Etiquette Hell

Hostesses With The Mostest => Entertaining and Hospitality => Topic started by: Sleepynose on October 15, 2012, 03:02:39 PM

Title: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Sleepynose on October 15, 2012, 03:02:39 PM
My best friend is getting married and asked me to be a bridesmaid. I am fine with just about everything that entails, (dress, hair, shoes etc). The only thing that bothers me is that I'm married and would be expected to sit at the head table instead of with my husband (who is not a groomsman). This bothers me, because he would be sitting by himself and he would know no one there. He is also not thrilled with the idea. Should I decline being a bridesmaid and if so, how should I say it?
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Cat-Fu on October 15, 2012, 03:14:52 PM
First off, are you certain there is going to *be* a head table? Sweetheart tables are very popular these days.

But this is your best friend, right? Is this something you are willing to cause a potentially irreversible rift over? It is really annoying to have to sit alone with a bunch of strangers at a wedding (I did it last month for my DH's childhood best friend's wedding in which my DH was a groomsman) but it's just one night, and eventually you get up and dance. I am pretty shy but I still usually manage as best I can.

If this is really a dealbreaker, I would be honest with your best friend, and give her the reason why. (I know it is recommended not to justify etc, but for close friends I think it's different).
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: guihong on October 15, 2012, 03:29:43 PM
All of my attendants were married.  They sat at the head table with DH and me during dinner, then went to sit with their spouses after the toasts/pictures of the table.  Is that a workable compromise?

None of the spouses knew anyone there, but we sat them all at a couple of tables (with room for spouses) and they managed just fine.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Sleepynose on October 15, 2012, 03:30:36 PM
First off, are you certain there is going to *be* a head table? Sweetheart tables are very popular these days.

But this is your best friend, right? Is this something you are willing to cause a potentially irreversible rift over? It is really annoying to have to sit alone with a bunch of strangers at a wedding (I did it last month for my DH's childhood best friend's wedding in which my DH was a groomsman) but it's just one night, and eventually you get up and dance. I am pretty shy but I still usually manage as best I can.

If this is really a dealbreaker, I would be honest with your best friend, and give her the reason why. (I know it is recommended not to justify etc, but for close friends I think it's different).

So far that's what she said "Head table." Her wedding party including her and the groom is 16 people (7 bridesmaids, 7 groomsmen, and the bride and groom, a very long table) so she has considered a sweetheart table but still wants a separate table for bridesmaids on one side and a separate table for the groomsmen on the other near the sweetheart table. Personally I like sweetheart tables better; that's what I had at mine. She was a bridesmaid at my wedding and would have sat at a regular table with her boyfriend if he came (he is not the same person she is marrying).

She is my best friend, but knowing her it would not cause an irreversible rift, she is a pretty reasonable person. I spoke to my husband about it and he would rather not go at all if he sat with strangers most of the time. And going by myself would be pretty bad.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Knitterly on October 15, 2012, 03:47:49 PM
Many years ago, I went to a wedding where my husband (then fiance) was a groomsman and the *only* people I knew where in the bridal party sitting at the head table.  I was seated at a table that was basically made up of the spouses and signficant others of those in the wedding party.  It turned out very lovely.

In fact, I've only been to one wedding where there was not a head table (and that one was a very different culture where there was no real wedding party).  In each instance, married or otherwise partnered members of the wedding party were separated from their spouses, even when said bridal party members had children who were present at the wedding. 

If it is a typical reception with a dance afterwards, I know you will have lots of social time with your husband.  And there is also nothing keeping you at the head table all evening, so you'll be able to go over and chat with him between courses.

Is your husband typically unable to form new acquaintances comfortably?
I only ask because I find it strange that your husband would rather not go at all than be seated separately from you from what will likely be a maximum of 2 hours.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: sparksals on October 15, 2012, 03:56:30 PM
For your best friend, I think that you should grin and bear it.  Head tables are very common and spouses should be able to sit apart for a couple hours max.   Your friend may be very hurt your husband skips her wedding b/c he doesn't want to sit with people he doesn't know for the dinner period. 

This topic has come up here several times before.  It gets very heated because some feel as you do - they don't like being apart from their spouse.  However, true etiquette states at dinner parties/receptions, spouses not be seated together so as to promote conversation with others around the table. 

If this is a deal breaker for you, then decline being in her wedding party.  Otherwise, if you say anything about not wanting to sit at the head table, it could cause a rift.  She already has plans for a head table, which is pretty standard and traditional, and being a dissenter may add stress to her she doesn't need.  It really is only for a couple hours, a very small amount of time on your best friend's wedding day.


Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: #borecore on October 15, 2012, 04:09:42 PM
I was just in a wedding where partners or spouses of the wedding party were at the head table. It was hardly unwieldy or awkward. This is what I've seen most often and what I think you should suggest.

