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Author Topic: Is there anyone that the HC *should* ask to stand up for them?  (Read 9328 times)

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LadyStormwing

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I don't want to say "mandated", but if the groom, for example, has one brother and one sister, and has his brother stand up as his best man, should his sister stand up as a bridesmaid (and vice-versa for the bride?) Or is it ok to ask one sibling and risk the feelings of the other by leaving him/her out?

Just curious, for now. I've never seen this addressed before and wondering the opinions/etiquette of the situation.

Wintergreen

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Re: Is there anyone that the HC *should* ask to stand up for them?
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2015, 10:05:46 AM »
I'm of the opinion that groom chooses who stands for him and bride chooses who stands for her. So if groom's sister is not especially important to bride, she should not be asked to stand for her just because she is groom's sister. That works the other way around too.

However, obviously there are other things one might give to the groom's sister so she feels included. Maybe reading something during or after ceremony, making a speech etc. Or have her on the groom's side. I think it's far more logical to have the sister stand up for the groom too than to the bride (again, assuming that bride and sister are not close friends).

violinp

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Re: Is there anyone that the HC *should* ask to stand up for them?
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2015, 10:07:33 AM »
I don't want to say "mandated", but if the groom, for example, has one brother and one sister, and has his brother stand up as his best man, should his sister stand up as a bridesmaid (and vice-versa for the bride?) Or is it ok to ask one sibling and risk the feelings of the other by leaving him/her out?

Just curious, for now. I've never seen this addressed before and wondering the opinions/etiquette of the situation.

It would be nice of the bride to ask the FSiL to be a bridesmaid, but not necessary.
"It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but even more to stand up to your friends" - Harry Potter


veryfluffy

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Re: Is there anyone that the HC *should* ask to stand up for them?
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2015, 10:39:35 AM »
I know that many people regard the gender of attendants as a critical issue, but there is no law that says the sister cannot stand up on the groom's side.
   

#borecore

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Re: Is there anyone that the HC *should* ask to stand up for them?
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2015, 10:41:16 AM »
I don't think anyone has to ask anyone. And I really dislike the idea that a man should have male attendants and a woman should have female attendants. I also dislike the idea that you're obligated to have even 'sides' (though, of course, it's fine to do that or even want it).

That said, I know in my family where my mom is one of four sisters, and the first three had their three sisters as bridesmaids, it was super hurtful to my mother not to be included as a bridesmaid for her youngest sister (who included one cousin of my generation and two friends, and had imbalanced sides, so it's not like there wasn't "room") So in a case like that, if there hasn't been a major falling out or something, I think it is not an etiquette obligation but it is a kindness.

In the case represented in the OP, I would say it's on the groom to include his sister in some way, in consultation with the bride, if he wants his sister to be included. It is not on the bride's shoulders.

EllenS

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Re: Is there anyone that the HC *should* ask to stand up for them?
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2015, 04:39:16 PM »
I don't think anyone has to ask anyone. And I really dislike the idea that a man should have male attendants and a woman should have female attendants. I also dislike the idea that you're obligated to have even 'sides' (though, of course, it's fine to do that or even want it).


Do you mean physically? Or in terms of "affiliation"? They do need to stand on one side or the other, or nobody can see.

HannahGrace

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Re: Is there anyone that the HC *should* ask to stand up for them?
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2015, 04:47:25 PM »
There is no "should" in wedding parties.

TootsNYC

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Re: Is there anyone that the HC *should* ask to stand up for them?
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2015, 05:13:07 PM »
I have seen etiquette books that stated the expectation that the bride's future sisters-in-law should be included as bridesmaids. But I've not seen that mandated in modern real life.

Katana_Geldar

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Re: Is there anyone that the HC *should* ask to stand up for them?
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2015, 05:28:22 PM »
Well, it's not a bad idea to try and integrate families. But what if the bride and groom have two brothers or two sisters each? If you ask a friend as well that can be a big wedding party, which can be expensive and impractical.

There are other ways to include people you care about in the ceremony. Readings, being an official witness.

camlan

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Re: Is there anyone that the HC *should* ask to stand up for them?
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2015, 05:51:20 PM »
Several weddings I've attended, there's been one bridesmaid who was sort of the "groom's bridesmaid," either his sister or cousin or something similar. And there's been a "bride's groomsman," usually her brother.

