I 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
The interesting thing about this is how persistent
these beliefs are, despite it being the 21st
century, despite society more inclusive, and despite
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.
And they make 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
- the bridesmaids were dressed so that they were
indistinguishable from the bride (to confuse
- 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
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
- 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
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
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 standwill, 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.