When it comes to your wedding party (aka bridal party), we know things can get a little stressful. It’s hard to manage a group of different people from different parts of your life who all have different likes and dislikes, different budgets, different schedules and different experiences with weddings.

But at the end of the day, you want to have an awesome experience with your wedding party and they want that too. One of the best ways to ensure the wedding experience is great for everyone is to make it unique to you. By personalizing your wedding, you can do what’s best for your group, instead of trying to fit everyone into a boring, traditional box.

wedding party, bridal party with young hip & married
by Notting Hill Photography

4 things to keep in mind

Before we jump into our ideas for rethinking your wedding party, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Remember that you are inviting your friends to have positions of honour at your wedding. You are not hiring them as unpaid wedding planners, party throwers or crafty DIY-ers.
  2. No one can read your mind. Don’t just assume your wedding party will know what you want.
  3. It’s okay if your wedding party members don’t all become best friends. As long as everyone gets along and is respectful, there’s no need to force lifelong friendship on adults who may not have much in common (besides how much they like you!).
  4. Your wedding is not everyone else’s top priority. Remember that your wedding party members have full lives outside of your wedding and it’s nice to check in with them about those lives from time to time.

For more tips, don’t miss our post on how to have a stress-free wedding party experience!

Reconsider gender norms

Traditionally, we’re told a bridal party is made up of bridesmaids, on the bride’s side, and groomsmen, on the groom’s side. But by 2022, we’re throwing all of that out the window!

There’s no need to separate your wedding party by gender or use gendered terms. People of all genders get married and have friends of all genders who stand up and support them. There’s no need to put anyone in a box. Choose your wedding party based on your relationships, not someone’s anatomy.

To make your wedding more inclusive, feel free to ditch traditional wedding party monikers. Instead of bridesmaids and groomsmen, try:

  • Wedding crew
  • Wedding party
  • Wedding people
  • People of honour
  • Best humans
  • Or just call them by their names!

PS: We’re also not here for the term “bride tribe.” Not only is this gendered but it also appropriates Indigenous culture. So just say no!

wedding party in denim jackets
by Jelger & Tanja Photographers

Gift experiences instead of wedding party gifts they’ll only use once

If you do a Google search for “bridal party gifts,” you’ll be inundated with adorable ways to pop the question to your friends when asking them to be a part of your wedding party. But instead of a tumbler that says “bridesmaid” or a piece of jewelry you’d like them to wear on the wedding day, why not gift your wedding party an experience?

With experiences, you’re creating memories that you and your loved ones can cherish for a lot longer than anyone will drink out of a “bridesmaid” glass. It gives you a great chance to bond and focus on your friendship which, after all, is the entire reason why you’ve asked them to be in your wedding party!

Some great gift experiences might include:

  • Spa day
  • Paint night
  • Tickets to a sports game
  • Dinner at their favourite restaurant
  • Wine or beer tasting
  • Picnic at their local park
toast with wedding party
by Erica Miller Photography

Play the best bridesmaid song to walk down the aisle to

If you’re planning for your wedding party to walk down the aisle during the processional of your ceremony, then why not make their entrance one to remember with a great song? You can go with something fun and uplifting, a song about friendship, or maybe a tune you all used to listen to back in your college days.

If you’re not sure what song to pick, ask your wedding party for their suggestions. Or if you have a song in mind, surprise them with the tune on the big day!

Here are some of our favourite wedding party processional songs to walk down the aisle to:

  • Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton
  • Graduation (Friends Forever) by Vitamin C
  • Star Wars Theme
  • I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers
  • I’ll Cover You from Rent
  • Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles
  • Good as Hell by Lizzo (why not?)

Don’t make it all about the outfits

Sometimes it feels like a wedding party is all about the outfits. In fact, couples can get so stuck on fabric colour, shoe height and hair length that they forget that their wedding party is made up of their friends, not paid models. Yes, you want your wedding photos to look nice, but surely you didn’t decide to have a wedding party just so you could spend months working out the perfect outfits?

Instead, take the focus off of the outfits and keep things simple. Either give your group more relaxed instructions, such as wearing some shade of blue, with accessories they already have at home. Or find an affordable and accessible outfit everyone can easily rent or buy. Cut down on endless shopping trips and conversations about measurements, fittings, matching, etc.

With the outfits out of the way, you can turn your focus to more important wedding planning tasks and just hanging out with your wedding people!

bridesmaids, wedding party
by Free Burds Creative

Should the best man hold the wedding rings? What about the best woman at your wedding? 

Traditionally, the best man holds the wedding rings, passing them to the wedding officiant when asked at the ceremony. However, that doesn’t have to be the case! What if your wedding doesn’t have a best man? What if you have a best woman at your wedding instead? Or a best person?

You can ask anyone you want to hold your wedding rings. A great way to give someone a position of honour, such as your parents, would be asking them to hold your wedding rings. You could even do something creative, such as ring warming ceremony, or have your dog bring the rings in on their collar!

Rethink having kids in your wedding: Do you need flower girls and ring boys? 

