How to Include Important People in your Wedding When You Don’t Have a Wedding Party

A long line of "bridesmaids" and "groomsmen" in matching clothes isn't for everyone - and that’s totally okay. There are plenty of other cool and creative ways to honor your closest people on your wedding day - ways that align with your personality rather than tradition.

Two friends mix baby formula for the child of the wedding couple.

Figuring out who to include in a wedding party, or even whether to have one, can be a very tricky wedding planning decision. I even find the nomenclature ("bridal party") to be challenging and potentially exclusionary. I fully support a "wedding team" (as I like to call it). But a lot of the couples I work with choose to skip this tradition because it can feel too prescriptive and heteronormative.

Why skip the wedding party?

  • Managing a large group of people on such a big day feels challenging
  • You're concerned about imposing additional expenses on your loved ones
  • You don’t want to pick sides for your people - because everybody’s on your team as a couple
  • You're not excited about imposing certain clothing requirements on your friends
  • You want to honor more people than you can fit in a wedding party and you don't want anyone to feel excluded.
  • You’re trying to keep your wedding simple, intimate, or focused

Whatever the reason, the awesome news is, you don’t have to have a wedding party to honor and include core people in your wedding! 

A fresh approach: Responsibility vs. Role

Instead of choosing someone to be your best person (or other traditional roles held by a wedding party), think about the responsibility you want each person to have on the day.

For example: “I want you close to me, so I’d love you to be the person to hold my bouquet while I say my vows.” Or, “We trust you so much. We’d love you to be the person to bring us our rings.” Or, “Will you be our flower grandma?” (Pretty cute trend. Google it!)

Your most eloquent friend could share a toast. The person who knows you best could officiate. Your calmest friend, or perhaps your best hype person (or both!) could join you while you get ready. There are no rules, especially when you strip away the titles.

I encourage you to unpack the traditional roles and think about what YOU actually want. What will bring more joy to your day?

A wedding witness shows two brides something on her cell phone.

Ways to include loved ones in your wedding (without a wedding party)

Let's get specific! Here’s some inspiration to get those creative ideas flowing. (There are seriously so many ideas out there. Feel free to use mine or come up with your own!). 

You may choose to ask someone to:

  • Get ready with you
  • Hand out programs
  • Officiate the ceremony 
  • Straighten your dress 
  • Hold your bouquet(s)
  • Walk your dog down the aisle
  • Do a reading during the ceremony
  • Introduce a tradition during the ceremony
  • Do a ring warming ceremony (Your rings are passed to each guest, to be ‘warmed’ with good wishes, prayers or positive vibes for your future together.)
  • Do a group vow (Ask everyone present to give their love and support for your marriage. Have them all say, “We do.”)
  • Be a marriage license witness
  • DJ or MC your reception
  • Give a special toast or blessing
  • Develop your signature cocktail
  • Perform a special song at the reception

You can also:

  • Display childhood photos of yourself with long-term friends at your reception
  • Give them flowers or a corsage to wear

There’s honestly no rule book for this. You can be as creative as you want. In my experience, your loved ones will be honored to be included and proud of their contribution to your special day. Choose what feels right for you and remember - you can be inclusive without having to delineate rank.

Most importantly, have fun coming up with ideas and creating new wedding traditions that feel like you!

For more out of the box wedding planning inspiration, check out my free 10-page guide ‘Planning a Wedding That’s True to You’

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