Wedding Q&A

Bridesmaids ::

Q: Is it OK to have an odd number of bridesmaids and groomsmen?

Oh my, my little stressed-out bride-to-be: yes, yes, yes! It's not only OK, it's actually extremely common, no need to make your fiance cut his best college drinking buddy, or feel like you need to add your random office friend just to make it all even-steven. "Usually the groomsmen are already standing in front with the groom before the ceremony", says Linnea Tangorra, owner of Tangora Wedding Planning in Newburyport. "So it's just the recessional and the introductions that you have to worry about, and it's perfectly fine to have one groomsman with two bridesmaids or one bridesmaid with two groomsmen". But certainly put them in groups of three rather than making one fly solo, she says. And if you have a child of one of the odd bridesmaids or groomsmen in the wedding party, "just pair them up", says Danielle Cameron, founder of Details Within Wedding Consulting in Merrimac-which, of course, solves the inevitable toddler-walking-on-her-own meltdown.

Q: I do not get along with my sister-in-law. But I was a bridesmaid in her wedding to my brother, so now do I have to ask her to be in my wedding part

No, no, no. Well, maybe. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer here, and you-and only you-are going to have to choose from a menu of unsavory options. From a pure etiquette standpoint, you do not have to ask her to play one of the most important roles in you most important day. "People standing up there should be people that you want there, people who want to be there, and not just because, 'Well, they did it so I guess I have to do it' ", says Danielle Cameron, founder of Details Within Wedding Consulting in Merrimac. "Things change, relationship change and you wouldn't do it just to do it". Many brides channel their inner wimp and cave to family pressure in this situation. "Most of the time they give in and invite them to be part of their wedding party", says Sylvia Golden, owner of Events by Sylvia Golden in Needham. "It's only one night or one day and you don't want to have a family war, because there will be hard feelings and some people never forget. That's not a good way to start a new relationship in a new family". So you can ask-and then pray she says no, or you can tiptoe along the middle road. "I don't think it's necessary to have her in the wedding party, but I do think it's necessary to include her in some part of the wedding", says Linnea Tangorra, owner of Tangorra Wedding Planning in Newburyport. "It can be as simple as handing out programs or doing a reading or giving a toast". Just be mindful, that toast could turn into a roast.

Q: Do I have to ask my fiance's brother's wife to be one of my bridesmaids? We aren't that close, and already I have a bigger bridal party than I wanted, but she's making me feel bad.

Your bridal party is there to support you on your Big Day, and should include your closest friends and family. If this were your fiance's sister instead of his sister-in-law, etiquette would indicate (but not dictate) that you include her. Although even then, she could stand on the groom's side of the bridal party as one of his "honor attendants", as it's increasingly acceptable to switch gender roles within the bridal party. (No tuxedos on the ladies, though, please). In your case, this bridesmaid wannabe is way out of line. If you don't ask her to be in the wedding party, she should graciously accept your decision. Period. You could consider giving her some smaller part, such as lighting candles or manning the guest book, if only to avoid hearing about how she was left out at every future Thanksgiving dinner for the rest of your life.

Q: When I told my college roommate I was engaged, she mistakenly assumed she'd be a bridesmaid. How do I tell her that she's not?

It's hard to avoid hurt feelings in this situation, even with proper etiquette squarely on your side. You'll be telling your roommate, whether you want to or not, that she is no longer one of your closest friends (unless, of course, you are limiting the wedding party to family). Tell her soon; the longer you wait, the worse it will be. While honesty is great, certain white lies have been known to ease the sting - you had to even up your attendant count with your fiance'...your wedding is small...your budget demands a smaller bridal party. Whatever you say, make sure you tell her how much it means to you to have her attend, and that you can't imagine your wedding without her. Ask her to participate in the ceremony by reading a verse, or invite her to attend the rehearsal dinner.