Choosing wedding attendants can be a logistical challenge. Faye Broderick, The Essex Room’s manager of catering sales & operations, weighs in on the topic.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. Today, I’m here with Faye Broderick, senior consultant at the Essex Room, a wedding venue on the north shore of Massachusetts. Today, we’re here to talk about wedding attendants. Welcome, Faye.
Faye Broderick: Hi, John.
John: When we’re talking about attendants for your wedding, we’re talking bridesmaids, groomsmen, maid of honor, best man, that type of thing. How do you choose your attendants?
Faye: I would start by thinking about the people that are closest to you. The thing about attendants is they need to be people that you can rely on. They need to be people that are going to show up, not just in the physical sense, but, perhaps, in the mental and the emotional sense as well.
The other thing about attendants, in general, is that, as the bride, your attendants don’t have to be all girls, and, as the groom, your attendants don’t have to be all guys. One trend that we have seen in the past couple of years is that there are brides who are choosing men to be their best men, I guess, and grooms that are choosing women to be their best women.
We saw a groom choose his sisters to stand up for him as his best women, and we have seen a bride choose, I think he was a childhood friend she had known since she was two, to stand up for her as her man of honor.
John: Think about who the people are that are the closest to you, who are going to be the most meaningful to you, and maybe think outside of that traditional box.
Faye: Absolutely. Think outside the box. Don’t think necessarily in terms of…don’t think closest in terms of proximity. If your best friend from college, that you still talk to twice a week, lives in California, by all means, ask the question. Even if you’re worried she may not be able to make the event, ask the question if only to make her feel good and let her know that you think of her in that high regard.
John: It’s nice to ask.
Faye: Absolutely. If you get turned down, don’t take it personally, because there are things that prohibit people from making a trip. Perhaps, it’s a budget thing. Perhaps, somebody’s pregnant and can’t hop on a plane across the country.
As much as we all want to take things like that personally when we’re planning our wedding because it is such an emotional time, the reason isn’t always a personal one.
John: That’s probably, especially true if you’ve decided to have your wedding in a far off place. Like, I want to get married in Ireland, say, or something like that. People are not necessarily going to be able to make big trip like that.
Faye: Exactly. When you plan a destination wedding like that, you have to expect that probably the bulk of the people that you invite, unless you’re inviting an exceptionally small group, may not be able to attend.
John: Right. What are the attendants’ duties, either before or at the wedding?
Faye: In my opinion, your attendants’ most important duty is going to be one of support to you. If you need to call and cry because you can’t get the flowers you want, they’re not in season or they’re going to cost you four times what you want to pay for them. If you need to cry about that, I think someone, one of your attendants should listen.
If you’re upset that the photographer you want is booked the day of your wedding, somebody should listen to you rant and rave about that. Really, mostly, my number one suggested duty would be one of support.
With that being said, traditionally, your bridesmaids or your groomsmen are also going to be responsible for the planning and carrying out of your shower, as well as your bachelorette party, should you all decide to have one.
John: What are the things that you need to do, in return, for your attendants?
Faye: Number one in my opinion is you need to be considerate. When you start thinking of things like dresses, jewelry, hairstyling, manicures, pedicures, shoes and even the destination for the wedding, you want to think about, yes, what you want. But you want to think about what they want too, to an extent.
Perhaps, the best way to start that process is to take your honor attendant, take your maid of honor first. Maybe, keep it a little hush‑hush from the rest of the girls. Have a little girls’ day with your maid of honor and do a little shopping, do a little online research on bridesmaid’s dresses.
Bridesmaid’s dresses are one of those things. They’re so taboo. You think of that movie “27 Dresses” where the poor girl has those 27 dresses in her closet because she’s been a bridesmaid so many times but she’s never going to wear any one of those dresses, ever again.
John: Right, or you always hear about those horror stories of some pink dress with fluffy shoulders or something like that, that you’re never going to wear, ever again.
Faye: Big shoulders and a floppy hat. When you start to think about what you might want your bridal party to wear, be considerate. Think of whether or not they might wear that dress again. Think of whether or not it’s affordable. Those are probably the two biggest issues, in terms of considerations, that you can offer your bridesmaids.
Same goes for the guys. Maybe, instead of a tux, a plain black suit could be in order, if it’s an earlier wedding or if it’s a summer wedding. If your wedding isn’t as formal, the suit, the tails, and the white tie, it’s not necessary. Be considerate to them, as well.
John: I’ve seen that at weddings recently. I know my niece got married just a couple of weeks ago. All of her bridesmaids, they all had matching dresses, but they were all of different styles. There might have been some of the girls that had strapless dresses. Others had full straps or spaghetti straps.
I think each girl was able to pick based on…I think they were given the fabric, and then they just choose the style that they want, that maybe best fits their body type.
Faye: Absolutely. I think that’s one of the best ways to be good to your bridesmaids. You hand them a color, you hand them a swatch. You say this is where I got it, go find yourself a dress. That way they are going to be comfortable in that thing that they have to wear all day, and it won’t sit in the closet for the rest of their lives.
The color really can be…Who cares if they look good in the color? Really? Let’s just cut to the chase on that. But they do have to be comfortable, because if they’re not comfortable, they’re not going to be happy. If they’re not happy, they’re not going to look happy.
You’re going to look happy. The people who are surrounding you that day need to look and really exude happiness, just as much as you do, or else it’s going to be evident, not only in person when you’re talking to them that day, when your guests are talking to them that day, but later on, when you get your photos back from the photographer, they need to look, every bit, as happy as you do.
John: Right. Are grooms doing the same thing as well? Maybe, offering their grooms to pick a different style. Like you said, maybe we’d go more casual with just a black suit. But I think I’ve seen some wedding parties where the groomsmen, some of them might have a bowtie, or some might have a regular tie or that sort of thing, kind of mix and match.
Faye: I haven’t seen that as much, in terms of attire on the male side. But one thing we do see is we see a lot of custom footwear. We see a lot of Converse Allstars in the wedding colors. Not just on the guys, we see it on the girls too.
If you’re fun‑loving, if your wedding is a little earlier, or, again, if you’re a dancing crowd, and maybe you want to change into something like that later, it’s great, it’s fun, it’s different and it’s not going to be something that everybody sees every day.
John: Right. Faye Broderick, thanks very much.
Faye: Thank you.
John: For more information and helpful tips on wedding planning, visit the Essex Room at EssexRoom.com or call 978‑768‑7335.