Q: My fiance's sister-in-law wants to be one of my bridesmaids and his mother told him it's proper etiquette to include her. Is this true? I really don't know her well and I'm not sure what to do.
A: Don't feel pressured to ask anyone you're not close to, to be in your bridal party. There are no etiquette rules stating that a future sister-in-law, cousin, etc., must be an attendant. She probably wants to be included because her husband will be a groomsmen. If there are other friends and relatives you'd rather have, then by all means ask them instead, and make sure your fiance supports your decision. You can still include your future sister-in-law by asking her to do the honor of giving a special reading at the ceremony.
Q: Unfortunately, I've never had a good relationship with my father. We don't get along and I also resent the way he treats my mom and brother. I don't feel comfortable having him escort my down the aisle. Is it OK if I walk by myself?
A:It's perfectly fine to take your trip down the aisle solo, but make your preference known ahead of time to avoid any heated arguments with your dad right before the wedding. In spite of your difficult relationship, he may be expecting to do the honors. You'll need to explain your decision and, who knows, it might just help improve his behavior if he grasps the depth of your feelings. One can only hope. Also, if your parents are contributing financially in any way, you might want to think twice about your decision and ask both of them to accompany you down the aisle, one on either side.
Q:I purchased crystal brooches,$25 each, for my bridesmaids to wear on their dresses, setting me back $75. Is it rude to ask them to reimburse me?
A: Twenty-five dollars may not seem like a great deal of money, but with all the costs bridesmaids are responsible for, every little bit adds up. Let’s see, they have to pay for their dresses, contribute to both the bridal shower and bachelorette party and give you and your fiancé a wedding gift.They may even have to spend money traveling to the wedding or staying at a hotel. Plus, some of them may be attendants in other ceremonies this year, setting them back a whole lot more than $75. How about this: Why don’t you give your bridesmaids the jewelry as your gift for being in your wedding? That way, they won’t feel disgruntled by having to fork over any more money,they’ll wear the pins on their dresses and you’ve taken care of what to give them. Now, isn’t that easy?
Q: Our wedding party consists of four bridesmaids and seven groomsmen. What’s the best way to pair them up for the ceremony? Do all of the groomsmen have to walk down the aisle during the processional? —Washington, D.C.
A: Wedding parties like yours, with an uneven number of bridesmaids and groomsmen, are quite common. The good news is you do have several options to consider for both the processional and recessional. For the processional, your groomsmen could enter the church first and walk down the aisle in single file, followed by your bridesmaids. Or, the groomsmen could already be in the church, either at their seats or standing in front of the congregation with the groom, before your bridesmaids start their processional. For the recessional, pair the first bridesmaid with one groomsman and the next three bridesmaids with two groomsmen each, one on either side.
Q: My sister is turning into a bridesmaidzilla. She’s insisting I invite five of her friends (even though I don’t know them), and that I pay for her hair and makeup. My budget is limited, but should I try to appease her to keep the peace? —Buffalo, New York
A: No! Look, there is obviously something more going on here, and I have a feeling that nothing you do will be enough to make her happy. You are not obligated to invite five people you don’t know to your wedding, nor should you pay for her hair and makeup if you can’t afford it. She needs to be reminded that this is your wedding, not hers. She may resent all of the attention you’re getting or even that you’re getting married and she’s not.
My best advice would be to ask her to join you for lunch, dinner or a day of shopping. Don’t talk about your wedding plans initially. Ask her what’s going on in her life and what she’s been up to. Keep the conversation light and breezy with the focus on her. At some point, you can let her know that you’ve been puzzled and hurt by her behavior because you had hoped that she would be happy for you and be your biggest supporter. Remind her that her day will come, too, and when it does you’ll be right there for her. But for now, she should respect the fact that this is your wedding and you and your fiancé are trying to work within a budget. Let her know that you want her and all your family and friends to share in your big day and have a wonderful time. Ask her if there is something troubling her and what you can do to help. Hopefully, if you reach out to her in a kind, loving way she will respond accordingly.
Q: We plan on having an all-white wedding (flowers, linens, candles), but I’m not sure what color the bridesmaid dresses should be: I don’t want them to detract from the décor. Any suggestions? —Scottsdale, Arizona
A: Colors in light, soft hues are sure to complement your all-white décor. Depending on the time of day and the season in which you’ll marry, you have a variety of options to choose from. The spring and summer months, for example, favor pastels like lavender, pale blue, soft pink, yellow and mint. In autumn and winter, consider platinum, pale gold, champagne and taupe, shades that are always elegant and chic—especially if you plan on having a candlelit evening wedding. Just don’t forget to consider your bridesmaids’ hair color and skin tone when making your selection: You’ll want to choose a shade that’s sure to flatter every one of your friends.
