One of the hardest parts of wedding planning is choosing who and how to honor the people closest to you. On the one-hand, there are some great, clearly-defined WIC-approved roles for close friends and family members that can take some of the guesswork out of things. Best man. Maid of Honor. Usher. You get the drift. But once those roles are filled (or if those roles don’t feel authentic to you), it can feel like there are not a ton of creative alternatives out there.
How do you honor a friend who is close, but isn’t in the wedding party? How do you navigate divorced parents who both love you, but don’t care much for each other? More complicated still, how do you tell people they aren’t being honored in wedding media-approved way they were expecting, but that they are still important. (See: walking yourself down the aisle).
As children of blended families, choosing how to honor all the special people in our lives during our wedding was one of the more complicated parts of planning for Michael and I. There were so many people we wanted to honor, people we love dearly and equally, but among whom there are perceived hierarchies that we had to pay close attention to so as to avoid any hurt feelings. I mean, what do you do when you have a stepdad who raised you, and a biological father who also wants major credit at your wedding? Like I said, complicated. In the end, I had both my dads walk me down the aisle (though I regret not giving my stepdad a father-daughter dance); my stepmom, who was uncomfortable taking any of the shine off my mom the day of, helped make our flowers; and any cousin under the age of thirteen got to walk down the aisle because that’s the only fun part of a wedding when you’re a tween, right?
But making these decisions wasn’t easy. Part of that can be attributed to sensitive feelings. But mostly, it was because we didn’t have any ideas available to us to draw inspiration from, so a lot of what we were offering felt a little… lackluster. We wanted to convey the emotional meaning of what they meant to us, but sometimes it felt like we were offering the second place trophy.
So, since APW readers are some of the most creative and thoughtful people on the internet, I want to open up this open thread to your thoughts and ideas on how to make your special people feel, well, special. Who are you honoring and how are you doing it? What has the response been to your alternative honor? Did you have to soothe any hurt feelings after telling someone they weren’t getting the honor they thought they were?
How do you honor your loved ones outside of traditionally prescribed wedding roles? How do you manage expectations and hurt feelings when someone didn’t get the job they expected? Is there any way for everyone to have their cake and eat it to?
A version of this post was originally published in April of 2013