Heather’s Guide to Coordinating the Wedding Party: Part One
QC Event School tutor, Heather Vickery, tells us how to coordinate the wedding partyv properly. Heather is the Owner and Event Director of Greatest Expectations Special Events and Weddings, one of Chicago’s most celebrated event planning and design firms.
Let’s Talk Wedding Party AKA “Bridal Party.” You will never hear me use the term “bridal party” because it is very gender exclusive and completely discredits the grooms involved. What if there is no bride at all? Shifting away from any “bride centric” language is so important these days. Keep it all inclusive by using the terms couple, client or brides and grooms instead of always referring to “brides.” Okay—back to the topic at hand…the Wedding Party!
You have heard me say this before, but I tell all of my clients that I only have one wedding planning rule—that there are no rules. It is your wedding and you can do anything you please (as long as you can afford it!) You do not have to have programs, you do not have to have dancing. The list goes on and on. One area I think this is especially important is deciding to have a wedding party and how large it should be.
Over the last 19 years, I have discovered that, typically, my younger clients have larger wedding parties. Perhaps that is because fresh out of college people tend to have way more friends and it is difficult to decide who will stand up with you at your wedding. No matter the reason, older couples tend to have much smaller wedding parties or none at all. Typically, I also tend to see smaller wedding parties with same-sex couples. This is okay! The only rule is that there are no rules.
As a planner, it is important to make sure your clients know that they are not required to have attendants. It is also important for you to help redefine what the role of attendants truly is. Managing everyone’s expectations right out of the gate is invaluable and can save you, your clients and their loved ones a lot of headache.
The most important thing to remember is that asking someone to be in your wedding is about love and friendship. They are asked to play this special role because having them there will enhance the experience for the couple. The clients are also asking them to sign up for a fairly large financial commitment. It is expensive to stand up in someone’s wedding. From the cost for attire to travel expenses or hosting showers and brunches, this is no small ask! Make sure the motivation for asking someone to be in your wedding is genuine.
It is also extremely important to remember that people say yes to being an attendant out of love and friendship! This means they want to be a support system for the couple. It means they want to share in this experience. It does not mean they want a second job. Yes, your attendants can help you with things like assembling, stuffing and mailing invitations—but so can you, the wedding planner!
Do you hear me wedding planners?! Your job is to do a lot of this “dirty work” that used to be reserved for the attendants. You can take care of invitations and assemble favors. You can put together welcome bags for hotel guests. You can even attend dress fittings and hair/make-up trials. In fact, with higher-end weddings, you should be attending these fittings and trials anyway!
Is it okay for the attendants to do these things? Of course it is! But if doing them causes stress for your clients or the attendants—it is not worth it! On more than one occasion, I have seen friendships ruined because brides and grooms expected too much from their wedding attendants. It is stressful and completely unnecessary. As the planner, you can help prevent this.
Stay tuned for Part Two of Heather’s Guide to Coordinating the Wedding Party!