When it comes to weddings, many old rules no longer apply. Bridesmaids don mismatched attire. Couples forgo the garter toss. And if you want your male best friend to stand with your 'maids, you can do that, too. "Couples believe that splitting up their family and best friends based strictly on gender is a bit antiquated, and not necessarily a tradition they wish to continue," explains Bellwether Events owner Janice Carnevale, who says about 15 percent of her clients mix their bridal parties between men and women. "A bride might prefer her brother by her side, not across the aisle. And likewise, that groom might want his female cousin who he basically grew up standing at the altar with him."
Meet the Expert
Janice Carnevale is the founder and owner of Bellwether Events in Washington, D.C. and the author of an e-book, "The Elegant At-Home Wedding."
If you'd like to mix-and-match your own bridal party, here are some tips on how to do it:
Attire: Just because they're standing on the opposite side of the aisle from their same-sex doesn't mean you have to dress your male 'maids any differently. "If a man is standing on the bride's side, he generally is wearing the same suit or tux as the men standing on the groom's side," Carnevale says. Same goes for any girls mixed among the groomsmen — give these women the same dress or color as your bridesmaids. And if you'd like your opposite sex party members to stand out, consider asking your male friend to don a different boutonniere or ask your female friend to carry a slightly different bouquet or wear a corsage.
The pre-wedding parties: "If you are worried about a man being a part of planning the shower, don't be," says Carnevale. "He can decide for himself if he wants to participate in this typically all-female event. It doesn't have to be weird if you don't make it weird." Female friends of the groom can also decide if they'd like to attend the bachelor party, or hang with the other women at your bachelorette event. Or, consider throwing a co-ed bachelorette party!
Titles: When it comes to what to call your opposite sex bridal party members in your programs — or when people ask — you can get creative. Consider naming a woman standing on the groom's side a "groomslady." A man on the bride's side could be given the moniker "bridesman." "You can also do away with gender-oriented labels and simply call everyone in the wedding party an attendant," suggests Carnevale.