Q&A: Can I bring a date (and should I)?

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.

3 thoughts on “Q&A: Can I bring a date (and should I)?

  1. Nicole

    I’m getting married soon and my maid of honor (who is also my sis) insists on bringing a date, despite the fact that I’ve asked her not to since she will be with me most of the day. He has not been around that long and is extremely shy. Due to his personality he doesn’t really get along well with everyone else in the family. It is very awkward because she is not divorced yet. She also asked me not to invite her soon to be ex-husband’s family even though I see them almost every week. It is just very complicated. In order to make the peace, I have conceded to her wishes. However, I really do not want her to bring this guy to the wedding. How can I ask her in a way that makes sense and doesn’t potentially ruin our relationship?

    1. Caitlin Post author

      Hey Nicole!

      This definitely seems like a complicated situation. I feel for you! The thing that really sticks out to me is that your sister is going through a divorce while you’re getting married. That can’t be easy for her and it probably explains why she doesn’t want her in-laws at the wedding and also why she wants to bring a date. I imagine this is a very emotional time for her and she probably thinks having a date at your reception will help her have more fun during the times she isn’t with you. My honest advice to you is to let her bring the date. Once you hit the reception, your attention is going to be pulled in a million directions. You’re going to have an amazing new husband to party with and you’ll have to spend time chatting and dancing with all of your other guests. You’ll get lots of one-on-one sister time before the wedding. The pre-wedding prep is seriously one of my favorite times with my friends because there are no distractions of dates and relatives; it’s just the girls and the excitement of the wedding. Or are you nervous that she’ll go off with him and skip out on the things you need her to do? If so, talk to your sister about the day’s schedule. Say that you respect that she wants to bring a date, but you just want to make sure she knows that she’ll have to be away from him for several hours during the day and let her know if there’s anything you’ll need her help with at the reception. Whatever happens, remember what’s most important and concentrate on the positive: You’re getting married to the love of your life and you’ll definitely have your sister by your side. Who she hangs out with at the reception won’t be important years from now, but your relationship always will be.

  2. Nicole

    Thanks Caitlin! You definitely helped change my perspective. I think you’re right about allowing her to bring a date. I probably wouldn’t notice otherwise. I think my real issue is that this is just a confusing time and we adore her soon to be ex-husband and his family. It’s a difficult and heart wrenching thing for sure. Anyway, I really appreciate you shedding some light on this situation and helping me to see the positive. The reality is, I want my sister to be with me and share in this time with me. She is my best friend and I need to realize she is going through a really hard time too. I guess I was being one sided with this one. Thank you again. I can’t wait until my big day and to have my sis by my side!

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