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How to Fill a Last-Minute Position in Your Wedding Party

Here's what to do if you find out a key player can't perform their duties on the big day.

Contributing Writer
bride surrounded by female friends and family wearing white dresses
Photography by: Olive Studio

Ideally, when your wedding day finally rolls around, your months (and maybe years) of planning have all payed off, and everything goes as planned. Of course, sometimes things do happen, and last-minute changes and adjustments need to be made. Maybe one of the people giving a toast at the reception has come down with a cold and is unable to make it, or else one of your ushers aggravates an old knee injury and is suddenly unable to escort your guests to their seats. What should you do if you find yourself with a last-minute vacancy in an important "day-of" duties? We talked to three different wedding professionals to find out how you should handle replacing some of the key players on short notice.

 

Related: Wedding-Day Mishaps—and the Backup Plans to Fix Them

 

A Missing Member of the Wedding Party

Amber Anderson of Refine for Wedding Planners says that, when it comes to key members of the bridal party—including the maid of honor, best man, bridesmaids, and groomsmen—you are better off having a gap than rushing to fill a hole. "Wedding attendants are well thought out in advance and fillers can be made to feel like B list friends. We have uneven wedding parties all the time! I don't find it critical to have the same number on each side." She adds that the nice thing about modern wedding is that they do not have to be cookie cutter. If one side is short by a attendant or two, nobody will notice. The verdict: The show must go on without them—it would be difficult and awkward to try to find someone to assume the role of bridesmaid or groomsman with such short notice.

 

An Honorary Role

Although she believes that you should always give those participating in your wedding as much notice as possible, Kylie Carlson of the International Academy of Wedding & Event Planning knows that sometimes that's just not possible. While primary roles should not be filled by anyone who does not have time or get the necessary attire or be present at the rehearsal, secondary roles can be filled a lot easier. "If a family member or friend that was going to walk you down the aisle or announce you and your new spouse at the reception, it's okay to ask someone else to stand in for that role with shorter notice. These are easy tasks, but make sure they can perform their role without too much stress!" The verdict: As long as all parties are willing and able to assume the role you're asking them to take on, there's no reason why you shouldn't.

 

Toasts, Speeches, and Speakers

Considering how much forethought and planning goes into delivering a toast or making a speech, wedding planning professional and creator of Passport to Joy Jamie Chang says that if one of the guests who were going to be delivering a toast at your reception can no longer do it, you should not replace them. "You don't need a set number of toasts. It's more important to have toast givers who you want to speak. If you didn't ask someone previously, there isn't a reason to ask them now," she explains. The verdict: It's a lot to ask of someone to write a toast on such short notice, so it's better to have fewer speeches made at the reception than to ask a loved one to put one together with just a few hours.