party: n. A group of people taking part in a particular activity or trip, especially one for which they have been chosen. Oxford University Press
The definition of the wedding party used to be much more clear than it is today. When I was growing up, I understood the wedding party to be the "village" that supports the bride and groom as they plan and execute their wedding -- as in the definition found above. Today the wedding party is more likely to be "a social gathering of invited guests, typically involving eating, drinking, and entertainment" Oxford University Press
My experience with the wedding party, as it related to Joshua and Taylor's wedding was definitely the latter definition. Other than measuring girls and scheduling fittings for their dresses (and one or two bridal showers) I saw no participation from either the guys or the girls. In fact, it really wasn't until the rehearsal that I realized how poorly prepared this generation is for participating in a wedding, not to mention wedding etiquette. Our manners have flown out the window. Buh bye!
I hope that your experience is different and your children have been to dozens of traditional weddings and know just what the role of the bridesmaid and groomsmen is. If not, you might want to chat about it around the dinner table some night (or get invited to some weddings!).
Joshua and his best man chatting and waiting for the wedding to begin. I have to say, Jon was the best best man ever, as he took Joshua to Eucharistic Adoration for an hour before they arrived at the wedding chapel.
On the day of the wedding, the bridesmaids need to be supportive in any way they can. Taylor chose the have all the bridesmaids at the school with her and someone came and did all the makeup and hair. Whatever the situation, the bridesmaids should be on-hand to help in any way they can. It's the bride's day, not the bridesmaid's day, so the bride should be calm, cool, and really shine with the help of her "court." At the reception, the bridesmaids should help the bride in the restroom (assuming the bride has a long, full dress that needs to be held up), get people out on the dance floor and generally be happy to meet and greet (not sit like a lump at the head table). In the case of our wedding, the bridesmaids were very agreeable and fun the day of the wedding, but they didn't do much ahead of time. The bride's mother held a shower (a no-no if you are a real stickler for wedding etiquette) because no one else stepped up to the plate. There were many aunts on both sides of the family, but apparently no one felt inclined to host. My aunt from Cincinnati helped host the shower that the bride's mother held, but because she lives two hours away, mostly all she could do was help pay for it. The bride's mother also coordinated a "bachelorette party" -- really just a nice dinner out two days before the wedding with the bridal party. Again, no one stepped up to the plate, so the bride's mother did.
Faith and her co-junior bridesmaid, Madison.
Waiting...one of my favorite photos.
The groomsmen don't really have many duties before the wedding (other than getting measured for and shelling out for the rental of a tux), but they could organize a bachelor party (a tasteful one, please!). Again, none of the groomsmen or best man stepped up to the plate for my son, so my husband organized a dinner -- wings and craft beer -- at a local restaurant and invited all the uncles, male cousins, and male wedding party members (minus the junior groomsman). They spent several hours watching wide screen TV coverage of every sport possible, sampling a variety of chicken wings and drinking craft beers -- what more could a mature, Catholic man want? ;-)
The junior groomsman and flower girl -- brother and sister.
The groomsmen were also all great sports and danced the night away, both with the bridesmaids and the moms and the other guests. No one drank too much, and many of the guests commented that the wedding party seemed to be having so much fun, yet it was the family-friendly kind of fun.
What the groomsmen did during the reception after the rain stopped and before the sun went down. The dads were both out there too, taking a break from responsibilities!
That's about all I have on the topic of "the wedding." I do have two more posts, one a video of my husband dancing at the wedding -- it's a hoot. I hope I can get it to load. And another -- a small world story.
Until then -- here's a photo for Kimberlee -- I promised. It's the whole gang.