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Weddings involve a lot of people, and nowhere is there more stress and drama to be found than in the wedding party. Battles over outfits have been the end of friendships — an ironic contrast to the union itself. If you’re involved in a wedding party, listen up; this guide is for you.

The Mothers

The rules generally ask that the mothers’ outfit complement the wedding colors and coordinate well. If possible, it may be just the thing to go to lunch to celebrate the wedding plans and discuss your dresses in detail. The couple will frequently offer guidelines, but will often give you more latitude as a mark of respect for your importance in their lives and your general good taste. Always check with the couple and with each other before making the final purchase.

The Little Ones

Children involved in a wedding rarely have much in the way of expectations of responsibilities or expectations. That said, if your child is young or active, it might be a good idea to pack extra tights, a few toys to entertain them quietly, and a comfortable outfit for the ride back to the hotel. Parents of young children would be wise to provide some quiet activities and snacks.

 

Make sure you pay attention to not only the couple’s wishes, but the child’s feedback. If a tulle underskirt is declared itchy, look for something with a lining. If he says that suspenders impinge upon his ability to move his arms, consider if a bow tie would maintain the desired effect. Comfortable children are happy children, and no one wants a tantrum in the middle of a wedding.

The Bridal Party

The tone of the wedding is largely set by bridal fashion. The bride chooses her dress and the wedding colors, and the rest cascades from those two decisions. Of course, we’ve all heard stories about our college roommate’s sister turning her bridesmaids into human cake toppers. Who could forget the tale of our uncle’s friend’s son who declared that his groomsman would wear safety orange tuxedos with camouflage cummerbunds?

If you’re a bridesmaid, hopefully she already has a dress in mind for you. If she gives you a color but not a dress, then your priority is to select a dress appropriate for the wedding’s theme, but not a showstopper.

 

If you’re a groomsman, your job is much easier. Do what the bride or groom says — wear the right color/style of suit and the right tie, and don’t let your buttoniere fall off. As you attend the groom on the big day, your job is to make sure he doesn’t run off.

Rule #1: Clarify

The couple will have ideas about how they want their wedding to look as they stand at the altar. The bride may want her bridesmaids to wear matching lace or the same skirt length.

 

The groom may declare that you should visit a shop together, or that you should order Y design from Z designer. Whatever the system he follows, do not make the mistake of putting off ordering your wedding day duds. Try everything on in the shop if you are renting or getting alterations to make sure it fits ahead of time.

Rule #2: Communicate

If you are asked your opinion of a dress or suit, there is only one thing to do. Think of sandwich cookies, not only because you are likely stressed and could work your way through a box in two minutes flat, but because they have been the savior of many a relationship.

 

The Sandwich Rule enables you to sandwich something you want to say, perhaps something constructive about the neckline embellishment, with tact. Though bridesmaid’s dress shopping is used in this illustration, it works just as well for anyone in a wedding. All you need to do is sandwich anything potentially critical between two compliments.

 

Telling your friend that you detest the shoulder ruffle might come across as disparaging of her taste. Consider saying that the color is lovely, but the ruffle blocks your ability to see, though the the fitted waist looks good on all of your body shapes gives you something to build upon. Your phasing may steer her towards another a-line dress or one of a similar shade, because those things have become the focus of your statement, not the hideous ruffle.

 

Communication also holds true in many other areas of being in a wedding. Telling the groom that money might be a little tight is something your relationship can withstand. There are solutions available as long as you communicate before committing to buy a $700 suit.

Rule #3: Contextualize

While the couple should accommodate any religious or cultural requirements regarding dress from attendants without protest, remember that this is not your special day — it’s theirs. If the outfit’s uncomfortable, do what you can to mitigate. A good undershirt from Underfit clothing can work wonders; same goes for shoe inserts. If it comes down to it, paste on a smile and wear the mauve dress that does nothing for you, or wear the dumb dress shoes that make you feel like a duck. Simply remember that being there for someone you love is why you accepted their offer. You can wear the the outfit of your dreams at the afterparty or brunch, after all.

Rule #4 Celebrate

Toss flats in your bag or roll up your sleeves, and be happy with your friends. Make sure the bride and groom eat enough (you’d be amazed by how many couples forget to eat), stay hydrated, and enjoy this massive party they’ve been planning for months. Just don’t party too hard — as funny as drunk photobombs may seem, angry brides are not.

 

*** 

Whatever your role in the wedding party, know that you have been chosen to be an integral part of a huge milestone in a loved one’s life. They chose you out of all the people they know to stand up there with them as they make a life-altering commitment. The final rule is simply about celebrating the love and the joy found at each wedding, a love and a joy that is as unique as the couple exchanging vows.

 

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Comment by Suzannah Price on June 19, 2017 at 10:55am

Thanks for these awesome tips! I particularly like what you said about the mothers' outfits--it's important for them to coordinate, but only in a subtle way, like you said, they should go together nicely with the party's colors, but they don't necessarily have to match. Thanks for these!

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