How to Have a Mixed-Gender Bridal Party

Throw tradition out the window with men and women on both sides of the altar.

With artfully mismatched bridesmaid dresses and more creative suit options for groomsmen, bridal parties have been drifting away from tradition in recent years. As gender roles become less defined in a world that gets closer to equality, brides and grooms are becoming more likely to have an attendant of a different gender stand on their side of the altar. And why not? Brides have brothers and close male friends, grooms have sisters and close female friends. To have your close friends or family stand with your partner or not at all just because of his or her gender feels a little outdated.

However, we’d be remiss not to mention that mixed-gender bridal parties are still not particularly common. If your bridal party is going to have a "bridesman" or "groomsmaid" but you’re not sure how to handle the more traditional aspects of a bridal party, have no fear and read our advice below.

bride with bridesmaids and bridesman, male bridal attendant, mixed-gender bridal party
Photo by Willa Kveta Photography

What Should You Call Them?
The most popular options seem to be “groomsmaids,” “groomswomen,” and “bridesmen.” There’s also the “man of honor” and “best woman,” for those with special placement in the bridal party. For a truly gender-neutral option, referring to everyone as a “bridal party attendant” is common.

What Should They Wear?
There are a few different options for this: It can be simple, with the woman wearing the same thing no matter who they are standing for, along with the men in matching suits on both sides. Or if you want the outfits to reflect each side of the couple instead of the attendants’ genders, each side can be color coded. If there are groomsmen and a bridesman, the bridesman may wear a suit in a lighter color with a shirt that matches the bridesmaid gowns. A groomsmaid could wear a dress that matches the groomsmen suits, or perhaps even a tuxedo-style frock.

How Should They Walk During the Processional?
This really depends on how comfortable your bridal attendants are with subverting gender roles. If everyone’s okay with it, there’s really no reason not to have a groomsmaid walk with a bridesmaid, or a bridesman with a groomsman. If that is going to bother someone and the pairings of opposite genders don’t line up otherwise, having each attendant walk on their own is an elegant solution that is seen at many traditional weddings anyway.

For more wedding planning tips and ideas, click here. Browse hundreds of images of real bridesmaids and groomsmen in our photo galleries, or sort through our collection of real weddings by style, location, and more.

Authored by: Emily Lasnier