Not an obligation, but for those who want the genders neatly separated, a way to have people important to the bride and groom included in the wedding party.

Although a couple of years ago, my brother was a "bridesman," and supported the bride, walked down the aisle with the bridesmaids, etc. He did skip the showers, though, but did provide baked goods for the refreshments.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


LifeOnPluto

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Re: Is there anyone that the HC *should* ask to stand up for them?
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2015, 11:01:33 PM »
I agree that there's no reason why the Groom's sister can't be an attendant for his side. I definitely don't think the Bride is obligated to have the Groom's sister for a bridesmaid.

That said, I can think of circumstances where it would be hurtful to not ask someone. As jmarvellous stated, if you have have multiple siblings, and ask all of them bar one to stand up for you, that seems rather rude and exclusionary to me (assuming there are no additional factors involved, like toxic-ness, or the sibling being too young, etc).

Also, if the Bride is insistant on her brother standing up on the Groom's side, I think it's only fair that she agrees to have the Groom's sister as a bridesmaid. 

camlan

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Re: Is there anyone that the HC *should* ask to stand up for them?
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2015, 09:25:48 AM »
And another perspective on this. I've just remembered the wedding of my brother Jake. His bride, Joan, had her sister, her two cousins and two of her best friends as bridesmaids. My sister and I were not part of the wedding in any way--not bridesmaids, did not do a reading or any of the the other things people sometimes do at weddings. All our other brothers were the groomsmen and the best man.

While this did not bother my sister or me at all (hey, we didn't have to buy bridesmaid dresses, or do all the other bridesmaidy things), we did have to field a great many questions from wedding guests during the reception. Were we asked to be bridesmaids and turned down the honor? Did the bride not ask us at all? Why wasn't at least one of us included in the wedding in some way? It was clear that some of the questioners were just looking for gossip--that the two sisters of the groom hated the bride or something like that. Other people were concerned that this showed the bride didn't like the family she was marrying into.

We all actually got along fine. In fact, just a few months before the wedding, Joan was kicked out of her apartment with 30 days notice, and I let her move in with me, to save her the struggle to find an apartment for just a few months.  Sis and I were invited to one shower, and also threw her a shower, but weren't invited to the bachelorette or anything like that. Again, no problem from our point of view, but other people seemed to think it was an issue.

I think Joan was just focused on having attendants that she liked, and not on the possible ramifications of so clearly not including the groom's sisters in anything. And she was very young--just 21 and the first in her circle to get married.

And it's not that people thought Sis and I had to be bridesmaids. But they felt at least one of us should have been included somehow--watching over the guest book, or doing a reading during the service, or even handing out the programs before the Mass started. Something small, but something that would include us in the day, moreso than just being guests.

But they were married 27 years ago, and divorced 7 years ago, and people still bring up the fact that she didn't include her two SILs in her wedding. Clearly, she didn't like her husband's family, clearly she didn't like us, or wasn't really ready to make a commitment, or didn't understand that marriage is the joining of two families. It's interesting to listen to the old aunties go on about this and their speculations.

So I guess what I'm saying is that there can be cultural expectations about this sort of thing, and if you very clearly go against those expectations, people notice. And make up their own reasons why you did so.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


Lynn2000

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Re: Is there anyone that the HC *should* ask to stand up for them?
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2015, 01:47:52 PM »
I think it's very typical that siblings will be asked to stand up with the HC, if the HC has a wedding party at all. As in, most people do this, and if you don't do it, people will notice and speculate amongst themselves, and may put the uninvolved siblings in an awkward position by assuming they're involved and asking them questions they can't answer. I really think fear of what others will think, is a pretty horrible reason for including someone in a wedding party, though.

I think it's also more common that the bride will have all female attendants and the groom all male, so if the bride has a brother he would stand on the groom's side. It can be a good way for future in-laws to get to know one another, being involved in pre-wedding stuff due to their position in the wedding party. That being said, it's increasingly popular to cross gender lines if that makes more sense relationship-wise, and I don't like "forced" bonding situations.

I think if the HC has a large number of siblings, it ought to be fine appearance-wise to have, say, just one in the wedding party while the others are guests, but which one, and how the relationship dynamics really play out, is hard for an outsider to give advice on. A friend of mine married a man who had 5 or 6 sisters (whole, half, step...)--she planned things so that each household had one person involved in the wedding, which made them feel included but without unduly burdening them with expense. So Sister 1 was a bridesmaid, Sister 2's young daughter was the flower girl, Sister 3's preteen daughter lit the candles, Sister 4's late teens son was a groomsman, etc..

