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We Can’t Have An Unbalanced Wedding Party For Even a Few Moments, Can We?

This happened at a wedding I attended a few weeks ago and I am not sure what to make of it. Sometime during the ceremony one of the three bridesmaids took ill and discretely left the church and went to the hospital. I don’t think anyone noticed her leaving. We got to the wedding reception some hours later and took our seats, the wedding party was announced. One of the guest was apparently “promoted” to honorary bridesmaid, I think the dj’s words were, “…and here is our stand-in bridesmaid Kathleen,” as she was led across the floor by a groomsman.

The newly promoted bridesmaid sat at the table with the wedding party, I noticed she declined to be part of the bridal party’s first dance. Halfway through the dinner the original bridesmaids came back in the door (the doctor had given her some painkillers and scheduled an appendix removal surgery for the morning) the bride and original bridesmaids ran over to her squealing with happiness. The promoted bridesmaid was then dispatched back to her original table with her half-eaten dinner and original bridesmaid took her place at the top table. I believe promoted bridesmaid left the reception fairly early on in the evening. 0426-10

Oh, my!  The pursuit of perfection as evidenced in matching pairs of attendants has surely led to another failed relationship.

{ 28 comments… add one }
  • Snewt April 27, 2010, 6:51 am

    The only way that I can see this as acceptable behavior (and this is a stretch) is that the promoted bridesmaid was the significant other of the groomsman that walked into the reception. (Although since she didn’t do the bridal party dance this doesn’t seem to be the situation here.)

    I can also see an event coordinator pulling this without a bride’s knowledge but the part that made this particularly bad was that the new bridesmaid was demoted from the head table with her dinner. Bizarre.

  • Raccoon Princess April 27, 2010, 7:25 am

    Trying so hard to look good often renders one just plain tacky.

  • PrincessSimmi April 27, 2010, 7:39 am

    Wooooow. Some people really have no social skills.

  • Robin April 27, 2010, 8:14 am

    This story loosely relates, but I have this overwhelming need to share…hope you don’t mind indulging me…….
    A year ago, at my 50th birthday party, a close girlfriend of mine of many years decided to announce loudly to all who was within earshot how I was a “fill in” bridesmaid in her wedding.

    Until that moment, I was completely unaware that I was a second choice for the original that was unable to make it.. Needless to say, I was hurt, embarrassed and really really pissed that this “friend” decided to choose this time and place to enlighten us all!

    Needless to say, she is history…bad…bad…history. Relationship failed here too.

  • auntmeegs April 27, 2010, 9:02 am

    I will never understand why people feel that the wedding part numbers have to be even. Isn’t it supposed to be about having people you love stand up with you?

  • DGS April 27, 2010, 9:32 am

    How tacky! I feel truly sorry for the “stand-in bridesmaid”, although I would have hoped that she would have stood up for herself and declined such a ‘promotion’. My own wedding party was unbalanced (7 bridesmaids and 5 groomsmen for a large, 200+ guest wedding), and it didn’t seem to bother anyone one little bit, not the attendants, not any of our guests, and certainly not my husband and me. The point of having a wedding party is asking people that are truly close to you to be a part of of your special day, whoever those people are, and however many of them there happen to be, which results in continued good relationships with those people, rather than alienating many people, such as the unsuspecting “stand-in” bridesmaid. Whatever happened to people being treated with respect and dignity rather than being relegated to the role of a prop?

  • Trish April 27, 2010, 9:43 am

    Ack! What a silly bride! The only place two by two was essential was Noah’s Arc. The dj should have announced “Groomsman XYZ, who accompanied Bridesmaid ABC. Bridesmaid ABC has unfortunately been taken ill, though we hope to see her later this evening”, and gone on from there. Personally, though, I find the entire “announcing” routine to be terribly reminiscent of high school football games, and, since one meets the wedding party in the receiving line, completely redundant.

  • Enna April 27, 2010, 10:01 am

    This was poorly handled – the idea of “promoting” a guest to a bridesmaid after the cermeony is strange. Okay they might not have known the bridemaid was going to come back but I’d much rather have an empty chair there on the off chance.

    The only time you “promote” someone is if you only have 1 bridesmaid who falls ill and you need someone to assist the bride in the ceremony.

  • Mom April 27, 2010, 10:03 am

    Rude and bizarre. And very strange – a burst appendix can become rapidly fatal. What hospital/doctor would release a drugged patient with an infected appendix back to a wedding? Very odd.

