Yay! Someone special in your life has asked you to stand up in their wedding. We are excited for you, and we hope you are just as jazzed! Here is our comprehensive list of tips:
Step one: Stand there.
Step two: Look pretty.
The thing is, standing up in a wedding is about much more than the standing part - although, we have some tips about that, too! It’s about being there for whatever the couple needs to make it the best day EVA for them and for their guests. Sound like something you’d like to contribute to? Yeah? YEAH! Let’s get into it.
What is your role? It sounds so easy you could skip over it, right? Nice try. Find out what exactly your role is. Titles can be somewhat vague, and different brides and grooms can sometimes expect very different things from their wedding parties.
Here are a few questions to ask early on, and the couple may not even have the answers right away. But! This gives them time to wrap their heads around questions that can be taken care of early in the process. So check in with them:
Your Role: What exactly is your title and what would they like for you to do before, during, and after the ceremony and reception? These are covered below from our perspective, but see if they have any different expectations!
PLUS: *Especially if you are coming from out of town, what days and times do you need to be in town and available the week of the wedding?
Timeline: Where do you need to be when? This includes set-up and prep in the days prior, rehearsal dinner, getting ready the day of, cleaning up after the wedding, and any gift opening or breakfast the day after.
Attire: What do you need to wear? Consider your dress or tux, your shoes, and your accessories. Is it something that you will select on your own out of a set of certain options, or is the couple selecting everything for you? What parameters do you have if you are doing some shopping on your own? Who is placing the order, and when would they like it to arrive by?
PLUS: *Especially for titles that include “attendants,” your role can vary greatly depending on what the couple has in mind. Make sure you are on the same page!
We’ll touch on these briefly here, and we can take a deeper dive into these types of events in another post!
Engagement Party: Not all couples want this, but an engagement party is usually thrown by the wedding party and/or family members. Check in with these folks to see if this is in the works or if it’s something you can help to organize. And psst … remember that it may be a surprise for the couple!
Bridal shower or couple’s shower: The couple may want something non-traditional for this as well, so gauge their thoughts early on. This is also usually thrown by the wedding party or family members, and it could also be a surprise event for the bride or couple, too!
*NOTE: There will likely be multiple showers! Do your best to be at those you can.
The two basics to make you a good shower guest:
Bring a gift - unless explicitly noted otherwise!
Mingle - get to know the other important people in the couple’s life!
Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties: This is usually thrown by the maid of honor or best man.
Expect to do whatever the heck the bride or groom wants - this could vary a lot!
Alright, now we’re getting closer!
The week of the wedding is here, and you are in full wedding party mode. Pull yourself up by your suspender straps and let’s do this thing!
The Week Prior
The week of the wedding typically involves some or all of the following activities:
Preparing centerpieces and decor
Finalizing the seating chart
Setting up the venue
Pickups from various vendors, grocery stores, hardware stores, and probably a coffee shop or two
Performing deep breathing exercises with the bride
And whatever the heck else the bride and groom need that week to keep things running smoothly! Check in and see where you need to be when, and ask where else you can help with anything they may not have listed!
Ladies, in most cases, there will be a nail appointment set the day prior with your fellow bridesmaids and some family members. Get pampered and treat yourself.
Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner
*Be early for ALL THE THINGS we’ve listed, but if you haven’t done so along the way, this is for sure the time to start!
The rehearsal and dinner are typically held the night prior, although the venue may require that you rehearse at a different time.
If you plan to bring a significant other to the wedding, check your invitation to the rehearsal to clarify if they are invited to the rehearsal as well.
*This may or may not be a good time to bring your wedding gift to the couple - check with them! (And yes, bring a gift for the wedding, even if you already provided one at a shower). If they’d prefer not to receive it that night, plan to coordinate with someone not in the wedding party to get it to the gift table at the reception, or arrange a time after all wedding shenanigans to get it to them.
Lodging the night prior: Some (not all!) couples set up some type of lodging for their wedding party the night prior. If you have any questions on this, check in with the couple a couple of months prior to the wedding so that you can plan accordingly.
It’s the big day! And the bride has something old, something new, something borrowed … so many things for you to do! We’ll keep this straightforward.
Your Basic Packing List:
All of your wedding attire including shoes, jewelry, undergarments, etc.