If my BF had had to sit elsewhere, it wouldn't have been a dealbreaker for us, so I guess I can't tell you whether it should be one for you. I guess the actual dinner part (before mingling) is generally so brief that we would tough it out to make a friend happy on a stressful day. As soon as the meal part ends, you two will be together again.  :D
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: MrsJWine on October 15, 2012, 04:22:00 PM
Is there a particular reason you can't go without your husband? This isn't your acquaintance's kid's Bar Mitzvah. It's your best friend's wedding. That's a huge thing. Unless there are some very special circumstances (severe anxiety, prohibitive expenses, etc), I think this is one of things you just do for you best friend.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Mikayla on October 15, 2012, 04:27:40 PM
To be honest, I think your husband is putting you in a really tough position by saying he'd rather not go if he's with strangers "the whole time".  He won't be.  It's just dinner in the weddings I've been to, and maybe a couple of toasts. 

It's nice that your friend is reasonable and this wouldn't cause permanent damage, but I'd feel a little snowflaky asking her about it.  It strikes as being almost in the same category as a Best Man wanting to walk down the aisle with his wife, rather than the MOH. 



Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Hmmmmm on October 15, 2012, 04:45:55 PM
Is there a particular reason you can't go without your husband? This isn't your acquaintance's kid's Bar Mitzvah. It's your best friend's wedding. That's a huge thing. Unless there are some very special circumstances (severe anxiety, prohibitive expenses, etc), I think this is one of things you just do for you best friend.

POD.  Your DH's time alone would be at the church and the hour or so for dinner which most of that time will be spent eating or listening to toasts.  After that mingling begins and you guys can sit together then.   
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Zilla on October 15, 2012, 04:46:04 PM
This is your best friend but your husband doesn't know anyone at the wedding?  And I agree with others, why don't you let him stay home that way you don't have to worry about him sitting alone during the ceremony and during the meal/toast etc.  It sounds like it would be a stressful instead of fun time.  Make it a night about your best friend the bride for one night.


Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Tilt Fairy on October 15, 2012, 05:14:59 PM
This is your best friend but your husband doesn't know anyone at the wedding?  And I agree with others, why don't you let him stay home that way you don't have to worry about him sitting alone during the ceremony and during the meal/toast etc.  It sounds like it would be a stressful instead of fun time.  Make it a night about your best friend the bride for one night.


^This ^. You're the bride's best friend so I'm sure you by yourself (without your husband attending) would know most of the bridal party and other guests intimately and still have an active and important part to play at the reception and even if you don't, lots of people will want to talk to/get to know you. The bride will probably spend half the time partying with you! It's your best friends wedding. You'll probably find you'll never be bored and have a good time. The best friend at a wedding is a pretty fun role. Everyone wants to talk to and involve the best friend!

I understand that your husband may not know as many people but if the bride is your best friend, couldn't you simply talk to her and say "John's a little nervous about being by himself, would it perhaps be possible to seat him next to people he may know?" or "people he could easily hit it off with?". Chances are your best friend the bride has probably thought all this through and seated him with the other male halves of the female members of her bridal party that are on the head table. Lots of weddings normally put some or all of the boyfriends/husbands together so they have something in common/know each other/get to know each other or can have some fun male bonding. She will probably have no trouble with (if she hasn't done so already) seating him with people who have similar interests as him/similar jobs/are a similar age etc..etc.. so he can feel as comfortable as possible. It's the thing I would try to do if I was ever a bride. Everyone is nervous and shy at weddings when they sit at a table with strangers. People are actually often relieved and grateful when the person next to them starts a conversation. Your husband will probably be making new friends in no time.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Giggity on October 15, 2012, 05:22:08 PM
My best friend is getting married and asked me to be a bridesmaid. I am fine with just about everything that entails, (dress, hair, shoes etc). The only thing that bothers me is that I'm married and would be expected to sit at the head table instead of with my husband (who is not a groomsman). This bothers me, because he would be sitting by himself and he would know no one there. He is also not thrilled with the idea. Should I decline being a bridesmaid and if so, how should I say it?

It's only for a couple hours and it's your best friend. Your husband can take care of himself for that long.

Also, how would he not know anyone, if it's your best friend?
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: katycoo on October 15, 2012, 05:43:28 PM
I was BM for a good friend a few years ago.  At the wedding, my DH knew me, the bride, and had met the groom once or twice.  They are part of a separate circle of friends so we don't know their other friends.

I was at the head table, and consequently DH was at a table of strangers.  DH is pretty shy/anti-social.  The bride intentionally sat him with friendly people who knew he didn't know anyone and while I woudln't say he had 'fun', he wasn't miserable and bored all day.  He came with us when we had photos (only walking around the grounds) so he wasn't waiting alone, and just minded the bags and shoes.

Honestly, I wouldn't have let me DH decline on the basis of not knowing anyone.  I was there to stand for my friend, he was there as part of us.  Its one of those things you just suck up.  The bride will be part of my life fro a long time coming, and my DH could do the decent thing and be at her wedding.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: sparksals on October 15, 2012, 05:56:06 PM
Is there a particular reason you can't go without your husband? This isn't your acquaintance's kid's Bar Mitzvah.  It's your best friend's wedding. That's a huge thing. Unless there are some very special circumstances (severe anxiety, prohibitive expenses, etc), I think this is one of things you just do for you best friend.

Pod!
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Bluenomi on October 15, 2012, 07:41:07 PM
If there are 7 bridesmaids there is a good chance there will be a few boyfriends/husbands who are left at a loose end so to speak. I suspect they will all be seated together and end up having a great old time being, well, boys.

