Choosing Your Wedding Attendants

'Wedding group at Wynberg, New Farm' photo (c) 2010, State Library Queensland - license:

I'm finally getting back to the subject of choosing your wedding party, a topic suggested by a reader a couple of weeks ago.

I have talked to several women who say they look back at their wedding pictures and no longer have contact with many of their attendants. There are many reasons for this, but one of the common ones is that we tend to choose those people we are currently closest to, or those we promised we would choose years earlier.

Maybe in high school you and your best friends would talk about being in each other's weddings. So when you get engaged, you feel as if you're required to honor that decision you made 10 years earlier.

Or maybe you just graduated from college and have high school friends, college friends and family members to choose from and you're feeling overwhelmed.

Or it could be that you've moved away from home, lost touch with some of your older friends, but still feel you should include them.

There is no real right or wrong decision here, but I would pose a few things to consider:

What is the purpose of having bridesmaids and groomsmen?

I like what my friend Sarah had to say about this:

I think that from a Christian perspective, the wedding party isn’t merely a group of close friends that you want to celebrate with you. They’re the people you ask to stand as witnesses to your covenant vows, and to encourage you in & hold you accountable to those vows in the future.

So your bridesmaids and groomsmen are the primary witnesses of your covenant. If they are to hold you accountable in the future that would necessitate an ongoing, close relationship.

Another reader pointed out the importance of choosing people you trust to plan parties for you, like the bachelor or bachelorette parties, if you choose to have them.

Should they be my age, single, married, older, younger?

Once again, there is no right or wrong answer here, but I like what Bill said about his decision:

When I chose groomsmen last year, I chose men who were brothers in Christ and had godly marriages so they would be able to hold me accountable to being a godly husband. Also, they were able to offer the encouragement and counsel that single men could not provide.

Depending on the situation, this of course is not always possible. You would not necessarily want to pass up on choosing your single brother just so you could have a married friend instead. But I think the idea is a valuable one. You can learn from and be encouraged by those who have the benefit of perspective during this process. They have been through it and know how to support you and pray for you.

Must they be Christians?

When I began writing the book, I assumed it was best to only have Christians in your wedding party. But I heard from a couple of brides who made the choice to include unbelieving siblings as bridesmaids. These couples chose this because it gave their siblings an opportunity to get a first-hand glance into the beauty of the gospel message as portrayed by a wedding ceremony. And they knew their other attendants were strong believers. They wanted their siblings to be around other Christ-followers.

I hope that is a helpful look at this topic. There are obviously many more things that could be said, but the truth is that it's an opportunity for the bride and groom to sit down together and pray over this decision. Allow the other person to be in on the decision-making process for your own attendants. This will ensure that you have the same goal and desires in your choices.

Do you have any other thoughts on this topic? Any stories from your own wedding or a friend's?