Choosing your wedding party

One of the exciting parts about planning your wedding is deciding who will be in your wedding party – your ideal ‘I Do Crew’.

But before you get too excited and start promising places on the team to all and sundry, stop!

A good wedding party is comprised of many roles and will really help you, your partner and all your guests to have the best day possible. It will have people who are really there for you. People who are do-ers. People who are calmer-downers. People who are ‘on it’. Proactive, practical people and people who you won’t mind helping you to go to the loo if your outfit requires a two-person job!

A bad wedding party is about as much use as a chocolate teapot. There’s so much more to being asked to be part of it than going to hen/stag/hag nights and looking pretty in the photos. I’ve seen too many weddings where the ‘I Do Crew’ is nowhere to be seen and the couple are being asked all the questions or having to sort little things out.

Putting some thought into what you need your wedding party to do before you start inviting people to join the squad can save your sanity, your friendships, your money and your wedding day. Sounds good? Read on!

Ditch the gender roles

How I would love to wave a magic wand and have all the gendered language around weddings disappear!

But, as a mere muggle, I can do my bit anyway. So here goes:

Just in case it hasn’t been clear to this point, I use the term ‘wedding party’ where for a long time (and often still now) people have referred to it as a ‘bridal party’.

The still very common titles within the wedding party include ‘bridesmaid’, ‘maid of honour’, ‘best man’, ‘groomsman’, ‘flower girl’ and ‘page boy’.

Of course, the terms ‘bride’ and ‘groom’ are gendered too. However, as the couple getting married (thankfully) don’t have to comprise of one of each these days – it’s a little less politically charged. Also, the wedding party roles are filled, often on the gender that the title dictates, whereas the couple don’t need to be chosen to fill their roles!

So when it comes to deciding on who will be on your squad, please don’t be dictated to by archaic terms! You can keep with a bit of tradition and tweak the job titles if you’d like, e.g. to ‘best person’ or ‘bridesman’, depending on who it is and how they identify, you can invent your own titles, or you can just dispense with titles altogether!

And remember that your wedding party is there for both of you, so there’s no reason why you can’t both have a best person or both have attendants to walk you down the aisle. Gender is just not relevant here. Make your own rules!

Design your dream team

Again, tradition dictates a lot here but remember you can keep it, chuck it or change it according to your needs. After all, it’s tradition, not law!

A best man traditionally (and I’m using the traditional terms here too) will arrange the stag do, have the rings, keep the groom calm and deliver a speech. They will also organise the rest of the groomsmen.

A maid of honour (again, using traditional terms here) usually arranges the hen night, helps choose the dress, helps the bride get ready, keeps the bride calm and organises the rest of the bridesmaids.

These are good roles to play but don’t need to be gendered or numbered. I often see more than one best person, for example, because the person doing the speech might not be the same person that is good at being trusted with the rings and keeping everyone calm!

So what do you want out of your wedding party? Someone to be the ‘go-to’ person? Someone who’s good at calming and reassuring? Someone who will be reliable? Someone creative and unflappable? Someone who is super organised? Get a big piece of paper and mind map all the sorts of help you’ll want on the day and/or the sorts of people you’ll want around you.

Define the roles

Once you know what you need, you can start thinking about the roles you want your individual team members to play in your wedding party.

Obviously, you’ll want them all to have a great time too, so you don’t want to heap one or two people with the role of on-the-day coordinator, runner and general skivvy!

Think carefully about the different responsibilities involved, e.g. supplier coordination, nominated person to call if guests are lost/late, child guest wrangler, hag do organiser…

Don’t give one person too many tasks – you’re going to be ‘recruiting’ a team to do it all so they can all have fun whilst helping out.

Think about the number of roles you’ll have and sketch them out like job descriptions. Then you’re ready to…

Choose your players

Choosing your wedding party: Choose your players ~ Sussex wedding celebrant Claire Bradford of Creating Ceremony
Becky’s friend helping her pick confetti out of her hair

As you were thinking about the roles, you probably had the best candidates in your head already.

Mostly, they will be some of your closest friends and family. But that relationship does not qualify them for the roles on its own! They need to be properly useful not just look pretty to earn a place in your squad!

That said, you will of course need to pay attention to ‘politics’. Whilst nobody can tell you who you should have in your I Do Crew, you will probably want to avoid hurt feelings. So if you have an awesome close friend or sibling that’s not much use at anything practical, consider creating a job for them, even if it’s something as vague as ‘chief cheerleader’.

Whilst the more the merrier is an apt motto here (after all, what’s not to love about lots of people helping out?), you will want to avoid your wedding party getting too big.

Why? Because lots of people end up needing managing (although you could make one of the roles a managing type gig). Also, if you’re paying for their outfits, it’s going to get costly!

Once you’ve got your team in mind, it’s time to ask them!

Be clear about your expectations

Before you make the call or send the card, it’s important to be clear about the role you want them to play in your wedding and exactly what would be expected of them in terms of time, money and responsibilities.

It might not sound sexy but they and you will be grateful you did later!

Give them a chance to chew it over and make it clear it’s not an ultimatum. Yes, it’s an honour but it’s also quite a big ask for some.

If they turn you down, try not to be offended. They might simply not have the time to do the best job they’d love to do for you. They may not be able to afford to go on the hag weekend you want them to plan, or pay for their outfit. There are a million reasons that are not to do with you that make them reticent to take the job, even if they’re delighted you asked. Negotiate, if it feels appropriate, but also be prepared to take no for an answer.

If you use all of these tips, on the day you’ll have the wedding squad of your dreams, fully prepped and ready to help you in all the ways you need, ensuring you (and they!) have an awesome wedding time celebrating your union.

And if you need a celebrant for that wedding, you know who to call

Choosing your wedding party: Be clear about your expectations ~ Sussex wedding celebrant Claire Bradford of Creating Ceremony
Masha and all her wedding crew