I Wish We Hadn’t Had a Wedding Party

A little Disney wedding reflection today…

I regret five big things from our wedding:

1 /// That we didn’t add on the dessert party at EPCOT because it would have been perfect.

2 /// That we hired our officiant and didn’t use someone we knew.

3 /// That I handmade our invitations.

4 /// That we paid for the half-marathon we didn’t run two days after we got married.

5 /// That we had a wedding party.

Root Photography Image

I don’t know which thing on this list would surprise you the most, but I bet it’s the fact that I wish we hadn’t had a wedding party. That’s right, I wish we had skipped the whole line of people, that we hand’t had anyone stand up with us, and that even the flower girl had been fired.

Here’s the thing…

Choosing our bridal party was one of the first things we did after we got engaged. We had each sort of been thinking about it for a while, so a few of the phone calls to people were along the lines of, “I’m engaged and I want you to be in the wedding” which is a BAD idea, btw, because lots of stuff can change as you plan your day. Even if your relationship remains rock solid, there are tons of other factors (budget, venue limitations, the seductive pull of elopement) that might mean you want fewer people up there with you.

In the end, our wedding party was HUGE and that’s even after both of my sisters and one of Kyle’s friends dropped out of our wedding. Our Disney wedding had a total of 57 guests and 16 of them were in our wedding party. Then there was the two of us, my two grandparents, my three parents (my dad wasn’t yet remarried), and Kyle’s two parents. So almost half of the people on our wedding day had to do something special during the ceremony, wear something that we had told them to wear, and show up hours early for pictures. Most of them left significant others who had to wander around for a while by themselves not really knowing anyone. That’s kind of weird.

Root Photography Image

It’s the inconvenience of the whole thing that I wish I could take back. Here we were, trying to honor these people who we loved so much and who were big pieces of our lives, and we didn’t let them just relax and enjoy the day. It’s not like we wouldn’t have shared everything with them, but they would have had a better time if they could have worn what they wanted to wear, sat where they wanted to be, and enjoyed a relaxed breakfast before our noon ceremony. But because we love them so much, we made them follow us around in suits?

Root Photography Image

I’m not saying that wedding parties are a bad thing, but for our particular event they didn’t fit the mood. I really wanted everyone to have an easy, relaxed time so in retrospect it made no sense to add that many people to the roster. I also wonder if everyone would have traveled if they hadn’t felt “locked in”, which is a bummer if they didn’t want to make the trip. I know one of my bridesmaids would have probably skipped it for sure, because she was (1) newly pregnant, (2) taking her first trip with her one-year-old daughter, and (3) had to come without her husband at the last minute. Ultimately, she had a terrible time, never saw the parks, and actually slept through our reception so I feel bad that she felt obligated to come because she was in the program. The same goes for everyone else who couldn’t quite afford it, didn’t really have the vacation time, etc.

Root Photography Image

The funny thing is, I’m seeing it from both sides this summer. At the end of this month (so soon!!!) one of my bridesmaids is getting married and I’ll be standing up with her in her California wedding. I’m so excited and I love my dress and her wedding is going to be epic BUT part of that is because I’m traveling without Kyle and the kids to this one because the schedules didn’t work out, so I have all of the freedom to really be into her wedding. I arrive the day she gets married and take off early the morning after, so it’s not really a vacation and since I’m not bringing anyone, there’s no reason to worry about some date being left behind while I do portraits or help Kate get ready. I can be in total bridesmaid mode, which is perfect.

In contrast, Jed (my man of honor at our wedding) is getting married in September and he’s decided not to have a wedding party. SO RELIEVED. The whole family is going to this one, which means if I was standing up with Jed that would leave Kyle to wrangle two kids, especially since leaving Eva with a sitter is tough because of her allergy/asthma issues. Of course, we could find something else to do with the kids, but they are Calvin’s godfathers and Eva is excited about seeing her uncles get married so I’m glad that they’re choosing to include them without making Kyle take that on alone. I can spend the day really enjoying their wedding and it won’t at all lessen how happy I am that Jed’s marrying a wonderful guy that I don’t get to stand next to him in a dress he picked out trying to not ugly cry and ruin their photos.

