As couples everywhere embark on their journey down the aisle with a micro wedding or elopement, that also means that the likelihood of having a traditional wedding party is slim. Maybe you’re testing the waters with a smaller headcount, or maybe you’re nixing the wedding party altogether! There is no wrong answer, but it can certainly raise some questions about what a wedding looks like without one.
However, the good news is that you aren’t alone – wedding pros often speak to seeing their couples incorporate friends and family into the wedding without the need for a full-fledged wedding party. So, what should you know if you choose to opt out of the tradition?
For starters – why the shift?
Simply put, the idea of a full-blown wedding party can put unnecessary pressure on you and your partner. Depending on the family and friend dynamics, there’s also extra stress on top of the inevitable wedding planning obstacles you’ll surely face.
Nora Sheils of Bridal Bliss and Rock Paper Coin elaborates, noting: “With all the chaos the last few years have brought, couples today want to simplify their wedding and stick to what is most important – their union and the celebration! That means they are reducing guest counts overall and skipping anything that can cause friction…including a large wedding party. As a result, we are seeing couples scale down to only include siblings, or skipping a wedding party altogether, and keeping it to the two of them and their officiant.”
Explaining your decision to loved ones
Now comes the tricky part: how do you approach the conversation of forgoing your wedding party with your loved ones? While everyone should understand your decision and the circumstances, your family and/or friends may still expect the same traditions from decades past to be incorporated into your big day.
Bri Marbais of The Bridal Finery explains, “We recommend the couple let loved ones know in person that they have chosen not to have a wedding party. This is the most personal way to do so. Definitely let friends and family know that celebrations will still be happening, and there will be lots that they can be involved in during the engagement.”
Laura Maddox of Magnolia Celebrates adds, “Simply be true and explain your reasoning. I don’t often hear a lot of push back here. However, if you are receiving pushback, I would tell your parents or friends that this is a decision you have made together and ask them to respect it kindly without emotion tied to the conversation.”
Who handles the tasks?
Since wedding party members are historically the ones that are assigned tasks and planning responsibilities, you may be wondering what this process will look like on the other side. For example, will you be required to plan your own bach party and shower? What about day-of tasks?
Maddox says it best: “In all situations, I advise hiring a wedding planner so that no one is burdened with anything but the joy of celebrating you and your love that day! However, if you do need to assign tasks, that is absolutely still okay! Just make sure you’re asking and not telling people. Also, be sure that they have the bandwidth and capabilities to help (i.e., don’t ask the flower girl’s mom to also hold onto your bouquet during the ceremony; she’ll already have her hands full!).”
Bear in mind that your loved ones will still want to celebrate the wedding activities with you, and you don’t need a wedding party in order to request help if you really need it.
Ways that you can still incorporate family and friends (without leaving anyone out)
There may be some initial hurt feelings when you share the news that you won’t be having a wedding party, but there are plenty of ways that you can incorporate those closest to you.
Kimberly Sisti of Sisti & Co. shares, “Offer what you might consider small tasks to others. For example, don’t ask your family and friends to design your invitations with you, but do ask them to help you put them together to mail. Including others in basic jobs not only helps the guests feel included but also helps the couple. Additional help on a job can alleviate stress and offer quality time with others if the wedding has made the couple unavailable to be social.”
Sheils suggests, “I’ve seen many couples skip the wedding party but still plan some fun getting-ready with their nearest and dearest. Of course, that includes them without having an official wedding party!
Also, include your ‘honorary wedding party’ in the program or on your website so they feel special. Be sure to invite them to all the pre-wedding gatherings, including any rehearsal dinners, welcome parties, brunches, and so on.”
All of this goes to say that you shouldn’t feel like having a wedding party is a requirement for a beautiful and unforgettable day! Decide on what you’re comfortable with regarding inclusion of VIP guests and planning help, and let the rest fall into place.
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.
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