It's a wedding, it's one night. I think you just need to suck it up and deal with it. Either he goes and deals with spending part of the night without you or he doesn't go and you go by yourself. You're a BM, there will be plently of things to keep you distracted from the fact he isn't there.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Specky on October 15, 2012, 11:57:17 PM
Do what YOU want to do, what makes you the most comfortable.

My husband would win every time.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: sourwolf on October 16, 2012, 12:06:28 AM
Do what YOU want to do, what makes you the most comfortable.

My husband would win every time.

But would your husband force you to choose?
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: kareng57 on October 16, 2012, 12:16:04 AM
I was just in a wedding where partners or spouses of the wedding party were at the head table. It was hardly unwieldy or awkward. This is what I've seen most often and what I think you should suggest.

If my BF had had to sit elsewhere, it wouldn't have been a dealbreaker for us, so I guess I can't tell you whether it should be one for you. I guess the actual dinner part (before mingling) is generally so brief that we would tough it out to make a friend happy on a stressful day. As soon as the meal part ends, you two will be together again.  :D


Yes, but OP's situation is that there are 14 attendants.  Unless it's an absolutely huge venue ( and even then, I'd have trouble figuring out how they would do it) - the attendants' SOs would have to sit elsewhere, as opposed to being seated at the head table.

I'd have to agree with PPs - if the bride is her best friend, it does seem a bit weird that her husband knows absolutely no one who would also be attending the wedding.  Even if he does not - for a wedding of this size, I'd imagine that there would have to be a rehearsal and therefore a rehearsal dinner (or at least a dessert party) - and wouldn't that be the best occasion to introduce the WP's SOs to each other?  Of course they don't have to make lifelong friends, but one would think that it would help them to be mildly-tolerable to each other for about 90 minutes the next day.  As PPs have said - once dinner and the toasts are done, everyone is pretty free to mingle.

But of course  it's for OP to decide.  If she decides that it's better to attend alone and not have to listen to her husband's complaints about the people he was forced to sit with....it might be the best bet.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: sweetonsno on October 16, 2012, 03:19:17 AM
Your husband is a grown man. Assuming that he does not have serious social anxiety, he should be able to manage without you for a few hours. I also don't always relish the idea of going to an event where I don't know many people, especially if the people who I know will be occupied for the majority of the time. However, I love my friends and family and will support them by attending major life events. Your best friend's wedding is a pretty big deal, and I think you should absolutely go if you can.

If your husband is adamant about not going, then don't force it. Leave him at home for a weekend of boy time. Absolutely do not decline being a bridesmaid just because your husband doesn't want to go. I imagine that your husband would understand you wanting to do this for your best friend. He'll likely be able to take care of himself for a day (or two, if it's an out-of-town wedding) while you're off having fun at the wedding.

If your husband agrees to go, work on teaching him some small talk so he can make friends and keep himself occupied while you're doing your bridesmaidly duties. He'll survive the getting ready, the ceremony, and the dinner. You two can dance the night away after all of the photos, toasts, and eating.

Basically, choose the option that will result in the most good feelings and the fewest bad feelings. (Consider your feelings, your husband's feelings, and your friend's feelings.) Depending on how well your husband handles social situations where he doesn't know many people, that is probably going to be either going with him or going without him.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: jaxsue on October 16, 2012, 07:13:42 AM
I agree with PPs who said that it's the HC's day. It may not be ideal for you and your DH, OP, but it's a few hours. I wouldn't see this as a deal-breaker. I also am curious that this is your best friend, yet your DH doesn't know anyone who'll be there.

I say all of this having been alone at many functions (being divorced, that's life!) and having to sit at tables with complete strangers.

Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Margo on October 16, 2012, 07:29:22 AM
I agree that for something like this, it's unreasonable fo your husband to refuse to go with you simply because he has to sit at a different table for the meal. After all, even if you were simply attending as a guest, not a BM, you would both be expected to mingle, and talk to other people.

My sister got married earlier this summer. My (other) sister's boyfriend came to the wedding - they've been together a relatively short tiem, an live some distance away, so he had not met anone except members of the briadal party - he came, sat at a different table for the eal and speeches and had a good time. As did my brother's girlfriend (he was in the wedding party).

It's fairly common att weddigns to end up with people you don't know, or only know slightly - you just get on with it.

If your husbnd is particualrly anxious, is there anyone he does know who is likely to be going? Do you know / socialise with any of the other bridesmaids, fr instance - could you organise a meal out or something and invite them and their partners so he can meet a few of the other wedding guests and feel more comfortable going in.

