Having been a celebrant for the past 8 years, this is a topic that has come up several times this year and thus, has inspired me to do some research, chat to people and for a blog to be written. Work with me here as I try to tease out some scenarios that have occurred and try and give you some tips and advice on how to navigate something that appears to be difficult for most people to do….choosing your bridal tribe and then tell them what ‘order’ or ‘position’ they are in.
"Picking your bridal party is like a real-life Myspace top 8!"
It is the one time in our life that we ‘rank’ our friends and it can be really stress-inducing for many of us. Understandably so! We are so lucky that we live in a world where bridal tribes have all kinds of ‘make ups’ and that we have started as a society to change the stiff, traditional ways and be more inclusive with our bridal tribes. For the purpose of this blog, we will refer to the whole bridal party as bridal tribe and will differentiate one side as bridesmaids/maid of honour and the other side as groomsmen/ best man.
As a celebrant, I have seen too often where the groomsmen have not known what the order is that they are to stand in at the ceremony. This has only come to light at the rehearsal or ON THE DAY. As a celebrant, I love to do a shoutout to your bridal tribe during my ceremonies so I will always ask couples for the individuals names involved and list them from the outside, in, respectively. This has meant that on those occasions, I have had to tell them what ‘order’ they have been ‘ranked’ in to stand. This more often than not, can feel pretty uncomfortable for all and I usually feel the urge to pull out my best Dad joke to get everyone grinning again.
I have had discussions with friends who are choosing their bridal tribe and their concerns or worries about offending anyone and often get asked ‘what other jobs can I give someone, so they feel special and included’.
Most brides that I have spoken with about their bridal party order, if they feel that they don’t know what position to put them in have decided on using height order or /best height match with the groomsmen as a way to do this, so that there is no bias on the ordering- it is what is most aesthetically pleasing for the #gram, therefore taking the pressure off having to ‘choose’ an order.
I have also had brides and grooms say ‘they all are the maid of honour or best man’. I can understand that if you have two sisters in the bridal party and trying to choose one to be the maid of honour is difficult, so it is easier to just say ‘you both are sharing the role’. All that needs to be clarified then, is who is standing next to you (and walking last) for the ceremony and who is signing the marriage certificates as your witness. The reason I say this is that traditionally it is the maid of honour who might sign this. However, this has been a great job for another person (family or friend, your nan) to do also . Just make sure this is clearly communicated before the day.
Some advice that I have thought of as I have written, reflected, researched and discussed this is as follows:
Choose your bridal tribe as the people that you cannot imagine the day without.
This doesn’t have to be people you have known the longest but people you know will always be there for you on the day and in 100 years’ time. Who are going to be the ones that know what vibe, atmosphere and day you are planning to throw for your loved ones. Who will create that message group with everyone and get onto planning the most epic Hens/Bucks for you? Who, on the day, will have you as the first priority and ensure that they do what they can to support YOU on the day?
Communicate clearly and early with your bridal tribe. Take the time to make your decision and maybe do a group ‘proposal’ to ask your bridesmaids so that it is a joyous occasion and then take the time to explain what everyone’s role might be. Don’t think about it as ‘first to last’. Maybe those that are standing at the end of the line can also assist with organising the flower petals while you are signing the marriage documents ready for everyone to throw as we announce you as newlyweds?
Set honest and clear expectations
Don’t beat around the bush- when you are asked what order people are standing in, don’t be afraid or worried about saying the order- as bridesmaids/groomsmen, everyone is so honoured and privileged to have been asked to be there with you on your day and just would want to logistically know what position to be in (they aren’t overthinking it like you are, we promise 😊)
Don’t ask someone just because they asked you
There is no rule that says that you have to ask someone that had you in their wedding (or has promised they will have you).
Choose your own traditions, or be respectful of ones existing
Decide for yourselves what you want to do and own it. If other family members did have all siblings involved and that isn’t what you wish to do, communicate that clearly to your family and ensure that you are respectful of what they might be expecting you to do.
Consider the group dynamics
Do the people that you have put into your bridal tribe actually get along? They don’t need to be best friends, but they do all have one thing in common. YOU. Do they all collectively have your best interest at heart, and will they all come together to help you through this? If you are wanting to do an epic surprise bridal tribe dance at the reception, have you chosen the ones that will collectively say YAAAASSSS Queen and start lining up the rehearsals six months out from the wedding?!
Another thought/discussion/ aspect that came to light with this process was ‘how do I let down someone who might be expecting to be in my bridal tribe?’.
This is difficult and while no one should ever expect to be a bridesmaid/groomsman, it does happen. The best thing that you can do is to be open and honest with them.
Take the time to sit with them separately and explain to them that they will not be in your bridal tribe. Ensure that you express how much you value their friendship. Try not to say things like you like someone else more or you feel closer to another person (even if that is the case). Try to provide honest and logical reasons such as location, family obligations etc.
Don’t feel that you then HAVE to have this person involved in some way. This can create more stress as you try to work out whether they can still attend dress fittings or hand out flowers ‘just because’ you feel you have to. Plan how you are going to tell them, stick to the plan and be open, honest and show empathy for the disappointment that they might feel.
Lastly, remember that this is meant to be an enjoyable process to the lead up to your MOST enjoyable day! Try not to worry or fixate on this and ensure that you communicate to each other, your families and bridal tribe what you are hoping for your big day!
Remember you don’t have to be alone with these thoughts. Speak to family, friends, colleagues, your dogs. Don’t be afraid to speak to a professional about your feelings as well.
Photo credits: Meaghan Coles