My sister Alex got married four years ago, and when I found out she was engaged I was delighted. She was overjoyed, Jonny her husband-to-be is a great guy and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a reason to dress up nice and have a party? A lot of thoughts went through my head after finding out she was getting married, but being asked to be my sister’s bridesmaid (or bridesman) certainly wasn’t one of them; it’s just one of those things I thought wasn’t for men.
So when she asked my cousin and I - both male - to be her bridesmen I was both thrilled and taken by surprise. My sister is one of my best friends and being asked to be by her side as she started a new chapter in her life was a huge honour. I have the utmost respect for my sister and felt so pleased that she felt she could eschew tradition by asking the people she wanted to be involved to take part. I haven’t planned a wedding but knowing that so many people have opinions about how things should be in a wedding, I was really proud that her and Jonny were doing it their way.
I had never been a groomsman, let alone a bridesman, so I was a bit scared as to what was expected of me and I definitely had some anxiety about organising a hen do! Fortunately, Alex was an incredibly relaxed bride, all she wanted was to have the people she loved with her on the big day. She let us choose our own suits for the wedding, her only request was that we didn’t wear a tie. For me, the scariest part of the whole experience was sorting out the hen do - trying to find dates that work for everyone, the right activities, location and keeping it all in budget. The list of concerns was endless, but the biggest bother was the question few brothers ever have to ask themselves: do I book a stripper for my sister? Never have I loved her more than when she said she that definitely was not for her. From that point on, everything else fell in to place.
When it came to the wedding day itself, I took it upon myself to ensure Alex’s glass was always topped and any last minute issues were hidden from her. My mindset was this: my sister has worked so hard in the lead-up to her wedding that on the day itself, all admin, chores and stress was for me to take on and shield her from. I also made sure that I wasn’t roped in to helping her get her extravagant wedding underwear on (my family is very open, it was genuinely a significant risk). The ceremony went without a hitch, as did my speech, which was quite a relief. Knowing where to pitch a speech as a bridesmaid/best man/groom/whatever is very difficult. I decided that some gentle mockery and fond memories was the order of the day, and it seemed to go down well.
What did I glean from my experience as my sister’s bridesman? I think that there are two key things for anyone to consider when choosing their “grooms-people” or “brides-people”. One: to hell with tradition. In this day and age we should celebrate ditching traditional gender roles including at weddings. Two: if it’s your wedding, make it yours. You can’t please everyone, so make sure the two of you are having the celebration you want. It’s your big day after all!
I’m immensely grateful to my sister for asking me to be her bridesman. She has supported me through so much in my life and I have always felt that we are great team. For her to show me she felt the same by letting me be there for her on her wedding day was amazing, and I will never forget it. Would I ask her to be my best woman if I got married? Too right I would.