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Links To the Past


If you go wandering on Etsy, it’s easy to find a lot of great ideas for gifts to give attendants, your intended, or even yourself for your wedding day.

For instance, check out these gorgeous cufflinks. They feature a fragment of an antique map (in this case, Italy in 1899) encased under jewelry grade magnifying resin and set in a combination of sterling silver and stainless steel. I can imagine many a groom, groomsman, best man, or bridesman who would be delighted to wear these links on the big day… and use them again afterward. At just $26.00 a pair, they’re also very affordable.

Oh, and don’t worry if you’re not excited about Italy. There are plenty of other places represented in the shop, as well as similarly themed bracelets, pendants, and earrings.

In fact, these attendant gifts might just put your wedding on the map.

(ducks hurled tomatoes)

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.

Let’s Not Forget the Groomsmen!

In the movies, groomsmen are usually irresponsible, party-loving dudes who fear settling down and do everything they can to talk the groom out of getting hitched.

Thankfully, real life is nowhere near as dramatic. You may have heard these guys referred to as ushers, but not all ushers are groomsmen and not all groomsmen are ushers. Most of the time, these two roles are treated as one, but some couples use the naming disparity as a pretext for including more family and friends in their wedding. Whatever honorific they receive, these guys have it pretty easy, as evidenced by the extremely short list of groomsmen duties

On the big day, your groomsmen can hand out programs, direct people to their seats, and keep an eye on the gift table. It’s not uncommon for a groomsman to become the unofficial answer man unwittingly, as guests tend to direct their questions toward anyone wearing a tux. Anticipate this by making sure your groomsmen know where the bathroom is. Some people even ask their male attendants to dance with any single females at the reception – but this practice is not as common as it once was because being a woman without a dance partner is no longer considered a fate worse than death. When your ushers are not your groomsmen, you can ensure they don’t feel left out by mentioning their names in the wedding program, announcing them at the reception, and seating them with the other members of the wedding party.

How many groomsmen do you need? Like bridesmaids, these guys are, in fact, a nonessential element of weddings. But they look great in photographs and may even prove helpful, so plan on having two or three groomsmen per fifty guests for a formal wedding or less for an informal affair.

Excerpt: iDo: Planning Your Wedding With Nothing But Net

What, Exactly, Does the Best Man Actually Do?

Some grooms wonder why they need groomsmen and why they have to choose a best man. I mean, what’s he for, really? There’s that image in the back of most people’s minds of the wacky best man sobering the groom up after one last night of debauchery or the grown up best man having a stern pre-ceremony chat with the groom who has cold feet and even the sad best man who’d really like nothing more than to be marrying the bride himself. I suppose those are things some best men do, but pouring black coffee and pining away isn’t really the same as addressing invitations or choosing linens or whatever else many MOHs are expected to do.

Lucky bastards.

Some best men no doubt do get involved in the planning side of their friends’ weddings, but tradition still dictates that the individual standing immediately next to the groom has a fairly short list of responsibilities. If nothing else, the best man may be expected to get fitted for and acquire a tux, help transport stuff to the ceremony and reception sites, prod the groom into punctuality as necessary, sign the marriage license, hand out tips or vendor balances, and keep the rings safe until they’re on the appropriate fingers. He may even carry the groom’s emergency kit or run last-minute errands on the morning of the wedding. Easy stuff, all told. Well, except for the best man speech, which does set some men’s knees to knocking.

The best man is also often the go-to guy where the bachelor party is concerned, whether you’re talking about planning or paying. Be aware that his vision of the perfect pre-nuptial party may be very different than the groom-to-be’s vision of the perfect pre-nuptial party. The groom-to-be can prevent misunderstandings by dropping clear hints well in advance of the night or weekend set aside for this event. Picture the expression on the face of the poor best man who wants nothing more than to go camping with his soon-to-be married best pal but plans a sordid extravaganza involving strippers, whipped cream, caning, creepy clowns (like Ouchy from Ouchytheclown.com), donkeys, and a river of booze… when the groom-to-be finally admits he would have much rather spent a sedate weekend in the woods with his buds.

Image: Disaboom (check out the accompanying post!) Excerpt: iDo: Planning Your Wedding With Nothing But Net

Grooms Get Classic: The Bow Tie

Before I get to the meat of today’s post, I wanted to take a sec to tell you that all of the posts this week are going to focus on the groom and his concerns. Too many people still say that weddings are all about the bride and what the bride wants, but I think the groom should get to enjoy his wedding day just as much! Also, this week’s posts are going to include a lot of excerpts from my book iDo: Planning Your Wedding With Nothing But Net, which is a great resource for the busy bride who doesn’t have a lot of time to browse the shops.

Hey grooms, have you considered accessorizing your wedding day duds with a classic bow tie? They’re not just for waiters, magicians, and nerds, you know. But I understand that a lot of grooms (and groomsmen) find bow ties intimidating because, hey, how many guys know how to tie one?

If you’re a novice, you should know that bow ties come in two varieties, the bat wing and the thistle. The former model has parallel edges while the latter bulges twice at the ends, but the dissimilarities end there. You can use the same set of instructions to tie both varieties unless you happen to be tying the more unusual and much rarer single-ended variety of bow tie. Note: There are only handful of online shops that sell single-ended bow ties and no tying tutorials whatsoever that I could find in a quickie search. Should you accidentally buy this sort of bow tie, you may be able to solicit help from an older relative who remembers what to do with them.

If your rented tux happens to come with a clip-on bow tie – ewwwww – do yourself a favor and spring for a nice classic bow tie of your very own. Few people are capable of tying a bow tie these days, and your wedding day getup will be regarded as all the more impressive because you decided to put so much thought and effort into your attire.

Image: Unkommon Kolor, Excerpt: iDo: Planning Your Wedding With Nothing But Net

Your Wedding Theme Doesn’t Have to Scream

Wedding themes? Love ‘em. But I’ll admit that they don’t always work, and I can’t say that it’s necessarily the fault of the brides and grooms. Weaving some element basically unrelated to weddings into a ceremony and reception (not to mention things like wedding stationery or a wedding web site) can be pretty difficult. Too little, and your themey stuff can look out of place. Too much, and your wedding might not feel like a wedding anymore. I’m not talking about color themes – or season themes or holiday themes, both of which are pretty easy – but rather the themes that might already be a little confusing to your loved ones. Steampunk, for example. 1940s cinema. Drag racing. Anything that could be considered well outside the wedding box.

The images below of a wedding that subtly integrated a Superman and superhero theme into a wedding themed wedding were taken by the talented team at Philadelphia wedding photographer Hoffer Photography. I think it’s a great example of how to weave something special to you into your wedding without sacrificing the modern-traditional wedding aesthetic.

Not that there’s anything wrong with a big crazy overt wedding theme if that’s what you want! Personally, I like wedding themed weddings and weddings where guests are invited to come in costume and weddings that take place in unusually themed venues and pretty much every other kind of wedding, as long as the food is good. I think the key to making a wedding theme work is either keeping it simple and subtle or taking it all the way. In each case, some of your wedding guests will get it and some won’t, so make your planning focus creating a ceremony and reception that’s special to you, not necessarily a ceremony and reception every one of your loved ones will understand.

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