Who should I include? How large should my wedding party be? Determining who to include in your wedding party is the biggest “people decision” for the bride and groom in planning your wedding. Resist the urge to issue invitations to potential bridesmaids and groomsmen before you have taken the time to honestly answer these questions. Your bridal party will have an unbelievable impact about your feelings and experiences on your wedding day. Be sure you make the best choices.
1. What Do We Want Our Wedding to Look Like?
Before you start asking people to be a part of your wedding sit down with your groom and talk about what you want your wedding day to look like. Are you dreaming of a small intimate ceremony, or longing for a big party atmosphere?
Remember the part in Alice in Wonderland when Alice asked the Cheshire Cat which way she should go from here? The Cat responds by saying it depends on where you want to go, and when Alice says she does not know, the Cat wisely says, “Then it does not matter which way you go.”
Don’t allow this to happen with your wedding. Know where you want to go – what you want it to look and feel like, before making any decisions, including how many and who should be in your wedding party.
2. How Large Will My Wedding Be?
When the guest list is larger, then the size of your wedding party can be as well. But it does not have to be. Wedding trends today are showing more brides avoiding the expense and hassles associated with a large wedding party. They are having a Maid of Honor and Best Man without other attendants. You’ll have an element of intimacy to your ceremony that cannot be achieved with a large wedding party.
3. Have I Really Thought About My Wedding Party?
When you are first engaged, it is natural to be excited and want to include everyone in your wedding. But in the case of your wedding party think carefully before you ask. Once you ask, you can’t take the invitation back. Wait at least a month before you ask anyone to be in your wedding. Then ask yourself if this is a person who you truly want to have a key role in your wedding day. A truthful, thoughtful answer to yourself will quickly tell if this person should be included.
4. What Are My Expectations For My Wedding Party?
Make sure that you are clear on your expectations for your wedding attendants. Take the time to really give this some thought. Are your expecting them to be at every pre-wedding party, provide help with the planning, or just show up at the rehearsal and wedding and participate? Or planning lots of DIY and expect them to be there to help? Consider personality conflicts with others in the wedding party (or you/FH) that will make your wedding day miserable if you include someone?
Be realistic and let everyone know up front what your expectations for them is. Word your invitation in such a way that they can gracefully decline and do not insist on an immediate answer.
5. Will The Members Of Our Wedding Party Be In Our Future?
Your life priorities will change when you get married. Before you ask someone to be in your wedding party, think about the likelihood that they will be in your future life, or if they are simply a reminder of the past.
Those who were a big part of your life before you met your fiancé, but not so much in the picture now; those you feel obligated to include because you were in their wedding years ago, but you seldom have contact now; and those who are dedicated to life as a single person, will probably slowing gravitate towards being a part of your past after the wedding. For those you categorize more as past than future, , you may want to have them attend the wedding, but probably not include them in the wedding party.
6. Who Do I “Have” To Include In My Wedding Party?
In all honesty, there is no one that you must include, though you probably have some people you really want to be part of your day. To help you decide, first make a list of your (and fiance’s) ideal list. It is likely you will have brothers and sisters of the couple, school and college friends, and even a few individuals I’ll call “political invites” – you know who I am talking about, your brother’s wife who you do not care for, but you know he would be hurt if she is left out.
Once you have this wish list, start paring it down to the numbers of attendants you have already decided on. That is not always easy to do, but if you start with a set number, you will be more likely to keep the numbers in line with your wedding vision. When deciding between two individuals, consider having neither instead of both, especially if budget I a concern.
7. Can They Afford The Expenses Of Being In My Wedding Party?
Some people dread being asked to be in a wedding simply because they cannot afford it. When you consider the costs of travel, hotel, wedding attire, shower and wedding gifts, being in a wedding can be expensive and create financial hardship for some. If this fits someone you know, consider asking them to play an individual role in your wedding – such as being a reader during the ceremony -that will not require them to spend so much money.
If you have someone who is a wedding party “must”, consider privately offering to help with their expenses- perhaps pay for the dress. Be cautious that your offer remains private or you may have other upset members, or expenses you did not expect if others learn of your financial help.
