Dressing groomsmaids and bridesmen

I just can’t tell you how many times the topic of gender bending attendants has come up on the bridal forums I frequent. I’m not talking about odd Cousin Eddie who decided to become Edwina, however. That at least would be kind of interesting…there’s so much talk about curvy, voluptuous bridesmaids and perhaps not enough about flat, angular bridesmaids with unexpected bulges. I think I’ll save that discussion for a late date, however.

Whenever I encounter questions about groomsmaids and bridesmen, there are always a few individuals who think that putting a man where maids traditionally stand or inserting a maid among the men is the height of overt and icky unconformity. I’ll say right now that I don’t agree at all. I’m going to venture a guess and say that most of the people reading this do not live in gender segregated societies. In fact, many of those folks who are of a marriageable age grew up with friends of both the Tab A and Slot B varieties, and they may have also hung out with individuals who identified as neither or as something in between.

Looks great to me!

To say that these marriageable people can then draw only from one area of the eligible pool when selecting their attendants is ridiculous to me. If my thoughts on the subject aren’t convincing enough, know that the reverend Miss Manners agrees with me in Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, where she rallies against denying certain relationships to ensure an even, matched, traditional wedding party.

So, having decided to have a man of honor or a best woman or groomsmaids or bridesmen, how does one dress them? The short answer is however you’d like to, within reason. I happened upon one looooong forum post wherein brides-to-be were discussing putting brothers and male friends in dresses. I’m really not sure if it was a cultural thing, a pervy thing, or just a bunch of gals seriously considering asking their guys to cross dress. While I’m not specifically against cross dressing, only you know how comfy the important men or women in your life will be with the suggestion.

At a wedding I attended recently, there was a groomsmaid, and she wore a white shirt with black trousers just like the groomsmen. But in other weddings, groomsmaids match the bridesmaids or wear black dresses to match the groomsmen’s tuxes. Bridesmen usually wear whatever the groomsmen are wearing, though you should feel free to dress them differently if you like the way a balanced wedding party looks. Voila! Yet one more problem that was never really a problem is conclusively solved!

14 Responses to “Dressing groomsmaids and bridesmen”

  1. srah says:

    I really like the way they’ve done it in that picture above. The groomsmaid matches the groomsmen in color, but the bridesmaids in style. If she had a dress that was completely different, she would stand out a lot and potentially overshadow the bride. As it is, I had to really look at the picture to see what was so unusual.

  2. Anna says:

    I like to think of the bridal party as a whole, rather than divided in two. Since the bride and groom are essentially becoming one, then shouldn’t the bride be able to put her brother as a groomsman? I don’t know; I just come from a traditional, family-centered background, so it would be remiss if the bride or the groom couldn’t put someone close, from the opposite sex, in the wedding, normally.

  3. Nanette says:

    Hey! That’s from my wedding! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it as an example. I think our approach worked out quite nicely, so I’d definitely suggest it for anyone who wants to work in a groom’s gal pal into the mix.

  4. JaneC says:

    One of my friends is having this problem at the moment. I think he’s considering asking her to wear a black suit like the rest of the people who will be standing on that side, although she’s not sure about it. Apparently she tended to wear more masculine clothes when they first knew each other, but has become more “girly” in the last couple of years–so he remembers her as a suit-wearing sort of girl, but that isn’t where she is now.

    I really like the photo above. Good job, Nanette &Co.!

  5. Twistie says:

    Nanette, I love your solution of choosing a dress for the groomsmaid that matches the bridesmaids in style and the groomsmen in color…and this comes from someone who is normally violently allergic to black dresses at weddings!

    It happened that when I got married, Mr. Twistie wanted my brothers on his side and all of my closest friends were women, so we didn’t have to work out an answer to this question at all, but there were a couple points in my life where I would definitely have had to figure out how to dress a bridesman. One thing I do know, friendship is more important than fashion to both of us, so we would have worked it out without a lot of fuss.

  6. Tizzy says:

    Oh I never thought of putting the groomswoman in a black dress! That’s so cool!

  7. Nariya says:

    Nanette, you look lovely, as do all the ladies in the picture! Great solution. There’s a best woman in my party, but as it’s an Indian ceremony there is no dress code for the wedding party other than general superfantasticness.

  8. Style Spy says:

    Nanette, you & your party look wonderful and, even more importantly, like you were having a really great time. Congratulations and well done!

  9. Never teh Bride says:

    Yay, I’m glad you stopped by, Nanette. Your wedding was really beautiful, and I like everyone else love how you integrated your groomsmaid into the wedding party. You are officially an inspiration!

  10. Susan says:

    And lovely as all the outfits are in Nanette’s wedding, The lucky groomsmaid is the one who can truly wear her cute black dress over again and again.

    I had a similar issue- as all our attendants were female. We had them vote on their favorite style and my side wore dark blue dresses, while my hubbie’s side wore black. We also had an uneven number of attendants, too. It worked.

  11. Ceri says:

    Our solution was to mix our attendants up. My brother stood on the groom’s side along with his brother and his sister was on my side along with my sister. It saved several older male relatives who were paying for the wedding from dying from shock. Though come to think of it, putting his 13 going on 35 sister in a tux would have solved some dress selection problems.

  12. de says:

    My very dearest friend is getting married in the fall and the ‘best man’ is actually a woman (the groom’s oldest friend). This friend has always been more at home in pants, but they were going to let her take the lead on what she’d be *comfortable* wearing (seeing as how they care more about her standing up for them than what she’s standing in…).

    She said she was debating a dress or skirt-ensemble, and then it struck her that this was an opportunity to get something really nice tailor made….and now she’s actually is quite excited about getting a tux tailored just for her. I think she’ll look smashing.

  13. Nony Mouse says:

    That’s what I did when I was the groom’s honor attendant. I got the bridesmaid’s dress in black, and wore the bridesmaids color in jewelry. As a slight difference, I got a groomsmen’s corsage instead of a bouquet (but then, I also had the rings, and I suppose no one wanted me to get confused). The bride had some hesitation on what to call my slot, with ‘honor attendant’ or ‘best woman’ or ‘best friend’ — some people had a bit of hearburn over it initially, but they got over it; fortunately for her mother’s peace of mind, one of the groomsmen was my fiance.