Planning your wedding

Bridesmaids and Robots

Chapel wedding procession

Who should assist you at the wedding? Who will escort the bride down the aisle? Do you want bridesmaids, maids of honour, best man, groomsmen, ring boy, veil girl, flower bearers...?

Who will escort the bride down the aisle?

Whether the bride walks alone or is escorted, she is usually met somewhere up the aisle by the groom and walks the rest of the way with him. This symbolizes the couple going forward to make their vows together, unified and giving strength to each other.

Traditionally the escort is the bride's father. When this is not possible, then the usual alternative is a brother, uncle, grandfather, or some other male family friend.

Of course, it doesn't have to be a male; that's merely following the ancient tradition of the head of the family giving away his daughter. There is nothing wrong with the mother any other female relative or friend escorting the bride. Rarely (in Japan) both parents escort the bride, and equally rarely the bride walks unescorted. (In the future, as Japanese women increasingly wish to display their independence, unescorted brides may become trendy.)

Currently, five to ten percent of weddings start with the groom escorting the bride.

Any of these options look great, but the image is way down the importance-league compared to what feels right for the couple. Never let appearance or gender dictate what style is 'right'.

Adult attendants (maid-of-honour / best-man)

Usually beneficial at a wedding. Even if their appearance is not super-model league, they look good just by being there by giving the couple that extra level of importance.

Choose carefully; they must be people you can depend on, and they must be the people that you want. All too often, friends and relatives volunteer to do the job without being invited. This is fine if they are the people you want, but what if they aren't? See dealing with problem relatives and friends.

Once you have chosen your attendants, ask them now. They must make sure not to book their holidays around The Day. Maybe now's a good time for the best-man to grow up: That shaved-head style looks cool in the club, but can ruin your wedding photos. It will take several months for a decent head of hair to grow again.

And of no importance to anyone else of course, they might feel better in themselves if they start a diet (I'm not fat; I'm a nutritional over-achiever!) or some other long-term preparation. So giving them good notice is the friendly thing to do. Also, consider having an under-study in case the maid-of-honour gets pregnant or experiences any other incapacity between now and The Day.

If you decide not to use friends or relatives to assist at your ceremony, and many couples don't, then the wedding hall will provide somebody to assist in tasks such as holding the bouquet during the ring exchange.

The maid-of-honour / best-man are not simply actors at the wedding ceremony or speech-givers at the party. They should be actively involved in helping you plan your wedding. They are your best friends and/or your closest relatives.

Ask them to be honest with you, and tell you how things are going from their perspective. Putting people in this position might be embarrassing, and the potential embarrassment of failing to deliver may be just what you need to get going.

If you choose these people correctly, they can be invaluable when you need to delegate tasks.

What about a ring boy / veil girl?

The 3 – 10 year-olds usually look and behave best, yet all children are different. Think carefully how these children might look and act on The Day, which is perhaps 12 months from now. Will they be suitably behaved? Will they have an attitude problem walking down the aisle, wearing stuffy clothes, looking cute, when they'd rather be at home playing computer games?

Be aware that a cute little ring bearer could steal the show. Recently we had a wedding where not only was there a young ring boy and veil girl, but the bride was actually escorted by a five-year-old boy instead of her father. All three children looked fantastic, they behaved like professional models, and everyone in the chapel were enthralled by the spectacle. So much so, that it's doubtful anyone paid much attention to the bride!

At another wedding, one hi-tech couple decided to bring the ceremony into the 21st century by utilising a ring-bearing robot. Again, everything went fine, but eyes were on the robot.

Something else to consider if you are thinking about veil bearers: If they are very young, and if you have a trailing skirt or veil on your wedding dress, the child undoubtedly will step it. When this happens, either the child prevents you from continuing your walk down the aisle, or you do continue and the child falls over and starts screaming.

It makes an amusing video for later, but is not funny at the time.

And one final thought. It is your very special day and focus should be on what you want, but as the day's hosts, you have a responsibility to consider your guests and assistants. So ask yourself: Could your choice of having a child in the scene be exploiting their cuteness? Do they really, really, want to take part, or could whatever inticements you are giving be just compensating child abuse? We don't want to put a damper on the idea, but we have seen toddlers quite distressed when taking part.

Now the moment you've been waiting for. The Dress.

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