Another friend decided to forgo a wedding party at all--she might have liked to ask her adult sister to participate, but the groom also had two sisters, whom the bride didn't like, and she feared people would raise a stink about them not being included, so she chose to have none at all. (Then her stepmom insisted her young half-sister had to be the flower girl...)

A third friend threw a fit because her cousin got married and had 7 bridesmaids, and none were my friend or her sister, even though they were the bride's only female cousins. I'm not sure why my friend felt cousins ought to get an automatic "in" with the wedding party, but that was her opinion at the time.

These days I think there's less formality about who "ought" to be in the wedding party, which is nice in some ways but difficult in others. It's nice to say, don't feel you have to include Person X and Person Y just because of their position in your life. But, if it becomes purely about who the bride likes best, certain people may be disconcerted to realize they aren't on that list. I think it's sad when a bride feels she can't include her BFF, for example, because people with a closer genetic relationship (but more distant emotional one) are taking up all the "spots."

ETA: That this is all my own experience, of what is typical in my circles.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2015, 02:33:34 PM by Lynn2000 »
~Lynn2000

lmyrs

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Re: Is there anyone that the HC *should* ask to stand up for them?
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2015, 01:48:30 PM »
The majority of weddings I've been to did not have the bride's brother as a groomsman or the grooms sister as a bridesmaid. The overwhelmingly vast majority. I can only think of one where that wasn't the case and in that one, my sisters were bridesmaids at my brothers wedding. I was not. But, I'm quite a bit older than the bride and my sisters were actually friends of the bride outside of her relationship with my brother. So them standing up for her was about the fact that the were friends of the bride, not sisters of the groom. I do not remember one single person commenting on it to me. Not one person looked at that and thought it appropriate to mention that both of my sisters were in the wedding and I wasn't. Which I suppose is for the best because, to me, the entire purpose of the question seems to be to stir drama. Why else ask?

One of the best things about gay weddings is that attendants stand up for the member of the couple that they are close to, not just the one that they share gender with. I don't see why that can't always be the case. If my brother desperately wanted me in his wedding, he could have asked me himself. He's known me his whole life. I didn't even know his bride well enough to know whether to call her by her full name or nick name. I would have felt badly imposing myself into her inner circle when I didn't belong there.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2015, 01:52:32 PM by lmyrs »

gellchom

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Re: Is there anyone that the HC *should* ask to stand up for them?
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2015, 02:57:47 PM »
There's no rule, of course.

But there's smart.  And there's kind. 

If there are 12 siblings and it's a small wedding, that's one thing.  If there are 12 bridesmaids, and none of them is the bride's only sister, that's another.  If there are 4 out of 5 brothers, that's another thing, too.

And a lot depends upon the families and community involved.  lmyrs's experience is that the bride's brothers and groom's sisters are rarely attendants.  I am sure that's correct, but I can tell you that my experience is exactly the opposite: siblings and even siblings-in-law are so routinely included that it is almost a slap in the face to exclude them and would certainly be noticed (and possibly cause speculation that something is terribly wrong) -- unless, as above, there are just so many of them, or there aren't any attendants or only a single attendant or something. 

You still don't have to include them, of course.  You can have whomever you please.  But what you cannot do is control how people will feel and how it might look to your guests.  So you just have to be realistic about what is typical in your family/community, not ours, and your circumstances. 

If you have a sneaking feeling that including your own sister and three cousins and four friends but not including your fiance's sister is a mistake, you're probably right.  And usually when people ask this question, they do have a funny feeling.  Beware relying on advice from people whose circumstances may be entirely different from yours; you can't force everyone in your real situation to look at it the way we do. 

But that doesn't mean that you are in that kind of position, or even that, if you are, you must include anyone.  I'm just saying that this is one of those areas where it is really tempting to try to rely on an etiquette rule as an excuse to do something you want to do but that you know is the wrong thing in your situation, thinking that "but that's the rule" is enough.  Where people's feelings are at issue, it simply isn't.  You can still choose whomever you please, but you may need to think carefully about how you present your choice.  "Well, there's no rule I have to" won't get you very far.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2015, 02:59:43 PM by gellchom »