How to Right-Size Your Wedding Party
Before you say ‘yes’ to the dress, or script your personalized version of ‘I do,’ you’ll need to choose your wedding attendants. You don’t have to have the whole cast and crew nailed down, but ideally you’ll know who your maid/man of honor is and, in a perfect world, your groom has his best man/woman all picked out. Why? Because a significant part of their contribution to your wedding is helping you navigate all those decisions! Here’s how to put together a star cast of wedding attendants, including the perfect number, and how to fit them into the ideal role for their talents and personalities.
Available Roles to Cast
The upside to modern weddings is that the “must-have” attendant list is precisely nil. You can (and many couples do) marry without a maid of honor, best man, or even someone to give the bride away. You can pick and choose whether to have attendants, as well as what roles to assign and who plays each part. The downside is: all that choosing. Where do you start? Begin by putting a checkmark by the parts you really do need a strong actor to fill.
___ Maid of Honor — helps the bride with most everything from planning the wedding and reception to managing the guest list, picking out dresses and decor, and even selecting the other bridesmaids. She also usually handles the bachelorette party.
___ Best Man — is to the groom what the maid of honor is to the bride, including handling the bachelor party.
___ Bridesmaids — they may help with bridal showers and keeping things on track during the wedding and reception, unless there’s a wedding planner to handle those things. They also help the bride dress on the Big Day and often handle odds and ends in the absence of a wedding planner.
___ Groomsmen — these guys help the best man and groom, when necessary, and might also do some hand-holding with the groom and his parents or grandparents before the wedding.
___ Father of the Bride or someone else to give the bride away — this might be a brother, close friend, uncle, or anyone she feels particularly close to. But it’s also perfectly acceptable for the bride to usher herself down the isle. Do what makes you comfortable.
___ Ushers — a general rule is to have 1 usher per 50 guests.
___ Flower Girl/Pet — these are adorable, but not essential. If you’d rather have a flower dog or even a flower boy, or no flower petals scattered at all, that’s totally up to you.
___ Ring Bearer — again, a ring bearer doesn’t have to be a little boy. It can also be a girl or a beloved pet. Alternately, the Best Man can hold on to the rings until that special time during the ceremony.
___ Page — these are less common in today’s weddings. They hold the bride’s train for her.
___ Candle Lighter — these are only necessary if you’re having a unity candle ceremony. They light the candles before the ceremony starts, so that the flame is ready when the couple goes to light the Unity Candles.
___ Guest Book Attendant — you can have someone seated at the guest book table, encouraging folks to sign, or leave the table unattended, if you wish. Cute signs often serve the same purpose.
___ Greeter/Host/Program Attendant — these are only necessary if you have a printed program to hand out to guests as they arrive at the wedding or reception venue.
___ ‘Rice’ (Bubbles or Birdseed) Attendant — they hand out bubbles, birdseed, or your personal alternative to rice. Alternately, you can leave these where guests can easily spot them on their own (perhaps with a sign directing them to take one), or leave out this tradition altogether.
___ Wedding Planner/Coordinator — many NYC wedding venues (such as a charter yacht) offer all-inclusive packages with wedding planning services on top of the venue rental. These might also include other services, such as flower arrangements, the reception catering, and even the decorations.
___ Personal Attendant — at larger weddings or in the absence of a maid of honor, the bride (or groom, or both) can appoint a personal attendant. This friend or family member is their personal “runner” or “girl Friday” for the day, available to run errands, deliver messages, and do things to free up the bride or groom, so they can relax and enjoy the day.
___ Officiator — If you’re looking for a place for someone who doesn’t seem to fit anywhere, consider having them get certified to perform weddings legally in NYC and let them officiate!
Sometimes mothers and fathers of the bride and groom fill many of these roles: helping to choose the decor, make the guest list, address and send invitations, manage the wedding registries, plan the reception menu, and host things like the bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, and related events.
However, some couples don’t have parents or don’t have parents who are able or willing to fill these roles. That’s when a helpful team of attendants is a godsend. They can help with everything from making those tough decisions (silver or gold on the napkins?!?!) to things like picking up the altered dresses, pressed tuxedoes, and making sure those pricy rings get to the ceremony on time.
It’s a good idea to discuss with your parents, siblings, and BFF’s what they want to do and can do before filling a roster full of extras that won’t make the final cut of the movie.
Know Your Theatrical Limits
Wedding parties need to make sense according to the size of the wedding in terms of the guest list. It doesn’t make sense to have 10 attendants at a wedding with 50 guests. The maximum is about a dozen bridesmaids/groomsmen, but that’s pretty rare in reality. Usually there are no more than 10, and a total of 6 (3 bridesmaids and 3 groomsmen) is more the norm. A small wedding of only close friends and immediate family members doesn’t require any attendants, or perhaps calls for just one special maid of honor and a best man.
The important thing is that you don’t ask anyone to be an attendant on a whim. Think it through. Will she be able to afford the dress you want your bridesmaids to wear? It’s terribly embarrassing for someone to have to turn down your invitation because money is tight. It isn’t essential to ask someone to be an attendant just because you were a member of their wedding party. Brides and grooms with big families sometimes fill the wedding party with siblings and first cousins, leaving little room for college roomies and next door neighbors.
It’s also no longer necessary for the “maid of honor” to be female or the “best man” to be male. More commonly, brides with a male bestie instead chooses a “man of honor” and a groom who’s particularly close to a sister or other important lady opts to have a “best woman”. It’s your wedding! Make it your own.
Picking the Right Actors to Play the Parts
Having said that, don’t feel obligated to include anyone in your wedding. If someone isn’t supportive, doesn’t play nicely with others, or has some objection to the union, it’s probably best to go it without them. Just don’t alienate someone truly close to you over a temporary riff.
For example, if your mother screamed and kicked you out of the house for dating your Catholic fiancé, probably she won’t be there. But if your sister made a silly snide comment about your engagement ring, but otherwise you have a decent relationship, you should probably forgive, forget, and extend that invite to be your maid of honor, or at least one of the prominent bridesmaids.
Consider, also, if the people you’re asking actually can make the commitment of time and effort you require. Perhaps your best friend from childhood just landed a dream job in another city, or maybe just had her first baby. While she’d probably love to be there for you every step of the way, she might not be able to take off work or find a sitter to fulfill her role as maid of honor. Consider giving her a less demanding role, like handing out programs or managing the reception, so she can be a part of it without having to make serious sacrifices. Or, give her gorgeous children starring roles as ring bearers and flower girls, allowing her to sit prestigiously at your mother’s side during the ceremony.
On-Screen Chemistry is Essential for a Successful Production
When selecting your wedding party, try to match personality types to their roles. Your super-organized friend from high school might be a better organizer than your sister, making her better suited for maid of honor. But if she’s shy, you might consider having her be your personal attendant (the behind-the-scenes troubleshooter during the wedding) instead of dressing her up and parading her onstage.
Also, before asking anyone, consider who works well together and who doesn’t. Any roles that will be automatically smashed together during the planning stages and at the ceremony or reception ought to already know each other and get along well. You don’t want your perfect wedding derailed because the bridesmaids aren’t speaking to each other, or worse, had a shouting match in the dressing room.
Whether your wedding is to be a grand affair with 300 of your closest friends and family, or a simple ceremony with the bride, groom, and a couple of buddies, a NYC yacht charter is the ideal way to right-size your wedding and wedding party. Yachts for All Seasons offers an inclusive package, including the perfect sized vessel for your nuptials, as well as expert wedding planners, catering services, and more — an all-in-one venue for both the wedding ceremony and the reception. Visit our website to start planning your perfect yacht charter wedding now!