Although it’s traditional for the bridal party to consist of the bride’s best gal pals and the groom’s best male mates, some couples opt to include close friends of the opposite sex. Or, in some cases, it could be a family member such as a brother or sister that the bride or groom might want to stand beside them. Regardless, having a Man of Honor or Best Woman as part of your special day is a choice that should be 100 percent up to you. It is totally acceptable and appropriate for your best friend of the opposite sex, whether they’re male or female, to be there for you in your wedding party.
However, even though it is acceptable, it can be tricky to navigate. If you’re wondering how to make it work, here are a few tips to keep things running smoothly.
Regardless of whether it’s the groom wanting his sister or a female friend among his attendants or the bride with a friend or her brother, their outfits should be coordinated to match the other groomsmen or bridesmaids. Some women might be comfortable wearing a tuxedo or suit, but it’s also okay for her to wear a dress that matches the suits worn by the men. Or, another option is to wear a tuxedo with a skirt. She can also carry a bouquet instead of a boutonniere. The same goes for any man among the bridesmaids. His tuxedo can match in color and style, and his boutonniere can compliment the bouquets. Either way, it should be made clear that a male bridesmaid is actually with the bridesmaids and not the groomsmen and vice versa.
A male bridesmaid or female groomsman should stand on the same side as the rest of their respective party members in the wedding pictures. They’re there to support whoever asked them to take part, and to do that, they should be should be by that person’s side in photos.
Help your wedding photographer out by letting them know about your situation in advance. That way they can think up poses and photo ideas that work well for everyone, so nobody gets left out. You may even discuss this arrangement with your photographer before you even hire them. Some more traditional photographers might not really understand it.
At Pre-Wedding Parties
There are a few different parties that take place leading up the wedding. Some like the Jack and Jill party are co-ed and all are welcome, but many others traditionally aren’t, such as the bridal shower.
Typically it’s the bridesmaids’ job to plan and execute the bridal shower, and these are often very stereotypically feminine or girly. For example, lingerie bridal shower parties are quite popular, as well as tea parties. But if you have a man as a bridesmaid or Man of Honor, you want him to feel comfortable when he’s in attendance.
This goes for any women on the groom’s side as well. Bachelor and bachelorette parties are known to get pretty crazy. Many people even choose to go to strip clubs and casinos. However, if you have a member of the opposite sex in your wedding party, you might want to rethink your original plans depending on what everyone is comfortable with. Deciding on how to do this will depend on what everyone is comfortable with. A male bridesmaid might prefer attending the bachelor party, and a female groomsman might prefer going to the bridal shower, or you can just choose to keep all of the parties co-ed.
Before the wedding there are various activities that take place, like tuxedo fittings, wedding dress shopping, and bridesmaid dress shopping. Any opposite sex members of the bridal party shouldn’t be expected attend if they don’t want to or don’t feel comfortable, but also might not want to be left out. In this case, talk to them! See what they would prefer to do. If your Man of Honor doesn’t want to go to his tuxedo fitting with the bridesmaids or alone, he might want to go with the groomsmen instead. Also make sure that the other members of the bridal party involved are aware and accepting of the circumstances. It’s the bride or groom’s decision to include this party member and the rest should be prepared to respect that.
At the Ceremony
Nothing particularly needs to change about the walk down the aisle with a party member of the opposite sex, but you may want to just check with your friends and family about the details. It’s common for the groomsmen to walk the bridesmaids up the aisle, arm-in-arm, but it may feel strange for your bridal party members (frankly it may even feel weird for man-woman pairs too). If this is the case, each attendant might walk up the aisle alone if they prefer.
Obviously, regardless of the bridesmaid or groomsman’s sex, they should always stand on the side of their friend or family member at the ceremony, just like in photos.
If you’re planning on having wedding party members of the opposite sex at a religious ceremony, it’s best to double check with your officiant before the wedding to see that there’s no conflict. It’s important that you respect the tradition and religion of the house of worship you plan to marry in, regardless of whether you agree. If they’re not okay with it, it’s up to you to decide if you would rather marry someplace else or switch up the wedding party.
Talking to Your Spouse
The most important thing to do in a situation where you intend to have a friend of the opposite sex in your bridal party is to talk to your spouse-to-be. Friendships between men and women can make people feel insecure and uncomfortable, so you need to make sure the two of you are on the same page. You might even consider going to relationship counseling and discussing the issue there. Shed any doubts in your minds so you can spend the day enjoying your wedding and not worrying about your fiance’s fidelity.