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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!)

Wedding Etiquette Rules for the Modern Bride

Wedding etiquette is more than just a list of outdated rules. Rather, it’s a way to communicate in kindness. Think of wedding etiquette as a set of guidelines to help you communicate effectively. You’ve already got to  deal with issues like family, faith, and money, so throwing etiquette into the mix can get messy. This blog post is here to clear it all up for you and answer your burning questions about etiquette.

Here is a no-nonsense, non-archaic list of wedding etiquette, or um, guidelines, to help a girl out.

Do I have to have an engagement party?

In short, no. Engagement parties are totally optional. These days engagements are announced on social media first, so an engagement party is merely a formality. It’s a way of celebrating your engagement with close friends and family, and you totally don’t have to have one.

Who hosts the bridal shower?

Many moons ago, it was considered impolite for a family member of the bride to host the bridal shower, because it came across as “present-grabby”. These days, anyone can host your bridal shower. Typically, it’ll be your bridesmaids who throw you a party of sorts and more often than not, it’ll be a surprise for you.

You can find some more helpful tips in this blog post: Everything you need to know about hosting a bridal shower

Who pays for what?

Back in the day, it was the bride’s parents who hosted the wedding and therefore they paid for most of it. Traditionally, a wedding is about the bride being given away by her parents, so they’d get to invite all of their friends. A lot of modern couples are in a financial position to pay for their own wedding, or at least contribute towards it. So in terms of who should pay for what? Whoever is able and willing to contribute, should.

Can I send wedding invitations to people I know can’t attend?

If you’re talking about your bestie, then yes! Your guests are adults and they won’t take offence to this sort of thing.

What about plus ones?

Again, totally optional. It’s a kind gesture to allow single guests to bring a date (because social anxiety is the real deal) but if you can’t afford it (or you just don’t want to), skip the plus ones rule altogether.

Do I have to invite all my coworkers?

Nope! It might help to have a few general rules in place. For example, you could invite your direct team, but leave out anyone else from the office. There are exceptions to every rule, of course, but it’ll help you out if you find yourself in a pickle.

Do I have to invite my friend’s significant other?

If your friend is in a long-term committed relationship, yes. If your friend met their significant other on Tinder last week, then no.

Is it alright if we don’t want kids at our wedding?

That’s totally alright. I’ve covered that in another blog post: Wedding etiquette: How to say “No children”

Do we have to send out paper invites?

In short: no. But you may want to print out invitations for your grandparents or any other older guest who doesn’t check their email.

Do I need to have a wedding registry?

Well, the point of a wedding registry is to avoid receiving a collection of mismatched kitchenware or 65 tea cups. Having a registry means you get to tell guests what you really need, because they want to buy you something for the home.

Do guests have to bring a gift?

Not at all. Make it clear that you don’t expect gifts and your guests will feel comfortable attending your wedding even if they can’t afford to bring a gift. The idea that a wedding gift has to equal the amount of food spent per head is archaic and super oldschool.

Can we include information about our gift registry on our invitations?

Unfortunately, this one still isn’t ok. You don’t want to make it look like bringing a wedding gift is a requirement for attending your wedding.

Do we need a wedding website?

This would be a great place to include wedding registry information and any other details that don’t fit onto the official invitations. That said, you don’t need a wedding website. You could spread information via word of mouth or email.

Can I wear white to a wedding?

If the bride is wearing white, no. The same goes for a bride who is wearing pink, or red, or blue. The point: Let a girl have her moment!

Do we have to send out Thank You notes?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: Your Thank You note doesn’t necessarily have to be in the form of a written letter in the mail. If the person you are thanking is under the age of thirty, you could use whatever medium you usually use to communicate: text, email, or a social media tag. If the person you are thanking is over thirty, a more formal Thank You note is required, I’m afraid.

When should we send Thank You notes?

Technically you’ve got a year, but realistically you should send Thank You notes two to three months after the wedding.

Got anymore wedding etiquette questions you’d love to have an answer to? Leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help!

What to wear to a wedding

10633423_10152390808454926_1790831636982855080_oHey Lovely Pretty readers, I’m Jessica and I have an online shop called Jessica Anne, where I sell women’s clothing. But enough about me… I’m here to talk about what to wear if you are attending a wedding.

Traditionally, the dress code will be specified on a wedding invitation. Sometimes the hosts will specify what colours to wear or what type of attire is preferred. The most common dress codes are casual, smart casual or formal.

What to wear to a wedding


Casual is an easy one because it’s something you would wear if you were going out to lunch or dinner. If you’re like me and you have a traditional perspective on weddings, you would want to dress up a little even if the dress code says casual.

My outfit suggestions: 

Summer daytime wedding:

floral blouse
dark blue jeans
nude wedges or sandals
sparkly necklace
tan clutch

Winter wedding:

black skinny jeans
chiffon pink long sleeve blouse
denim jacket
black ankle boots
white clutch

Smart Casual

Smart casual is very similar to the casual dress code but stepped up a notch.

