Along with our hair, our bridal parties tend to be a bit bigger here in the South. I can’t put my finger on exactly why (maybe the abundance of sororities?), but it’s definitely a fact of life.
But what to do when the bridal party grows and grows? Thanks to fellow Southern girl Jenna Bush Hager, the world was introduced to an old Southern solution when she opted for a “house party” of fourteen in addition to her one maid of honor — her sister, Barbara. As in Jenna’s situation, a house party is a great way to include your friends and family without having a ginormous bridal party.
Sketch of Jenna’s house party dresses, designed by Lela Rose in seven styles and colors inspired by Texas native wildflowers! (via Cliff Notes)
Similar to the standard ‘attendant’ title, members of a house party are often assigned wedding day tasks like manning the guest book, handing out programs, serving cake, reading during the ceremony, or just assisting the bride on her big day. They can also be involved in helping with the bachelorette party and bridal shower, or just attending.
Katy Hall Photography
Some house party members aren’t assigned any duties at all, but simply included because the bride wants to honor her relationships. The only thing a house party traditionally does not do is stand at the altar with the bride — that spot is reserved for bridesmaids. HP gals can be seated in the first or second row, just behind family, and can be included in the wedding program.
So who should be included in a house party? Maybe you have a large group of sorority sisters you want to include, like we mentioned above. Or maybe, like Jenna and our own Emily, you’ve chosen to include only family in your bridal party, but want to honor friends, as well. No matter who you choose or how you choose them, you’ll eventually have to figure out how to clothe them. We have some tips for that, too.
You could ask your house party gals to wear the same dress in the same color — one that corresponds with the bridesmaid dresses.
Our Labor of Love from Caroline + Tyler’s wedding
Or, we like the idea of asking your house party to wear a different shade of the color your bridesmaids are wearing, as Izzy did so beautifully with gray here.
The Schultzes from Izzy + Lane’s wedding
Mix and match dresses in a single color always look beautiful! Many brides ask their house parties to wear little black dresses, as that’s typically an item everyone will already have in their closets.
Green dresses photo by Tim Will from Kara + Tyler’s wedding, aqua dresses photo by Shea Christine from Grace + Daniel’s wedding, pink dresses photo by Morgan Trinker from Erin + Brian’s wedding
Finally, we like the idea of giving your house party the whole color scheme of your wedding, and asking them to wear something that coordinates. These ladies below prove it can look darling! If your gals are wearing LBDs or something else less-unified, we’d recommend giving them something to acknowledge their role, like a corsage, a matching necklace, or a gardenia or magnolia for their hair.
Pink and purple dresses photo by Melissa Schollaert from Valerie + Kevin’s wedding, spring dresses photo by Ali Harper from Mary + Austin’s wedding, purple and cream dresses photo by Stephen DeVries from Meredith + John’s wedding
To close, one more personal anecdote from our sweet summer intern, Sara. She had the honor of being in the house party for her boyfriend’s sister’s wedding, and piped right up when we started talking about this post! From Sara: “I had small duties like handing out programs, moving the guestbook from location to location, and handing out the bubbles to guests before her and her groom left the reception. Her bridesmaids all wore the same pink dress and shoes, and the other house party members and I got to choose our dress, as long as it was black and cocktail length. I felt like it was the perfect place for me, as I had been dating her brother long enough to be included in the wedding, but her brother and I were not married (and still have a ways to go before there’s a possibility of that!), so it would have been strange for her to designate a bridesmaid position for me at the time.”
Have you been in a house party, or are you planning on having one? We’d love to hear what you think about this tradition!
Melissa Schollaert and Ali Harper are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!