Monday, 9 February 2015

It’s My Party….

….. and I’ll pick who I want to!
While this might sound like a rally cry for a night of fun, hi-jinx of the tame and not-so-tame variety and a celebration to end all celebrations, we’re talking about your Bridal Party and the importance of picking the ladies and gents to hold court on your big day – and every step leading up to your wedding!
Size DOES Matter!
Photo courtesy of April from her wedding, September 2010

I think  that we all have an unofficial list in the back of our minds of who we want sharing in one of the biggest moments of our lives;  when we get engaged, that list  becomes a reality and sometimes we want to start asking people immediately. First off, ENJOY YOUR ENGAGEMENT GLOW! Take some time to let the big question and your even bigger answer  sink in - you’ve got a little homework to do before you start popping questions of your own!
Once you’ve let a little time pass, possibly set a wedding date, have looked into the wedding colours you’d like and thinking about venues,  it’s time to pick your wedding party .  Traditionally, the bigger the wedding, the bigger the wedding party. But with times changing, you can have as many or as few people as you like. We’ve seen big weddings with bridal parties both big and small; one wedding had one Bridesmaid, the Maid of Honour and the Best Man.  Size is a personal preference and can be born from many factors –  a huge circle of friends that you’re close to and want to share the experience with, family or cultural traditions, or wanting to be surrounded by very few, but very special people.  So big or small, there is no real right or wrong!  What helps determine your party is you.  The ancient Greeks insightfully deduced to ‘know thyself’ and if there’s one time in your life you really need to have a handle on just what you’re made of, it’s when you’re planning a wedding.  While it is an exciting time in your life, it can also be one of the most stressful.  Be honest and determine your own capabilities as well as expectations for yourself and your Bridal party.   Are you going to be actively and heavily involved in the planning of your wedding?  How much of the work will you  be taking on board (making your own invitations and escort cards, wedding favours, or even  wedding décor)  or will most of these things be taken care of by outside vendors? Will you  require an “all-hands-on-deck’ , fully involved wedding party to help along the way, or will things be taken care of externally so that it’ll be more of laid-back lead up, with the job description being to have fun and party until the sun comes up?  The people you pick will need to know up front what you want – and need – from them. Remember that some people have been in other weddings which were subject to their own set of expectations.   And aside from your wedding, there could be things going on in their lives that could limit how present they are leading up to the wedding.  You’ll have to be realistic about what you can and can’t expect. For example, you might want to ask one of your oldest friends to be a Bridesmaid because you can’t imagine not having her as part of your day.  She’s just gone back to work from maternity leave so she’s finding her footing again, juggling work and having  a young child at home .  Your wedding is going to be a very intimate wedding and you’ve decided to make all of your centrepieces and wedding décor and invitations yourself.     If there are weekends that the bridal party will be called upon to help you with centrepieces or bombonieres and you’ll need every set of hands you can get – will her not being able to help out as much be an issue?  Will you need her to attend multiple dress shopping days with the other girls in the party?  Understand that while she will want to help and be involved, her schedule might not allow and instead of what she perceives as ‘letting you down’, she could decline your Bridesmaid invitation; ultimately, if you know that her life has changed but she has a special place in the party regardless, let her know that her moral support is more important to you then her being able to attend to every detail or fitting.
Photo courtesy of Merene from her wedding, October 2014

