Your Bridal Party


Sorry I missed posting this week – due to my power outage… look for a new column in the Sunday paper.


Last week I wrote about the bride’s walk down the aisle, but who else travels down that important little path? Besides parents and sometimes grandparents entering, most couples have a bridal party. These are your bridesmaids and groomsmen, aka: attendants. But who are they? How do you choose them? How many? Do you need equal numbers of men and women? These are just a few questions that come up very soon when planning your wedding.

Here are a few ideas to help guide you through the decision making process. And to be clear, when I refer to the bridal party, I mean both the bride’s attendants and the groom’s. When you discuss this with people, be sure everyone is on the same page with that too, to avoid misunderstandings.

How many? A good guideline is smaller wedding = smaller bridal party. The ceremony space itself might be a consideration, as well. If you come from a large family, you are probably going to have a larger bridal party, or cut to a very, very small one. It’s hard to exclude some siblings and include others. Remember, it’s perfectly fine to have one attendant each, and even none at all.

Many a maid or matron of honor wants to share the duty of holding a ring, when previously only the best man did this. Here’s a note: best women – if you are holding the bride’s ring for the groom (i.e. the grooms actual ring) try putting it on your thumb, where it will be convenient and you will still have your hands free to hold and pass bouquets. I love calling your maid or matron of honor your ‘best woman,’ but that’s just me!

Speaking of gender roles, gender doesn’t have to be the dividing line for attendants. I have officiated ceremonies where the bride had all her siblings, male and female, on her side, and the groom did the same, including what some have called their ‘best person.’ For remarriage and blending of families with children, whether young or adult, the same holds true. Children can stand with their respective parents.

Junior bridesmaids are another consideration, if you have one or more teens or pre-teens that you’d like to include. Junior bridesmaids are usually between 8 and 15 years old. You can honor the young men of the family the same way or designating them Junior ushers, and assign them various tasks such as handing out wedding program, gathering the gifts and placing them on the gift table, or other errands. It will be a treasured memory, and small step into the adult world.

And of course there are the ring bearers and flower girls; remember, they walk in just before the bride’s entrance.

Is blood thicker than water? That depends on the nature of your family. However, friends can fade away over the years, but your family is always your family. Imagine looking at your photos 20 or 40 years from now. Although we all have family conflicts, to greater or lesser degrees, it’s a good idea to include family members when possible. Still, it is your day, and do what feels right. Be clear. You don’t want someone assuming she is going to be a bridesmaid and finding out later that she isn’t.

There are no obligations. Just because you were in someone’s wedding party,  you are not obligated to ask him or her to be in yours.

Too many people? If you feel a special bond with someone, but just cannot include them in the bridal party, find a special task for them – perhaps offer then the opportunity to do a reading in the ceremony. You will need plenty of help on your wedding day, so there are many ways to involve them.

Traditions are beautiful yet rules are made to be broken, what really matters is that the people who stand with you are the people you want to stand with you!


Thanks to Lisa Rhinehart – Rhinehart Photography for the gorgeous photos

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