Wedding Attendant Tips & Advice

Choosing your attendants and other members of your wedding party may seem simple.  You want people who will cause minimal drama and who will adhere to your decisions, right?  Well, yes; however, that may not be all you consider.  Who pays for what? Can I have a male “bridesmaid”? How old is too old for a flower girl.  Here are some common questions that today’s brides consider regarding their wedding party.

Attendants of the Opposite Sex

It used to be that brides had their female friends on their side of the aisle and grooms had their male friends on their side of the aisle.  This is no longer always the case.  More and more couples are opting to give attendant spots to the people they feel most deserve them regardless of the sex of the person.  This is perfectly acceptable.  If your best friend is a man and you could not imagine anyone else standing by your side as you say your wedding vows, then by all means ask him to be your man of honor.  A male on the bride’s side of the aisle should wear what the groomsmen are wearing.  The same idea goes for a woman on the groom’s side of the aisle.  She should wear whatever the bridesmaids are wearing.  It is not necessary for a woman on the groom’s side of the aisle to be holding a bridesmaids bouquet.  In these cases have attendants walk up the aisle solo for their entrance, or let them approach the altar in groups of three.

Paying Old “Debts”

Many women feel that if they were in a friend’s wedding party that they are obligated to ask that friend to be in their own wedding party.  This is not always the case.  Ask yourself a few questions.  Are the two of you still close friends?  How long ago was your friend’s wedding?  Is your friend the best choice?  You should choose your bridal attendant based on which friends and family members best suit the roles.  If you and your intended spouse have decided on a set number of attendants you may not be able to include everyone you would like to include.  Choose your maid of honor first and then choose people you think can manage the duties that come with being a bridesmaid.  If you are still close to your friend chances are she will make the cut anyway.  If she doesn’t because of family she will more than likely understand.

Children in the Party

It can be difficult to decide which niece should be your flower girl and how old is too old for a ring bearer.  Here are some general guidelines for including children in your wedding party.

  • Flower girls and ring bearers should be between four an eight years old.  Some mature two and three year olds may be able to handle the roles but be sure to have special rehearsals with the child ahead of time.  Also, you should be prepared for a last minute hitch or tantrum.  Older children can be junior attendants, readers or candle lighters.  They can also be flower girls and ring bearers if they find the role acceptable.
  • You can have multiple flower girls.  There is no rule that says you can have just one.  Are all three of your sisters bridesmaids with young daughters?  Consider having each one walk down the aisle holding their mother’s hand or tossing petals in front of their mother.
  • Having multiple ring bearers is a little trickier than having multiple flower girls.  You can have the rings on separate pillows to accommodate two young men.  Three can be accommodated by having two carry the tapered candles from the unity set while one carries the ring pillow.  A fourth can carry the unity candle itself. Other young men can be dressed as pages to accompany the bride or carry the edges of her train or cape.

If your wedding ceremony venue will not allow flower petals to be tossed, you have plenty of options to accommodate the little girls in your wedding party.  Consider giving them small bouquets, baskets of flowers to carry or even cute teddy bears to hold.  They can also carry a basket of flowers and hand them to the guests at the end of the pews ending with handing one to the mother of the bride and mother of the groom.  You can also have your “flower girl” carry your unity candle, the glass for a Jewish ceremony or a pomander ball.

Out of Town Attendants

Sometimes adult life takes us far away from the best of friends.  So what happen when you want your best friend from across the country to be a bridesmaid?  Bridesmaids traditionally help the bride with many aspects of the wedding.  They go dress shopping and help address invites and plan the bridal shower.  Your choice of bridesmaids should not be dependent on these duties.  You should ask the people you want by your side on your wedding day.  You can always get other friends and family to help with the details of your shower and other such jobs.  Be sure to ask out of town friends well in advance if they would like to be in your wedding party.  If they are unable to do so due to timing or cost be understanding.

Adjusting the Bridal Party for the Sake of Symmetry

There is no reason the bride and groom must have an equal number of attendants.  The procession can be adjusted by having two bridesmaids walk down the aisle with each groomsmen.  The reverse is also true.  The bride and groom alike should choose the people they want to be attendants and not be forced to choose people just to fill a spot or match the number of attendants their future spouse has chosen.

Who Pays for What?

Normally the wedding party is expected to pay their own way.  This includes attire and any hotel accommodations.  It is a nice gesture to provide your bridesmaids jewelry as a gift.  If you can afford contributing more your attendants probably won’t object.  Keep the budgets of your attendants in mind when choosing their attire.  Encourage your groomsmen to rent their tuxes from the same store as the groom.  Many stores will offer a discount on a tux to the groom this way with some stores even offering the grooms tux for free.  Then you can pass some of the savings on to your attendants.

How Many is too Many?

Tradition says that the size of your wedding dictates the number of attendants.  The most important thing; however, is to have the people closest to you in your wedding party even if that means only three attendants for a wedding of 250 plus or ten attendants for a wedding with a guest list of only sixty people.

How Do you Inform People of Their Wedding Duties?

You want to make sure that people have a general understanding of their duties in their role as your attendant before they accept the role.  They should know what costs they will be expected to shoulder and what events they will need to attend.  Other roles aren’t so easy to impose on people.  Consider sending an email, newsletter or card to all of your bridesmaids detailing what you expect on your journey together.  Make it fun and laid back so no one feels that it is targeted at them.  Or try having a bridesmaids’ lunch early in the planning stage to open a dialogue about who will be doing what and when they will be doing it.  If someone is shirking their responsibilities approach it delicately and try asking them when they think they will get around to fulfilling it.  Always say thank you often and show your gratitude for the honor your friends are granting you standing by your side and for their help in the planning.

Your attendants do you a great honor in standing at your side for your wedding day.  Be sure to choose people who are close to you and who can fulfill the roles.  Be understanding should any of their situations change.  When you look back at your wedding you will be glad you did.