Expected vs. Unexpected: Bridesmaids & Groomsmen

Bridesmaids Black with bright color flowers

Photo courtesy of Braden Harris Photography


Today, we’re introducing a new series of blogs – Expected vs. Unexpected!  We’ll be discussing several aspects of wedding planning to give you an idea of the expected decisions in any given arena, as well as some unexpected options that may better suit you and your partner.  Not all couples and families are the same – and your wedding should reflect that!  We’re going to start with a topic with lots of room for individualization – your wedding party.


Groomsmen teal bow tie black tux

Photo courtesy of Kylie Crump Photography


Who Should You Ask?

Having trouble deciding who should be up there with you?  Let’s look at your options!

Expected: A traditional wedding party includes siblings of the bride and groom as well as close friends.  The honor attendant for the bride is either the maid or matron of honor.  A maid of honor is unmarried; a matron of honor is already wed.  The best man is the honor attendant on the groom’s side.  Generally, the numbers of ladies and men are equivalent.

Unexpected: In this particular instance, the etiquette world has caught on to the fact that not all families and friends fall into these expected groups, and updated traditional views to encompass more modern standards.  For example:

– It is absolutely fine to have uneven sides!  Life does not automatically pair you up with someone who has the perfect number of siblings and/or friends to balance yours.  We recommend only asking people that are meaningful to you, even if that makes your sides uneven.

– We love the new practice of including groomswomen/ladies/maids and bridesmen.  Who says all of your friends are the same gender as you?  Why shouldn’t you have a Best Woman or a Man of Honor?  No reason we can think of!  Also, pro tip – if you’re trying to keep your language neutral, you can refer to everyone in your party as attendants.

– Maybe your siblings are not able to be in the wedding party.  Or maybe your wedding is tiny, and you have a slew of sibs on each side.  When you are considering who to ask we suggest you don’t leave any one sibling out if you are inviting some siblings to stand by your side.

– It is perfectly acceptable to forego a wedding party.  If you have too many friends and family members to make the selection process meaningful, then maybe you just keep it simple with you and your partner alone!


Bridal Party Taupe, ivory, and navy

Photo courtesy of Marissa Ann Photography


How to Ask and When

There are a million ways to ask, so how do YOU pop the question to your attendants?

Expected: Once you have a feel for the size of your wedding, as well as an approximate date, you can begin composing your wedding party.  Generally, 6 months or more is considered polite.  A heartfelt request in person is wonderful, but if you can’t meet up face to face, you may ask via phone, email, or text.

Unexpected: You know your crew better than anyone, so ask in the way that makes the most sense to you!  Maybe that’s via a Snapchat story, or at a lunch with cute gifts.  Pro Tip: One on one is always good if you think it’s possible one of your folks might say no.  We would still suggest sticking to the 6 months or more timeline if possible, so that your attendants can clear their calendars for the wedding as well as any other events, plus take care of attire in a timely manner.


Bridesmaids and bride first look

Photo courtesy of Dyan Kethley Photography



This is a really visual place to make your wedding your own, so consider what makes the most sense for you and your partner!

Expected: Generally, all of the bride’s attendants would wear matching dresses (in both color and style), and the groom’s attendants would wear matching suits or tuxes.  If your attendants are not separated by gender, you would have the groomsmaid(s) select dresses similar in color and formality to the groomsmen’s attire, and vice versa for the bridesmaid/men.

Unexpected: Because your attendants will be supporting actors in your wedding, their attire is a great way to have fun and incorporate your wedding design. What are your options?

– Oh, the glories of the mix and match!  Allow your attendants to choose their own attire, with certain guidelines.  You can assign each person a color (swatches will help!), fabric, and length/style to stick to, and send them off into the world to choose something that makes them feel awesome.

– Have no guidelines whatsoever.  This works best for very intimate and casual weddings, but hey – if attire isn’t at the top of your priority list, then let your crew have some free reign.

– Feel free to encourage pants on ladies and dresses on gents, if that’s what your attendants usually wear.

– Consider cultural heritage.  Kilts can be fun, if you’re Scottish.

– Go full force on the theme and do a little cosplay.


We hope this helps you figure out how to choose a crew and work with them to make your wedding party an awesome group to spend your time with for your wedding, not to mention all the fun pre-wedding events! Have you done something unexpected with your wedding party? Tell us about it!


If you would like some more tips and suggestions be sure to read our other blog about traditional duties for the bridal party. You can also contact us to see how we can help plan your wedding and figure out the details for your wedding party.


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