Gender Bender: Honorary titles in weddings

by epi on July 22, 2013

Q: I always thought that female attendants represent the bride and that male attendants stand up for the groom. Do these gender roles still exist, or have times changed?

A: Brides and grooms who want to honor a special person in their lives – be it a relative or friend – may choose to have an “honor attendant” rather than bridesmaids or groomsmen. A man or woman can serve as an honor attendant for the opposite sex. The duties are adapted accordingly; a man wouldn’t help the bride get dressed, for example!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Alicia July 22, 2013 at 7:18 am

I have been a groomswoman twice and seen lots of weddings with bridesmen. Not that long ago historically men and women moved in entirely different social circles. In our modern world it is not uncommon for the best friends of the groom and bride to be of the opposite gender. As each should be picking those people that they lobe and will support their marriage often that is not the same gender and to exclude opposite sex friends from standing u p for a friend seems silly. Groomswomen and bridesmen are thus in my mind wonderful things.

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Karen July 23, 2013 at 12:41 am

I agree with Alicia. I think the social rules in the Western world that used to obligate people to only choose the same gender to stand up for them are arbitrary now. However, the bride and groom’s wishes should be respected. I wanted to be the “best man” for my brother’s wedding since my older brother would be overseas but the bride didn’t want to break tradition. All my friends are men and my siblings are only male so I wouldn’t want to feel obligated to involve women I’m not close to in my own wedding process. I’ll probably have a male maid of honor and if I had “bridesmaids,” they’d be male. These are the people I’d want to share this experience with regardless of their gender.

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Loo July 23, 2013 at 2:58 pm

I just feel the need to point out that even the answer to this question is a bit old-fashioned and sexist. To say that “a man wouldn’t help the bride get dressed, for example!” is a little out of touch. There’s nothing wrong with a bride picking a brother or male best friend as an attendant and there’s nothing wrong with that attendant helping the bride to get dressed.

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