My outfit suggestions: 

Summer daytime wedding:

brightly coloured shift dress
tan heels or sandals,
short flower necklace
small over the shoulder bag

Winter wedding:

pink metallic a-line skirt
black sheer stockings
black long sleeve polo neck shirt
black leather jacket
black lace up brogues
small pearl necklace


Formal has a ‘red carpet’ feel to it. Think of something you would wear on a red carpet or if you were receiving an award.

My outfit suggestions:

Summer daytime wedding:

structured sun dress in a floral print or in black
nude/black heels
pearl earrings
black clutch bag

Winter wedding:

structured black dress
black stockings
black suede ankle boots
tan winter coat or a black wrap around poncho

DO’S and DON’TS:

  • DON’T wear white or beige unless otherwise instructed
  • DO wear make-up. Choose a focal point, either bold lips or eyes.
  • DON’T wear stilettos if the ceremony is outside on grass, you’ll leave your shoes behind.
  • DON’T bring your Mary Poppins bag
  • DO wear sunglasses if it’s an outdoor daytime wedding
  • DO paint your nails to match your outfit
Don’t forget to smile, they say it’s the prettiest thing you can wear.
Jess xx

How To Coordinate Your Wedding Send Off (Or Lack Thereof)

In my wedding coordinating and wedding attending experience, I have come to learn that there are two types of bridal couples: Those who want to have an official send off and leave before their guests, and those who want to stay till the very end and be the last to leave the wedding.

There are also two types of wedding guests: Those who don’t have a problem leaving before the bridal couple, and those who insist on waiting until the official send off.

The problem with these groups? When the couple wants to stay till the end and so do the guests. There can be a lot of awkward waiting. Or when the couple wants to do an official send off and their guests want to leave. This is particularly noticeable when no-one knows if there is an official send off or not.

Processed with MOLDIV

The key is communication. Somehow you need to let your guests know what the plan is and what is expected of them.

Scenario 1: You want to have an official send off

If you are planning something pretty and special for your send off, you need to keep your guests in mind when selecting an appropriate time to do this. If your wedding venue is less than an hour away from home for most of your guests, anything from 10pm to midnight is considered an appropriate time. If your wedding venue is further away, you should consider having your official send off before 10pm, to be respectful of guests having to drive home at night.

Once you have selected the best time to do this, and the prettiest way to do it, communicate that to your guests early on. Include your exit time in your program (pictured below) or ask your MC to announce this during the welcome speech.

send off 4

Here are a few more ideas of how to let your guests know when the send off is happening and what you’d like them to do:

Scenario 2: You want to leave after everyone else

If you are really keen to party the night away and leave after everyone else, and you really don’t mind when everyone goes home, let them know. Chances are, you’ll have a few relieved guests who are happy to leave just after the formalities are done. You will probably also have a lot of polite guests who are planning on staying until the send off, so they will appreciate knowing that there isn’t actually a send off planned.

Communication is the best way to look after your guests, so let them know what you have planned for the evening. When your MC gets up to do a welcome speech, it can be announced that you are not having an official send off. Something like this:

“Megan and Paul would love to dance the night away, so there won’t be an official send off tonight. You are free to head home after the festivities are over, or join them for as long as you can! “

send off 5

How To RSVP To A Wedding

So, you’ve received a wedding invitation and you’re very excited to be attending! Don’t forget to RSVP so the bride and groom know you’re coming. Today’s blog post covers everything you need to know about RSVPing correctly.


Step 1: Follow the instructions on the invitation

Generally your invitation would have come with an email address, phone number or website address. Follow the instructions and make the call, send the email or visit the website.

Don’t think you’re the only VIP guest. You may see the couple every week, but an informal “I’ll be there” simply isn’t good enough. RSVP formally as instructed on the invitation. Don’t add to the wedding planning admin by being that person.

Step 2: RSVP in good time

Some invitations come with a deadline and some don’t. Generally, if a couple hasn’t heard from you a month to three weeks before the wedding they’ll come looking for your RSVP. Save them the trouble by sending through your RSVP as soon as you possibly can, even if you think you are super eager.

Step 3: RSVP for the number of guests that were invited

If your invitation says “Dear John” that definitely means that John is the invited guest. Unless otherwise stated, John should not assume that he can bring his new girlfriend. If the invitation says “Dear Jacqui and Joseph” that means there will be two seats reserved for Jacqui and Joseph and not an additional seat for their new baby.

If you are unsure, just ask. Most brides and grooms won’t mind clearing things up for you. Rather that than have you arrive with a stranger that isn’t on their list.

Step 4: If you don’t know, just ask

If there is anything you are unsure of [is this invitation for me only? Am I invited to the ceremony only or can I come to the reception?] just ask. If you feel too uncomfortable asking the bride and groom, compare your invitation to someone else’s or ask a family member or someone from the bridal party.

Whatever you do, just RSVP.


Wedding Etiquette: Do I Have To Open My Gifts At My Bridal Shower?

