy with a mix of male and female pronouns). D rarely, if ever, wears dresses, but a suit just seemed… wrong. I did quite a bit of searching for ideas, but all the articles on the topic of queer people and wedding clothes seemed to focus on finding traditionally masculine clothes for female bodies. However I didn’t find any suggestions for non-dress feminine clothes for male bodies. My FH’s groomsmen will be wearing vests and ties, so finally, D and I settled on having a vest custom made in a more feminine style with matching pants. We’re still on the search for a dress shirt with a more feminine edge, but are leaning towards something with a bow collar or possibly some type of cravat. If anyone has any suggestions they’d be welcome! But I also just wanted to share our story for anyone else in a similar situation: custom clothing for the win!