Newly engaged? Congratulations! Let the wedding planning fun begin! A decision you’ll need to make early on is who will be in your wedding party. This can be a tricky decision since there are so many potential questions and factors to consider. What’s the right number of people for a wedding party? How do you choose who to include? And what about etiquette–what do you need to know when it comes to your wedding party? Read on for answers to all these questions and wedding party etiquette tips for choosing your wedding party!

When Should You Pick Your Wedding Party?

Picking your wedding party is one of the first decisions you’ll need to make once you’re engaged. Typically, it’s best to ask your friends and family to be in your wedding at least eight months before the event. That gives them ample time to plan accordingly, purchase wedding attire, and help you throughout the entire planning process. This is especially true if you’re having a destination wedding where they’ll need to make travel and hotel accommodations. For short engagements, it’s best to pick your wedding party ASAP.

Who is Traditionally in the Wedding Party?

The wedding party typically consists of the groom’s best man and groomsmen, the bride’s maid/matron of honor and bridesmaids, ring bearer(s), and flower girl(s). However, these traditional roles may not suit you as a couple, or you may want to choose non-traditional loved ones to fill them. For example, many couples decide not to stick with the gendered roles of groomsmen and bridesmaids, especially when the bride has close male friends or family members and the groom, female. Additionally, if you don’t have little ones to fill the ring bearer and flower girl roles, switch it up. Ask your grandparents to fill the roles as a unique way for them to participate in the wedding. When it comes to who is in your wedding party, the choice is up to you. Keep reading for wedding party etiquette tips for choosing your wedding party. 

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7 Wedding Party Etiquette Tips

If you’re wondering, “How do I choose my wedding party?” you’ve come to the right place. Here are seven wedding party etiquette tips to help you decide who will be standing next to you on your big day.

1. Start with the Size of Your Wedding 

The average wedding party size is five people on either side. However, it also depends on the size of your wedding. For larger weddings with over 150 guests, it’s common to have up to 12 people total. For smaller weddings with under 50 guests, four or less on either side fits the environment. For micro and elopement weddings, couples often opt not to have a wedding party at all. 

2. Don’t Make Hasty Decisions

Once you ask, you shouldn’t go back. So it’s important to make sure you’ve really thought it through before asking someone to do the honors of standing by you on your wedding day. It is important to give people enough time to prepare to be in your wedding. However, make sure you’re confident in your wedding party list before asking anyone. 

3. Don’t Ask Someone Just to Return the Favor

You may feel like wedding party etiquette requires you to ask someone to be in your wedding just because you were in theirs. However, that’s not the case. It’s better to make decisions based on honest feelings rather than obligation.

4. Consider Your Closest Friends and Family 

Speaking of obligations, you aren’t required to ask your siblings or other family members to be in your wedding party. If you’re close to your siblings, including them is a nice gesture, but it’s not required. It’s most important to choose the people you are closest to, whether they are relatives or friends. 

5. Don’t Forget About the Budget 

Being in someone’s wedding party typically isn’t cheap. Even if you pay for their accommodations or wedding attire, other costs add up. It can get expensive, from flights to gifts to pre-wedding events like the bachelor and bachelorette parties. If you want to ask someone to be in your wedding party but you know they are struggling financially, talk to them about it before officially asking. Let them decide whether or not they feel comfortable with the cost and responsibilities associated. If not, share other ways they can be involved. 

6. Remember There are Other Roles to Fill 

Being in the wedding party isn’t the only important role in a wedding. There are plenty of other ways friends and family can be involved. When it comes to asking them to fill another role, make it feel just as important and special as being in your wedding party (because it is). Whether you want your friend to do a reading at the ceremony or your funny cousin to give a toast at the rehearsal dinner, there are ways to incorporate everyone you love.

9. Set and Communicate Your Expectations 

The wedding party does way more than stand next to you on one day. They are a significant part of the wedding planning process. It’s essential to set realistic expectations and clearly communicate them with your wedding party. When you ask your loved ones to be in your wedding, make sure they understand what they’re getting into (and only ask those you know are reliable to be by your side throughout the entire process).

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How to Tell People They’re Not in the Wedding Party

Likely, you won’t be able to have every one of your close friends or family members in your wedding. Once you’ve selected your wedding party, you might need to break the news to those who aren’t included. Here are three things to keep in mind when you do that:

Be Honest but Kind

Don’t lie about why someone isn’t in your wedding party, but be kind about it. Share how much you value their friendship and how it was a hard decision to make. Mention that you had to stick to a certain number, which meant you had to exclude some important people. 

Invite Them to Participate in Other Events

There are so many roles during a wedding. Although you aren’t asking the person to be in your wedding party, you can ask them to play another important part. You can also invite them to participate in pre-wedding activities like the bachelor or bachelorette party or be with you in the getting-ready room before your wedding.

Listen to Their Feelings and Reiterate Yours

It’s okay for your friend to feel hurt that they aren’t in the wedding party. It’s important to be a good listener and let them share their feelings. Once they have, be sure to reiterate how important the person is to you and how much you value their friendship.

Start Wedding Planning with Park Avenue Events

Choosing your wedding party is one of the first big decisions you’ll make for your wedding, but it’s definitely not the last. Partner with Park Avenue Events to make all other aspects of planning your wedding more enjoyable and much easier. You can learn about our wedding planning services here. Then, contact us today to solidify your wedding date (if you’ve made that big decision yet!). 

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