The Wedding Party
It’s easy to get caught up in the whirl and twirl of planning a wedding: There’s the romance of bringing dreams to fruition, the pressure media places on making it “perfect,” the excitement and possible anxiety of major life changes ” not to mention every detail from invitations to wedding favors.
So, if figuring out how to make your wedding less stressful on family and friends isn’t your top priority, don’t worry ” here are a few suggestions.
Who should I ask?
First and foremost, remember it’s your wedding, so you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, said Carley Roney, editor of theknot.com.
Choose friends or family with whom you feel closest to be in your wedding party.
“They should be people you can count on, who are responsible and who are special to you ” people you want to share in your day,” said Debbie Devereaus, editor and publisher of the Western Colorado Wedding Guide.
But what about cousin Florence?
Sometimes choosing your wedding party becomes a sticky issue. For example, cousin Florence’s feelings might be hurt because she asked you to stand up in her wedding and you didn’t reciprocate. Or, you may have more women than men (or vice versa) you want to ask.
Explain your decision to people who may feel hurt. Tell them how you’d like to include everyone who’s special to you but have to limit the wedding party number.
Ignoring the topic can make hurt feelings worse. If you’ve grown apart from a friend who expects to stand up in your wedding, a long heart-to-heart talk may be in order. Who knows ” it may even bring the two of you closer together.
Give people who didn’t make the wedding party other duties, such as being in charge of gifts or the guest book, or honor them with a special corsage.
While a balanced number of groomsmen and bridesmaids is traditional, modern weddings regularly break tradition. One groomsman can walk two bridesmaids down the aisle. Men can stand up on the bride’s side, and vice versa. Follow your heart, have fun and remain flexible.
Wedding party protocol
The wedding party should attend any pre-wedding parties, if possible.
Each member pays for their own tuxedo or dress. Groomsmen decorate the getaway car, and each member helps out before and during the wedding when needed. Each should help the bride and groom remain calm with pep talks and outings.
Pick a responsible best man and maid of honor to ensure the groom and bride show up on time. They sign the couple’s marriage license. The best man often holds the bride’s ring at the altar. Both may give toasts. The maid of honor usually organizes the bridal shower, and the best man and groomsmen organize the bachelor party. (Everyone at the bachelor party usually splits the cost.)
Of course, there are plenty of creative ways groomsmen and bridesmaids can make the wedding special. They can drive the couple to the airport, make a collage of photographs of the couple, take Polaroids during the reception and tuck them into the couple’s suitcase, return tuxedos and take the dress to the cleaners, ensure guests return home safely or stock the couple’s refrigerator so reality doesn’t set in immediately after the honeymoon.
How much can you expect?
“I encourage brides and grooms not to have expectations,” said Jenifer Hammond , a wedding planner with I Do in the Vail Valley.
Out-of-town bridesmaids may not be able to attend showers because of schedules or finances. They may send a gift, and the bride may want to have a special luncheon or outing when they do come to town.
Be specific about what you need from the wedding party, and chunk
tasks down into portions people can handle.
Sending a newsletter can be a nonthreatening way to let people know their duties. Be sure to thank everyone for their help in the newsletter, Roney said.
“(Their only duty is to) just show up and celebrate with you,” Hammond said. “A typical bridal party kind of expects to party, and if you don’t have a wedding planner to deal with the minutia, you have to be good at delegating.”
Gifts from wedding parties may range from small and personal to large and lavish, depending on finances.
Reducing everyone’s stress
Weddings aren’t just stressful for the bride and groom.
Think of the father-of-the-bride’s adjustment. A round of golf or tickets to a sporting event may help him unwind.
It’s a good idea for everyone to take time off the day before the wedding. Enjoy a girls’ day with mothers, bridesmaids and special friends at a spa.
Assigning an in-town buddy to out-of-towners can help orient them to a new area. Gift baskets with a list of favorite activities, restaurants and grocery stores help visitors feel more comfortable, and a directory of who’s staying where can encourage guests to mingle. A block of rooms reserved in advance usually offers discounts.
If the bride wants attendants to have their hair and makeup professionally done, it’s a nice gesture to pay for the services. Choosing moderately priced dresses that bridesmaids feel comfortable in makes the difference between a bridesmaid who’s relaxed or one who’s counting the minutes until she can change.
Personalized gifts for each attendant, parent, grandparent and honored guest go a long way to show appreciation.
Beyond the details
Your wedding marks the beginning of your new life together. Most stress turns into laughable memories, so just focus on the love between your family, friends and new spouse.