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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?

Siblings As Wedding Attendants: A Must or Optional?

Reader K., who wishes to remain anon for obvious reasons, wrote to me to ask about siblings in the wedding party – specifically inviting other people’s siblings into your own.

I’m getting married to a great guy at the end of this year and neither of us has chosen our attendants yet. I was talking about the whole thing with one of my friends who said right out that she’d rather not be included as a bridesmaid so I’m safe there, but she did mention that I probably ought to invite my fiance’s younger sister to be in the bridal party because not doing so would be offensive to my fiance’s family. What? I’ve never heard anything like that and my fiance has never brought it up, but it’s so easy to hurt people’s feelings and I don’t want to offend anyone. Do I really need to invite my fiance’s sister to be a bridesmaid? She’s nice and all, and we get along, but it’s not like we’re close.

Let me tell you a story: Once upon a time, an ex boyfriend told me that if we ever got married – thank goodness that train never left the station – he’d expect me to invite his sister to be a member of my half of the wedding party and that if I didn’t, he’d and his entire family would be sorely offended. It would literally be an insult to not invite her to be a bridesmaid. I was all, wait, that’s a thing? Turns out that in some families, it IS a thing. As in a thing you better do if you want to have at least a passing relationship with your in-laws. But from what I gather, my ex’s family’s attitude is thankfully not the norm.

Sometimes, of course, a bride and groom (or bride and bride or groom and groom) will come to some agreement regarding swapping or including siblings to keep the halves of the wedding party even or segregated by gender. Now that it’s becoming increasingly acceptable to have bridesmen and groomsmaids, however, fewer couples feel compelled to hand off sisters and brothers to their future spouses. There’s no one wrong way to build a wedding party, so siblings can be included however you want them to be included. That is, IF you want to include them.

Ryan Smith Photography shows us what a sibling-heavy wedding can look like

I’m guessing from the tone of your email that you’re not exactly thrilled with the idea of having to give up one of your bridesmaid spots to someone you’re not particularly close to. My take on the matter is this: If you haven’t felt any particular pressure to include your fiance’s female siblings in your side of the wedding party and the idea never occurred to you on your own, I’d say don’t worry about it. It’s highly unlikely that your fiance’s family is gunning for your FSIL to be a bridesmaid and if she or your fiance hasn’t even hinted at the matter, you’re probably in the clear.

And let’s say the worst happens and someone does get offended… they’ll get over it. That’s a heck of a lot better than planning a wedding all on your lonesome because there’s no one among your bridal party that you’re close to at all, which really sucks.

LOVE/HATE: The ‘Badassery’ Edition

We all like to poke a bit of fun here at the bridal models who glare into the camera, sniff their pits, contort themselves into positions you need a chiro to get out of, and wait around hotel lobbies. But what about the real couples and attendants who do similarly strange things in actual wedding photos? I thought it would be fun in upcoming editions of LOVE/HATE to take a look at some popular poses struck and facial expressions adopted by bridesmaids, groomsmen, bridesmen, groomsmaids, brides, and grooms.

The inspiration for this little series was the hugely popular badassery snapshot where everyone looks angrily into the camera with expressions that say “Why the #$%@ are you taking my picture?” and “You want a piece of me? Do ya?”

Or even “You’ve trapped me in this dungeon and I am very angry at you.”

So what you think of all the camera glaring, angry mug making, PO’ed looking brides, grooms, and attendants appearing in wedding albums these days? I kind of hate it, but I’m also one of those folks who has a big grin in my passport photo and on my license. I like a big goofy grin more than I do a pout. How about you?

(Images via: ? and Ed Pingol)

You Can Dance If You Want To (But You Shouldn’t Have To)

On this, the final day of bridesmaids week – hey, it was a five-day business week – I wanted to address a tradition that I know for a fact makes at least some people a little uncomfortable. I know this because I am one of those people. Specifically, I am talking about the tradition of having all of the wedding attendants, bridesmaids and groomsmen, bridesmen and groomsmaids, dance with one another at some point during the whole first dance, father-daughter dance, mother-son dance string of scheduled formal dancing. It’s actually considered a tad passé to ask the attendants to have a go on the dance floor, but you still see it occasionally at some wedding receptions.

Since this tradition seems to be dying out anyway, there’s really no need for me to put it down, I suppose. But just in case there are any otherwise happy bridesmaids out there reading this who are dreading the thought of slow dancing with some friend of the groom they have never seen or sniffed, I thought I’d share my three reasons for not particularly liking the attendants’ dance. As I see it, this old tradition is…

1. Awkward: While I actually wish that there were more opportunities for social dancing that included switching partners in a platonic, fun way, I still think that having to cut a rug with someone you may find icky while 75+ people look on is just plain weird. It’s one thing to dance with an unfamiliar partner – one who may never have heard of Arthur Murray or mouthwash – and quite another to do it on demand while a photographer circles the dance floor. And if you’re a young junior bridesmaid, it’s even weirder.

