The Bridal Brigade

One of the things I love best about the Internet is it gives us all such a diverse and exciting set of wedding role models. I’ll admit, I love me some Martha Stewart, but many of my wedding dilemmas are never going to be addressed in the pages of a wedding magazine, and I’m rarely going to flip through a wedding glossy and see people that look like our amazing friends. Which brings me to Christina & Patty’s amazing wedding on Snippet & Ink a few weeks back. (Which reminded me of every single thing I love about LA.)

The whole wedding was stunning, and my kind of party, but the thing that blew me away was Christina’s bridal brigade. Instead of having a traditional bridal party, all of the woman in her life pitched in to helped make the wedding happen, and she honored the group by making them her bridal brigade. As you guys know, I’ve been struggling with the idea of traditional wedding party. For me it’s felt limiting and a bit uncomfortable. We have lots of important people in our lives, but somehow they didn’t fit into the bridal party model (not to mention my total lack of interest in picking matching dresses for them).* We do however have tons of people helping with the wedding, not to mention a pile of Jewish honors to be handed out (chuppah holding! readings! blessings! door guarding! chair lifting! More blessing!) So the idea of a bridal brigade made me very happy inside.

I talked to Christina, and this is what she said about it:
The Bridal Brigade was amazing as it really, truly felt like a community effort. And I honestly think my friends had a great time (I hope they did–they seemed like it!!). It was also fun to use people’s particular talents, for example, my friend Moore is a fantastic vegan baker, so she made our Vegan Chocolate Rose Cupcakes. My friend Kate (and her mom, honorary Bridal Brigade member!) does amazing work with flowers, so she put together my bouquet & all of the greens & flowers. Two of my friends are in graduate writing programs, so I asked Antonia & Melissa to write something to read at the ceremony. When we did DIY projects at my house, I usually bought lunch or snacks & really we just had a fun time crafting together! And Georgia, the “General,” was my right hand organizer, taking over all the details, especially day of, so I didn’t have to think about it!

That, my friends, is what I’m looking for in a wedding. A day put on by my community, not by a planner. A day about not just about who we are as a couple, but who we are as a party of a greater family – a family of friends and loved ones. This weekend, I had lunch with the marvelous Emily of Emily Style, and she gave me many many wise words of advice on weddings, one of which was “Ask people to help. Ask everyone to help. Everyone loves helping at a wedding.”

And so I shall!

*Confession, if I’d gotten married a few years back, I think I would have picked out dresses for bridesmaids. But something about nearing 30 seems to make me less romantic, or fussy, or just, energetic like that…

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  • I’m with you about doing things differently if I’d gotten married a few years ago. I’m the type of girl who has always loved weddings, and I’m not ashamed of that. But since actually getting engaged, I’ve come to realize that I really don’t care about a lot of the little details that by traditional standards I SHOULD care about, and that I thought would consume me.

  • Anonymous

    I was the “wedding planner” for my sister’s wedding this past August 16th in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I live in Norwalk, CT. We are from a large family, eleven children, and all of the women have married “late in life”, i.e., in their early forties. (We were just too busy to stop and think about it too much I think!) The Internet was a godsend, of course, but what I want to tell you is that what your friend said is true: people LOVE to help with weddings. They love to participate and it gives them joy. Friends and family were all enlisted for this wedding for their special talents and sometimes that meant getting someone who is perennially late to an event on time! We crafted a lot and used Internet resources including “Wedding in a Box” for flowers which turned out surprisingly good. One sister made the favors traditional to our family, lavender sachets, another made food and packed it for the long ride from Monterey to Albuquerque for the rehearsal dinner. Our 85-year-old Aunt made a traditional Foisse, a french sweet bread, that we could not imagine a family party without. A brother refurbished my Dad’s fountain pen for the guest book, made by a local artisan, another sent the bread from Boudin’s in San Francisco. They had 100 people and I do not think anyone left without feeling really good about being there and celebrating the couple. As wedding planner I often had to remind my sister what the celebration was about: their way of celebrating, their expression, their joy, etc. (This can get lost in the people pleasing part.) All of this jabber to say congratulations!!!!! Have fun!!

  • People really do like to help with a wedding and feel bad if they don’t do enough. One of my bridesmaids was my husband’s sister and she lived a good 8 hours away so there really was little she could do to help.

    It seemed to bother her a lot, but I didn’t set out with a set list of things each person had to do aside from on the day of the wedding. I never really realized just how much some people like to have their little tasks.

  • thanks, meg! what a lovely post! such an honor…

  • oh & i thought i'd point out–the women & MEN helped!! i had my male friends, danny & craig in the brigade as well…another "non" traditional element! i couldn't have done it without every single one of them!

  • Kate

    I think the brigade is a fabulous idea! Breaking out of “tradition” to have a man of honor or best woman wouldn’t suit me, but to have a big co-ed, helping, loving, supportive group instead sounds perfect.
    And Anonymous planner, if you have any Wedding Elf tips to share for Albuquerque, I’d love to hear them.

  • Anonymous

    We didn’t have a bridal party, either. Instead, I asked my best friends and cousins to line the “aisle,” which was actually a long stretch of lawn from the house to the ceremony site. It was lovely to get a smile from all these special people, one by one, as I passed by. I agree with Meg about not getting the bridesmaids dresses. The matching fabric flowers in the hair are way cooler.

  • oh i LOVE this idea!
    like you, i’m really not a big fan at all of bridesmaidship… it kinda feels a bit selective/choosy to me. and it feels like there’ll always be someone who misses out, ya know?
    with bridal brigades, people can opt-in, opt-out, ya know? whatever tickles their fancy! :) i’m thinking of calling my posse “goddesses of honour”
    brightest blessings to you!

  • JMB

    Amazing post! I have a “Maid of Honor” which is my fiance’s sister. She is highly organized, helpful and loving, the perfect person for the “job”.

    My “bridesmaids” (which I’ve been hating calling them that… Maybe Belles of the Ball or Bridal Brigade will take over ..) are all wearing different colored dresses of a solid flower color and they’re sitting behind my parents. I feel about them like your post above, they are all talented creative women that I love so dearly…

    This wedding isn’t traditional either and it’s hard to describe… but it’s all in my head just the way I think it will turn out. It’s blogs like these that keep me going on my non traditional route. Thank you!!!

  • Meg

    Gar! Christina! Of course and men. I work double-triple hard to keep my posting pretty egalitarian (we’re not all brides, and brides are not the only people that matter, for example). So I’m kicking myself that I didn’t point out the co-ed nature of the Brigade. Thanks for reminding all of us!

  • Love the headpiece!

  • One Love Photo

    Oh Meg, Such a great point. I have been to several weddings with a big group of special people that are there celebrating, helping the whole time. Those have been some of my favorites. I love that photo with all their flowers in their hair. Pretty SWEET!

  • this idea (and wedding) is so fabulous.

    I just did a post about friends and would love hear your opinion on it…

  • Linda Rose

    True! There shouldn’t be half the fuss about wedding details if you have good friends to help. Just about the only thing I got professionally done was the photography (I found a great, cheap guy on ) because none of my friends or relatives are good with a camera or trusted themselves enough to document my day. As it was, friends did the catering, flowers, cleaning, even entertainment… and my dress was my mother’s. It was a wonderful time and everyone felt a part of it.

  • This is an amazing idea! I love the idea of a bridal brigade and i love the headpieces. Thank you for sharing!

  • this is SO helpful. thank you!

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  • A really good answer, full of raotianlity!

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