Last thought: over the last six years of writing this wedding blog, I have seen a ton of sad stories about people who were bridesmaids or groomsmen that didn’t step up to their obligations or awkward moments that happened because someone wasn’t included and they thought they should be. So much unnecessary stress and post-wedding emotional damage! We didn’t have much drama with the wedding party, but I have to admit that neither of us are as close to all of those people as we were when we got married, so it’s a little odd now looking back that we had them fly to Florida to stand with us. Of the 16 people who stood up to share our day, we never speak to one, rarely speak to two others, and literally lost another when he left Facebook and moved we-don’t-know-where. In just 5 years, that’s a little odd!

What do you think? Are you considering a small or non-existent wedding party? Do you wish you had done things differently in your wedding? Or am I way off and terrible for wishing I could retroactively fire everyone and just have it be us up there?

I Wish We Hadn't Had a Wedding Party
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  • Reply Alyssa Foster

    My husband and I only had 2 attendants on each side. I had my best friend and her fiance on my side and my husband had his sister and her fiance on his side. It was a nice balance. I wanted to keep it small all for the reasons listed in this article. It wasn’t to offend anyone at all. There are so many important people in my life, so it was a hard decision. I’m glad that we did it that way, though.

    June 9, 2014 at 10:16 am
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      I think it’s easier to avoid offending people when you keep it small and it sounds like you guys had a perfect pair on each side. It’s nice that nobody’s date was left sitting alone, too!

      June 9, 2014 at 7:36 pm
  • Reply Gaylin

    There were 14 people at my wedding. Yep, that is the whole amount. We got married at home. Had lunch and left for our 4 day honeymoon. No caterer, no fancy flowers, no photographer, none of the stuff that people push as being ‘necessary’ at a wedding. Also – no expensive dress. And you know what, it was lovely.
    Of course, the marriage only lasted 2 years. I don’t recommend marrying an alcoholic . . .

    June 9, 2014 at 10:33 am
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      Yeah, I think a lot of people are returning to simpler weddings just to avoid the hassle. Obviously I love the big events, but I’m watching my little brother pull his hair out right now trying to plan a wedding and buy his first house and I have to admit that a picnic reception in the backyard is looking pretty good.

      June 9, 2014 at 7:38 pm
  • Reply Jillian

    Of our 91 guests on our list (which I had to fight tooth and nail to get to), our preliminary definite guest count for our upcoming November WDW wedding is at 41. I have our 2 sisters on my side and he has his 2 best friends. I don’t care what they wear, including the guys. They are allowed to wear what makes them comfortable for a 10:30 am ceremony followed by a lunch reception. I hate to say it, but I am relieved. I’ve been to 3 weddings in the last year and I’ve been on both the set up side and the observation side and the wedding party side. I don’t want to feel like that at all for my wedding. I just want to show up, enjoy the day and I want my guests to as well. No flowers, no decor, no dj, no dancing. Just a beautiful day with everyone. Hopefully I am able to do just that.

    June 9, 2014 at 10:49 am
    • Reply Gaylin

      It sounds like you are giving everyone the opportunity to relax and enjoy the day, good for you!

      June 9, 2014 at 11:00 am
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      Yeah, Kyle’s in a wedding next week where he’s the best man and they just said to wear whatever he wants. SO MUCH EASIER and honestly everyone will just be looking at the bride and groom anyway.

      June 9, 2014 at 7:39 pm
  • Reply @Disney_Bride /

    I have one sister – she was my MOH. My husband has one brother – he was his BestMan. No flower girls, ushers, ring bearers, bridesmaids…. none of that. Those that could come, came – those that couldn’t – didn’t. So much less stress. I’m happy with how it worked out.

    June 9, 2014 at 10:57 am
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      Oh, I didn’t even get into flower girls and ring bearers. Ours were fine, but I’ve seen a lot of crying kids get dragged down the aisle by stressed out parents.

      June 9, 2014 at 7:40 pm
  • Reply Jamie Cary

    So we got married twice once at home…where my husbands grandparents were our best man and matron of honor. It was perfect because they signed our marriage certificate and we not be able to make the wedding at Disney. We got married at Disney on r first wedding anniversary- long story…no attendants it was perfect. Neither one of us had people in our lives more important than we were to each other and we felt we were the only ones we wanted on the alter…Now if I had to go back and do it again…it would have just been my husband and me. No one else…someday I’ll get you the pictures Carly…but I seem to forget to send them to you!

    June 9, 2014 at 11:52 am
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      Don’t worry – I’ll be here waiting!!

