Wednesday, April 16, 2014

planning our wedding: why we said NO to a bridal party

as i've watched friends get married, i would make my secret list of people who i'd choose to be in my bridal party for when the time arrived. giiiiiiiiiiirl, i know i'm not alone on this...can i get an amen?

yet when it came down to it, i chose to toss that list out the window.

actually, i think the value behind a bridal party is beautiful. it recognizes the people closest to you who have stood beside you and your relationship, and who will hopefully continue to stand beside you in your marriage. these are the people who will help you live out your marriage - because marriage is work and painful at times. it's heart-moving to see all those people physically standing beside a bride and groom. 

but the decision to NOT having a bridal party was pretty simple. we asked ourselves: 
  • Q: why does it feel so bad to have to have to rank our friends? 
    • A: we don't want to rank our friends! they're all meaningful to us in different ways. 
  • Q: is there a way we can involve our friends without putting such a large financial burden on them? 
    • A: a resounding YES. so we said NO to having a formal bridal party. 
we believed we could still honor those people closest to us without having them incur the often large cost of being part of a bridal party. especially for women, being a bridesmaid can be painfully expensive. but because we love our friends, we're willing to spend the money. i have done so in the past without any regret. 

there was a period in my 20s when all of my close friends were getting married, and i was invited to be a part of many of those bridal parties. without a doubt, it was an incredible honor and, i was also making practically poverty wages working at non-profits and living in the bay area. i was genuinely unsure how it would all work out financially. for one wedding there is usually: a bridesmaid dress, sometimes matching shoes, hair & makeup, bachelorette party and all the associated costs, hosting a bridal shower, bridal shower gift, wedding gift, time away from work or family, flights or gas, etc. for some of my friends, i couldn't even afford to give them a wedding gift because i was financially tapped out after all the pre-wedding affairs.

that's why we decided to honor our friends by asking them to participate in other small and meaningful ways:
  • give a toast at the rehearsal lunch: my sister helen, steph, zack, michael and matt all gave heartfelt toasts. the time they took to write and share their reflections meant a great deal to us. 
  • speak at our wedding: we had five formal speakers and my sister annaha, who read a poem. it was an enormous gift to have our friends reflect on and write a five minute talk they would deliver in front of everyone - on topics we chose! this was no small task, and we were grateful for their honesty and vulnerability in sharing. 
  • come be with us in the morning of our wedding: samuel asked a couple of guys to hang out with him as he got ready for the wedding, as did i. it was so lovely to have friends to simply be with us. 
  • come to a ladies' weekend (aka bachelorette party): this was my way of having some time away with special women in my life, relaxing at the beach in santa cruz and eating delicious meals. i felt super aware of the costs associated with going away for a weekend, but also felt like it was important to do this. so samuel and i agreed to pay for the beach rental in santa cruz, which cost us $950. it was a lot, but it felt like a way i could say "thank you" for being a part of my life. plus, the ladies coordinated and cooked all of the meals and we ate extremely well. nom nom nom. 
    • note: this was different for samuel. he didn't mind his boys throwing down cashmoney for him. haha. they went go cart racing, white water rafting, and ate a lot!
  • be our ring-bearers: in a typical wedding scenario, i would've asked my nieces to be my flower girls. but we didn't think having flower girls was necessary and they were already part of the family processional. also, i didn't want to spend money on buying special dresses for them when they already have a lot of cute clothes. then it dawned on would be really meaningful to me if they brought us our wedding rings! so my sister dressed them in cute clothes they already had, and told them the importance of their role. i thought it was a great win-win. and the best precious nieces got to play a typically male role. i'm all for that!
  • lastly, the way we thought about the bridal party was this: inviting someone to attend our wedding meant that we were inviting them to participate in our marriage, for life. all in all, it's like everyone was part of our bridal party. : )
so we stood up there alone...

...but together with everyone.

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