How we organized our wedding party from across the country
It was, without doubt, the one thing neither my husband Matthew nor I wanted anyone we included in our wedding party to feel at any point leading up to our big day in August 2019. The relationships we have with this group of friends and family members are the foundation upon which our status as well-adjusted, functioning, overall happy and successful adults have been built over the decades leading up to our union. We wanted to ensure this was a fun and exciting occasion for them, as all marriers do.
In a season, however, when four of them became first-time parents within the previous year, two of their careers were in periods of major transition, one was planning his own wedding and another two as we later found out were expecting kids, we had to wonder if asking them to sign on to anything extra was selfish. Compound that with the logistics of them living across four states, two countries and three of New York City’s five boroughs (which anyone remotely familiar can attest feel like worlds unto themselves), we felt like it was a big ask.
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People move. They leave jobs and get new ones. People fall in love, get married and start families. Good things, bad things, indifferent things, sometimes it feels like all these big life things happen at once.
After a momentary conversation, Matt and I concluded that these were our cheerleaders, our biggest supporters, champions of all things good throughout our journeys and trusted confidants when life gets icky. We felt like the inclusion of each individual was a way to literally thank them for being a friend (yup, went there), and to make sure they knew how we value the effect they have had on our lives. I also think we are lucky guys in that most of them (maybe all?) would have been downright offended if we nixed the whole wedding party thing and failed to extend the invitation.
So, with everyone located all over the map, carrying big responsibilities of their own, how did we make it all happen? How did we manage to successfully organize the logistics for a wedding party (and we chose to utilize the term “wedding party” simply because, well, what do you call a bridal party in the absence of a bride? certainly not a “groomal party”), knowing that their plates are full and some of them (including our Best Lady) required an airplane ride to get to us?
After assessing the situation early on, we quickly adopted the philosophy that it was the big day that mattered to us. We weren’t really seeking an engagement party for anyone to plan (though my family threw us a small get-together at my mom’s behest), and we decided any semblance of a traditional shower was completely out of the question. When our best man solicited the help of some of our other attendants for a joint bachelor party, we were ecstatic. They knocked that event out of the park and it made us feel special. When we knew that was on the calendar, my husband and I agreed that if the out-of-towners in the wedding party could make it here for that, wonderful. (Some of them did and it was great to see everyone!) If not, like the adage we adopted, with everything else happening, it was the big day that mattered most.
Once we were mentally prepared, we figured out the logistics. Online retailers and suit renters were very much our friends’ style. When we agreed on a color for the ladies to wear, we found that the website Azazie had no shortage of dress designs for them to pick what they individually felt comfortable in. Similarly, with new brick-and-mortar locations popping up in and around metro areas in the US, The Black Tux’s hybrid model of online ordering and physical showrooms proved extra helpful for our groomsmen, especially those guys who wanted to be sure of their garment size and were able to meet an actual person for a measuring.
The ladies were looking forward to having their hair and makeup done. (Troopers, they were. As we learned firsthand in this process, being a woman in a wedding party is, to a shocking degree, NOT cheap, and we felt it generous for them to even suggest wanting something like that.) I tasked my sister with finding nearby, reasonably priced businesses. When we found out her first choice had our date available, we wasted no time in booking a reservation at that salon for the morning of the wedding.
RELATED: HOW WE CHOSE OUR WEDDING PARTY AND ASKED THEM TO SHARE THE DAY WITH US
Hotel accommodations were also a key part of considering a geographically widespread wedding party. We quickly reserved a block of rooms at a nearby hotel soon after we set our wedding date not just for our wedding party to take advantage of, but with all of our out-of-town guests in mind. We were successful in making these reservations six months out, and if I can suggest it, that may be worth it to try and do the same if you’re finding yourself in this situation.
Our wedding turned out to be everything we hoped it would be. My husband was sold on the food offerings at our venue and I was in love with the view of the bordering water, neither of which disappointed. But in our scenario, what proved to be equally as special, and wholly therapeutic, was the welcome dinner we hosted the previous night. Above all else, if you are in the stages of wedding planning, we would highly recommend arranging a time for something like this if you are able.
In addition to seeing the handful of out-of-town guests who attended our wedding, the welcome dinner served as a single opportunity throughout the engagement and planning process to have our entire wedding party and their spouses in one room. On one level, arriving at this event sort of signified that the responsibilities, errands and overall anticipation that had been building over the previous couple of weeks were over; it was time to enjoy ourselves.
In another more profound way, this allowed all of our nearest and dearest who would be standing with us (some of whom had yet to meet each other) to get to bond with one another. Also, it was just enjoyable to spend time with our people in one room, especially before the big day started. It was finally time to have fun with them, and we made sure to offer a thoughtful gift to each individual—one that acknowledged the effort they put into our special day amidst everything else they had going on in their lives.
The friends and family we asked to share a big part in our wedding are more significant than the distance which separates us. With a sense of adaptability, a focus on what mattered most to us, and realistic expectations for a group of very busy people, any sense of burden was kept to an absolute minimum. In fact, I’d say it was all well worth it. My husband and I now happily have an entire vault of memories to share for the rest of our lives, not just with each other, but with this very special group of exceptional individuals.
William Travers (pen name) and his husband Matthew were married at The Piermont in Babylon, New York, in August 2019. At that point, they had been together for nearly five years. William is a public school teacher on Long Island, and Matthew works at a nearby university. Together they blissfully enjoy shared interests in television, travel and food.
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