Precious the Planner dishes out some lesser-known bridal party etiquette

One of the key things when planning a wedding is deciding who will accompany you on your big day but with relationships, money, and a whole lot of effort involved, choosing the right people can be a challenge.

Not only do you have to manage different personalities, but you also need to be clear about the kind of emotional and financial support you would like from them.

Meanwhile, your wedding-day squad may also have questions about what is expected of them. 

Celebrated events planner Precious Thamaga-Mazibuko, AKA Precious the Planner, enlightens us on some lesser-known bridal party etiquette.

Do you need to have an equal number of bridesmaids as groomsmen?

No, it’s not a must, everyone is different. For example, I had five bridesmaids and my husband had four. Only at the last minute did we add another groomsman because I like equal numbers. I’ve had clients that have had one or two groomsmen, it all depends on the couple. There really is no rule saying you’ve got to have the exact same number of people standing on each side of the altar.

Should the bridal party pay for their own outfits and grooming?

This is quite relative. When you choose your bridal party, you kind of know who can afford what and who cannot. Sometimes the people you want to be a part of your bridal party are still students or aren’t working yet. If you can afford it and are very firm on how you want things to look, you might have to pay. I always say to my clients: “If you want to have 99% of the say on how everyone looks, you must be prepared to foot the bill.”

Is it wrong to have more than one maid of honour or best man?

In my experience, I’ve never of heard that! But on occasion where the couple has two people they would like to include in the wedding, it’s easier on the bride’s side. Let’s say one is married, then you can have a maid of honour and a matron of honour. However, it’s not the same on the man’s side — it’s either the best man or groomsman. But if someone wants to have two best men, I think they can because some people do have two best friends.

Does your sister have to be your maid of honour?

No, she doesn’t! I didn’t. My maid of honour was my best friend, but I had two of my sisters as my bridesmaids. It’s entirely dependent on the relationship the bride has with the person she wants as a maid of honour. This is someone the bride really knows and can count on for everything. It’s the person who you trust the most who will not let you down. If you’ve got a best friend and an older sister who expect to be maid of honour, my suggestion is to make your best friend your maid of honour and give a more senior role that is more respectful, such as matron of honour (which is like “chief of command”), to your older sister. It’s also not a must for a bride to have a maid of honour, especially when it’s difficult for her to choose. That way there are no issues about favouritism.” 

How old should the flower girl and ring bearer be?

I think the age limit, in my experience, is 12 years old. My advice is that the age limit shouldn’t exceed 12 — if they are a bit older, they can be called junior bridesmaid and groomsman. I’ve noticed that when they are a teen, some don’t feel like throwing flower petals.

How much is too much to ask of your bridal party?

Consider whether people in your bridal party work or are students — that way you can gauge your expectations. I think what you can expect is their own generosity because they are giving you their time. A lot of couples expect their bridal party to contribute financially but forget that once they have contributed, those people will want to have a say on certain things. It then becomes tricky because, if you don’t want people to have a say in anything, the best thing is not to have them contribute financially. That way you, as a couple, can make decisions on everything.

This article first appeared in the May/June 2021 print edition of S Mag.

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