Are Bridal Parties A Thing Of The (Pre-Pandemic) Past?

Planning a wedding without my people

As a recently engaged person, it would be a lie to say that I’m not already spending my fair share of time perusing Pinterest and thinking about what a wedding will look like for my partner and me. (Did you miss our engagement story? Because it’s pretty good.) And wow-oh-wow is wedding planning as a bride different from wedding planning as a pro, back when I was a planner. And wedding planning in a pandemic? Something else again.

I have helped countless friends and clients navigate the waters of planning their celebrations, and somehow I am still blown away constantly by the feelings and stress I’m finding myself in—throw a pandemic in the mix, with no end in sight, and those feelings have gotten pretty big a few times, already (as in… tears galore).

One of the few things I’ve always felt pretty solid on is my wedding party goals. Now, let me share some back story here… I have a big group of amazing, really special, and super close girl friends. I’ve joked that I am a walking living version of “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” or 27 Dresses (you know, the movie with Katherine Heigl where she makes all her friends wear the bridesmaids dresses they had put her in). I just counted… ya’ll, I’ve literally been a bridesmaid 9 times (a MOH for 5 of those), and an officiant/honorary best wo-man once—and there are a few more weddings in the pipeline.

Despite my history as a wedding planner, and basically being a professional bridesmaid, I’ve long known I wouldn’t take a ‘normal’ approach to a wedding party. I love my group of friends so deeply, and they each mean the world to me… I’ve just always known that I couldn’t possibly choose one of them to be my maid of honor, or even figure out how to fully honor them as my nearest and dearest following the standard wedding party ‘guidelines’. While I’ve been lucky enough to really like most of the bridesmaids dresses my friends have chosen, I’ve also always struggled with the idea of asking my beautiful friends, who are all shapes and sizes of human, to wear whatever dress or outfit I’ve chosen for them—especially at the price tag slapped on lots of bridesmaids dresses.

And then, COVID-19 hit. I got engaged. Now I’m left wondering… will I get to have a wedding with my favorite group of girls with me? Should I actually hold out for whenever this nightmare ends, and change my vision to do a traditional bridal party? (I mean, my friends deserve it). What if we’re still in a pandemic and I have to pick matching masks for them, too? What if I ask them to be in my wedding party and then we can’t actually have that version of a wedding? *Cue the spiral.*

So, while we don’t have a venue yet, let alone a date (thanks in large part to COVID)… I do have a pretty clear idea of what a bridal party would look like for us, at least in my ideal version. If the World gets back to some version of ‘normal’ and Trisha and I are able to have a wedding like we’ve been dreaming of, here’s my plan: I will send my favorite ladies a pallet of colors to work with (it’ll probably be neutrals), and some ideas of dresses I think are pretty, and let them run wild. I want each of them to feel like their best selves, choose a dress (or pantsuit or jumpsuit) that makes them smile and feel like a million bucks. We’ll likely snag matching ties or bowties for my bonus kid, Trisha’s brothers, and any of Trisha’s friends who are tie-wearing types. And on our wedding day, no matter what it ends up like, our people will look coordinated, stunning, and exactly like themselves.

But is that going to happen for us? (Or for any of us?) Are bridal parties dead, at least for now? Is 27 Dresses now an antiquated movie from Before Times? Where are we at?

Here’s my question, APW… what is your bridal party looking like these days? Have you narrowed down your guest list and thus your wedding party? Have you found creative ways to keep your closest friends included? Do you think the ‘old world’ version of wedding parties will make a comeback? or are we moving towards some different ways of including our people in our celebrations as we settle into all the ways our world is changing and changed? let’s discuss.

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