Should you have kids in your wedding party? Maybe! If you have children in your life who are important to you and up for the task, go for it. But don’t force it if you have to ask your second cousin twice removed if she’ll lend you her twins for the weekend, even though you haven’t seen them in five years.

Kids are often not great at waiting patiently, walking in a straight line, smiling for hours and sitting still. They like to run around, they are prone to spilling on their clothes, and they don’t always follow instructions. Accept that going in and you’ll have a much better experience.

If you do decide to include kids in your wedding party, throw out the gender norms. There’s no reason you need to have flower girls who are female and ring boys who are male. A group of children can come down the aisle carrying flowers, bubbles, a cute sign or nothing at all.

And as for the rings, if you really want a child to hold them, we suggest not giving them the rings until right before they walk down the aisle – or else those rings will get lost!

flower girl, ring boy, ring bearer, children in wedding party
by Erica Miller Photography

Skip the cheesy entrance dance 

You know what we’re talking about. We’ve all been to a wedding where the MC introduces the wedding party at the reception and they’re forced to do a cheesy entrance dance as they come in. Let’s leave that trend back in 2012 where it belongs.

(We’re totally kidding….kinda! But seriously, if you have your heart set on a choreographed entrance dance, go for it!) 

Ask your wedding party to take a seat

Traditionally, the wedding party will stand with the couple at the front throughout their ceremony. And while some couples like this look, consider asking your wedding party to take a seat instead.

Not only will your wedding party appreciate the chance to sit down and rest their feet, but it also puts the focus back on you two. After all, it’s the two of you getting married – not your cousins and high school besties.

With the wedding party seated, your ceremony can be completely about your love and commitment, not a fidgeting wedding party. You can spend your ceremony looking into your spouse-to-be’s eyes, instead of over their shoulder at their sibling, best friend, and one person from college.

Your wedding crew can still get ready with you and process down the aisle. But when they get to the end of the aisle, instead of standing at the front, they can take a seat in the first row. They’ll have the best seats in the house, perfect for your closest friends and family who want to watch you get married.

family wedding, wedding party
by Erica Miller Photography

Invite your friends to be your something blue

A beautiful way to include more friends and family members in your unofficial wedding party is to ask them to be your “something blue” from the old wedding rhyme, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”

Reach out to your group of besties and ask them all to wear a little something blue on your wedding day – such as a blue outfit, blue shoes or blue accessory. You could even gift them all with their “blue thing” for the big day, like a blue brooch or blue socks.

Then, on your wedding day, make it a point to grab a photo with your “something blue crew” where everyone shows off their blue item. This way, your friends know how much they mean to you and you make them feel included, without the hassle of having 20+ people in your wedding party.

Thank your wedding crew & shout them out

Your wedding party likely went above and beyond for you. While accepting a position of honour in a wedding party isn’t the same as accepting a job, most wedding party members put in a lot of work. They probably paid quite a bit of money to buy their wedding outfit and accessories, helped with wedding planning and prep, maybe organized a pre-wedding party or two, and dedicated a lot of time to your wedding. So you absolutely want to make sure they know how grateful you are for everything they’ve done.

Typically, couples will give their party members gifts to thank them for all of their help. Consider gifting something sentimental (like a handwritten card or a photo of you two), an experience (like we shared above) or something practical (like a gift card to their favourite coffee shop).

But beyond a gift, you want to thank your wedding people in words and actions too. Thank them often and out loud throughout the wedding day and at any pre-wedding events. And definitely give them a huge shout out during your wedding speech.

bridesmaids, maid of honour, young hip and married, wedding party
by Blue Coral Photography
groomsmen, best man, wedding party
by Lumina Weddings

What do you want your wedding party to remember about your wedding? 

If you find yourself feeling stressed or having a difficult time with your party, come back to this question: What do you want your wedding party to remember about your wedding?

You probably don’t want them to look back and remember stress-inducing text messages and long email chains, working for hours to set up your venue, feeling uncomfortable in their outfit or not being able to afford all of your pre-wedding events and gifts.

More likely, you want your wedding party to remember the fun lunch you had together while wedding outfit shopping, all the laughs at your pre-wedding event, the beautiful ceremony they got to witness, and dancing the night away together on the dance floor. With this in mind, cut down on the drama, let go of the fine details and focus on creating a fun experience for everyone.

Ditch the wedding party altogether! 

Feeling unsure about having a wedding party in the first place? Consider ditching the wedding party altogether! By skipping the wedding party, you’ll be able to save on costs, time and drama. You won’t have to rank your friends or force them to spend a lot of money on outfits and other wedding expenses.

Even without an official wedding party, you can still enjoy lots of pre-wedding events with your friends. You can still have a wedding shower or bachelor/bachelorette party, you can still ask loved ones to come outfit shopping with you or lend a hand with wedding day tasks, and you can still invite your nearest and dearest to get ready with you on the morning of your wedding. All the pros of a bridal party with none of the hassle!

wedding party blowing bubbles and popping champagne for newlywed couple kissing
by Erica Miller Photography

What unique things are you planning for your wedding party experience? Let us know!

And don’t forget to check out our custom wedding ceremony packages – the perfect way to make your wedding unique and personal to you!