Happy Monday, y’all! I’m not the only etiquette guru in the SW hen house anymore, so I thought I’d let Kristin take a stab at this month’s sticky conundrum. Please enjoy! — Emily
Friends, navigating the unwritten “rules” of bridal party etiquette can leave you about as clean as a pig in slop, am I right? The questions seemingly never end, including who to include and where to draw the line — ESPECIALLY when it comes to family. We know that so many of you struggle with this, so we were more than happy to share a recent letter from Betsy, a northern reader marrying into a Southern family:
I am recently engaged to a groom raised in the South. I was not raised in the South, and we do not live there now. He has three sisters, all of whom I do not have a personal relationship with — unfortunately, we do not live anywhere near each other. I spent a long weekend with two of them a year ago, and the other I know better, but she wasn’t exactly jumping for joy at the news of our engagement.
If it really meant a lot to my groom for his sisters to be in the wedding, I wouldn’t be writing this email, but he is solely worried that it might cause tension in the family if they are not in the wedding party. I feel that because there are so many sisters it is unfair for him to pressure me to put them in my wedding party. I really don’t want to start off my relationship with my new sisters-in-law on the wrong foot, but I am struggling with the feeling of being forced to put them in the wedding over my own family and friends because of his “Southern tradition” ploy. Please help!
Happy Everything Co.
Betsy, the good news is that I do not know of any particular Southern tradition that requires the bride and groom to include the others’ brothers and/or sisters in his or her half of the bridal party, though of course, it’s considered traditional throughout most of the country. I double checked our friend Emily Post to be sure, and she only says, “You aren’t required to ask siblings, though it certainly promotes family unity.” I would tend to agree with her there.
There’s also no etiquette rule that places a cap on the number of bridesmaids, or says that the groomsmen and bridal party have to be equal in number. (And as someone who had a bridal party the size of a professional football team, I can attest to a large party being the right decision for some!) So if your relationship with your future sisters-in-laws isn’t bad, I’d say go ahead and ask them (they might decline, after all!), but also ask the friends and family members you originally intended to ask. Honestly, these gals are going to be your family for a long time to come, so unless they’d truly make you miserable, I’d go ahead and ask them to participate. The good news is that this time together will allow you a chance to get to know them better!
Since it sounds like you haven’t had a lot of quality time with them, perhaps the other option is to approach them about participating in the wedding in a different role, if they would rather. Given the limited interactions, they might feel more comfortable being a reader or greeter? Whatever you decide, I’d encourage you to talk it over with your groom and make sure you’re both on board — you and he will be making lots of decisions over the next few years around when and how extended family will be incorporated into your new family, so this is a great place to start the conversation.
Belles, what do you think? I know that many of you past and current brides have faced similar situations with wedding parties and family. Any other ideas for how to handle including family members from your new family into your wedding day?
P.S. Have your own etiquette challenge? Feel free to email Emily!