Q: How many people are considered too many in a bridal party? I have two sisters and a lot of good friends and I just cannot seem to make up my mind about whom to include! —Provo, Utah
A: A wedding party can have as few as two attendants (a best man and a maid of honor) and as many as 24 (12 each for the bride and groom). The only real etiquette rule is that you should have at least one usher for every 50 guests. So, it's up to you as to how many you want in your wedding party.
Although it can be tempting to keep adding people to your party, keep in mind that the larger the group, the more work it will be for you. It may be especially difficult to decide on a dress style to suit the sizes, shapes and personalities of your many bridesmaids. Plus, you'll need to budget for transportation and flowers for each. Coordinating a large group may add unnecessary stress to your wedding planning. This is why many couples find it easier to keep the number of attendants small, and give honored roles to other important people. For example, someone can take charge of the guest book, or perform a song or do a reading during the ceremony.
Read our article on Taking Attendants for more about selecting your bridal party.
Q: One of my friends has multiple body piercings, tattoos and neon purple hair. She's furious that I didn't ask her to be in my wedding party, but I feel that her presence would be a distraction during the ceremony. I did ask if she would be willing to tone down her look a bit but she refused. Am I being unreasonable? —Jersey City, New Jersey
A: Certainly not! It's your prerogative (as it is every bride-to-be"s) to have a wedding party composed of relatives and friends to whom you feel closest and most comfortable. I am sure that you also have a certain vision of how you want your attendants to look - and it probably does not include tattoos and neon hair. So do not feel pressured to ask someone whose appearance will only cause you aggravation and frustration on your wedding day, especially if she is unwilling to compromise. If your friend wants to have the freedom to look and dress as she pleases, then she should grant you the freedom to select a wedding party to your liking.
Unfortunately, no matter who you do and do not choose, there are bound to be a few acquaintances or family members who disagree with or feel hurt by your choices - and they will not hesitate to verbalize their unhappiness to you. You might try to explain patiently why you selected the people you did. But, ultimately, it is your decision and your wedding to plan as you and your fiancé wish, and your choices require no justification.
Q: One of my bridesmaids keeps complaining about the dress I had in mind for the wedding party. How should I handle her? —Cedar Falls, Iowa
A: As the bride, you have total say in what your attendants wear. As a decent human being, it's nice to try to keep their feelings in mind. However, you can only do so much and the larger the group, the more difficult of a task it will be. Once you have made all the respectful concessions (asked your bridesmaids what they would like, considered their budgets and figure types, allowed them to make a final dress selection from two or three possibilities), it's time for them to shut up and be supportive.
If you've got a bridesmaid who continues to be blatantly obnoxious, simply state the following: "I'm sorry you're not happy with the dress. Although I'll miss having you in my wedding party, I'll understand if you want to back out. Is that what you have in mind?" Nine out of 10 women will insist that they still want to be your bridesmaid - and will put a lid on it. If yours happens to be the one that backs out, it's her loss. You do not need friends like that anyway.
Read The Bridesmaids' Tale for a glimpse of her perspective.
Q: I am so upset. My wedding is only four months away and my matron of honor and my bridesmaid are being uncooperative about scheduling dress fittings, even though I've asked them several times. They are not showing any interest in my wedding and I find myself wishing I could ask other friends to be my attendants instead. What should I do? —Sheridan, Illinois
A: Unfortunately, your dilemma is much more common than you may realize. Brides are often faced with difficult attendants who show little or no interest in assisting with the wedding planning or, as in your case, are uncooperative with the dress selection and fittings (even after the bride has taken color, style and budget into consideration). And, just like you, many brides soon regret having asked them to be a part of the wedding party.
But this doesn't mean that you should allow your attendants to make you miserable. After all, you have asked those closest to you to share in your happiness, not to negate it. Besides, with all of the details involved in planning a wedding, you certainly do not need added stress. Perhaps these women regret having agreed to be in your wedding and are looking to get out of it.
You can ask them to step down - provided you are tactful. Simply state the following: "I am sorry that you cannot seem to find the time to attend a dress fitting. Although I will miss having you in the wedding party, I understand if you want to back out. Is that what you have I mind?"
If they are truly unhappy about being in your wedding party, then you have given them a gracious "out." (And definitely ask your other friends to take their places.) If not, they will realize that their behavior is unacceptable and shape up. Either way, you are bound to be better off and can look forward to less stress and happier attendants.
Read our article on Taking Attendants for more about bridal party issues.
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