All of your getting ready attire including a button or zipped shirt so that you don’t have to pull anything over that fresh gorgeous updo
Makeup you’d like to have
Toothbrush, toothpaste, or maybe some Wisps or mouthwash. Definitely mints and gum.
Water bottle and snack
Between all of the ladies getting ready together, make sure one of you has the components for an emergency kit. Okay, “emergency” might be too strong, but you get it. Think: small sewing kit, bobby pins, stain pen, pain relievers, clear adhesive bandages, scissors, safety pins, lint roller, floss, breath mints, tampons, facial wipes, nail file, q tips, cotton balls, baby powder, and tissues. And someone should probably have a steamer handy.
We usually plan to have a small clutch ready for the day, BUT:
*For all of your belongings, remember that you likely won’t have any of it on your person during the ceremony or the grand march into the reception. Know if there’s a safe and logical place to keep it or arrange to have someone else pick it up from where you’re getting ready ahead of time who can hang onto it.
A Rough Idea of your Day:
Gentlemen, you might have a brunch together, or you will likely get ready together for a short period before the ceremony - know where you need to be!
Ladies, you may be surprised by how long it takes to get all of the girls ready professionally. But you are going to look so fly.
Decide if you are doing hair and/or makeup ahead of time and expect that you will likely be footing the bill for this. Add gratuity :)
Know what the carpooling situation is if any, or think through how you’re getting yourself to the salon, to the ceremony, to the reception, and back home or to your hotel that night.
Know when the bride is arriving, when your appointment is, and when she expects you to be there
Most likely, the photographer will be there to take pictures while everyone is getting ready. This part of the day often makes for some of the best photos!
If any posed or group photos will be taken prior, know when the photographer plans to start them so that you can be ready from head to toe!
You’re here! It’s happening! Walk slowly and take it all in!
PRO TIP: Hold your bouquet of flowers at your belly button - it’s the most flattering arm placement and ensures that you aren’t covering your face or your adorable dress.
You know, the human body can do remarkable things, but we have heard wedding party horror stories of people passing out from just standing. JUST. STANDING. So here’s the thing: don’t lock your knees. Done.
Shoes, if you can select them, should be comfortable but appropriate.
PRO TIP: Say you’ve chosen a great pair of heels or wedges for the ceremony, but you’re not sure you can last in them all day. If you’ve arranged to have someone hold your clutch during the ceremony, see if you can slip a pair of sandals in there so that you can have them for later.
Easy. Be where you need to be when you need to be there.
Party Bus or Transportation from Ceremony to Reception
Clarify ahead of time if your significant other is invited on the transportation and plan accordingly.
Continue to plan to pack light for this part because you will likely be going straight into the grand march from here. This is also where your snack and some water is a Godsend!
Possible Cocktail Hour
Mingle if you have a chance, and know when you need to be in your spot when the reception officially begins.
Find out if there is a spot to put your belongings during dinner.
Find your partner and lock in your grand march strategy.
You’ll most likely be at the head table for dinner, but keep an open mind if that’s not the case!
Speeches and Dancing
If you’re giving a speech, just keep it genuine to your relationship with the couple. *We may explore this one a little bit further in another post! We’ve had a ton of fun putting together speeches for our loved ones in the past.
Remember: Party is in your job description for the day. When the DJ invites everyone to the dance floor, you get out there and shake that thang. Even if you are not a dancer yourself, it’s kind of your duty today.
But don’t get too carried away with all of the fun, because ...
Now you get to go home! ... Well, probably not.
If you have been told ahead of time that don’t have to clean anything up after, thank your lucky stars! You have hit the wedding party jackpot!
Because in most cases, as the DJ is winding down and the shuttle buses are heading to hotels, you, my friend, will probably be helping to get the place back in order.
But continue to have fun with it! Shimmy around while you’re packing up centerpieces and bust a move while you’re folding table linens. Why not?!
Post-Wedding and Beyond!
Post Wedding Events - Make sure you know ahead of time if the couple is having a gift opening or brunch of some kind the day after the wedding, and find out what you can help with early on!
*Last but certainly not least, continue to love and support the couple in the years to come! They have just started one of the most incredible, challenging, and profound journeys of their lives. And what a cool thing that you got to stand by them the day that it all kicked off! Be there for them and watch as they grow together.
The Uncommon Team