More than Eye Candy
Attendants can be more than eye candy who straddle the couple at the altar. There’s historical karma about their roles, as well as how they can help the couple before and during the ceremony is what this post is about. We’re going to highlight them in the best possible light.
Let’s start by joining any of you who are supportive friends and family members by keeping our collective fingers crossed that the outfits your bride or groom choose for you to wear isn’t horrible and unbecoming.
Next, if the couple allows you to help them, and they actually delegate tasks to you, the historical role attendants have played is transformed from being a decoy to evil spirits to being a welcomer of greater peace and prosperity.
Practical Advice and History
Here’s some practical advice about working with wedding attendants at a ceremony. This guidance is especially helpful when an officiant is part of the rehearsal because this is the best time to work things out with the bridesmaids and groomsmen.
One way to gain the attendant’s trust is at the rehearsal, give these friends and family members a bit of history about the role they play. An explanation of why things are set up the way they are. I might tell a story of why the flower girl throws petals before the bride walks down the aisle.
Please note that in today’s world, those delicate rose petals may be thrown before a groom.
Bridesmaids’ Decoy Duty
Bridesmaids are definitely there to be supportive of the bride, to help her plan and bring things together for the ceremony, offer advice and run errands if need be.
But the tradition was started because people of olden days were worried about evil spirits going after anything new and fresh like the huge wave of love two people are riding as they first enter their marriage.
For the record
I don’t believe in evil spirits. People who are separated from the knowledge of who they are act like victims, are off balance and generally disconnected. So they may do really horrible things. But they are not innately “evil”.
Having said that, in yon days gone by, in order to confuse evil spirits, bridesmaids dressed like the bride. That’s why bridesmaids are always so decked out in a nice dress too. We never want a bridesmaid to outshine her.
But they can help her
At the rehearsal one of the things the officiant is responsible for is directing how the bride’s bouquet is handled during the ceremony. Some of those bouquets can be really very heavy.
Maid of Honor instructions
This is what I’ve always done to instruct the maid of honor and the bride: The maid of honor is solely responsible for getting the bouquet from the bride when she first arrives at the altar. “Don’t wait for her to give it to you because she may be really nervous. Your job is to GET THE BOUQUET.” I’d dust my hands off from getting the message forcefully across and then add, “AND get it back to her as she and the groom exit.”
She assures me she’ll remember and 8 times out of 10 does not. After all, she’s nervous too.
Photos, Trains and Bouquets
The not-huge logistic problem is when the maid of honor takes the bride’s bouquet, and then she’s supposed to straighten the train for good pics and general safety.
Before she can straighten anything, including her bra strap that’s showing, she has to empty her hands that are full of flowers and florists’ tape. She then needs to turn to the second attendant, if there is one, give the bouquets to her and turn back, adjust the train and then grab the flowers back.
Here’s a suggestion for you to try
Let the photographer get a photo of the bride meeting her groom for the first time at the altar with her bouquet in her hands. Then you, the officiant, takes the bouquet from her as the MOH adjusts the train, and THEN we give the bouquet to the MOH.
You can get this straight at the rehearsal. Then the proof is in the pudding.
Two fun historical notes
Some modern-day people actually believe it’s bad luck for a bride to walk down the aisle without a bouquet, even at a rehearsal. Hence the fake bouquet or hat a bride uses at the rehearsal. Ha! Who knew fake would fly?
The job of making said a rehearsal bouquet or head topper is usually a bridesmaid’s job. This creative, acceptable gaudy creation is supposed to be made from the ribbons on the gifts at the bridal shower.
They forget anyway
If you haven’t done many weddings or fewer rehearsals, fair warning: sometimes even when you practice the bouquet hand off to the Maid of Honor, MOH’s forget to take it.
By our retrieving the flowers from the bride instead, we can streamline the process. Because you’re handing the bouquet to the MOH afterwards, no one has to remember much.
Flubbing up’s not a big deal because people get nervous, they forget, and this way we get to stand there with a pretty bouquet.
