Planning a simple wedding can be tough. Even if you start out intending to keep things simple, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of planning, to feel pressured to make decisions based on others’ needs, and to rationalize needing certain things. This series will outline ways to ensure you stay on track when planning a simple wedding. Today we’ll talk about ditching the wedding party (often called a bridal party).
From a cost perspective…
Having a wedding party can mean significant costs to both those in the party and those getting married. One survey estimated that the average total cost to be a bridesmaid is $1,695, while the estimate for being a groomsman is nearly $1,500. These costs will obviously vary from wedding to wedding, but they can include a dress, a tuxedo, alterations, shoes, day-of grooming (hair, makeup, etc.), a gift, a bridal shower, a bachelor party, and a bachelorette party. If you have to travel, you might need to factor in airfare and a hotel, as well as the incidental costs that add up while traveling.
For the bride and groom, having a wedding party means hosting a rehearsal and a rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding, and it’s customary to invite not only the wedding party members, but their significant others and the marrying couple’s immediate family members. While more traditional, small gifts for the wedding party are also common. And then, of course, there are the bouquets and corsages.
From a stress perspective…
Even if cost isn’t a concern, having a wedding party can additional stress to the wedding planning process. You might stress about who you’ll ask to be in the wedding party and how you’ll ask them. You might also have to balance sensitivities and relationships among friends and family (your mom really wants cousin Becky to be in the wedding party, but you haven’t really talked to cousin Becky in years). You’ll also need to select attire and flowers. The more people and activities you add to your wedding, the more complicated and stressful it might be. Juggling everyone’s pre-wedding schedules and making sure everyone is where they’re supposed to be on the wedding day could be tough.
If you still want to have a wedding party…
But everyone’s situation is different, and cutting the wedding party might not be a viable option for you (tradition, family concerns, or you just want one, which is okay!). If you are absolutely set on having a wedding party, here are five things you can do to keep things on the simpler side.
1. Combine parties to save money and time spent planning. For example, consider having a late afternoon bridal shower with a bachelorette party tagged onto the end around dinner time. I didn’t have a wedding party or a bachelorette party, but I did have a dinner and drinks with a few friends.
2. Have your wedding party wear non-traditional wedding attire. Instead of having the females buy a dress and the males rent a tuxedo, considering letter everyone wear what they want. We recently attended a wedding ceremony at which the bridesmaids wore cocktail dresses and shoes of their choice, while the groomsmen wore dark suits with shirts, ties, and shoes of their choice. This might sound messy compared to hyper-coordinated traditional wedding party attire, but it didn’t take away from the wedding at all. In fact, I think it actually made the wedding seem very sincere.
3. Choose non-traditional bouquets and corsages. You can make your own or do something unique. If you’re really low key, you can pick up some flowers at the store or pick something the day before (with permission!). Another option? Forgo bouquets and corsages completely.
4. Skip the rehearsal dinner. The day of the wedding, make sure someone can tell the wedding party members where they need to stand. This doesn’t need to be a hired coordinator. It could be someone at your venue or eve one of your wedding party members. It’s pretty easy to walk down an aisle and stand. If your guests have traveled from out of town and you’d like to treat them, consider having a small get together with an easy menu.
5. Tell your wedding party members that you don’t want gifts. Their time and effort spent toward your wedding is the best gift, and not having to buy you additional gifts will save them money.
Remember that if you choose not to have a wedding party, your loved ones will still be there to celebrate your marriage. And if you do choose to have a bridal party, you can cut costs and stress by keeping things simple.