2. Boring: So now the wedding guests have sat through the first dance, the father-daughter dance, and the mother-son dance, and perhaps the bride and groom also invited their grandparents up for a waltz. Even if you edited your chosen songs down, you’re still potentially talking about a good quarter of an hour’s worth of dancing on display that the guests have to sit through while they wait for the refreshments.

3. Ineffective: If the bride or groom’s goal is to get people to shake their booties, there are easier ways to do it, like hiring a good DJ or leading by example and shaking it themselves. Because, really, I think that wedding guests can sense the awkwardness of the attendants’ dance, and I don’t know anyone particularly inspired by embarrassment.

I’d recommend that any bridesmaids like myself who aren’t keen on dancing with a random groomsman and suspect that the bride is considering an attendants’ dance at the reception suggest letting all of the enrelationshipped attendants dance with their SOs and then, halfway through the dance, inviting other couples to join them for a special slow dance. Or better yet, suggest that the marrying couple not force their wedding guests to sit through one more spotlit dance.

Now I have to ask: Bridesmaids and former bridesmaids, have you ever found yourself on the parquet in the arms of someone just awful because you were obliged to participate in an attendants’ dance?

(Image via BeDazzled Photography)

LOVE/HATE: The ‘Mustachioed Mamas’ Edition

Two years ago, Offbeat Bride declared that mustaches were hot. That may have been, but the fervor either hasn’t cooled or the trend has come around again or mustaches are just now making their way into the mainstream. Because you know what? I am seeing more and more mustache wedding gear, from the recently posted mustache wedding stationery set to wedding pictures that feature everyone from the bride and groom right on down the line wearing fake ‘staches.

Being that it’s bridesmaids week here at Manolo for the Brides, I had to, of course, find a snap of bridesmaids sporting the mustache look. (And now, of course, I can’t find the photo source so if anyone happens to know, speak up.) I personally am pretty cool when it comes to being silly – act my shoe size? No prob! – and I love the idea of asking people to participate in zany reception activities. But I know plenty of people out there endeavor to be way more dignified in their daily lives than yours truly. So I want to hear from bridesmaids: Should brides and grooms take those folks into account when they ask their attendants to play dress up in the wedding pics? Or since bridesmaids and groomsmen technically have the right to say nay, is it okay to require that props be used in the photos?

Quickie Tip: Choose Bridesmaids You Trust

Your bridesmaids may or may not help you fold wedding programs, assemble favors, address your wedding invitations, shop for your wedding gown, and let you call them at 3 a.m. when you’re thinking of calling off the wedding because you simply cannot stand the way your intended chews. (Seriously, who eats that loudly? *Barf!*)

Some brides-to-be expect the world from their attendants. Others don’t. But no matter which camp you fall into, it pays to choose bridesmaids you trust.

choose bridesmaids you trust

After all, it would do to have bridesmaids who, say, steals all the gift cards at your bridal shower, drinks and dashes at your bachelorette party, “loses” your wedding bands just before the ceremony, or tries to convince your new spouse to get busy in a closet at the reception!

Image via Jerry Yoon Photography (which is freakin’ awesome)

Attendant Orientation: More Choices Than You Think!

Most couples I know – including me and The Beard – have made at least some kind of effort to end up with a balanced bridal party or symmetrical bridal party. That might mean six bridesmaids and six groomsmen or, less commonly, six bridesmaids and four groomsmen (or groomsmaids and bridesmen) who divide themselves evenly among the “bride’s side” and the “groom’s side” of the altar. Even less commonly you’ll see a mixed bag of gentlemen and ladies arranged on either side of the happy couple, in no set male-female order, but still with the same number of people on either side.

What can we learn from this? First, I think we can safely assume that the trend toward balance and symmetry has more to do with wedding photography than it does with family or friends. Just because the bride has ten best girlfriends doesn’t mean the groom has ten best buds (or brothers or even close cousins or coworkers). And then there’s gender – I still see the same sex-segregated wedding parties even in now when us chicks have plenty of dude friends (and vice versa). Second, “tradition” plays a big part in this, with brides and grooms never considering that they might have a mixed, uneven, or alternative wedding party because no one suggested they could.

So this is me suggesting it. Before you rack your brains to find another friend you like enough to complete your half of the wedding party, think about why you’re even thinking in terms of halves. Once you’ve wrapped your mind around the idea that your wedding photos can still look awesome without having equal numbers of bridesmaids and groomsmen, it’s time to start thinking outside of the box when it comes to wedding attendant orientation. See, the reason balance and symmetry work so well is that bridesmaids and groomsmen (and groomsmaids and bridesmen) usually stand lined up on either side of the bride and groom. And that, ladies and gents, is that I want to talk about!

pink-bridesmaid-dressespink bridesmaids dresses

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