I think that if this is a real dealbreaker and your husband can't or won';t compromise then consier going alone to support your friend, rather than declining to act as BM. It may be less fun than going with your DH would have been, but this is your best freind and although she sounds like sometone who wouldn't make a fuss, I think turning downher invitation to be a bridesmaid is likely to hurt her feelings, especially as the reason is one which, to an outsider, seems fairly pettty. (I am assuming that your DH does not sufer from any erious anxiety disorder or other medical condition whcih would make not sitting at your table a particular issue for him . If he does, then I think that explaining that issue to the Bride would be reasonable. You are then able to explain that you'd love to be a BM but that DH has a medical need for your support, so you will have to decline but hope very much you'll both be welcome as ordinary guests. The Bridge can then, if she wishes, offer a compromise for you to be seated with your DH instead of at the 'top table'.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Sleepynose on October 16, 2012, 09:51:32 AM
Thanks everyone for the replies, I will talk about it with my husband some more and let you all know the outcome. To answer some question that came up repeatedly,

No, really, he will know absolutely no one at the wedding. He has met the bride (my best friend) maybe three or four times. I don't see her often but I do call a lot.

No he doesn't have any social disorder, it's more of a cultural difference. What we call a traditional wedding in the US is not what he is used to where he is from.

Why don't I just go without him, I probably would be miserable. I'm not really a party person. My own wedding was short and low-key (there was a dinner and no dancing) because I really just wanted to move on with my life.

Will the bride care if he doesn't go? She really could care less.

And no my husband isn't forcing me to do anything, and I can't force him to do anything either.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: TurtleDove on October 16, 2012, 10:02:00 AM
Why don't I just go without him, I probably would be miserable. I'm not really a party person.

While your feelings are valid, I think you should recognize that this attitude is likely going to be hurtful to your friend.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Fleur on October 16, 2012, 10:09:53 AM


OP, I would make an excuse. If I were your friend, I would totally understand anyway, but I suppose not everyone would. I  have the attitude 'spouses/partners before friends' so I can really get where you are coming from.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Bexx27 on October 16, 2012, 12:13:20 PM
Your friend chose you as a bridesmaid. That presumably means she values you presence and support at her wedding. It's not just a party, it's a milestone event for your friend. So you're not a party person and will be miserable for a few hours. I'm sure you can handle it if being there for your friend is important to you.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: O'Dell on October 16, 2012, 12:33:12 PM
So if you bow out of being a bridesmaid, you and your husband would be willing to attend the wedding because you would then sit together? If that's the case, then tell her you won't be a bridesmaid but would like to be there and support her in other ways. I suggest you use the excuse that you aren't the happy party person that can take that role.

I do have anxiety issues *and* I detest weddings *and* I hate getting "dressed up". Yet I've muddled thru a couple of weddings and receptions now where my husband was in the wedding party and even managed to have a decent time. I did it for my husband. So I can't say that I think much of your husband's attitude. It comes off as quite selfish.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Giggity on October 16, 2012, 01:59:20 PM
Why don't I just go without him, I probably would be miserable. I'm not really a party person. My own wedding was short and low-key (there was a dinner and no dancing) because I really just wanted to move on with my life.

Miserable? That's a pretty strong term to apply to spending a few hours celebrating your best friend's wedding.

I get being mildly uncomfortable, or wanting to be doing something else, but if your best friend's wedding makes you "miserable," maybe you should decline.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: rose red on October 16, 2012, 02:50:32 PM
Why don't I just go without him, I probably would be miserable. I'm not really a party person. My own wedding was short and low-key (there was a dinner and no dancing) because I really just wanted to move on with my life.

Miserable? That's a pretty strong term to apply to spending a few hours celebrating your best friend's wedding.

I get being mildly uncomfortable, or wanting to be doing something else, but if your best friend's wedding makes you "miserable," maybe you should decline.

I agree.

As a single person, I've been to weddings and sat with a table full of strangers.  It starts off a bit uncomfortable, but you just start to chit-chat or keep to yourself and people watch.  If you and your DH will be miserable being apart for dinner, I agree it's best for both you and your best friend if you declined.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Fleur on October 16, 2012, 03:39:48 PM


I think that people are being a little hard on the OP. I can totally feel where she is coming from, weddings are stressful events and can cause severe social anxiety: I have felt miserable at a lot of weddings. A true friend would understand that. If I was the one getting married, I wouldn't want my friend to be unhappy just to celebrate 'my day'.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Giggity on October 16, 2012, 03:42:10 PM
Miserable? As in, "wretchedly unhappy"?

That's an odd way to feel at a happy event.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Fleur on October 16, 2012, 03:51:59 PM
Miserable? As in, "wretchedly unhappy"?

That's an odd way to feel at a happy event.

Social anxiety can make people unhappy, yes. Plus weddings, while they are celebrating a very happy event, are sometimes stressful as there is a lot of pressure on people to have a good time. People can get very drunk, and there are all kinds of pitfalls. I honestly don't think the OP should feel obligated to go to this event. Her friend is no less married without her there.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: camlan on October 16, 2012, 04:50:38 PM
Miserable? As in, "wretchedly unhappy"?

That's an odd way to feel at a happy event.

Social anxiety can make people unhappy, yes. Plus weddings, while they are celebrating a very happy event, are sometimes stressful as there is a lot of pressure on people to have a good time. People can get very drunk, and there are all kinds of pitfalls. I honestly don't think the OP should feel obligated to go to this event. Her friend is no less married without her there.

The question isn't whether or not the OP should attend her best friend's wedding. The question is whether she should accept the invitation to be a bridesmaid.

