Casting your VIEs (Very Important Extras)
Your wedding day is about you and yours, right? What if "yours" extends to a cast of (seemingly) thousands? Sure, everybody wants to help and take part, but it would be downright silly to make every important person a member of the bridal party. And yet there are those VIEs -- very important extras -- whom you'd like to honor with a role in the festivities. We've put together a list of "jobs" that'll help you acknowledge those friends and family members you'd love to include -- while still keeping your whale of a wedding ship sailing smoothly.
A plethora of paperwork surrounds your big day. Why not get a meticulous younger cousin or fun friend to help address the envelopes, organize the replies, sort through the place cards, or compose a thank-you list? In return, offer to lick the envelopes yourself.
If you're doing the reception decorations yourself, you'll need an able-bodied crew to help do everything from arranging the tables and chairs to plunking down the place cards. To take the drudgery out of hanging up a zillion honeycomb bells, turn the setup into a festive pizza party.
Depending on the venue, you'll probably want at least two people to hand out your programs. This easy duty puts some of your favorite people front and center -- and lets them enjoy the rest of the day worry-free.
Often wrongly considered "guy" domain, ushering is a task females can perform, too. If you need to work teens, capable family members, or a few extra friends into the celebration, here's your opportunity.
In some Christian ceremonies, nine- to 12-year-olds light altar candles just before the mother of the bride is seated. Candle lighters can match the wedding party or wear their own duds.
Without them, you wouldn't be standing where you are. Distinguish your grandmothers and grandfathers with special blooms and a gracious walk down the aisle. At the reception, raise a toast to their good health. And, if they're up for it, give them an honorary, down-tempo dance.
These close family and friends hold up the huppah poles during Jewish wedding ceremonies. Although they're often part of the couple's
, which is similar to a bridal party, this symbolic, visual role is perfect for VIEs.
Christian weddings with full-blown services demand the ceremonial trimmings. Depending on the denomination, this means a pair of altar boys, girls, or adults to help the celebrant do his or her thing. The chosen must have prior experience -- your wedding shouldn't be a training ground for angels-in-waiting.
This adorable (preferably non-fidgety) boy or girl, aged four to eight, walks down the aisle carrying a small decorative pillow with fake wedding bands tied to the middle.
Weddings are a terrific time to celebrate your heritage. Send someone down the aisle with a handmade banner, flag, or other symbol of your shared culture or family traditions. Or delegate a job centered on a special cultural moment, such as the laying down of the broom (for the jumping the broom ritual) or the wine glass in a Jewish ceremony to stomp on.
Pages & Train Bearers
Remember all those kids who kept Princess Diana's train in check? If your train is even a one-tenth as long, you'll need a few six- to nine-year-olds to help keep the fabric flowing. They can be boys or girls.
This is one of the most popular ways to give VIEs center stage. They can read religious passages, but remember that potential readers may feel uncomfortable if they don't share your beliefs. You can also select two or three heartfelt poems or passages from world literature for other people to read.
Put loved ones' vocal or musical talent to work. Make sure the selections are in tune with your ceremony and that the entertainment committee has actual performance experience. There's nothing more excruciating than a shaky rendition of "Endless Love."
While your maid of honor and best man will sign the legal certificate, commemorate the presence of very special relatives and friends by having them sign a decorative wedding license.
Rice Princess or Prince
Congratulatory rice or bubbles have to find their way into eager guests' hands in order for them to shower you with them. Give the cutest kid on the block a basket filled with treats, and send him or her to the sidewalk (attended by the mom or dad). If you're short on little ones, go for an adult who can talk up the crowd while they're waiting for you to come out of the ceremony location.
Guest Book Guardian & Greeter
Take the confusion out of signing in: Have a lighthearted friend or relative man the guest book. Choose somebody who will get the expensive pen back, but not someone who'll be militant about enlisting everyone who walks through the door.
Put a bubbly relative in charge of fielding the "Where does this go?" looks as gift-giving guests pour into the reception. Look for a gregarious male or female candidate who'll know most of crowd and can greet people by name while steering them toward the gift table.
Favor Arranger or Distributor
Make sure everybody gets the ingenious favors you've assembled so carefully. Have a detail-oriented kid or adult set the goods on the tables before your reception begins, or ask him or her to hand out the favors as guests depart.