Renée Oteri


Ask Linley

Making your bridal party happy.

Q The time has come to choose attendants for our upcoming wedding and we’re unsure how to decide. Any thoughts?
                – Undecided Party

Ah, it’s the dreaded “all or nothing” question that every couple faces. Do we include sorority sisters, kindergarten best friends, and half the old college lacrosse team, or keep it simple and opt for just family? I went the just-family route and have no complaints, but some of the best weddings I’ve been involved in were all-inclusive wedding parties with fourteen to eighteen attendants. (One intimate affair I witnessed had nearly as many attendants as guests.)

There is the additional question of whether to include someone who’s new in your life. I love it when a couple decides to include one or two people who may not have been around since the beginning, but who they are confident will be a part of life going forward. It’s a lovely way of celebrating your future as well as your past, because when it comes down to it, getting married is about the rest of your life, not who you shared a limo with to your high school prom.

When you picture yourself standing up there repeating those vows, who do you want by your side? Don’t worry about the supposed rules. My brother chose to have my dad stand with him as best man. I chose only my sisters. Some choose a cast of characters from throughout their lives, from Sally on the fourth grade soccer team to the cubicle mate from your first job out of college. Go with your gut.

Q We’re getting married on a beach. What should we keep in mind when planning our wedding party attire?
                – Sand in Our Toes

With the varied venues of shore and farm that the Island offers, it’s no wonder weddings here tend to be a bit more casual than those in a fancy city ballroom. For a summer wedding, don’t shy away from lighter fabrics, such as cotton and seersucker, and silk shantung looks beautiful any time of year. Men look dapper in navy sport coats and khakis with ties to complement the ladies’ dresses.

Most of all, you want everyone to be comfortable and look their best. Consider providing flip-flops for beach events, or later for feet weary from dancing. For a fall wedding, wraps make great attendant gifts, as evening temperatures can be unpredictable.

I love the option of bridesmaids being able to choose their own cut of dress for maximum flattery and comfort. I was in a wedding this past summer in which the bride chose two shades of green silk and one dress vendor and encouraged each of her eight bridesmaids to choose her style. If you can believe it, every woman chose a different dress, each perfectly flattering and representative of her personality, and all the dresses hanging together made for a great photo.

Q We’d like to get meaningful gifts for our attendants. Ideas?
                – Saying Thanks

Here is your opportunity to thank your attendants for time spent, distance traveled, and most importantly, for being a part of your life. Jewelry engraved with your bridesmaids’ initials, a simple wampum pendant representing the Vineyard, or the aforementioned fall wrap make lovely gifts, while adding a little something extra to wedding day attire.

For the boys, consider buying their ties. It’s one less thing they need to worry about, and it’s a nice commemorative token of the day. Here it is seven years later, and it’s still fun to show up to an event and see one of the guys who helped out with our wedding wearing his pink tie with the cars on it.

Q I want to do a special little something for my attendants while they’re all here together. What do you suggest?
                – Cruise Director

So the year of planning is complete and the big day is around the corner. Your friends are all rolling off the boat to come join you. They’ve taken time off from work, traveled in planes, trains, automobiles, and most likely ferries. This is the time to think back to when you made that list of attendants – perhaps one of the most stressful hurdles of wedding planning. You sat with your betrothed and decided these are the people you would like surrounding you on your wedding day. So as they arrive on the Vineyard, remind yourself of that. It is time to let the stress go and have fun.

Plan a harbor tour, a wine tasting, a clambake on the beach. Keep it simple and barbecue at a rental house. This is the part you’ve been waiting for, so be sure to enjoy it. If you are marrying at one of the larger resorts, the concierge will be able to help out with ideas and arrangements; otherwise you might be able to plan a little something through your caterer or wedding planner.

Most importantly, make sure you’ve scheduled your drop-dead date on getting everything done – programs, place cards, hair consultations – so you can relax with your peeps and enjoy the experience.