By Shari Zatman | EVENT PRODUCER, EVENT DESIGNER, INDUSTRY EDUCATOR
Many elements related to planning events are gender-specific that often people don’t even realize. But what about when planning an event for someone who is non-binary?
Non-binary inclusivity is an important topic that’s sometimes overlooked in event planning protocol and terminology—but should always be addressed. Here are some key points to consider:
Addressing an envelope
When formally addressing an invitation or a save the date for an event, names are often preceded by a title. For women, we usually see Mrs., Ms., or Miss. For a man, we use Mr. When designating someone by a professional title, we may use Dr., for example. When sending a formally addressed invitation to someone who doesn’t identify with a specific gender, use the title Mx. before the person’s name. If you don’t know which gender identifier to use, Mx. is an appropriate title as it is gender neutral.
Mitzvah events are also associated with gender-specific titles. For example, a boy has a “Bar” Mitzvah, and a girl has a “Bat” Mitzvah. What is the appropriate term for a non-binary individual who is celebrating this milestone?
Several names are being used in this case in the event planning industry. In And Just Like That—the Sex and the City reboot—it was called a “They” Mitzvah—but that does not use a Hebrew pronoun. “B’nai” Mitzvah is a term used for two or more people, so that may be used in this case, but it is generally a plural masculine form.
One of my favorite terms to use for an inclusive name is B-Mitzvah for the religious ceremony. It is simple and may avoid any confusion about being plural.
Centering the person
When in doubt about what titles or names to use, your best bet is to ask. What words, titles, and phrases feel most authentic to the person? Those are the ones that should be centered as part of any life event. After all, a party should be a celebration of all of the things that make someone uniquely and genuinely who they are—and how someone identifies is one of the many things that makes someone special.
Shari Zatman is an event producer with more than two decades of experience. She owns two companies: Perfectly Planned by Shari, which focuses on luxury events (like weddings and mitzvahs), and Eventful Event Producers, which focuses on corporate and non-profit events. Her latest venture is event training, coaching and consulting for event and hospitality professionals. She created a handbook and seminars to work with them to identify problem areas, create solutions and share best practices.