Each person in a wedding party has a role. Some positions are obvious: The ring bearer bears the rings and the flower girl sprinkles petals down the aisle leading to the bride and groom’s exchange of “I dos.” Other duties are not so well-defined. Many brides are selecting honorary bridesmaids in addition to the attendants typically chosen for their big day.
The idea to include honorary bridesmaids is a relatively new trend. According to Wedding Aces, the practice of adding honorary bridesmaids really caught on after the wedding of President George W. Bush’s daughter Jenna in 2008. Honorary bridesmaids are sometimes added to the wedding party as a way to include additional family members and friends. Many brides choose this method to not exclude some friends or family from participating on the wedding day.
Others are selected as honorary bridesmaids because they are unable to attend the ceremony. The honorary title is a way to recognize them in the program on the wedding day.
The number of honorary bridesmaids is usually quite large, ranging from 10 to 25 in some cases, according to Wedding Aces, which adds honorary bridesmaids are usually the first entrants of the wedding marching, followed then by the grandparents and parents of the wedding couple.
The duties of an honorary bridesmaid are debatable. According to "The Star," tradition suggests all bridesmaids help plan the wedding reception in both Europe and North America. They also may plan other events, such as the bridal shower and the bachelorette party.
Some think the duties of both honorary and traditional bridesmaids are limited. According to "The Star," modern bridesmaids are different, and their main function is to attend the wedding. “Contrary to rumors, bridesmaids are not obliged to entertain in honor of the bride nor to wear dresses they cannot afford,” according to "The Star."
Ultimately, the duties of honorary bridesmaids depend on the wedding party’s wishes. To negate an ambiguity about the role of honorary bridesmaids, the person chosen should ask the bride directly what she expects on her wedding day and the days leading up to the ceremony. Many details and tasks need to be ironed out, including the seating arrangement, ordering flowers and organizing thank-you notes.
Planning a wedding can be a stressful time, and many brides-to-be would welcome an extra set of hands to help out. Any amount of help and moral support is likely to be appreciated.
Leah Williams has written for many newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites, including the "Mt. Vernon Register-News" and "Nightlife." She has her bachelor's degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University and is now working on her graduate degree. Williams likes to write about parenting, arts and entertainment, education and features.