Wednesday, February 7, 2007


I have seen and read about brides having nervous breakdowns over the attendants. Bridesmaids, groomsmen (ushers), junior bridesmaids… etc. How many should there be for a formal wedding? What do I do with an uneven number? I don’t even want to get in to quibbles over best friends and ex-best friends and their maid of honor duties.

In these confusing times, I look to Emily Post. Emily Post on Weddings has a whole chapter on attendants. As much as I love Emily, I happen to disagree with her on much of her attendant advice. But she provides a guide for getting me started, fodder for my attendant thoughts.

She frowns on “men of honor” and “best women” but I think that is all right. I was a best woman once and all the guests thought it was sweet.

Emily also says that it’s okay to have more ushers than bridesmaids, but one must never have more bridesmaids than ushers. She gives no explanation why, and I can’t really think of a good one either. So I say, who cares? You might say, But at the end of the wedding and everyone exits, how will the bridesmaids and ushers walk out as couples if there’s an uneven number? And to that I say, who cares? All the guests will be focused on the bride and groom and won’t pay any attention at all to a stray bridesmaid or usher.

Did you know that, according to Emily, it’s not obligatory to include your sisters or your partner’s sisters as bridesmaids? She makes the distinction between obligatory and customary. Since many sisters assume they will be bridesmaids, it’s good to get that communication out in the open right away. Discuss the whos and the whys with your partner, then tell all the attendants as soon as they are decided upon. (Also tell them as soon as you can what their expectations and duties are.)

It’s okay to disagree with Emily (except in cases of overt rudeness of course). That’s sort of the beauty of having her around. Not caring what Emily thinks gives me license to not care what others might think. If a wedding guest is seriously watching my ceremony to make sure everything is on the up-and-up with my attendant selection and their duties, then that guest needs to get a life—and I’ll be taking notes at her wedding to make sure everything is to a “t”.

(Actually, we aren’t having any bridesmaids or ushers, just a maid of honor and a best man. Will our guests wander around aimlessly without ushers on hand? I was at a large, formal wedding that seemed to take Emily’s advice of one usher per every 50 guests, but none of the ushers did any ushering. We guests did sort of wander around looking for familiar faces in hopes of saved seats. Do I need to rethink having ushers? I don’t want any additional bridesmaids and, horror of horrors, I could end up with an uneven number! Oh, wait, we are having cocktail hour before the ceremony. I think people will have taken too much advantage of the open bar to care. Problem solved.)

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