Although ushers are traditionally male, don’t shy away from asking a close female friend or relative to shoulder the responsibility. List her in the program simply as an usher, or as a ‘female usher’ to be distinguished from the male ushers.

You generally should have one usher to every 50 guests, and if they won’t be standing at the altar, they can simply sit down when all the guests have been seated and watch the ceremony with everyone else. Have female ushers dress in colors that either coordinate with your wedding colors or are similar to the bridesmaids’ dresses. Or she can wear a dress that coordinates with the male ushers’ apparel. Your male ushers should wear whatever your best man wears.

No rule dictates that you must have attendants. The two of you can stand up by yourselves, or you can consider other options. Your parents could stand up for you instead of friends and other family. Another alternative to the traditional wedding party is to choose just children. This is popular in England and France; your guests can serve as witnesses to the ceremony.

If you have children of your own, you should include them in the ceremony. It signifies a joining of families, as well as the joining of two hearts. Other than possibly ushering, children aged 8 to 14 can serve as junior bridesmaids and junior groomsmen, while those aged 3 to 7 make lovely flower girls and ring bearers.

There are even ways that you can include pets in your special day. Your pet means a lot to you, so you have every right to include him in your wedding.

  • Dog: Your dog — especially if he’s well trained — can be the ring bearer. He also can stand up (or sit) with the groom and groomsmen or lead you and your new spouse down the aisle during the recessional.
  • Cat: Cats may be a little harder to control than dogs so you may need to keep a closer hold on them. You could have a bridesmaid, flower girl or ring bearer carry your kitty down the aisle. Or it might be easier to simply include your cat in some pictures or let her mingle with guests at the reception.
  • Fish: Have an underwater or ocean theme at your reception and let your aquatic pets be the centerpiece at the dessert or gift table.

Be prepared to deal with hissing, barking or chasing of squirrels. If you don’t think you can handle the stress of these last-minute problems, leave your pets at home.

In the end, how many people you include as bridesmaids, groomsmen or ushers is at your discretion. Do remember that many close to you want to help and contribute to your big day. Do what you can to give them a chance to participate.

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