If you had a look at last week’s Wedding Etiquette posts about bridal showers, you’ll know that there is a lot to think about. Things like who should host the bridal shower [which you can read about here] and what type of theme you should consider [find inspiration right here].

Another thing to consider is when to open your gifts. You don’t want your entire bridal shower to be centered around your gifts but you certainly do want to be able to thank each guest for their contribution.

gifts at bridal shower

So, do you have to open your gifts at your bridal shower? The answer is YES!

A lot of unconventional brides (and their bridesmaids) are shying away from having a gift opening ceremony, and for many good reasons. Guests may get bored sitting around watching you open your gifts for two hours, and if you happen to be in a financial predicament, it may be awkward for the bride to open your small gift in front of everyone [if that’s you, don’t fear! I wrote a killer blog post full of creative gift ideas: take a look!].

It is important to open your gifts at your bridal shower and thank each lady for her gift and contribution to your kitchen and to your life. A lot of guests (like me) genuinely enjoy watching a bride open all her presents, but not everyone can sit around for two hours looking at all your pretty new kitchen utensils. So, with that in mind, there are a few ways to  open your gifts while not having your entire bridal shower centre around a gift opening ceremony:

Do it in private

Go to your gift table and pick a gift, find the giver and open the gift in front of her. She gets to see your reaction and you get to thank her personally for her gift.

Allow guests to eat and drink

If tea and treats are part of your bridal shower – and they really should be – allow your guests to eat and drink while you open your gifts. Have music playing to create a festive mood and make sure the party doesn’t come to a halt once you start opening presents.

Turn it into a game

This is what my bridesmaids did and it worked really well. They had asked my fiance to answer questions about us and our relationship. They asked me the same questions in front of my guests and if my answer matched Glen’s, I could open a present. If my answer was wrong, I had to put on an embarrassing piece of clothing. Breaking up the present-opening with a fun activity is a great way to allow your guests to get to know you and have a bit of fun in the process.

Wedding Etiquette: How To Say “No Children”

You’ve made your guest list and now it’s time to invite everyone. For whatever reason, you have decided that this is an “adult only” affair and as the bride and groom, you are perfectly reasonable for doing so. However, some guests need this fact to be made abundantly clear and there are a few polite ways of communicating the “no children” rule without offending anyone in the process.

wedding etiquette no children

The subtle approach

Address your invitation to the adults only. On the invitation itself or on the envelope, write “Mr and Mrs Willows”. Generally Mr and Mrs Willows should understand that the invitation is for them only and does not include their children.

If you are including an RSVP card, state the exact number of seats that you are reserving for Mr and Mrs Willows. Try something like this:


Photo credit: Evelyn Clark

The direct approach

While it is certainly not encouraged to write “Adults Only” on the invitation or RSVP card, there are a couple of direct ways of making it known that children are not invited.

At the bottom of your invitation, you could write “Regret no children” or simply phone or email each guest that has children and kindly inform them personally that their children are not included in the invitation.

Some guests find this rude, but you will certainly get your point across.

Sugar-coat it

Bearing in mind that no fancy font or pretty wording can satisfy an already offended guest, there are some sweet poems you could add to your invitation, RSVP card, or even to your FAQ section on your wedding website, which will let guests know not to bring their children. Try something like this:

While we love to watch children run & play,

this event is an adults only day.

Or this:

Wedding ceremony followed by an adult only reception.

A few tips:

Enlist the help of friends and family members to help spread the word. Having someone else inform your guests that their children aren’t invited is a great way for you, as the bride and groom, to avoid offending people while still communicating the message.

Don’t make any exceptions to the rule. If your rule is “no children under the age of 16”, then stick to it. Allowing one or two friends to have their children attend, while telling everyone else to leave their kids at home will almost definitely offend people and it will come across like you chose the children you like and asked everyone else to arrange a sitter.

I’ve done all of the above and my friends are still asking if they can bring their children. Now what?

You’ve been subtle, you’ve added a lovely poem to your invitation and it has been addressed to the adults only, but the RSVP card has come back with “2” scratched out and replaced with “4” and the names of the two children who are now apparently coming to your wedding. It’s time to make an awkward phone call.

Some guests will assume that even though children are not invited, their children are the exception. It’s time to be brutal and pick up the phone. Try saying something like this:

We are so excited that you are able to come to our wedding! Unfortunately our venue can’t accommodate children, so even though we love Sammy and Jo, we can’t have them at our wedding. Could we help you find a babysitter for the night?

What about the children that are in the bridal party? Should they be invited?

It is only right to include your flower girls and ring bearers at your reception. Generally those children will be cousins, nieces and nephews, or the children of close friends, so you may very well want them at your wedding reception. To avoid offending other guests, this should be communicated upfront. Add a note on your website or invitation that says something like this:

Other than children on the bridal party, this is an adults only affair.

By being upfront, you may still offend someone, but at least you have a rule and you can stick to it without having double standards.

If you have any cute poems or examples of invitation and RSVP wording that you have seen, or if there is something creative you are doing, please share that in the comments section below.