Etiquette expert Karen Cleveland has joined Weddingbells as a guest blogger solving all of your decorum dilemmas. Read on for tips on how to retain poise from the minute he proposes.
Whether you choose to have one attendant or six, the decision of who will be your supporting cast for the big day is a great one. Your wedding party will not only play a key role in the activities leading up to the wedding (and of course, behind the scenes at the wedding) their presence is also very sentimental: these are the people that you and your fiancé have chosen to have closest to you on the day you officially start your life together. Heavy stuff, right?
There are no rules when it comes to choosing your bridal party, though it makes sense that its scale fits your wedding ─ a grand bridal party of a dozen attendants on either side might seem out of place at a casual, intimate wedding, for example. Beyond the two witnesses that will sign your registry (traditionally the maid of honour and best man) your wedding party can take whatever shape you’d like it to.
Guilt, fear of hurt feelings and a sense of obligation can often creep into decisions of selecting your wedding party, so be mindful to really take emotional inventory. Perhaps you were a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding, that does not mean that you are obligated to ask them to stand in yours. If there are no small children in your family that you are close with, do not feel compelled to wrangle two toddlers to serve as a flower girl or ring bearer, just for the sake of having them. The decisions you make should be sincere and heartfelt, rather than couched in obligations.
As for concerns of having an equal number of bridesmaids and groomsmen, it is a notion that serves to produce a good deal of stress and little else, it seems. If your best friend is a man, then who better suited to being your right hand? If you are extremely close to two friends and your fiancé is one of four brothers, then have at it ─ a perfect posse! The point is not to produce symmetrical photos. Do a gut-check: the crux is to mark a major milestone with those you can’t imagine not sharing it with.
Questions to ask yourself:
· How long has this friend been in your life? Has the relationship stood the test of time?
· Have they consistently been a solid, rather than fickle, friend?
· Is your friendship a soulful one, or are you more social co-partiers?
· What is their relationship to your fiancé? Do they see all the great things in each other that you see in each of them?
· How logistically feasible is their bridesmaidship? Have they just embarked on six months of travelling? Do they have a baby due when you’re getting married?
If this friend is a true blue, longstanding comrade that knows you as an individual, appreciates your soon-to-be-other half, and they’re free when you’re getting hitched, it sounds like they are just the person for the job. If there is someone you love dearly, but circumstances preclude them from being in the wedding party, they can absolutely still play an important part in your big day. You could invite them to sit with your family and do a reading at the ceremony, include them in some special photos together or acknowledge them in a toast.
Karen Cleveland is a Toronto-based etiquette advisor and writer. For more on her column, Finishing School, find her on Twitter.