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How To Include Someone Who Isn't a Bridesmaid In Your Wedding

How To Include A Friend Who Isn’t A Bridesmaid In Your Wedding

There are many reasons that you’ll have close friends who aren’t in your bridal party. Perhaps your bridal party consists of family only. Or maybe you’ve chosen to have a Best Man and a Maid of Honour, without anyone else join you. Regardless of the reasons, you’ve probably got someone in mind who you would love to include in your big day. I’ve got a few ways you could honour your friend and make her feel special, even if she isn’t a bridesmaid.

How To Include Someone Who Isn't a Bridesmaid In Your Wedding

Photo credit: Love Made Visible

As with all things wedding related, there is a fine line between “doing what you want, because it’s your wedding” and “sticking to wedding etiquette”.

Related: Wedding Etiquette Rules For The Modern Bride

Only you will know if any of the suggestions below will go down well with your friend. You’ll know how trustworthy, organized and responsible your friend is, and you’ll know if she is able to fulfill any of the responsibilities suggested below. You’ll also know if she’ll feel honoured to be involved, or offended that she isn’t a bridesmaid. So my first piece of advice is to tread carefully. Make sure your friend knows that the situation is unique and you want her to feel special. Use this as an opportunity to bond with her.

So, here are some suggestions for ways you can include your friend in your wedding even if she isn’t a bridesmaid:

Give her a practical role 

There are things that need to get done, when having someone take charge is super helpful. Manning the guestbook, handing out programs, assisting at the photobooth, welcoming guests or handing out confetti are all areas in which you’ll need some help.

Another biggie is “present patrol”. Having your aunt, with bubbly in hand, help guests find the presents table as they walk into the reception, is less than welcoming. Rather, ask a friend who knows a lot of guests by name, so she can point people in the direction of the presents table, while welcoming them.

Include her in the ceremony

While she may not be standing up there with you, there are plenty of ways you could include your friend in the ceremony. There are roles that need to be filled: musicians or readers of scriptures or poems, for example. If you are having a religious ceremony, you’ll know that there are many other ways you could include your friend if she shares your faith.

At the end of your ceremony, you could opt for a non-traditional procession. Say you’re only having a Maid of Honour and Best Man in the bridal party. You could invite your other besties to sit in the front row with you and exit the church with you as a group.

Ask for her help with the planning

Host a tasting party where you invite your besties over to taste wine, champagne or cakes. Not only is this one of the most fun elements of wedding planning, but it’s also really important to have more opinions that just your own.

Get her to help you with DIY decor projects, assembling gift bags and maybe even setting up decor the night before the wedding.

If you aren’t able to afford a wedding coordinator and you trust your friend’s organization skills, you could ask her to help oversee the coordinating side of your wedding.

Involve her in the reception

Would your friend be comfortable saying grace, delivering a speech or making a toast? These are some of the ways you could include her in your wedding reception, even though she isn’t a bridesmaid.

Typically your head table is where you’ll sit, along with your parents and/or your bridal party. There are plenty of reasons to mix it up and sit with people who don’t necessarily fall into either of those categories.

If your friend is charismatic and open to playing “hostess”, why not ask her to be your MC?

Before the wedding

You could invite your friend to get ready with you on the morning of your wedding. If it’s in your budget, offer to pay for her to get her hair and makeup done with you.

And this one is a no-brainer, but your friend should be invited to all the pre-wedding festivities. The engagement party, hen’s night, kitchen tea, and rehearsal dinner (if you’re having one). Use these as opportunities to remind your friend of how special she is to you.

Opt for an uneven bridal party

Perhaps the reason this friend of yours isn’t a bridesmaid is that you don’t want to have an uneven or lopsided bridal party. Maybe you should consider just asking your friend to be a bridesmaid. I think an uneven bridal party is totally okay. In fact, I’ve written a whole blog post about how to have epic wedding photos without symmetry:

It’s OK To Have An Uneven Bridal Party (Here’s How!)

It’s OK To Have An Uneven Bridal Party (Here’s How!)

I recently had a conversation with a friend who was worried that her husband-to-be may want to have way more groomsmen than she is having bridesmaids. “The pictures will look uneven and lopsided”, she said. I assured her that it really isn’t an issue if their bridal party is uneven. All you have to do is remember a few helpful things and be smart.

In all honestly, I would rather have an uneven bridal party than ask someone to be a bridesmaid simply because I want to even out the numbers, or worse, ask your significant other to only choose three out of his five best friends. Having an uneven bridal party means that you get to choose all your best friends to share this journey with you, without worrying about how things match up.


It’s not all about lining up

Bridal party photos aren’t all about lining up perfectly and having bridesmaids on the one side and groomsmen on the other side. Mix things up a little and focus on showing off the friendships you have and the fun you’re having together on the day. That’s what people will be looking at when they see your photos.

Chat to your photographer about your concerns and you’ll definitely receive some creative ideas of how to take the focus off of the uneven bridal party. The trick is to mix up guys and girls in such a way that no-one even notices their uneven number.

Related: What Bridesmaids Should And Shouldn’t Pay For


The focus is on you

Worried that during your ceremony, guests will be looking at your uneven bridal party? The honest truth is that everyone is there for you and they will be focusing in you. Whether you are exchanging vows, lighting a unity candle or having your magical kiss, everyone will be looking at you and not at your guests.

If you are still concerned by an extremely uneven bridal party (2 groomsmen and 8 bridesmaids, for example) then why not ask all of them to sit down in the front row during the ceremony and ask only the Best Man and Maid of Honour to stand with you?

Another option is to have the entire bridal party stand to one side, instead of girls on one side and guys on the other.