To hold the bouquet – because you’ve got your script and maybe a microphone in your hands, prop the flowers on your script. Like I said these beautiful posies can be heavy.
Now for the Groomsmen
What historical function did groomsmen fulfill?
The Groomsmen, called Bride-Knights, helped their friend the groom capture or kidnap his bride. They stood guard
at the ceremony to protect the groom from the bride’s angry family seeking to reclaim their daughter. Women were considered property, and possession was 9/10ths proof. How romantic!
I’ve also heard the Bride-Knights protected the bride and groom from invaders or rivals from stealing the bride when the man’s guard was down during the ceremony. Again, she was property and could be stolen.
Yet another theory that contributes to new-day attendant logistics is much like bridesmaids. Roman Law required 10 witnesses at every wedding ceremony. During this period, people were afraid of wedding curses involving evil spirits. To confuse the evil spirits, the groomsmen dressed identical to the groom.
Tuxedo tailors flourished in the land. (Kidding, only kidding).
Today, groomsmen may be asked to seat guests, walk a grandmom or aunt down the aisle. Sometimes they walk with the bridesmaids to their places which IS helpful if the wedding is on a lawn and the bridesmaids are wearing high heels.
Groomsmen are very good as prop-her-uppers.
Another Important duty of the Groomsmen
Groomsmen can be in charge of decorating the newlywed couple’s car. Yay!
Groomsmen pointers for attendant logistics
Two points I’d make about groomsmen to get straight that sometimes event planners as leaders of a rehearsal may draw attention to but often don’t.
How to stand and take the sunglasses off
Ask the couple at the rehearsal if they want their party to look more formal or relaxed. If relaxed, it doesn’t matter how they hold their hands. But most couples prefer a more formal look. The choices are military style and naval style.
Military style means the groomsmen stand with their hands behind their backs. Naval style really is holding their left hand over their right hand or vice versa in front of them.
Makes for good pictures.
A slapping contest
Men like to slap each other on the back when they come forward. Sometimes I think these young guys think they’re at a sporting event and they’re coming out on the field for the pre-game lineup. So it becomes a hand-shaking, back-slapping bro fest. “Yo—my bro!”
This attendant logistic is not really gender specific, but let’s pretend it is. Men love being cool and sunglasses are the sign of cool-ness.
But the bride and photographer usually want sunglasses off. Apparently squinting is preferred in the world of photography.
At the rehearsal or before the processional starts, remind the guys to take their glasses off. You can even make it fun by having the Best Man count, “1, 2, 3, off”. And with a flair they take their glasses off and put them in their pockets, cross their hands as if this is synchronized swimming and everyone smiles.
Attendant logistics overview at the interview
Only other things I would say is months before the wedding day, when I interview couples to get their ceremony preferences and connect better, I encourage them to ask their attendants to help them get tasks done.
Attendants are not just eye candy and too many times I think that’s all they are. Couples can get stressed taking care of all the details and looking at those costs that keep racking up. The attendants can help take the pressure off. When delegating encourage the couple to explain clearly the end result they’re looking for, and then let how that end is reached up to the attendant.
Customize to Captivate
Another way to utilize the best of attendant logistics is there’s a unique, special ceremony that involves the attendants which is part of the Customize to Captivate Ceremony training course. This course will be coming out soon. The first module of the Complete Effective Officiant course – the Kickstart Course for New Officiants is Module One.
Here’s a link to get on the waiting list. Anyone on the waiting list will get the course for $75 off and same for anyone purchasing during the first week it’s offered. That’s right, $75 off. http://bit.ly/Awesomewaitinglist
There’s a poll I’d love for you to take that’s on the Facebook Group page. I encourage you to take the poll that’s on the page. And if you have a website and a good pic of yourself leading a ceremony, you can be featured in the banner photo for this page. It’s good SEO for you and introduces you to people. So message me your website and picture. Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next week we should have more information about how the coronavirus is going to affect our industry and what we can do.
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