It’s My Bridal Party!


Celia Milton, Officiant

You’ve chosen your future spouse; now, what are you going to do about that bridal party? There’s your best friend from college, your colleague from work, your sister, your cousin, and inevitably there is someone who chose YOU, and expects you to return the favor. How you do begin to pick?

Many of my couples choose to keep their bridal parties small (or eliminate them all together) to eliminate the hurt feelings, political tussles and extra expense of having numerous people on each side. Wrangling all those bridesmaids, groomsmen, jr. attendants, flower girls, and Sparky, the ring dog is not everyone’s idea of their perfect wedding day. Fortunately, there are many other ways to include honored guests in the day and keep the your stress level under control.

For many of your friends and family, just being asked is honor enough. They may not have the time, the money, or (and I know this hurts….) the desire to be part of the bridal party with all the responsibilities that go with that request. When you ask anyone to do anything, you should give them a gracious way out; they’ll love you even more.

But let’s, for the moment, assume you have a list of eligible candidates that is bigger than the ceremony space. (Never a problem at EHHPG). How can they be involved?

Many interesting ritual elements can include these guests. Unity candles and sand ceremonies often include different people to pour sand and light candles that eventually are blended to symbolize the intermingling of each partner’s family friends. A traditional Celtic hand fasting can include as many as six people to drape the  different cords that will ‘bind’ the couples’ hands.

Readings can be included; and many are appropriate and very cute for children if they are old enough to enjoy that spotlight. (Dr. Seuss’ “ Oh the Places You’ll Go” and Taylor Mali’s, “Falling in Love is like Owning a Dog”, are two that are great for kids, and long enough to be divided between several.) Your readers may even want to write their own. (Let them know to keep them to several minutes…)

Almost every wedding has ushers (or usherettes!) who will welcome the guests, guide then to their seats, and tell them, (nicely of course) to turn off their cell phones. They can hand out programs, rose petals or bubbles for the recessional. They can also let alert the guests to anything unexpected they’ll be a part of; a ring warming, for example.

One of my couples had two children who were a little too old to be ring bearers or flowers girls. They had a big banner made, and the children preceded the bride in the processional with the side that said, “Here comes the bride!” and then followed the married couple with, “Just Married”. It was adorable, and they wore normal dressy clothes, not expensive outfits that matched the bridal party.

Many of the ceremonies I write with my couples speak of the people that played a part in their history; the colleague who introduced them; the friends who helped keep the proposal a secret. When they are mentioned in the story, it is instantly a more individual story, drawing on the memories of everyone who knows the “character

One of my couples gave single flowers to their siblings, thanking each one for the role they played in their family while growing up; another had their siblings process up the aisle with them and add a flower each to a vase on the ceremony table. Another had a little part of the ceremony in which each sibling and parent stood and read a one line quote about marriage; some funny, some touching.

Your choice to include each person in your wedding is a gift of love. Give those gifts wisely, and your ceremony will be personal and memorable to both you and them.

Celia Milton is an ordained minister from New Jersey who specializes in personalized ceremonies. For more good wedding advice visit


June 2011

June 4: Thanks to Captivating Photo (Rebecca Cash) for sneak peek shots of the day. Olivia Sharratt/Liv By Design Austin, coordinated decor for both the church and EHHPG reception, including farm tables and chairs from Liv’s line of event rental furniture. The bride’s grandmother’s pink depression glass dinnerware was used for the bridal table. Other vendors included Rosetree Floral, Blanek’s Catering, Bobby Rudeen (cakes), Lois Ferguson (DOC) and the family’s favorite DJ from the Dallas area who kept guests dancing throughout the evening.

June 11: Another church wedding with the reception at EHHPG for 190 guests. Vendors: Rio Brazos Catering & Diamond Productions wined, dined and kept the party going. Loose flowers were purchased thru Wolfe Wholesale Floral for me to arrange reception centerpieces in our inventory (thanks Kurt & Wendy!); bridal bouquets and our two large silver urns were arranged by Kim Olsen/Flowers By Design, then delivered from the church and incorporated into the reception decor.

June 18: A wedding and reception in the gardens for 190 guests. Thank goodness for this year’s wind that took the edge off a hot day. Vintage window frames were hung from trees and the gazebo. Guest table decor included stacks of the b/g’s records & books, cabinet pulls & buttons. Groupings of flowers were arranged by Stephie Bart in our pierced metal cans, mason jars and french pots. JD’s Coffee & Catering provided a variety of pastas, salads, fruit teas, as well as individual Italian creme cakes, blackberry cobbler and ice cream. Rosetree Floral’s rehearsal dinner flowers were incorporated into the decor (one can never have too many beautiful flowers!) W-3 Entertainment kept guests dancing, and Steve Deramee’s crew served iced bottles of beer and a variety of  favorite wines. Taylor Lord Photography, Galveston, documented the day.

June 25: Day-of the bridal party arrived at 7am, In Faith Photography, Jenny Benson documented the day. A 10:30am wedding under the gazebo’s trees for 200 guests with a brunch reception that began after family pictures were taken. 60+ guests toured Earle-Harrison House. Ipod background music. Their family-provided brunch included cereal and coffee bars, cinnamon rolls, fruit, sandwiches, homemade sausage balls and cheese trays. The bride’s aunt made the cakes as a wedding gift.  Black & white linens and damask runners were simply accessorized with white orchids, roses and feathers.