What A Bride Wants!
People are amazing – and complex.   When you mix a group of people, you never know what you’ll get; you can get a well-oiled machine 0r, sometimes, you might have to do a little maintenance to keep the machine running smoothly.   But when does maintenance become full-on wrangling?  This is something you can partly control by having a clear idea of the things that can cause dissension.  First, know and understand the personalities of the people in the party.  If you’ve asked your outspoken friend, your indecisive but well-intentioned friend, and  your  partner in jeans-and-Converse-lovin’  friend who hates getting dressed up to be bridesmaids, be prepared that some of the traits that you’ve loved (or the opposite of, depending on the circumstance!)  throughout your friendships with them will factor in at times during the run-up to the wedding and you might have to navigate some rough waters.  Wedding details can trip us up and cause the biggest ripples.   It’s natural that you’re going to have go back and forth with your party  to coordinate schedules, get feedback on things like makeup or dress styles, but if you have a vision of what you want your day to look like,  you have to communicate that in order to avoid unnecessary conflicts.  If you’ve decided that the ladies in your group can wear a dress of their own choosing, make sure you do give them any parameters that you might have up front.  When April got married, she let all of us pick our own black  dresses but  her only  specification was that our dresses be floor-length, not cocktail.  We were pretty lucky to have relative carte blanche in regards to dress, hair and makeup but, that being said, if she had asked us to wear seafoam green with elbow gloves and a  severe ballerina bun, we would have done it,  because that’s what you do for your Bride!  Part of the job description is being as cooperative with each other and the Bride’s wishes, and when she has to struggle to be heard, there’s a disconnect somewhere along the line.  Each Bridesmaid will bring something to the table – that outspoken friend might light a (friendly) fire under you when you’re second-guessing yourself; your indecisive friend might very well save your hide a little down the road when you’re rushing headlong into something you should take a step back from; and your Converse friend can very well be your foot-and-ankle or face-planting saviour when she points out that the only man currently living in your shoe closet  is Chuck and maybe a  4-inched platform guy named Manolo might not be your best decision for your big day.
And this leads to the person who will be invaluable to you,  during the planning process all the way through to the last dance at the ceremony.  Your MOH (Maid/Man of Honour) becomes RHG (Right Hand Gal/Guy) and a great liaison between yourself and the rest of the wedding party.   Because RHG is probably one of the closest people in your life, they’ll be privy to all the wedding details, be part of all the planning and  they will be the best possible person to help you with putting out any fires and keeping the wedding party at peace and on track.  RHG is also probably familiar and friendly with the rest of the Bridal party, making it much easier to help communicate your idea and wishes.  Your MOH will  be the easiest person to pick, they just fit and it was probably never even a question of ‘who’ but rather ‘when can I make this official?!’    This is the person who knows you as well as your groom and your family and will have your best interests at heart and would gladly step in when they think you’re overwhelmed …. all you have to do is ask.
X, Y, and Match-y, Match-y and Brothers and Sisters
Photo courtesy of Ivana from her wedding, February 2014

Shoes match:  you have a left shoe and a right shoe, yes?  Thankfully, wedding parties aren’t shoes and don’t have to come in pairs!  The beautiful thing about a wedding party is that these are the people who you’ve LIVED with –  laughed with (and let’s be honest, laughed AT, but no doubt the favour has been returned as well, all in good fun!) cried with, created memories with and you couldn’t imagine what life would’ve been like if you’d never met them.   So let’s say that a Bride has five people she wants in her party and her groom has four people.  This use to mean that  a fifth groomsmen would be asked to keep the numbers even.  This is no longer the case! Not only can you have ‘odd numbers’ but you can definitely have fun with the processions (like one groomsman escorting two bridesmaids down the aisle, or vice-versa, or an ‘extra’ attendant escorting some VIP guests down the aisle early in the procession and seating them  (like a grandparent(s) or great-grandparent(s) who’s particularly close to the Bride or Groom)   There’s always a way to turn ‘odd’ into something even more lovely on your day.  We’ve also been seeing a really beautiful  trend that’s checking gender rules at the door and letting love lead the way – sisters and female friends have been proudly standing by the Grooms-to-be as either a  Grooms-person or as Best Person (Right Hand Gal!)  and brothers or male friends of the Bride-to-be are beaming with pride on her side of the aisle.   Please don’t be limited by what we’ve all seen or what we  think is ‘traditional’ or ‘normal’ because at the end of the day, a bride and groom should have what’s ‘right’ for them!
Your wedding day is yours and yours alone…… Make it all that you want, and if there are any rules, they should be the ones written by you!
Wishing you a day as limitless as you are~
Lisa and April

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