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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.


The art of choosing bridesmaids’ dresses

So, you’ve popped the question to your favourite girls and now you’re ready to give everyone #squadgoals on your wedding day. All you have to do is make sure all your ladies look awesome by choosing a killer bridesmaids’ dress. Sounds easy, right? Hmm, not always.

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When it comes to choosing what your girls are going to wear on your wedding day, there are a few factors to consider…

Who is paying?

Are you paying for their dresses, or are they? Perhaps you’re going halvies and paying 50% of the cost, while your girls pay the other 50%. What about shoes, accessories, hair and makeup?

Related: What bridesmaids should and shouldn’t pay for

There is no right or wrong answer to the question. The point here is to consider what your/their budget is before looking at dresses. Clarify this with your bridesmaids as soon as you can, so that if they are paying for anything, they can start setting aside money now.

What is your colour scheme?

Let’s say you are loving shades of green and plan on incorporating them into your wedding decor. Consider this when selecting your bridesmaids’ dresses. This doesn’t mean their dresses HAVE to be green. In fact, if you are planning on giving them gorgeous greenery to hold instead of traditional bouquets, they probably shouldn’t wear green. What you want here is a beautiful colour contrast. Think blush pink dresses with greenery, or navy blue dresses with white roses.

What is the overall style of your wedding?

Elegant weddings call for long, ball-gown style dresses. Beach weddings are the perfect opportunity to bring out short dresses and leave the shoes at home. Maybe you’re in love with that gorgeous boho style? That would suit a woodlands, forest wedding perfectly.

Do you want all your bridesmaids to look the same?

Again, there is no right or wrong answer here. For me, it depends on how many bridesmaids you are having. I had nine, and I thought they would look ridiculous all wearing the same thing. Not only are they all beautiful in their own unique ways (and would all look beautiful in different styles), but having nine of the same dress just looks a little overdone.

Here are some options:

  1. All your girls wear the same dress in the same colour
  2. All your girls wear the same dress in different colours (or different shades of the same colour)
  3. Everyone wears a different dress in the same colour
  4. Everyone wears a different dress in different colours (or different shades of the same colour)
  5. Two types of dresses – half the girls wear one and the other half wear the other
  6. Full on mix and match

Still stuck and want some inspiration? Check out this mood board of some of my favourite bridesmaid ensembles:

Related: Why I declined the invitation to be your bridesmaid

Related: Bridesmaids who didn’t wear infinity dresses

What Bridesmaids Should and Shouldn’t Pay For

To avoid any confusion, here is a list of what bridesmaids should and shouldn’t pay for when it comes to their bestie’s wedding. If money is tight for the bride and the bridesmaids, take a look at my suggestions on how costs can be shared and saved.


Bridesmaids’ dresses and accessories

Who pays? Generally, bridesmaids will pay for their own dresses, but if there is a compulsory matching accessory (like shoes, a cardigan or earrings) the bride should cover those costs.

Money saving tip #1: Allow your bridesmaids to choose the dress that they want to wear. That way, they can each wear something that suits their body type and their budget. Give them a colour palette and ask that you approve each dress before a purchase is made.

Money saving tip #2: If you have particular dresses in mind for your girls, offer to pay half and ask your bridesmaids to pay the other half.

The bridal shower and bachelorette party

Who pays? The bridesmaids will cover the costs for both events.

Money saving tip #1: If a night out on the town is part of the celebration, ask each guest to pay for their own food and drinks. Bridesmaids can then pay for themselves and the bride.

Money saving tip #2: Girls love to feed people, so ask each guest to bring something sweet or savoury to share. Food for the kitchen tea is now sorted!

Hair and make up for the wedding day

Who pays? If it’s compulsory, the bride pays. If it’s optional, the bridesmaids pay.

Money saving tip: Part of the fun of getting ready together is helping each other. Ask your bridesmaids to bring their make up, hair styling tools and accessories and help each other get ready! You’ll start the day with a fun, girl bonding experience and loads of fun photos.

Being a bridesmaid can be expensive, and most girls know this when they agree to the task. Even so, as the bride and close friend, you can make this process easier and less awkward for your girls. Let them know that you don’t expect them to give you a gift for your engagement party, bachelorette party, kitchen tea and wedding. If you expect some or all of your girls to be traveling far, have your bachelorette and kitchen tea over the same weekend. And if someone can’t attend? No guilt trips. If you’re having to deal with a real bridesmaidzilla, you can always fire her, but keep in mind that your relationship will probably not continue after that.

Bridesmaids Who Didn’t Wear Infinity Dresses

The idea of the Infinity Dress is clever: one dress, many ways of wearing it. I like that. However, like a lot of other clever things, the Infinity Dress has been overdone. I’ve seen hundreds of bridesmaids wear them and what used to make people say “Oh, how sweet!” is now kind of cliche.

So, I gathered some photos of bridesmaids who look amazing and aren’t wearing Infinity Dresses. Some of them have gone for the whole “mix and match” idea, while others match perfectly. All of them look amazing!

KT 1KT 2

Photos by Knit Together


Photos by Love Made Visible

Shana 1Shana 2

Photos by Love Made Visible

Lisa 1Lisa 2

Photos by Knit Together

See more photos of this wedding here: Ayden & Lisa

Jess 3Jess 1

Photos by Lad and Lass

See more photos of this wedding here: Matthew & Jessica

And this is what my lovely bridesmaids wore…


Photos by Love Made Visible