What Should We Do If Someone in Our Wedding Party Can't Make It?

Sometimes even bridesmaids and groomsmen cancel at the last minute

Bride and her bridesmaids

Photo by Gayle Brooker Photography

Last-minute cancellations for your wedding are tough. From the meal count to the seating chart, finding out someone can't attend your wedding after you've put in the work can be frustrating, to say the least. It can be particularly sad if the person who can't make it is a bridesmaid, groomsman, or other member of your wedding party.

So what's a couple to do if their ranks are a little smaller come wedding day? Here are a few tips from our experts.

There are a few logistical items you should take care of immediately if you'll have one fewer member of your wedding party. First, get in touch with your vendors to make any necessary changes that will impact your budget. Whether it's one less bouquet or boutonniere, canceling a hair appointment, or simply removing a chair and meal from your head table, these are all items that you probably haven't paid for yet, so you should be able to recoup some costs.

Second, have your bridesmaid or groomsman see which of their own arrangements they can cancel. Is the groomsman renting a suit? See if he can get at least a partial refund. Did your bridesmaid book a hotel room or a car for the weekend? She should be able to get some of her money back. While flights are hard to cancel, they may be able to retain some of the fee as a credit toward future travel.

Then, of course, there are the items that are a little harder to change. Don't worry about having your ceremony programs reprinted. Chances are most guests won't notice that there was one fewer groomsman heading down the aisle, and those that know someone is not present will probably already know he or she wasn't able to make it. You may need to double up on the processional, with one groomsman escorting two bridesmaids or a groomsman walking alone, but nontraditional processionals are totally ok.

And lastly, you should still pop that bridesmaid's or groomsman's gift in the mail, along with a note and a few pictures from your big day. Even if they weren't able to be there to celebrate with you, this is a sweet way to let them know you missed them, and to share a little piece of your celebration.

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