  • Southern Sugar April 27, 2010, 11:09 am

    o.O I’m just not even sure what to say to that, it’s so bizarre! Poor Kathleen, though.

  • phoenix April 27, 2010, 11:29 am

    Oh wow…and this was just for the reception, not the ceremony even? Who on earth looks at the reception table and thinks “Gosh, uneven numbers, how shameful!” I wonder what the bridesmaid thought when she managed to return to the party and saw someone sitting in her spot, too.

  • guihong April 27, 2010, 12:18 pm

    What floors me is that the original BM came back from an ER after receiving an appendicitis diagnosis! Though maybe it was go party, or go home and fret all night.

    I wish the “demoted” BM would have demoted herself not to another table, but straight home. Way to lose a friend.

  • Casey April 27, 2010, 12:45 pm

    Here’s an idea… couldn’t they just pull up another chair to the table so original bridesmaid and fill in could both have a spot? How embarrassing! It’s bad enough to have everyone know you’re second best but then to be publicly told to pack your plate and move is just humiliating.

  • Moby Jane April 27, 2010, 1:53 pm

    Amen, DGS and auntmeegs. I completely agree with you. This just happened to us; one of DF’s childhood friends, whom he asked to be a groomsman, has told us that he might not be able to make it. (His freelance photography business is just starting to take off, but times are still tight.) It would mean a rather costly cross-country plane trip, and we definitely don’t want him to break the bank! When I mentioned this to an acquaintance, this is the way the conversation went:

    A: “So you’re going to have three bridesmaids and two groomsmen?”

    Me: “Yep, that’s right.”

    A: “But the numbers won’t match! What will you do about the pictures?”

    Me: “Umm… we’ll have three bridesmaids and two groomsmen. The numbers don’t have to match.”

    A: “Yes, they do! Otherwise it won’t look symmetrical and it’ll be all wrong! Can’t you find someone else to fill in?”

    Me: “No, we’d rather not.”

    A: “Why not? But the numbers won’t match! What will you do about the pictures?” etc. etc.


  • Nina April 27, 2010, 3:26 pm

    “Ack! What a silly bride!” –> silly bride? and you know it was the bride who made these decisions how exactly? The assumption that brides are in control of the day and anything that goes wrong is her fault is wrong – and disconcertingly common. No wonder brides get stressed out!
    In this case there are any number of people other than the bride – other bridesmaids, the mothers, the groom, the wedding co-ordinator – who could have made these decisions.

  • Austenite April 27, 2010, 4:22 pm

    I’ve always felt that asymmetrical is more visually appealing than symmetrical. Balanced is boring. Odd numbers are more pleasing to the eye.

  • Mom April 27, 2010, 4:56 pm

    Way to go, Moby Jane! Good for you – last I checked, families aren’t symmetrical, but somehow, those pictures work out OK. We were four (groomsmen) and three (bridesmaids) and it went off w/out a hitch or comment.

  • Me April 28, 2010, 2:05 am

    My fiance and I are having uneven numbers – I’m having two bridesmaids and he’s having four groomsmen (he’s got brothers, I don’t have any sisters or close female cousins.) Anyway, one of his ‘groomsmen’ is actually a girl, his best friend. When his mother found out, she insisted that fiance’s best friend should be my bridesmaid, so then it will be even and the sexes will be right. I like her and everything but she’s my fiance’s best friend and she should be standing up for him, not me. Silly me, I thought bridal parties were about having the people you love most around to support you on one of the most important days of your life.

  • Me April 28, 2010, 2:06 am

    Oh, and also, the situation in the OP was abhorant!

  • men's cufflinks April 28, 2010, 4:38 pm

    This is what I like about weddings, anything goes. You can personalize a wedding experience. Not just for yourself but to the guests as well. That wedding event was somewhat eventful.

  • jenna May 2, 2010, 8:37 am

    Trish – I agree – announcing is kind of silly to me (no offense to those who like it and do it. A good friend of mine did it and she loved having herself and the wedding party announced and that was great for her. Just not for us). A little Jock Jam-my, or something.

    But IMHO so are receiving lines. I find them archaic and a bit stuffy and awkward. Totally not our style and not necessarily something you always have at a wedding.

    We’re having a cocktail hour before the reception and intend to mingle very intently for that hour and keep careful tabs on who we still need to socialize with later.

    But we’re weird: we’re also not having a cake (tiramisu instead), I’m not wearing white (why would I? It’s not even an ancient tradition), no tuxes, no formal first dance etc..

