Q: As a member of the wedding party, can I bring a date? And more importantly, should I? I know I’ll be with the bride for long periods of time, so what can I do to make the wedding a good experience for my date too?
A: If you’re not seeing someone on a steady basis and you’re a member of the wedding party, I’d strongly recommend not inviting a date. The demands of being a bridesmaid will keep you away from your guest for a fair amount of time, so it’s not a good venue to test a new relationship. Likewise, you’ll be surrounded by girlfriends, so there’s no chance you’ll feel left out without a date.
If you do have a significant other, ask yourself a few very important questions before asking them to come to the wedding. First, ask your bride what the seating arrangement will be at the reception. Very few brides insist on the old-fashioned head-table set-up, but if your bride wants this traditional format, then the wedding party is seated apart from their dates. This means that the day of the wedding you’ll probably say goodbye to your date early in the morning to get ready with the bride and not meet up with them again until the dancing starts after dinner.
The next question you should ask yourself: Does my date know anyone at the wedding who they can hang out with? If not, are they good at making friends? A shy date who doesn’t know anyone else won’t enjoy the wedding. Even if your bride is very low maintenance, you’re going to spend at least 3-5 hours away from your date the day of the wedding while you get dressed, participate in the ceremony and take pictures.
My poor boyfriend is a wedding pro at this point. He’s been a total trooper about coming to many, many weddings. I try to let him know what my schedule will be up front so he won’t be surprised when I disappear for long periods of time for wedding duties. I also make sure to introduce him to a few new people at each event and make sure they get drinks together and bond. If other bridesmaids bring dates, they often turn into a little band of brothers as we girls do our thing.
Just be sure to communicate with your date. If they know what to expect, you’re sure to have fun at the reception. And going to a wedding can be a bit of a mini-vacation if you make time to sightsee even for a few hours or enjoy relaxing at a hotel pool or treating yourselves to some room service in fuzzy robes.