      June 9, 2014 at 7:40 pm
  • Reply Anita Boeira

    I didn’t have a wedding party, actually, I didn’t have a single guest to my wedding. It’s not that I didn’t want to share it with the people I love, it’s just because I didn’t want them to feel obligated to go and spend a bunch of money for a 5 minute ceremony and no reception, in a city none of them lived in and was expensive. And a 5 minute ceremony, without a party, in California was what we wanted. So I skipped the drama and just didn’t tell anyone I was married till I came back. Oh yes, eloping is definitely everything people say it is 🙂

    June 9, 2014 at 12:03 pm
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      And your wedding was lovely. 🙂

      June 9, 2014 at 7:40 pm
  • Reply Amy

    we had 5 on each side, which almost seemed needed due to the size of the event (175 guests attending). Of the ten, we keep in regular contact with six, occasional contact (few times/year) with three, so only one is really out there. I would keep our wedding party itself the same, but we didn’t need all of those guests. But, we were 23, so there was grad school colleagues, college friends, high school chums, plus people from work and church and neighbors and etc. that, at the time, we didn’t know how to par down. Of those 175, there were quite a few we haven’t seen since, a chunk whom we only communicate with via Christmas cards, and a fair amount we don’t even know how to contact if we wanted to at this point. So, if we had only 60 or 80 guests instead, maybe we would have squished the wedding party to four per side instead.

    June 9, 2014 at 12:14 pm
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      Yeah, I think bigger bridal parties are usually for bigger weddings and bigger weddings seem a lot more likely when you’re younger and still in touch with the school crowd (unless you have a huge family). I know that out of the 57 guests at our wedding, the total number that we don’t see or speak to anymore is around ten…weird when you think that it’s one-sixth of the people we invited and that we paid $150 a pop to feed them a chicken dinner!

      June 9, 2014 at 7:42 pm
  • Reply Katie

    Glad to see so many others who’re using just siblings. I’ll have my brother as the man of honor, and my fiance will have his sister as best woman – and that’s it for our wedding party. Makes perfect sense: we’ve known them, well, forever! We can pretty safely assume we’ll always be in touch. We can get a little crazy or a little emotional, and it won’t phase or offend them – they’ve seen it all before from us (or worse!). They’re making the trip to come anyway. Their significant others will understand; it’s family. The list goes on and on. And of course, most of all, they know us the best – and we love them!

    June 10, 2014 at 6:05 am
  • Reply Mindy

    One of the best decisions I made for our wedding was not having a wedding party. And you know what? I still got drama and grief from my then best friend for not picking her as MOH. (She eloped about a year later, with no guests, so hopefully she “gets it” now.) And my mom was quite concerned about it (“But but, who will hold your bouquet while you’re saying your vows?” “Umm, how about you?” And she did hold my bouquet during the ceremony. It all worked out!) So I’m totally with you, as I read all the bridesmaid and groomsmen horror stories, I’m so relieved we chose to skip this tradition.

    June 10, 2014 at 5:26 pm
  • Reply Hope at Disneyland

    The top two issues that I see ALWAYS come up when wedding planning is: bridal party drama and rsvp drama. For whatever reason, people get crazy around weddings. I think that all newly engaged couples should seriously consider their bridal party and not announce anything until their plans are set in stone. I know that in the excitement of being newly engaged that you want to include everyone right away, but like you brought up, people change their minds and then you have that awkward situation where you wish you could take the offer back. I went to a wedding this week where the bridal party got to sit down. I loved that! They were still honored guests and got to parade down the aisle, but they didn’t have to stand there as an army to flank the bride and groom.

    June 10, 2014 at 5:57 pm
  • Reply Alyaki

    So, I’ve got to say, I’m actually really happy to see you say this. We’re not having a wedding party. If we did, there were one or two people I wouldn’t mind having stand up next to me…but I’m from a family where everyone expects siblings to be in the wedding party, and since there was no chance I was going to do that, I decided it’d just be less drama to go without completely.

    It’s nice – now I don’t have to worry about coordinating anything, or making sure people get somewhere for hair/makeup/getting ready type photos. None of the drama you sometimes hear about with people complaining about this or that. And hopefully, it means I don’t have to get up as early for hair and makeup stuff as someone who has others getting ready with them! And honestly…I’m most excited about the last, because we’re doing an Epcot ceremony, so 9am (with pictures in Epcot beforehand O.o).

    June 26, 2014 at 5:35 am
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