If sitting at separate tables would cause the OP and her husband as much discomfort as it appears it would, then I think the OP should gently decline being a bridesmaid.

But I'd hope that wouldn't end the friendship. I'd hope the bride would still invite the OP and her DH to the wedding, and that they'd have a good time, because they'd be able to be together at dinner.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: O'Dell on October 16, 2012, 05:09:35 PM
Miserable? As in, "wretchedly unhappy"?

That's an odd way to feel at a happy event.

Social anxiety can make people unhappy, yes. Plus weddings, while they are celebrating a very happy event, are sometimes stressful as there is a lot of pressure on people to have a good time. People can get very drunk, and there are all kinds of pitfalls. I honestly don't think the OP should feel obligated to go to this event. Her friend is no less married without her there.

The OP herself has stated: No he doesn't have any social disorder, it's more of a cultural difference. What we call a traditional wedding in the US is not what he is used to where he is from.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Knitterly on October 16, 2012, 05:12:21 PM
OP,  if you truly do not want to be seated separately from your husband, I think you can gracefully decline being a bridesmaid.  However, when you do, do not offer any reason.

You can simply say "Best Friend, you know that I am so happy for you.  I would love to be in your wedding party, but it's just something I cannot do at this time.  Husband and I are looking forward to attending your wedding, though."

You do not actually need to tell her that you cannot be in the wedding because you don't want your husband to sit alone for an hour or two.

However, if you have already accepted the role of bridesmaid, I don't think you should back out.  If you have not, then you are not obligated to accept the honour.  It is no different than if you did not have the time or the finances to commit.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Snooks on October 17, 2012, 05:20:12 AM
I'm going to put this into the context of my wedding which was very low key, we didn't have any attendants but we did have a top table.  We each have one sibling, my sibling is single and DH's sibling is married (5+ years before us), we asked our siblings to be our witnesses and also to sit on the top table with us.  DH's sibling's first reaction when we mentioned we'd like them to sit with us at the top table was "What about spouse?".  Now that rubbed me the wrong way because it seemed so dismissive of the invitation to sit with us and be part of the wedding.  The spouse sat with the rest of DH's family who they spent every weekend with, DH's sibling disappeared from the top table in between every course, I wish we hadn't asked them to sit with us.

So from the bride's point of view she wants you to be part of the wedding and that's important to her, what you have to decide is how much you're happy to indulge her and put on a brave face.

With regards of how to deal with this I'd recommend a few things
1) Talk to your best friend and tell her the dilemma you're facing
2) Find out if any of the other attendants will be in the same position and see if your husband can be seated with another lone partner
3) Introduce your husband to any of the other guests you know and see if your husband can be seated with them

I had a friend from university who's partner couldn't make our wedding, which meant she was going to be totally alone at our wedding.  She knew one other person but they were going to be on another table so I spoke to my friends who were going to be on that table and explained the situation and asked them to adopt her for the day which they did.

There are ways of getting around these issues, it just depends on how much work you want to put into it.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: LifeOnPluto on October 17, 2012, 05:34:42 AM
I also think of this as thing you have to do for a good friend. Perhaps try thinking of it as a job you have been tasked to fulfill (eg standing up for your friend, witnessing the marriage certificate, holding her bouquet, making sure none of the guests get unruly, etc) rather than a "party", if you fear you will be miserable.

As for your husband, could you ask the Bride to seat him with some people who can make him feel welcome, and talk to him?

I know you have the option of stepping down, and letting the Bride know that you and your DH would simply like to attend as guests, but I personally think that should be a last resort. YMMV, but I'd personally be a little hurt if my best friend did this to me, without any explanation whatsoever, etc.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Sharnita on October 17, 2012, 02:02:58 PM
that is pretty much what single people do on a regular basis.  Of course, the difference would be that when the formalities were over there would probably be an empty seat at his table that you might be able to sit in for a bit and you could spend a significant amount of time dancing, standing, etc. with him.

Honestly, if he can't cope with the realities single people deal with on a regular basis I think it is more his.your problem then the bride's.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Fleur on October 17, 2012, 02:13:01 PM
that is pretty much what single people do on a regular basis.  Of course, the difference would be that when the formalities were over there would probably be an empty seat at his table that you might be able to sit in for a bit and you could spend a significant amount of time dancing, standing, etc. with him.

Honestly, if he can't cope with the realities single people deal with on a regular basis I think it is more his.your problem then the bride's.

I don't understand what the experience of single people has to do with this situation, as the OP and her husband are not single but a couple. You could say 'well xyz person has to do this, why can't you' about almost any situation. I'm not sure it is helpful to compare situations which are not alike.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: TurtleDove on October 17, 2012, 02:45:25 PM
[Sitting at the head table] bothers me, because [DH] would be sitting by himself and he would know no one there. He is also not thrilled with the idea.

