You have graciously accepted the honor of standing in front of a crowd while all of the attention is on two people getting married – you are now a member of a wedding party, the honor attendants, entourage, groupies, whatever you want to call yourselves. Congratulations! Before I get into the main points I must first call out to those who bestowed upon you this honor.
These amazing people who you have asked to stand with you are some of your nearest and dearest. They are standing with you for a reason. They are important to you and it means the world to have them stand with you. If what I have just said is not true, then you have chosen people because you have to (aka relatives or you were in their wedding – which is a whole different situation) or you need to rethink why you chose your attendants.
These people are friends or family and have accepted your request to be a part of your big day. They did not sign up to help with every little thing that has to do with your wedding, like gluing 638 rhinestones onto every candle holder to represent how many days you’ve been together. They didn’t sign up to be required to listen to your every decision and/or issue while planning your wedding. They did not sign up to be treated like hired help, because they are not being paid. They signed up to be a part of your day, will do everything in their power to help when they can, plan and attend some pre-wedding parties, buy an outfit they can afford, walk 20 steps and stand still, smile at a photographer and keep you fed and hydrated all day. Other than that, you can expect nothing more. So what I am about to tell these honored attendants is not just good for them to know, but good for you to hear. That way you know what to expect of them and won’t be disappointed if nothing else happens. Now let’s begin with things you must and must not do as a member of this elite club.
WHAT YOU MUST DO
- Buy or rent your wedding attire. Look, buying a dress or renting a tux can be expensive, so make sure you let your couple know ahead of time if you will have any financial issues with this. That way they can make the decision to help cover the cost or choose someone else (which I hope they don’t do). The price of the attire should be within reason, meaning based on your age, employment status, etc. If it is not within reason for you, talk with your couple and see what can be worked out.
- Attend the wedding and the reception. Sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many people show up extra late or leave early that are in the wedding party. It even happened to yours truly, but we won’t go there. Unless there is an emergency or an unavoidable issue, you need to be at the ceremony and the reception on time, and for the entire time.
- Do not get drunk before the ceremony. And keep them from getting drunk too. Nothing holds up a wedding more than a liquored-up wedding party. They show up late, they don’t listen to instructions, they throw up on the alter…..it’s just bad. Drinking is going to happen, but do it in moderation. Once they say “I Do” then keep it flowing and have fun, but stay sober enough to be able to get through the entire reason for the day.
- Help plan and pay for pre-wedding parties. In general the maid/matron/man/person of honor is in charge of the pre-wedding parties (aka showers and bach parties), and the rest of the attendants chip in financially and with ideas. Even helping organize, prepare, and execute the events. Sometimes parents will offer to chip in or host showers. This should not be expected, but they should not be left out once planning starts. All this being said, if you cannot financially help with the festivities, make it known ASAP and help in other ways. Offer up your house, assemble all the favors, clean up when all is said and done. There are many ways to contribute if you cannot spend money. But if you are of a stable job, this is something you must be prepared for. And to those at the head of planning the parties, set a budget and stick to it.
- Help with setup. Now in an ideal world, every couple would hire a wedding planner (**cough cough** ME) or at least someone to set up their venues so that their friends and family don’t have to help. But it’s also not in everyone’s budget. So if your couple does not have a planner, and they ask for your help to set things up at the venues, help them. It’s a big undertaking and they will need all the hands they can get.
- Attend pre-wedding festivities. Now sometimes everyone’s lives do not correlate well together and schedules do not mesh. There are for sure legitimate reasons why some people may not be able to attend one of the pre-wedding parties, but do your best to be there. And if you can’t, at least still help with putting it together. Even if you live in another state you can send a check to the host and a gift to the couple, it’s called Amazon.
- Listen. Sometimes your couple is going to get stressed out while planning this wedding. IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN. So although I said earlier that you didn’t sign up to hear every little issue, you did sign up to be a friend during this time. Sit on the phone and just listen. Even if you have no clue how to help, be an ear to bitch to and go on your merry way.
- Make sure your couple is hydrated and fed all day. The wedding day will go by so fast, and they will be pushed and pulled in so many directions that sometimes they will not remember to drink or eat…..especially in the morning. It is your job to make sure they are taking care of themselves because they have a long day to get through.
WHAT WOULD BE NICE FOR YOU TO DO
- Go shopping for THE dress. Now of course this is one of those things where schedules will not always align, especially the more people that are being asked to come. So if your schedule doesn’t match the appointment times, it’s ok. Dress shopping can be both fun and disappointing. Bridal dress sizes are all wonky and shopping for this outfit can have a lot of weight to it, so emotions run high. Be there for support in her decision.
- Help pick out your outfits. So do you have to? No. But if you don’t then you have no say in the end with what you are wearing. Plain and simple. Voice your opinion and wear something flattering. Stay home and wear the neon pink sequined dress with the giant bow on your butt. Your choice.
- Pay for your “extras” aka hair, makeup, shoes, jewelry, etc. Now here’s where I also say, don’t pay for your hair and makeup. The thing is, if you can financially afford it, then pay for it. If you cannot afford it then let your couple know. If they are REQUIRING you to have your hair and makeup done and you can’t afford it, then they should be paying for it. But do your best to get it done because you will look like the odd one out if everyone is all done up professionally and you did it yourself. Trust me, you CAN tell.
- Help with some of the wedding tasks. Depending on your couple there will either be minimal tasks to be done, or there will be so much DIY your fingers will no longer feel the pain of a glue gun anymore. Be ready and willing to help your couple assemble some wedding items: favors, invitations, centerpieces, etc. Make sure you make it clear from the beginning what you are able and willing to help create. Also, your couple knows you, so if they don’t ask you to help because they know you are not crafty-capable, don’t take offense. Not everyone wants glue fingerprints and glitter all over their escort cards. Be honest with yourself and put down the glue gun.
- Give a toast. Now in general it is a traditional and normal request to ask the people of honor to speak at the wedding reception. So if you are in that position be prepared for it and don’t say no. If you are any other member of the party you may be asked as well, sometimes even to speak at the rehearsal dinner. Just be honest with your couple if you feel you can do it or not.
WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T DO
- DO NOT ACCEPT THE ROLE IF YOU ARE NOT 100% INVESTED. Look, in the end, you have the right to be treated with kindness and as a human being. We all know there are some couples that feel they are entitled to more than they should be. That’s the nicest way I can put it. BUT you have agreed to be a part of this momentous occasion that comes with stress, high emotions, menial tasks, and a lot of working parts that need to come together. Sometimes it will get the best of them, and as a friend who is important enough to be standing by their side as they declare their lifelong commitment to each other……bite your tongue, smile and nod, glue the rhinestone……deal with it.