Let's be honest: sometimes having bridesmaids is a burden — to your gal pals and you. As Aviva Samuels, owner of Kiss the Planner in Palm Beach, Florida, points out, coming on board the bridal party wagon is a huge time and financial commitment for your friends — and it adds endless to-do list items to your already packed planning schedule. So if you want to go bridesmaids-free — for your sake or theirs — we get it.
But that doesn't mean you shouldn't include your favorite ladies in your wedding some other way. Here are six stress-free ways to do just that.
1. Invite them to invitation duty.
You can make a party out of the boring invitation-stuffing process by asking your gal pals to come by for assembly-line duty. "Stuffing, stamping, addressing, sealing. These are easy but time-consuming tasks that are a lot more fun with a best friend or two around," says Viva Max Kaley, New York-based wedding planner and creator of Viva Max Weddings. "Set out some snacks and put on good tunes, and have a bonding evening while getting those invites mailed."
2. Let them play DJ.
Set up a Google document or other shareable file so that your friends can add suggestions to your wedding playlist, suggests Kaley. "You'll get a list of great songs for the wedding day, and get them to help figure out what you want your iPod, DJ, or band to play," she says.
3. Take them on a shopping trip.
Just because your best friends won't be going dress shopping with you doesn't mean they can't lend their two cents on other wedding items, such as "finding the perfect guest book, comparing cocktail napkins, or hunting for a good price on bulk votive candles," says Kaley. "These elements will be on display that day, and they can know they helped pull those little details together for you."
4. Have a friend do a reading.
"I can't think of a sweeter way to include a friend in your special day than to have them do a reading at your ceremony," says Samuels, who added you can pick a poem or passage that applies to your friendship, not just your spouse. "Religious or otherwise, the selection can speak to the bond between the two of you in sharing words and thoughts that you both stand for," she explains.
5. Ask them to usher.
Even relatives can forget they're supposed to sit in the first few rows, warns Samuels. So "having escorts who know the VIPs is super-helpful when it comes to seating the guests," she says. "When siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins are told in advance that seats were saved for them up front, they often forget on the wedding day to take those particular seats. The problem with this is that those rows will remain empty if no one reminds them — and that is not only a waste of prime real estate, it also looks bad in the photos. Someone who knows who is who can be instrumental in making sure that doesn't happen."
6. Dedicate a song to your nearest and dearest.
Ask your DJ or band to play a song that holds significance for you and your friends. Then, before he plays it, have him give a shout-out to the girls. "You can get them all on the dance floor to enjoy," Kaley says.