This is from the OP.  I think what some posters are pointing out is that to many (most?) people, this is something we have all faced at some point or another.  In the business world, it is routine to attend events where you don't really know anyone.  I don't think anyone is trying to compare the OP and her DH to single people.  The point, as I see it, is that it's not really that odd of a situation to not know anyone at an event, and single people are always without an SO and they somehow survive.  Moreover, here the DH does know his wife and the bride, he simply would not be seated by them for however long dinner lasts.  If this is is hill to die on, then it is.  I think it comes across as rather SS. It also comes across as borderline rude that the DH would have no interest in anyone other than his wife.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Sharnita on October 17, 2012, 02:51:23 PM
Exactly. This is not a vastly difficult situation. It might not be ideal but we deal with less than ideal pretty regularly. I am not sure the HC need to make adjustments to please DH.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Mikayla on October 17, 2012, 10:20:09 PM
OP,  if you truly do not want to be seated separately from your husband, I think you can gracefully decline being a bridesmaid.  However, when you do, do not offer any reason.

You can simply say "Best Friend, you know that I am so happy for you.  I would love to be in your wedding party, but it's just something I cannot do at this time.  Husband and I are looking forward to attending your wedding, though."

You do not actually need to tell her that you cannot be in the wedding because you don't want your husband to sit alone for an hour or two.

However, if you have already accepted the role of bridesmaid, I don't think you should back out.  If you have not, then you are not obligated to accept the honour.  It is no different than if you did not have the time or the finances to commit.

Thank you for pointing this out!  I went back and re-read the op, and it's still not completely clear to me, but it almost sounds like OP has not actually agreed to do this.  In that case, like you say, she simply declines.

It's a different issue if she accepted, especially if this was a while ago or the wedding is approaching.

So I think we need clarification on these things. 
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Deetee on October 17, 2012, 10:33:21 PM
My answer changes if you or your husband would be truely miserable during the event due to social anxiety etc...

Otherwise, I think you and your husband should attend. One of the hallmarks of being an adult is the ability to attend a social event on ones own and make pleasant conversation with your seatmates at dinner.

Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Talley on October 18, 2012, 02:55:24 AM
I suffer from social axiety, and I feel incredibly awkward in situations where I don't know anyone to the point of being unable to enjoy myself.

Yet I still have attended a few weddings (which were rather large affairs, so lots of people there) with my then BF (now DH) where I did only slightly knew the bride and groom, didn't even speak the same language as pretty much all of the people present, and where BF was in the bridal party, so not with me for quite a bit of time. Was I nervous about going there? You bet I was! But I still went because it meant a lot to BF. And it turned out that it also meant a lot to the respective bride and groom at each wedding. With a bit of effort I even managed to have a good time - and I did talk to people I had never met before!

Perhaps the OP's best friend, the bride, could look at the seating arrangement and seat the OP's husband with someone who can "take care" of him a little while the OP sits at the head table. Or perhaps the husbend could sit with someone the OP knows and they could meet up beforehand, so this person wouldn't be a total stranger? But the OP doesn't have to spend the whole evening nailed to her chair at the head table either, so once the formal part is over, I am sure she can mingle and join her husband. And while I didn't believe it before, I now know that even a few hours of sitting among complete strangers won't kill you  ;)
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: WillyNilly on October 22, 2012, 12:13:40 PM
I'm totally on team OP & DH here. I have nothing nice to say about head tables - I think they are a terrible thing to do on several levels.

I also don't get people saying "its just for dinner". Most likely OP will have to be with the bride before the wedding & during the ceremony, so DH is arriving and sitting at church alone. Then the WP is whisked away for photos, so DH has to get to the reception and get through all of cocktail hour alone. Then comes main room, when finally he gets to see his wife... nope. Now its appetizer/salad course. Then toasts. Then dinner. Then special dances. Then cake/dessert course. Sitting at a different table combined with OP being a BM would probably mean well over 60-80% of the day apart. And since the OP doesn't live near her friend I'm betting this wedding means some travel... so now let's add in the possibility the day before the wedding the OP will also be called away (for nail appointments, etc) leaving her DH to fend for himself alone.

But! I think, unless its really really common in her area, the bride will be guided away from a head table by her caterer. She's talking about 16 people at one table, along one side "Last Supper" style. This is a logistical nightmare. It takes up a huge amount of space, its a hassle to serve and the people sitting at the ends will be miserable anyway. A better option is a sweetheart flanked by a bridesmaid's table and a groomsmen table. And with 7 in each party, that's a small table - the caterer will probably push to flush those out to 10-14 per table...which would mean each attendant + their SO.

Edited to fix typos (I typed it on my phone...)
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Fleur on October 22, 2012, 12:38:11 PM
I'm totally on team OP & DH here. I have nothing nice to say about head tables - I think they are a terrible thing to do on several levels.

I also don't get people saying "its just for dinner". Most likely OP will have to be with the bride before the wedding & during the ceremony, so DH is arriving and sitting at curch alone. Then the WP is whisked away for photos, so DH has to get to the wedding and get through all of cocktail hour alone. Then comes main room, when finally he gets to see his wife... nope. Now its appetizer/salad course. Then toasts. Then dinner. Then special dances. Then cake/dessert course. Sitting at a different table combined with OP being a BM would probably mean well over 60-80% of the day apart. And since the OP doesn't live near her friend I'm betting this wedding means some travel... so now let's add in the possibility the day before the wedding the OP will also be called away (for nail appointments, etc) leaving her DH to fend for himself alone.

