When you're planning a wedding, you might find that you don't necessarily want to follow traditions just for tradition's sake, but you'd rather tailor the celebration to you and your partner as individuals. If you're looking for a maid of honor alternative, there are plenty of options for shaking things up and filling this role in a unique way, according to experts.
"There are plenty of positives from choosing to eliminate this role," Elizabeth "Liz" Babinski, a wedding officiate and owner of Liz Rae Weddings, tells Bustle. First of all, it allows the couple to choose the people that they want to join them as part of the wedding party without needing to follow traditional gender roles. This decision can also relieve the pressure that usually falls on folks who fill this role in the ceremony. "It gives everyone in the wedding a chance to be a part of the activities leading up to the big day without the job falling onto one person," Babinski says. "This also allows LGBTQ couples the chance to have a wedding party without it feeling like it needs to be formatted the same way as a heterosexual couple."
Here are some options for a maid of honor alternative for your wedding, according to experts.
1. Don't Have Any Wedding Party
Traditionally speaking, the couple that's getting married stands at one end of the event space with their wedding party, and the guests sit at the other side of the room facing them. But if you don't want to include a maid of honor in the ceremony, consider eliminating your wedding party completely and formatting the space a little differently. "The wedding should be focused on you, not taking care of drama that friends can bring into a wedding," Babinski says. Instead of having friends stand beside you, arrange the guest chairs in a circle surrounding you and your partner as you say your vows. That way, it won't look strange for the two of you to be standing alone.
2. Use Your Sibling
"Our favorite maid of honor alternative that we have been seeing more of has been brides having just their sibling stand up with them," Meredith Zeller, a wedding planner at Sage Nines Event Production, tells Bustle. If you have a number of friends who you're close to, it can be stressful to feel like you have to choose one "best" friend to call your maid of honor. It might help to include a sibling instead. Plus, if you have multiple siblings, you can choose to have all of them stand beside you on your big day. It can be a special way to buck tradition and incorporate your family.
3. Have Your Dog Step In
Trying to identify one human best friend to call your maid of honor isn't the easiest, especially if you think that other folks will have their feelings hurt if you don't give them the role. But you can shake things up and celebrate your furry best friend by having your pet stand in as the maid of honor, Lauren Davis, event planner and owner of Live the Dream Events, tells Bustle. Of course, they will probably need some training to stay calm and still as you and your partner exchange your vows, but there's nothing cuter than a pup dressed up for a big event.
4. Elope And Just Have A Party Later
If choosing the members of your wedding party is adding even more stress to the work that comes with planning a wedding, you can always decide to keep the ceremony only for family members. "Plan an exotic vacation for you and yours right before you really start planning for the 'wedding,'" Davis says. "Secretly you can have a celebration party, reception, totally planned for a few weeks after." After you've had the private ceremony with your closest family members, you can then throw a big party to celebrate your marriage with all of your friends and acquaintances, no maid of honor required.
5. Have A "Person Of Honor"
Traditionally, a maid of honor is someone who identifies as a woman, but if that's not a tradition that you'd like to uphold during your wedding, you definitely don't have to. Instead of sticking with gendered language like this, switch things up and choose a "person of honor," who can be anyone who's an important part of your life, regardless of their gender identity. If you'd like your wedding party's outfits to still look coherent, just stick with a designated color scheme or pattern so that everyone looks similar but not totally matching, Robyn Bruns, master wedding planner and owner of Red Letter Event Planning, tells Bustle.
6. Use Your Mom Or Grandma
If you don't want to choose a friend to stand with you as your maid of honor, asking your mom or grandmother to fill this role can be a really meaningful way to celebrate your marriage, Bruns says. If you're really close with these women in your life, having them play a part in the ceremony instead of choosing one specific friend can be a great way to honor your relationship with them. Plus, if your mother and grandmother are retired, they might have a lot more free time to help you plan and prepare for your wedding than a friend your age might.
7. Have Multiple "Maids Of Honor"
Rather than having a traditional maid of honor, people getting married can opt for "maids of honor," Sarah Stefanski, owner of Big Apple Bride Events, tells Bustle. This helps split up some of the duties that are traditionally tied to one maid of honor, like organizing a bachelorette party, helping with wedding decor, and coordinating the other members of the wedding party. Instead, if you want to designate multiple special folks on your big day, you can ask each of them to help out with one task, instead of expecting one person to do everything. "Most often, [people getting married] have different, but equally important, relationships with each person they want included in their big day and they should all feel special in some way," Stefanski says.
If you're thinking about choosing an alternative for a traditional maid for honor, go for it if that's what feels best to you. After all, your wedding day should be exactly what you want it to be.