Related: Why I declined the invitation to be a bridesmaid


What about the aisle?

If you are concerned about the processional and recessional (that’s walking into the church before the ceremony starts and walking out again after you are pronounced husband and wife), there are a few cute things you can do to minimize anyone on the bridal party feeling awkward:

Single file – Everyone can walk into the church together in single file, in no apparent order. That way, it won’t be as noticeable that there are more bridesmaids than groomsmen, or the other way around.

Double up – Whether this is for the processional or recessional, some groomsmen can link arms with two bridesmaids instead of one, or some bridesmaids can link arms with two groomsmen, depending on whose side is larger.

Girls only – For the recessional, why not have the groomsmen already inside the church at the front with the groom? The girls can enter the church in single file and mirror the positions of the groomsmen at the front, before the bride enters.

Related: The Art Of Choosing Bridesmaids’ Dresses


Planning your wedding and need a little help with the admin side of things? I created a “Wedding Planning Starter Kit” just for you. It includes a wedding planning checklist, a budget creator, questionaires for each wedding supplier and a whole lot of helpful tips on what you should be focusing on during your first month of wedding planning.

Read more about it over here.


How To Involve Your Family In Your Wedding

One of my favourite things about planning and co-ordinating weddings is seeing two families come together to celebrate marriage. When Glen and I got engaged we were so excited to get our families involved in all the planning and festivities!

Something Glen and I decided at the beginning of our engagement is that our wedding is not entirely about us and the things we like. For the most part, our special day is about gathering our friends and family – the people who love us more than anyone – and honouring them with a big celebration.

With that in mind, we did as much as we could to involve our families in our wedding, knowing that how we treated them during our engagement set the tone for our relationships now that we are married. Traditionally, the bride’s family pays for most of the wedding and heads up the wedding planning. These days, a lot of couples are throwing traditions out the window! Some of those traditions include who pays, who plans and who makes the decisions. Gone are the days where the bride gets to ignore her fiance’s – and his family’s – ideas. And I love that!

[Side note: I understand that a lot of people come from broken homes and the idea of including your parents, siblings or extended family in anything is complicated and painful. This blog post comes from the perspective of two loving families coming together.]


How To Involve Your Family In Planning Your Wedding

Whether you are a fan of tradition or not, there are lots of ways to involve your families in your wedding, right from the start. Glen and I didn’t include a lot of traditional things in our wedding, so some of our ideas may be new to you. I hope that my suggestions will help you to become even closer with your family and your fiance’s during this exciting season.

1. Decide how involved you would like everyone to be

Before you start getting creative, sit down with your fiance and decide how involve the two of you will be. As a bride, you may want to be a little more involved than your future husband, and he may be happy with that. You may be a bit more relaxed and open to letting him take charge. Regardless of the decision, you need to establish how involved you will be and only then can you start to include your families.

I am so blessed to have Glen by my side. He was equally involved in every decision we made. As a wedding co-ordinator, naturally I took the lead with the admin side of things, but Glen knew as much about our wedding as I did, and I loved it!

Once you and your fiance are on the same page, you can begin to chat about your families and how they can be involved. Then chat to your families and see how involved they would like to be.

2. Get them involved in your engagement

If you aren’t engaged yet, but you are thinking about it, tell your family. Get them on your side before things are official and the whole process will be that much easier. Glen asked my parents’ permission to marry me and he had his parents set up our proposal without me knowing about it. Now we have two sets of parents and siblings that not only love our wedding ideas, but also support our relationship.

3. Involve them in the budget

I think it goes without saying that most weddings are paid for by the parents. When putting together your wedding budget, ask your families how much they would like to contribute financially. They may be willing to contribute a lot more or a lot less than you expect, but being open with them and allowing them to be open with you will enable your parents to know how thankful you are.

4. Share your ideas with them

Before we began looking for our wedding venue, we made a list of the requirements we had and we shared that with our families. Glen’s mom spent ages looking at venues online for us, helping us to find something amazing. Every time we found a potential venue, we showed our parents photos to get their opinion.

We also showed our families photos of our decor ideas and asked for their input.

5. Include your siblings in the bridal party

This is a very personal decision and it isn’t something you should take lightly. Some people choose not to have their siblings on their bridal party – for lots of reasons – and that’s okay. Glen and I had my brother and Glen’s brother-in-law, Garth as groomsmen, and we had Glen’s sister, Lauren and my brother’s wife, Jess as bridesmaids. We love them all so that was a no brainer for us.

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6. Take them to see your wedding venue

Once your family has seen your wedding venue, they will understand how special it is to you and they will be as excited as you are when you talk about it!

7. Get them involved in DIY decor

Ask your families to collect things that you need for the wedding (candles, jars, ribbons, etc). Plan a “decor day” and have your family and bridal party get together to make things for the wedding. Once your family walks into your wedding venue and sees something that they made, they will feel so special.

8. Show them your wedding outfits

This is another very personal decision not to be taken too lightly. Some brides choose to keep their dress a surprise and not show anyone at all. I showed my bridesmaids, my parents, Glen’s parents and one or two groomsmen, including my brother. If you haven’t picked a dress yet, you may want to consider inviting your mom and future mother-in-law with you to try on dresses or look at wedding shoes and accessories.

If you aren’t excited about showing them your outfit, why not go shopping with them to buy theirs?

9. Ask your parents to tell you about their wedding

I love looking at wedding photos, and most people love to show off their wedding photos. Get your parents excited about your wedding by asking them to tell you about theirs! They may have some lovely traditions that you could include in your ceremony to honour them.


Have you done anything special to include your families in your wedding? I would love to hear all about it in the comments.