  • Andrea May 11, 2010, 12:56 pm

    It was actually my pastor that was having a fit about the uneven wedding party before my wedding. My best friend and I were in a huge fight and I wasn’t sure that she would even be showing up for the wedding. Even though I was mad (and rightfully so.. but that’s another story), I couldn’t see having a stand in for her. It wouldn’t have felt right. She showed up and after a year or two we patched things completely. There has always been a bond between us that keeps us going back to each other and knowing that, I am so glad that I never even entertained the thought of replacing her, even if she hadn’t been there.

    Now that said, I did have a substitution in my wedding. My husband and I were engaged quickly after we met, but it was too soon to have a wedding that summer so we waited until the following summer. (I live in northern Michigan and since it is such a small town there aren’t many places to hold a reception. I didn’t want to risk outside so I waited.) Originally, It had just worked out. My husband had 5 he wanted and I had 5 I wanted. Well, one of my friends who originally planned to be in my wedding party ended up declining. I was disappointed, of course, but I didn’t want to put any stress on her financially. Her being there was the most important part, really. (I think that the real reason that she declined was because she was planning her own, much more intimate wedding and didn’t want me to feel slighted because I would have asked her and she didn’t ask me, but that was just a theory.)
    I ended up “substituting” her with my future SIL. I did feel slightly guilty about that, but it was a little different in this case. When my husband and I first met I didn’t know any of his family well at all. Between the time we started planning and my friend declined, I had grown close to his SIL. She was happy to be included and said herself that she had never expected me to “add her” just because we’d recently become close, but that she was happy to stand in. Because of how our relationship had become, she would have been a big part of our ceremony one way or another anyway.

  • Maryann June 14, 2010, 9:42 am

    @Me: I just want to say good for you. If your fiance has a female friend, there’s no reason she has to suddenly belong to you just because you possess matching anatomy. Some people are so hung up on details seeming right, they forget what really matters and what’s really right.

  • Chelsey July 14, 2010, 2:53 pm

    I once saw an article about something similar to this, where the bride was concerned that the groom didn’t have as many groomsmen as she did bridesmaids. The solution? The best man walked back up the aisle with two women, one on each arm. Very cute!

  • Liutgard July 24, 2010, 3:51 am

    I *was* the fill-in bridesmaid, a few years ago. The bride’s #3 friend couldn’t raise the cash for a plane ticket at the last moment. I was asked to be a bridesmaid three days before the wedding. The dress didn’t even sort of fit- I had to take it in by about ten inches, pinned in the underarm seams. I spent two hours the night before the wedding standing on a stepladder hanging decorations (even though the bride knows I’m seriously acrophobic and have balance problems) while the bride sat in the corner slamming tequila with her best friend. I got yelled at while dressing (by another friend of her who thought she was in charge) because I wasn’t wearing a corset. My reason? I don’t have one. If I’d been chosen as a bridesmaid sooner and told then that the wedding was ante-bellum themed, I might have obtained one. But not with three days’ notice. Not that it mattered much, since the dress was so huge. This was a same woman who shoved me out into the aisle before the music cue had happened- guess who go blamed for everyone being ‘off’? I was loudly berated by the bride for not joining in the tequila fest at the reception. I’m on meds and can’t do that, and the bride new this. It was a miserable event. And no, I got no thank you. At all. Not even a ‘thanks for helping out at the last minute’.

    And then I found out why she’d called me for a fill in- because I was the right *height* to go with that particular groomsman.

  • LadyCeeport January 4, 2011, 9:52 pm

    I was in a wedding where the bride called me ‘white trash’ for having cartilage piercings in my ear and DEMANDED I remove them. They would have been hidden by my hair.Meanwhile her guests wore jeans to her wedding and her sister in law changed into jeans after dinner…. that marriage lasted 3 months.

  • LadyCeeport January 4, 2011, 9:53 pm

    I had an uneven number wedding party. Instead of our bridesmaids and groomsmen walking as pairs, they all walked separately single file. It was fine.

  • lkb January 5, 2011, 5:41 am

    While I agree with you, I shudder at the thought of a DJ announcing that a bridesmaid (or anyone else) was taken ill, even with the “hope we’ll see her later”.

    Umm, actually, if she had taken ill, I hope I wouldn’t see her later, spreading her germs all over the place (stomach flu, anyone?)

    Also, it may cause undue worry for the other guests, who may or may not know her. (“Did she have an accident? What happened?”). Of course, it would depend on individual circumstances.

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