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Common premarriage questions

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Wedding Party - Who to Ask, How to Decide

 

Who is going to be part of your big day? How do you view the wedding party? While most of us have the "traditional answer" of "the wedding party is a maid/matron of honor and bridesmaids along with a best man and groomsmen", trouble begins when you don't put a frame or perspective around what the wedding party means to you (and your respective families) and what you expect of the wedding party.

 

Related:

 

Take Back Your Wedding,DILEMMAS, Chosing who is in your wedding party

 

What Wedding Party Selection Process Can Teach You About Marriage

 

Wedding Party Mistakes

 

Wedding Tuxedos - Who Decides, Procrastinating Groomsmen - Advice from a Tuxedo Rental Company

 

Top Ten Ways to INCREASE Wedding Stress (things not to do!)

 

 

Ways people think about the wedding party

 

  • Honoring those who you believe will best support you on your wedding day
  • Honoring family and close friends by having them at your side
  • Inviting those who will cause the least drama and offer the most support
  • Assessing the level of closeness and ability in time/money and figuring out who to honor based on the work involved

 

 

Potential wedding party members

 

  • Siblings (same sex or opposite sex)
  • Cousins or other relatives
  • Parents
  • Best Friends
  • Group of friends who all know each other
  • Individual friends hand selected even if they don't know the others


Expectations you have on the wedding party

 

There can be really hurt feelings when there is lack of communication on what role the wedding party should play in the mind of the bride and groom. While it is in poor taste to invite someone to be in your wedding party and hand them a list of tasks, there are ways to navigate this tricky relationship. But first, what do you expect from the wedding party?

 

  • Show up in appropriate clothing and stand next to you at the ceremony!
  • Help when you ask for something but otherwise they go about their own lives
  • Take charge of some areas of the wedding, the showers or bachelor/ette party, coordinating with everyone necessary to pull off the events
  • Be a true co-planner of every aspect of the wedding. Go to dress fittings, cake tastings, flower shopping, attend bridal fairs, read through the magazines, help interview vendors.

 

The First Dance Recommendation

 

We never have hard and fast rules on what you should do or how you should think about wedding planning. Our goal is to help you become a stronger couple as you navigate your growing relationship and redefining yourself as a newly married couple. Wedding party members who do various degrees of wedding planning are either an asset to you because your fiance(e) is not interested, or can be a source of strain when your partner wants to be more involved and feels like your friends should not be so intimately involved. Then add in friendship drama that may develop in wedding planning and your fiance(e) may really not understand why you are giving such a honorific role to someone who stresses you out, or can't understand why you don't feel like you can just "fire" the friend.

 

So the best course of action is really decide for yourself what you are expecting, get the lay of the land on what families expect and proceed with caution. If you view your bridal party as a workhorse team and your fiance's family views the bridal party as a way to honor family (and you haven't met or barely know the women in his family) you could be in for some tension between your view and starting your marriage by causing tremendous family drama. It is then important to separate the 'wedding party roles' from the actual tasks you are hoping to get help on. There is nothing wrong with "just a friend" playing right hand help with your wedding even if they aren't in the wedding party... as long as they know why (you have two sisters and a future sister in law you have to invite and it's easier to keep things all family). In this case of course you then have to asssess what role the family members expect to play as bridal party members.

 

What is your approach and how is it working for you? Let us know!

 

Tips to keep in mind

 

  • am I asking for something reasonable out of my wedding party?
  • are my views of the wedding not taking into account the realities of other peoples lives - my wedding party attendants don't have the time to take off work, or help me plan, or money to carry out big events
  • have I waited until it was too late to find out if someone is planning a shower or bachelore/tte party? Have I made the mistake of assuming someone should have known?
  • have I created an ugly triangle between two bridal party members by complaining about one to another? is that causing more stress for my confidante who has to navigate my feelings and her own relationship with that other attendant?
  • am I keeping the bridal party updated on what is going on and being direct in asking for what I need (without assuming they are "required" to do anything I want?)
  • if a bridal attendant is stressing me out, is it because of lack of communication on my part, miscommunication on her role, their own shortcomings that will never change (and I mistakenly thought would vanish because this is my special day?), or have I done something to cause the problem?

 

 

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Elizabeth Doherty Thomas, is a co-founder of The First Dance, along with Marriage and Family therapist father Bill Doherty. The First Dance is a 2007 Modern Bride Trendsetter award winner for taking on the complex family dynamics of wedding planning. See what engaged couples and wedding professionals are saying about our book Take Back Your wedding. Our entire website is dedicated to offering advice on working through the people stresses of wedding planning as a couple, with your families, and how to strengthen your upcoming marriage through this enormous first task of married life.