Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Your job is to...

Last week, we discussed determining how many bridesmaids and groomsmen you should ask to participate in your wedding. This week, we’re going to talk about what you should ask those attendants to do.

The main jobs of a wedding attendant are to 1) help and 2) support. By support, we mean provide encouragement, well-wishes, and in general be happy about the marriage into which the bride and groom are about to enter and to willingly express that happiness. If you doubt whether an attendant can fulfill obligation #2, I recommend that you seriously consider whether it’s worthwhile inviting him or her to participate in your wedding: nothing, and I mean nothing, dampens a joyful spirit faster or more thoroughly than a vocal, ill-wishing wedding participant.

It’s task #1 that most brides and grooms struggle with. Often, we here at HJ are asked: “What, exactly, should we have our attendants do?” We’re unsurprised by the fact that we are asked this question, given that our clients have not only hired us to perform many, if not all, wedding-related tasks, but also because our brides and grooms usually take it upon themselves to undertake many tasks themselves. When all is said and done, there are very few wedding tasks on our wedding couples’ to-do lists that are assignable to attendants.

However, we encourage all of our couples to take full advantage of their attendants. By accepting an invitation to participate in a wedding, an attendant has made themselves open to performing tasks, running errands, and in general being helpful to the bride and groom. And, since planning a wedding is hard and time-consuming work, it’s always smart to take advantage of any extra and offered sets of hands.

Before I begin listing the tasks that are acceptable to ask a wedding participant to perform, I must point out that the majority and most complex of tasks are normally given to the Maid of Honor or Best Man. Through accepting such a high-ranking position, these two attendants have agreed to provide more assistance than other attendants.

Tasks normally performed by the Maid of Honor or Best Man:

Choosing bridesmaid or groomsmen attire and accessories: taking more than one attendant along on this task makes it incredibly more complicated (once again, more opinions = more problematic). Your Maid of Honor and Best Man can help narrow down choices and provide input on cost, which will help the decision to not only be made faster, but to also be one that considers attendants’ thoughts and checkbooks.

Providing information about where the couple is registered: since it’s considered uncouth to detail where a couple is registered on a wedding invitation, the Maid of Honor and Best Man are a great way to tell guests which stores the couple has chosen.

Signing the marriage certificate: although not required by every state (some only require the presiding individual’s signature), it might be the Maid of Honor and Best Man who place their names on the marriage certificate, making the ceremony official.

Maid of Honor: laying out the bride’s train prior to her walking down the aisle, holding the bride’s bouquet during the ceremony, and bustling the bride’s dress prior to the reception.

Best Man: holding the rings from right before the ceremony until they are needed during the couple’s vows.

Tasks normally performed by all attendants:
  • Planning and hosting pre-wedding parties, including bridal showers, and bachelorette and bachelor parties.
  • Attending the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.
  • Running last minute errands: did the bride forget her eyeliner? Call a bridesmaid to pick some up.
  • Tasks you MAY ask attendants to help with:
  • Assembling wedding items, including invitations, favors, signs, or anything else that will be used during the ceremony or reception.
  • Helping elderly or watching underage guests. If you’re worried about Great Aunt Ida being comfortable or navigating the stairs at your venue, ask a groomsman to help her out. If you think that your 13 year old cousin might try to snag some adults-only cocktails, ask a bridesmaid to keep an eye on him.
  • Bridesmaids: keeping track of the bride’s accessories, such as her purse or shawl.

Please do not ask your attendants to:

Plan your wedding for you. It’s fine to ask your Maid of Honor to check out the venue you’ve chosen, but having her along for all seven venue visits might be a bit much. Remember that this is your wedding and that you and your fiancé should plan it together.

Pick out attendant gifts. These gifts are meant to be a thank you to your attendants for their assistance. Having attendants choose what they receive dampens the meaning of the gift.

Engage in excessive setup. Yes, your attendants can be called upon to help you set up some items for your wedding. However, they are not your decorators. Our rule of thumb: your venue should be two-thirds of the way decorated before you ask attendants to chip in. So, think again if you plan on having them decorate an empty room or reception hall from scratch. Keep in mind that it’s impolite to ask guests to set up for a party to which you have invited them.

Clean up. Your attendants are not the cleaning crew or garbage men for your wedding. Although we understand that you may need some assistance sufficiently vacating your venue, it’s always impolite to ask guests to clean up after themselves, no matter what type of party.

These are the main tasks performed by attendants either before or during a wedding. Depending on the circumstances, there are dozens of other tasks that attendants may choose or be called upon to perform, but the ones I focus on here are those that they are most commonly assigned.