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Have a small wedding party? How to have an embarrassing conversation with friends

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When Catherine Sourbis planned her January 2020 nuptials with her husband, Tyler Gibson, she knew there was only one person who needed to stand by her side: her sister. “Getting up in front of your loved ones and making a commitment to your partner is one of the most exciting and personal things you can do,” says Catherine. “I wanted a family-centric ceremony and I also knew the spectators would understand the need for privacy.” In the end, Catherine decided to forgo the bridesmaids and just have her sister as her maid of honor.

While keeping your wedding party to a minimum can simplify the logistics of the entire planning process – for example, there will be fewer people to consider when choosing a dress or suit – it can. be a bit awkward conversation to approach with those you are close with, but don’t have an official title for your big day. So how do you do it? How to organize a small wedding party without hurt someone ? To help you out, the wedding experts explain how to navigate this potentially delicate situation in style.

Meet the expert

  • Jennifer Porter is the Founder and Deputy Head of Satsuma Drawings based in Seattle, which offers modern etiquette courses.
  • Melissa Trentadue is the Senior Director of Community and User Experience at Zola.
  • Stephanie Teague is a wedding planner with 10 years of experience, and she is also the founder of Stéphanie Teague Events.

Be transparent

As the saying goes, honesty is the best policy. But, according to Jennifer Porter, a Seattle-based manners expert, it is important to have this conversation as soon as possible.

“Whether the decision to organize a small wedding party is a question of finances, place constraints, family dynamics, friends or your partner’s wishes, put everything on the table to share,” she shares. she. “Presumably, the people who would run for a member of the wedding party are the same people who will really support the decision to ‘downsize’.”

Are you limiting your wedding party to just the family? Want to include friends you’ve known for 20 years? As a bride and groom, your reasoning is very valid, so why not be upfront with your loved ones? Chances are, they’re a lot more understanding than you might think. That said, if you’re at a loss for words, by Zola Melissa Trentadue recommends saying the following:

“The past few years have taught us a lot about privacy and togetherness, and we decided that we (are not going to have a wedding party / will keep our wedding party very limited) to keep the ceremony intimate so that we can truly honor our union.

For some people, not being included in a wedding party can be a blow to the ego, especially if they are around you. But let’s be clear on one thing: Just because someone isn’t officially a part of your wedding party doesn’t mean you’re not excited for them to attend your big day. This is exactly why it is so important to express how eager you are to have them there.

“Reiterate that you are so excited to celebrate with them at the wedding or at a later date if you keep the guest list small as well,” Trentadue adds.

Photo by Sylvie Gil


Focus on the positives

Sometimes keeping your wedding party to a minimum can be a blessing in disguise for your loved ones.

“As a witness to backstage weddings, I can tell you that being a part of the wedding party changes their overall wedding experience,” shares Stephanie Teague, founder of her eponymous event organization. “Instead of having a good day relaxing enjoying the pre-festivities, your wedding party will get their hair and makeup done early in the morning, often juggling logistics with their date or kids.”

If someone around you is particularly disappointed to hear that they are not part of your wedding party, let them know how important it is to them to have a good time.

“Tell them you’re not asking them to be a part of the wedding party because their guests’ experience matters more to you,” Teague shares. “When the situation is approached in that direction, I find it can help alleviate any sense of potential hurt. ”

Give them a task

Contrary to popular belief, a person doesn’t have to be a bridesmaid or groomsman to play a special role on your big day. For her Brooklyn nuptials, Catherine found ways to make her close friends feel included. Not only did she enlist her friend with the best calligraphy to DIY the seating chart, but she also had another friend give a speech at the rehearsal dinner.

“I wanted to be honest with my friends and wanted to balance my decision to go without a wedding by asking for their help and presence along the way,” adds the bride. “People love a task! So whether it’s coming in for clothes fittings, getting opinions on invitation samples, or having a [epic] bachelorette party, getting people involved is the best way to show them how important they are to you, while making your own personal choices for a small wedding party.

It doesn’t matter whether they’re taking snaps as you walk down the aisle or asking your guests to move from cocktail hour to dinner, one thing is for sure: your loved ones are there to help.

Photo by Luna de Mare


Create magical moments

Chances are your marriage will go down in history as one of the best days. already. But what makes your big day so special is having little moments with your loved ones.

“I would also recommend couples to plan an event that includes friends and family members [who] would have been at the wedding party, ”Porter shares. “It can be as simple as a pre-ceremony gathering with a glass of champagne, as lavish as a weekend getaway, or somewhere in between.”

Before she and Tyler exchange their vows, Catherine invited her closest friends to her bridal suite for coffee and bagels. So by the time she was ready to walk down the aisle, Catherine knew she had her sister by her side and her friends were supporting her along the way.


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