|New Rules for Choosing Wedding Attendants|
For many couples, the choice of attendants is easy- sisters, brothers, and dearest friends. But if you have a large family or a wide circle of good friends, the decision can be quite hard. You aren’t required to ask siblings, though it certainly promotes family unity. You can choose one best friend over another to be maid of honour or best man, but you may risk causing a break that is difficult to mend.
Fortunately, etiquette has kept up with the times, and today’s couples have many options for organizing their wedding parties and choosing their attendants.
· There is no required number of attendants. The average is four to six bridesmaids and at least as many groomsmen and ushers, but you can include as mans or as few as you like. Some couples have a large number of attendants, but even a formal wedding with just one or two attendants on each side is perfectly acceptable. Since ushers have the practical responsibility of seating guests at the ceremony, the general rule is one usher for every fifty guests. But you can have more.
· It is not necessary to have an equal number of bridesmaids and groomsmen/ushers.
Don’t worry about paring up. You can have more bridesmaids than groomsmen or vice versa. Don’t alienate a good friend or family member for the sake of symmetry. One groomsman can easily escort two bridesmaids in the recessional, or bridesmaids can walk alone or in pairs.
· You can have two maids of honour, a maid and a matron of honour, or two best men. If you don’t want to choose between siblings or very close friends, have two principal attendants. The attendants can share duties-for example, one maid of honour holds the groom’s ring, while the other takes the bridal bouquet. This arrangement has practical benefits too. If your matron of honour lives 300 miles away and has two young children, she may be your sounding board; your sister who lives locally can go with you to shop for bridesmaid dresses.
· Brides and grooms can have attendants of the opposite sex. Honour attendant is another, more modern term for an attendant of the opposite sex. Today many brides and grooms seek to pay tribute to their closest friends or brothers and sisters by including them in the bridal party in this unique way. Honour attendants perform the same duties as the maid of honour, best man, bridesmaid, or groomsman position that they represent, although some responsibilities are altered as necessary-for example, a male honour attendant wouldn’t help the bride get dressed. The honour attendant should be completely comfortable with his or her role; otherwise, the special recognition their status is meant to convey is lost.
While rules don’t dictate the selection and number of attendants, there are some practicalities to consider.
· Size and formality. The size and formality of your wedding help determine the size of your wedding party. If you plan a small, intimate gathering, you won’t want attendants out-numbering guests. If the ceremony site is small, you may have a room for only one or two attendants. If you’re planning a large, extravagant celebration, you may want an equally large wedding party.
· Budget. The more attendants you have, the more of a burden it puts on your expenses. The bride and groom are responsible for all bouquets, boutonnieres, wedding party gifts, and attendants’ accommodations. Also, the more attendants you have, the larger your rehearsal dinner and reception guests list, because you are responsible for feeding and entertaining not only your attendants but your attendants’ parents as well.
Once you’ve decided whom you want in your wedding, give them as much advance notice as possible. Three to six months before the wedding date is fairly standard. This gives attendants time to organize their calendars, purchase clothing and have necessary alternations made, arrange transportation, and plan and host any parties they may wish to hold in your honour.
It’s great honour to be asked to be in a wedding, but people have other obligations and accepting may not be possible. Don’t be offended or expect a detailed explanation of someone turns down your invitation. A refusal is often based on important family job, or financial concerns, so be sensitive. Rather than jeopardize a relationship, assume that the person has made a conscientious decision and is doing what he or she thinks is best for everyone.