Quickie Question: What Do/Did You Expect of Your Attendants?


When this photograph was taken somewhere around WWI, the duties of everyone in the picture were pretty clearly known and generally not too onerous. They had to show up on time looking clean, wear what they were told, do a little hand-holding if necessary, and deport themselves with reasonable dignity. The MOH would – funds, time, and first-time bridal status permitting – be responsible for any bridal shower that might be held. The best man would hold some sort of stag party for the groom, which usually consisted in those days of giving him a nice dinner, providing some cigars and decent whiskey, and kidding him about his soon-to-begin sex life. Oh, and those flower girls? had to look cute and strew rose petals.

These days the rules aren’t quite so cut and dried. The duties of bridesmaids and groomsmen now range anywhere from ‘show up on this day and wear something in this general color range’ to spending a year being the bride’s personal slave and whipping girl. You may be told to wear whatever you like within a color/style range, or you may be informed that you’re getting matching shoes, jewelry, mani pedis, updos, make up, and Botox injections… at your own expense, natch.

What did I expect of my attendants? Well, I expected they would all show up on the big day wearing the skirts and blouses I gave them patterns and fabric for. I told them to trim the outfits any way they liked and to wear whatever flat shoes they preferred. I expected them to keep their naughty bits covered and have as good a time as they could at a party. One of the bridesmaids did sew my gown, and I expected she would get it done in time for me to wear it down the aisle… but when it nearly didn’t happen, I considered the friendship a lot more important than my wedding gown. My MOH held a lovely shower for me, helped address envelopes, and drove me on a couple errands, but these were voluntary things I appreciated, not orders from me.

As for the men, they were entirely Mr. Twistie’s bailiwick. I think all he expected was that they would show up on the day wearing what he wanted having read his mind. One of my brothers called me three weeks before the wedding asking what he was supposed to wear as a groomsman. He threatened that if he didn’t hear from Mr. Twistie soon, he was going to show up in a kimono and top hat. I told him that was more than fine by me, but I would have Mr. Twistie call him with any instructions he might have. It seems he just assumed that all his guys had some form of formalwear in their closets and would simply wear that. I told him to let them know that for certain. Drat. I kind of wanted to see the kimono and top hat combo.

So while the women all wore the same basic pattern in the same basic fabric with wildly divergent accessories, trims, and hairstyles, the men wore everything from kilts to tail coats.

Other than that… we really didn’t expect much.

But I’m curious. What did/do you expect? How much do you care about matching outfits, parties in your honor, and help with DIY projects?

3 Responses to “Quickie Question: What Do/Did You Expect of Your Attendants?”

  1. dr nic November 28, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

    I expected my girls to : 1 wear the dress (that two of them picked out) and nice shoes, 2. wear their hair up if it was long enough (I provided a stylist and covered the cost), 3. be on time to the wedding and rehearsal, 4. eat food before the ceremony so no one fainted (that happen at a wedding I attended) and 5. have fun. I would say I expected them to behave accordingly (I had a very formal wedding, probably 1 step below black tie) but none of them needed that sort of warning.

    They were, of course, invited to my shower (hosted by my godmother and aunts) and my bachelorette (hosted by my MOH at her request), but I didn’t expect them to move heaven and earth to attend (especially the two that were out of town).

    I asked my MOH and the other local bridesmaid to come with me and my mother when we picked out my gown. Once I had my dress, they went through the shop and found bridesmaids dresses they would be willing to wear and the three of us picked them out from there.

  2. Lisa in Berlin November 29, 2011 at 4:19 am #

    We didn’t really expect anything of our attendants other than that I asked the ladies to wear colors within a specific palette. I just didn’t want to be a bridezilla and generally felt ridiculous making them do all kinds of stuff for the party my husband and I were throwing! My MOH was from Germany, were bridal showers aren’t done, so I didn’t expect, and didn’t get, a bridal shower. On the big day, various people in our wedding party helped out with different things (e.g. picking up flowers from the farmer’s market and constructing bouquets), but it felt more like friends naturally helping out than people fulfilling specific “duties”.

  3. Kimks November 30, 2011 at 1:18 am #

    My basic instructions were to show up, on time, not naked and in a dress of said color. As two of the three attendants were daughters of ours (from previous relationships) they were more than willing to oblige-the third was and is my best friend, she was just happy to not have to wear anything involving a hoop or a tiara.
    On the day of I just asked that no one stress me out, as I was certain I would do an OK job of that on my own. They all obliged.

    My husband was in charge of his attendants and he wanted his daughter to be his best woman, and she (being one of the three mentioned above) didn’t want to wear a tux and preferred wearing a dress… She opted to go for the same color that the two other female attendants went for, as opposed to a coordinating color. The were no other male attendants, save my nephew, the ring bearer who wore the cutest suit with a bow tie in the same tartan as my husbands family tartan- because he didn’t want to wear a kilt like the groom.He was five and very adamant about not wearing a skirt…

    Anyhow- I wanted from my attendants the same thing I wanted from my guests- to enjoy the day and help us celebrate our love and commitment. There were many friends who did things to help and surprise us along the way, but they were more in line with helping and not at all a duty I assigned from on high.