But! I think, unless its really really common in her area, the bride will be guided away from a head table by her caterer. She's talking about 16 people at one table, along one side "Last Supper" style. This is a logistical nightmare. It takes up a huge amount of space, its a hassle to serve and the people sitting at the ends will be miserale anyway. A better option is a sweetheart flanked by a bridesmaid's table and a groomsmen table. And with 7 in each party, that's a small table - the caterer will probably push to flush those out to 10-14 per table...which would mean each attendant + their SO.

I hadn't even thought of some of the points that you raise, but I totally agree with all of it. I, too, dislike the head table, I find it showy in a bad way and rather awkward to boot.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Bethalize on October 22, 2012, 04:39:33 PM
I am of the view that if you break one tradition you might as well break them all. If you want married bridesmaids instead of unmarried young women (to help confuse the evil spirits!) then why demand they sit at the head table?
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: kareng57 on October 22, 2012, 10:11:33 PM
I'm totally on team OP & DH here. I have nothing nice to say about head tables - I think they are a terrible thing to do on several levels.

I also don't get people saying "its just for dinner". Most likely OP will have to be with the bride before the wedding & during the ceremony, so DH is arriving and sitting at church alone. Then the WP is whisked away for photos, so DH has to get to the reception and get through all of cocktail hour alone. Then comes main room, when finally he gets to see his wife... nope. Now its appetizer/salad course. Then toasts. Then dinner. Then special dances. Then cake/dessert course. Sitting at a different table combined with OP being a BM would probably mean well over 60-80% of the day apart. And since the OP doesn't live near her friend I'm betting this wedding means some travel... so now let's add in the possibility the day before the wedding the OP will also be called away (for nail appointments, etc) leaving her DH to fend for himself alone.

But! I think, unless its really really common in her area, the bride will be guided away from a head table by her caterer. She's talking about 16 people at one table, along one side "Last Supper" style. This is a logistical nightmare. It takes up a huge amount of space, its a hassle to serve and the people sitting at the ends will be miserable anyway. A better option is a sweetheart flanked by a bridesmaid's table and a groomsmen table. And with 7 in each party, that's a small table - the caterer will probably push to flush those out to 10-14 per table...which would mean each attendant + their SO.

Edited to fix typos (I typed it on my phone...)


I find this to be pretty insulting.  We had a head table at our reception 30+ years ago - it was simply the way that things were done then, and no one batted an eye.  Considerate HCs made sure that the SOs of attendants were seated with people that they already knew, and they were not separated for "hours".  Of course, this was also during the era that BMs were not expected to spend the better part of the wedding day at the spa, and posed photos of the WP did not usually take more than about a half-hour.

And I've never seen a venue where 14 people can be seated at a round table.  IMO, it's more like 8 or 10.  So I really don't buy your argument that this can be solved so easily.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: sparksals on October 23, 2012, 01:32:37 AM
Pod!  I found it insulting too. 

Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: WillyNilly on October 23, 2012, 07:39:32 AM
I've never seen a table at a wedding that couldn't hold at least 12 people, usually they are ovals seating 10-14 (but even rounds can seat 12, and with 7 BMs chances are at least 2 will be flying solo).  Caterers will push strongly to not have less then 8 at a table and even that they aren't thrilled with.

I'm not sure what you found insulting though I apologize for hurting feelings. I dislike head tables though and I can't apologize for that. I think they are impractical and I think its not kind to separate your closest friends from their SO's while allowing yourself and every other guest the option of sitting with theirs. And I do think its a bummer for the friend on the very end. YMMV.

Having worked the industry they *are* a logistical nightmare. There's a reason caterers started the sweetheart table trend (a lot of reception "traditions" are actually in place for practical reasons). 16 people at a head table would require 3 6-foot tables (and that would still be tight). That's a huge chunk of floor space with no place for servers to cut through, so they have to maneuver behind the guests, inching to the side with heavy trays in hand. Tables they can walk around are much easier. If the WP was smaller maybe it'd be a different story but we are talking about a huge group here. A head table with 2-3 attendants on each side is not comparable to 7 attendants each.

And maybe they did work socially in the past but the reality is, posed pictures do tend to run entire cocktail hour these days, or they are for 1-3 hours pre-ceremony, and the courses and speeches and special dances do take up much of the reception time, and bridesmaids often do spend 1-5 hours at salons (or the brides home, or hotel room, etc) either the morning of or the day before getting ready. Sure there are breaks in between courses & speeches, etc, but then its back to your table.

And the reality is people want to sit with their SO's. One can say its traditional for couples to not sit together at formal dinner parties, but if that's the tradition being followed then it should be across the board - the bride & groom should sit separately, their parents should be seated apart, their grandparents & relatives and all their other friends etc should then be seated at separate tables from their spouses & dates. Because at a traditional dinner party hosts didn't just separate their guests, they separated themselves too. Its fine to use any element of formal hosting but one should be consistent in its application.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Sharnita on October 23, 2012, 08:00:53 AM
OK - so if there ws no wedding and they were just home for the weekend the wife would never go for an errand without her husband, never gets her hair done without him coming along, etc?
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: WillyNilly on October 23, 2012, 08:20:21 AM
OK - so if there ws no wedding and they were just home for the weekend the wife would never go for an errand without her husband, never gets her hair done without him coming along, etc?

