Your Wedding Party - Busting the Myths

by Jennifer Cram Brisbane Marriage Celebrant © (13/01/2020)
Categories: | Inclusive Weddings | Wedding Ceremony|
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bridesmaids seated during ceremonyI can pretty well guarantee that there are four ingrained beliefs about wedding parties, repeatedly reinforced by television, movies, and photos of real life weddings, that are all to do with what are believed to be the reason you have a wedding party!

The interesting thing about this is how persistent these beliefs are, despite it being the 21st century, despite society more inclusive, and despite more than three quarters of wedding ceremonies in Australia being civil ceremonies where ceremony content is all about personal choice and ensuring that your wedding reflects who you are as a couple.

These ingrained beliefs make absolutely no sense whatsoever when the wedding is between two brides or two grooms.

Myth One: Wedding Parties must be divided on gender lines


The top hetero wedding party myth is that the bride's half of the wedding party must be females, and the groom's half of the wedding party must be males.  That made sense when
  • unmarried men and women did not socialise
  • the bride was being traded to the groom's family in payment for economic or strategic advantage
  • the bridesmaids were dressed so that they were indistinguishable from the bride (to confuse evil spirits)
  • the groomsmen could well be required to fight off parties who wanted to stop the wedding or kidnap the bride

In the 21st century there is no reason why you can't have your nearest and dearest friends/relatives as part of your wedding party. There is no need for the groom's sister to be part of the bride's party. She can be part of his. We even have appropriate names - grooms woman, groom's gal, best woman, brides man, bride's guy, and so on.

Myth Two: Wedding Parties must match


Even numbers on either side are not necessary - and are totally a "commoner" tradition. Royal weddings have always had only one or two "supporters" for the groom and many more attendants (bridesmaids, child bridesmaids/flower girls, and page boys).

And dressing everyone alike isn't necessary either. A growing trend (and one I like very much) is for the wedding party to be given guidelines and then left to choose what they will wear. So it might be a colour, it might be more prescriptive, like dress length or type of fabric. Saves money. Ensures that each person is able to choose something that fits well, suits them, and has a life after the wedding with looking like something out of 27 Dresses.

Myth Three: Your Wedding Party must stand for the whole ceremony


Having the wedding party stand for the whole ceremony is still regarded to be a traditional part of most weddings. But it has never been a rule. Weddings in church, particularly if there is a full Catholic Nuptial mass, or a long sermon, often have the wedding party seated for the entire ceremony, or for a significant part of it. If it's important to you to have your entire wedding party seen in the ceremony photos then by all means have them stand. It is up to you.

Other options are
  • have the two principal attendants - best man and chief bridesmaid or their equivalents - stand up with them, and have the rest of the wedding party seated in the front or to one side.
  • have the adults in your wedding party stand up with you and the children in the wedding party (flower girls, pages, ring bearers) sit with parents during the ceremony

Myth Four: You have to have a Wedding Party


No you don't. You do have to have two adult witnesses to act as the legal witnesses to your marriage, but they don't have to stand up with you. Choosing witnesses who are not part of the wedding party is trending. Mothers, grandparents, the couple who introduced you, other people significant to you - in fact anyone over 18 - all qualify. Generally, they sit with the guests and come forward when it is time to sign the Register and Certificates.

The Processional is not affected by seating the Wedding Party


The processional is a meaningful part of the wedding. So it shouldn't change regardless of whether you ask your wedding party to walk in and stand in the front, or walk in and take their seats. At the end of the ceremony, as you prepare to make your formal exit (the recessional) your wedding party will just stand and join in, if they were seated.

Making the decision


Before you make the final decision about whether you will have a wedding party, the composition of your wedding party, how they will be dressed and whether they will sit or stand, you should weigh up the the pros and cons. Your friends and loved ones will see being asked to be part of your wedding party as an honour, and standing up with you a public recognition of their importance to you. But there are many practical reasons why standing might not be the best option. Seating your wedding party widens the pool of people you can ask. And it also gives them a much better view of the ceremony, including the emotional moments when you make your vows and exchange your rings.

For more about what you need to take into account when deciding whether your wedding party will sit or stand, read  Stand by Me - Or Please Be Seated: There are No Rules for Your Bridal Party, or for Guests at Your Wedding

Thanks for reading
Jenny xxx Let's talk
                      soon about how you can have the best ceremony
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