8. Will These Individuals Be Helpful In Our Planning Process?
It is an honor to be included in your wedding, but it is also commitment to help with the wedding planning, especially for the Maid of Honor and Best Man. If your friend or relative is not willing to help or able to help with the wedding planning, you may want to consider someone else, or look for someone else to help.
It really is up to you to decide what you expect in terms of support in your planning process. Then honestly assess if you candidates meet those expectations, of if you re going to disappointed and stressed by their actions. The key is for you to be realistic and accept the positives and negatives of each individual. Then relax and enjoy.
9. Are They Supportive Of Marriage And Our Relationship?
If you have friends who constantly put down marriage, or even worse, don’t like or approve of your ne spouse, do yourself a huge favor, and do not include them to be part of your wedding party. It may initially cause hurt feelings, but in the long run everyone will be happier if they are not in the center of your wedding planning and your wedding day. Remember you want your wedding to be filled with joyful memories, not overshadowed by a negative Nellie or Neal. Again, having them is a guest may be the way to go.
10. Do I Want/Need Children In Our Wedding?
If seeing this scene at your wedding causes you stress and anxiety, then you probably do not want to take the chance of including children in your wedding. First and foremost, children are unpredictable, even those you know well and are well behaved.
Let’s be clear. There is nothing requiring you to include children in your wedding. If they are not a part of your vision for the perfect wedding day, don’t include them. Don’t let children or parents beg, plead, or guilt you into including them Their presence in your wedding party has nothing to do with your love for the child. It is all about you enjoying your wedding. If you feel guilty about not including them, buy them a small gift, include them in some of you DIYs, if they are old enough, give them a small job such as placing programs on chairs, or a job ahead of time. How about asking a child to be your “ring security” before the wedding? Place the ring in a safe place where they can check it on, but not actually hold it. But do not give in to including them in the wedding itself. Decision made. Your day. Not about them. Period. Skip this advice and read the next.
Precious flower girls and adorable ring bearers are part of many brides dream weddings. The reality is often overtired cranky children, who are overwhelmed when confronted with a sea of strange faces.
Things to Remember About Kids
Children should not be expected to act like little adults. While some children enjoy large crowds, most do not, and few act exactly as you expect them to do. Consider not only how cute the children will be, but also how comfortable and happy they will be on your wedding day.
Be particularly cautious of inviting children under four years of age or those who are immature and may not be up to fulfilling their wedding responsibilities. If you are unsure, ask parents for their honest input before extending your invitation to the child.
Remember, children are not required in a wedding, and if you do not have children you are close to, resist the urge to reach out to others, just so you will have a flower girl or ring bearer. It is simply not worth the stress on all involved.
When deciding to include children, consider not only the perfect vision, but the worst disaster. Most weddings end up somewhere in between. Think about the worst thing that can happen, and if you are prepared for this on your wedding day and without letting it upset you. If the answer is yes, then children in your wedding may be a wonderful experience. Otherwise, include them in the festivities and even the pictures, if you would like, but not in the ceremony itself. Everyone will be happier.
11. What If Someone Says No?
As mentioned earlier, being in a wedding party can be expensive. Participation may be outside of some people’s financial means, especially if they are from out of town. Dates do not always work with everyone. Not everything will coordinate perfectly with your wedding day. And there is a host of other reasons why someone may decline you offer to be part of the wedding party.
Prepare yourself that someone may say no. It is OK to be disappointed but try not to take it personally. Don’t allow it to harm your friendship.
If you have time and want to ask someone else to fill the space, you may, but also remember that today’s weddings do not have an equal number of bridal and groom attendants.
12. How Do The Wedding Party Individuals Act with Alcohol?
This is a tough question that few couples seriously consider before selecting their attendants.
Think back to the last time you partied, – and I mean really partied, with these individuals. If thoughts that make you cringe immediately popped into your head when you remembered the party, you may want to reconsider. Did they act the way you want to see on your wedding day? The sad answer is that sometimes those who party the best, are not ideal candidates for your wedding party. Remember your attendants will often be the focus of your guests’ attention. If you anticipate any behavior that you must explain, apologize for or embarrasses you and your guests, you will be happier and worry free by not including and over exuberant friend.
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