Huh?  If they were home the husband could amuse himself in any number of ways of his own choice - spend time with his friends, engage in his hobbies, watch TV, etc.  If he's at a wedding he's not at home, so its not really comparable.  The DH in this case would be asked to socialize, with strangers, alone, for at least a few cumulative hours at a wedding.  At home he might be without his wife, but he's not being asked to socialize nor is his time being dictated in anyway.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Sharnita on October 23, 2012, 08:35:32 AM
OK - so if there ws no wedding and they were just home for the weekend the wife would never go for an errand without her husband, never gets her hair done without him coming along, etc?

Huh?  If they were home the husband could amuse himself in any number of ways of his own choice - spend time with his friends, engage in his hobbies, watch TV, etc.  If he's at a wedding he's not at home, so its not really comparable.  The DH in this case would be asked to socialize, with strangers, alone, for at least a few cumulative hours at a wedding.  At home he might be without his wife, but he's not being asked to socialize nor is his time being dictated in anyway.

I am talking about the day before - when you lament he may also be without his wife.  He isn't being asked to do any of those things and yet you are counting those hours as part of his suffering.  He might even be at work during that time, who knows.

If we are going to consider the hours they might be apart the day before the wedding then we need to be realistic about the reality that they might be apart anyway and that during the time she is at the salon he probably won't have to socialize with anyone.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: WillyNilly on October 23, 2012, 08:44:48 AM
OK - so if there ws no wedding and they were just home for the weekend the wife would never go for an errand without her husband, never gets her hair done without him coming along, etc?

Huh?  If they were home the husband could amuse himself in any number of ways of his own choice - spend time with his friends, engage in his hobbies, watch TV, etc.  If he's at a wedding he's not at home, so its not really comparable.  The DH in this case would be asked to socialize, with strangers, alone, for at least a few cumulative hours at a wedding.  At home he might be without his wife, but he's not being asked to socialize nor is his time being dictated in anyway.

I am talking about the day before - when you lament he may also be without his wife.  He isn't being asked to do any of those things and yet you are counting those hours as part of his suffering.  He might even be at work during that time, who knows.

If we are going to consider the hours they might be apart the day before the wedding then we need to be realistic about the reality that they might be apart anyway and that during the time she is at the salon he probably won't have to socialize with anyone.

That was if there was travel involved.  If he's home (or doing his normal routine) the day before is no biggie, obviously.  But if they are out of town (its not clear if the OP lives near her BFF, she only says they don't see each other often and are more phone friends) then the OP's DH isn't at home getting to do whatever he wants, such as his hobbies, or spending time with his friends, or sitting on his sofa watching his TV.  He's in a hotel or the like, either alone or socializing with strangers.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: Sharnita on October 23, 2012, 08:46:15 AM
Most hotels these days have invested in tvs.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: FauxFoodist on October 23, 2012, 02:45:17 PM
I think that people are being a little hard on the OP. I can totally feel where she is coming from, weddings are stressful events and can cause severe social anxiety: I have felt miserable at a lot of weddings. A true friend would understand that. If I was the one getting married, I wouldn't want my friend to be unhappy just to celebrate 'my day'.

I agree with you.  I don't think the OP is wrong in stating she'd be miserable.  I have a lot of social anxiety and pretty much KNOW when a social gathering will be a tough one for me.  It's often not a self-fulfilling prophecy; there are just things you know.  When I am very interested in an activity, I really don't care or notice that I don't know anyone else because I'm way too into the activity; when it's something that's purely social, I, more often than not, really don't enjoy it (e.g., cooking and baking classes or activities don't require me to know anyone because I am so into the class or activity and I almost always attend these knowing no one).

Slightly O/T -- I expect that I *will* be somewhat miserable at MY wedding reception.  Why?  Because I hate hate HATE being the center of attention and get worn out from constant and prolonged social interaction.  However, I'm not going into this expecting it's a foregone conclusion; I just know that this is not a situation I prefer (I'm doing the BWW for DF; I wanted just us, two witnesses and the priest...seriously).  I'll do the best I can to weather the situation, but I also won't be surprised if I'm not enjoying it either.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: MerryCat on November 07, 2012, 10:20:50 PM
OP, I think that if you'd be that uncomfortable away from your husband then you should decline the bridesmaid position, preferably ASAP so that the bride can make other plans. I realize that social anxieties can make it miserable to be alone, and I'm sure that if you explain it to the bride she'll understand too. But it would be SS to ask her to change things around. If she offers, of her own accord, that is another thing altogether.
Title: Re: Married Bridesmaids VS "The Head Table"
Post by: stargazer on November 08, 2012, 12:08:04 AM
My circle tables sat SIX.  Maximum of eight but that would have been pushing it.  I was able to have spouses at my head table because I had so few attendants but I have had to sit separately and so has my husband and it's not an issue.  Once we got to our table, most of our time was spent mingling with other guests anyway so at that point the OP and husband could be together again except for maybe actually the eating of dinner.