The Giant Wedding Party Lie: Small is OK
Not long after you announce your engagement, the expectant looks will begin. Your closest friends and family will be wondering if you will invite them to be a part of your wedding party, and most of them will already have their over-excited and gracious acceptances prepared.
Because no matter how much people may complain about the additional obligations of being a bridesmaid or groomsman, it really is an honor to have someone ask you to be a part of their wedding.
But what if your vision of a perfect wedding doesn’t include 12 of your closest friends and family standing alongside you? What if you yearn for something more intimate? Possibly even something that includes just you and your spouse-to-be at the front of the crowd?
Or maybe you do want a wedding party, but in your heart – you just want one or two people standing by your side. The key players you know beyond a shadow of a doubt will still be a part of your lives, supporting your union, even 20 years from now.
Bridal magazines will tell you that bigger is better, and movies will convince you that it is perfectly normal to have a wedding party that is 20-people deep. But if that doesn’t feel like you, don’t buy into the pressure. Your wedding party should be about bolstering your relationship surrounded by the people who care the most about you, not about ensuring even numbers or a balanced look for your photos.
So put some thought into the people you ask to stand by your side on this important day. Remember that when you ask, you will also be requesting they drop a fair amount of money on dresses, tuxes and pre-wedding events. That’s a commitment, and it is one you should only place upon the people you would genuinely want to return the favor for. Sure, you may have friends who will be peeved if they don’t make your list. And it is possible there will be family members who will think they should have been included as well. But at the end of the day, these choices have to be representative of you and your relationship. These should be the people who truly mean the world to you, and who play a significant role in your pairing as a couple.
That means you get to go with your gut. I have been to blended family weddings where the only bridesmaids and groomsmen were the children of the couple. I have also been to unions where the couple felt so strongly about everyone in attendance, that they chose to allow them all to enjoy the wedding as guests – standing up by themselves, while knowing they had the full support and love of everyone in attendance. And then I have been to weddings that could resemble a scene from 27 Dresses. A mass production that I can tell you sometimes seems far more stressful than it is worth.
The point is, don’t buy into the hype.
You get to choose what your wedding looks like, and that includes your wedding party; or the absence of a wedding party. As a photographer, I promise you that we can make any grouping look picture-perfect. But if you are looking back on those photos 5 years from now and realizing that you are no longer close to half the people featured, you may come to regret some of your choices. So before you extend those wedding party invitations, sit down and complete a careful evaluation of your list. Ask yourself why you are choosing each and every person on it. If the answer isn’t that you can’t imagine not having them up there, then perhaps it is time to do some rethinking.