Wedding attendants are an important part of the wedding party and celebration. They are pillars of support to the bride and groom in terms of assistance both before and during the wedding. For some couples, choosing their wedding attendants isn’t difficult – they simply pick their siblings or close friends. But for some who have no siblings or a multitude of friends, the choice often becomes difficult.
A few pointers to guide a couple towards making this tough decision…
You may be able to have more attendants if you plan to have a more lavish wedding and a large number of guests, thus enabling you to have your sibling(s) and quite a few friends as attendants.
Generally you could have about one attendant for every 40 guests, but again there is nothing sacrosanct about this. Traditionally, informal weddings can have about three attendants, semi-formal about six, and formal can go up to twelve. But in actual fact, you can have as many or as few attendants as you like.
On the whole though, the size and formality of your wedding does determine the size of your wedding party. If the venue or ceremony site is small, it may look unwieldy to have more than two or three attendants. So also, at an intimate wedding, it might look strange if your attendants outnumber your guests.
It is also not necessary to have an equal number of bridesmaids and groomsmen/ushers.
You are also not obliged to return the favour and ask someone to be your attendant because you were an attendant at their wedding.
Although the bride and groom are not liable to pay for the attire of the attendants, having more attendants still places an additional monetary burden, as the couple has to foot the bill for wedding party gifts, bouquets, boutonnieres, accommodations for out of town attendants etc., as well as additional guests at the rehearsal dinner.
As the attendants will be assisting you in pre-wedding preparations and you have to make a choice between several friends, you might like to honestly evaluate their qualities and vote in favour of the ones with certain desirable qualities.
Foremost among them is reliability, as they would need to be in constant touch with you in the lead-up to the wedding, carry out instructions or be responsible for certain things without constantly being reminded about it, and of course, the best man should never, under any circumstances, misplace the ring!
Punctuality is also important in terms of showing up on time for appointments and pre- wedding events and of course on the wedding day itself!
Someone who can display the required courtesy assisting guests on the wedding day and due consideration while assisting with wedding preparations, is your ideal choice.
The financial aspect…
Being an attendant is also an expensive affair for the individual concerned, as they are responsible for their own attire, transportation, contributing towards pre-wedding parties, giving a gift etc. This can place a considerable economic burden on the attendants, so you should preferably choose attendants who will be comfortable with the financial obligations which being an attendant entails.
If you are particular about a close friend being an attendant, but are hesitant to approach him/her because you feel they might not be able to bear the financial cost of it, you could offer to foot the bill for their attire, either partially or in totality, depending on your financial status.
When should attendants be asked?
It is preferable to give attendants as much notice as possible, so as soon as you have decided and at least six months in advance, could be considered a good time frame. However, if you are adhering to a tighter schedule, shorter notice might be acceptable, though you might have to make a few compromises like resorting to readymade rather than custom-made bridesmaids outfits etc. Attendants require sufficient notice to arrange a leave of absence from work and make travel arrangements (if from out of town), purchase attire, host a bridal shower/ pre-wedding party, etc.
If the person lives in your city, it’s really nice if you could ask him/her in person. If you can’t, rather than procrastinate for too long, a written request or a call is fine. In order for your attendant to make an informed decision, preferably provide details like the wedding date, tentative time of day (whether morning ceremony/reception or evening), location, etc.
If you’re planning a destination wedding, do let your attendant know what costs will have to be covered by him/her, now, rather than at a later date. For instance, if you’re planning on covering accommodation as well as travel costs or only one or the other, do let them know at this stage itself.
Finally, if someone you have asked doesn’t accept instantly, needs time to consider or even declines, don’t take it amiss. There may be genuine reasons or certain constraints, so while you may be crestfallen or let down, don’t let it get in the way of your friendship.
If you have a large friend's circle and are feeling awful about not being able to ask all of them to be part of your wedding party, consider other honours like doing a reading at the ceremony, singing a solo, assisting guests, being in charge of the guest book or the gifts, etc. This way, they too will feel involved and an important part of your special day.
Once you have zeroed in on your attendants and they have accepted, it will be your responsibility to keep everyone connected. If they are not all familiar with one another, it might help to get them acquainted through information posted on a wedding website or communicate individually with each of them. While communicating individually through e-mail, phone calls or the post can prove time-consuming, creating a wedding website can be a useful tool for posting information such as:
Names, addresses and phone numbers along with the honour (such as bridesmaid, matron of honour, etc.) alongside each name.
A list of events, as and when they get finalized, with the timings and venues
Dress code for different events
Accommodation details for out of town attendants
Rehearsal and rehearsal dinner details
Any changes in details or decisions that take place along the way
Sometimes, attendants are unsure what exactly is expected of them. It might be a good idea to briefly run through what you expect of your respective attendants so that they are familiar with your requirements.