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Trevor Stone's Journal
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On Etiquette 
20th-Feb-2005 02:28 am
mathnet - to cogitate and to solve
Out of curiosity, in planning a wedding:

The groom's best friend is a woman, the bride's best friend is a man. Who gets to be the best man and who gets to be the maid of honor? And if the woman is on the groom's side and the man on the bride's side, what are the proper titles? Best woman and lad of honor?

A drag queen is a mutual friend of the couple. On which side does he stand, and what's the proper attire?

It's not that I'm concerned about following etiquette (or that I'm planning a wedding). It's just that I like to know when I'm violating social norms.
20th-Feb-2005 10:16 am (UTC)
A couple of acquaintances of mine just had two best men at their wedding. But then they're not much for social norms.
20th-Feb-2005 10:59 am (UTC)
I'd go with having your best friend at your side, gender irrelevant. When I married Doug, my sister was the maid of honor, and his niece was his best man.

How many attendants are you planning on, which side would the drag queen fill out better (like you are planning on three attendants and one person has three easy choices while the other has two easy choices and the DQ would be a good third) and which way does s/he want to dress.

It's your (or whoever's) wedding. Do whatever you want.
20th-Feb-2005 02:40 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I was about to say something similar. One of my friends got married with 6 men and 2 women in the wedding party. The grooms four guys were called groomsmen, and the brides two of each were called brides attendants. She had them lined up in boy, girl, boy, girl order.
20th-Feb-2005 04:16 pm (UTC)
i have seen it before where a women has been one of the groom's "groomswomen" or the bride has had a "man of honor" or something.. usually with different names. completely normal to have good friends that are of the opposite sex... and i think people dont freak out that much by it.

as for being the best___/___of honor, it gets a little wierder. unless that person is family, you are bound to get get some wierd looks and people saying things under their breath.

sure, you CAN do it, but the fact is -- the bride is supposed to be your best woman friend by leaps and bounds. not that you arent capable of having a bride and a really close woman friend, but a lot of people see that as quite taboo... because for many, having both a fiance and a best woman friend stretches the boundaries of what seperates friendship, love, intimacy, and all that stuff to the limit. see the multitude of cheesey romance movies where the engaged person ends up breaking up with the fiance, realizing that they are instead really in love with the "best friend" of the opposite sex.

20th-Feb-2005 05:07 pm (UTC)
I think the gender neutral term is "attendant" ..

notice how we didn't have any of that in our wedding, though.. we started thinking about it, and it just got too complicated. People like Russell, Cyrus, and Alan are close friends with both of us. I have a brother but no sisters; he has one of each, then what about his stepbrother and stepsister, who he's not really that close with?

In the end we each walked into the ampitheater with our own parents and siblings. I think it worked well. :)
20th-Feb-2005 05:07 pm (UTC)
Alright ... having been working on/with weddings for quite a long time now d) all of the above are outside social norms and therefore 'violating' them.

Now, having stated that, fuck social norms. In most situations where these questions would arise you're dealing with fairly hip people to begin with. When it comes down to it, it's the bride and groom's day, whatever they say goes. (Even if it does cause Aunt Betty Lou and Great-Grandma to do more than raise an eyebrow.) If a bride and/or groom is really concerned about a relative's reaction they'll either a) set them up with the information ahead of time and deal with the blow up there or b) set a good friend the task of 'handling' the relative should there be any signs of them getting out of hand at the wedding and making a scene about it.

In the case of female best friend to male and/or male best friend to female I've seen it done a couple of different ways. I did one ceremony where we had a maid of honor and a best woman. I've seen ceremonies where the titles remained the same, though the man did get some funny looks. There's also been one's where you've had best woman and groomsman of honor.

When breaking down to the attendants, i.e. the bridesmaids and groomsmen, it's a slightly different choice there. What people frequently do (and what Robert and I had originally chosen to do, though there was some shuffling at the last minute and we said screw it) is to say to their prospective spouses, I'd really like person x, y, and z in the wedding party and you'd like a, b, and c in the wedding party ... why don't, for propriety's sake, you have x stand on your side with b and c and I'll take a along with y and z. However, if you're adamant or there really isn't any sort of relationship between the prospective spouse and the prospective attendant, then it's best to go with the old standby of bride's attendants and groom's attendants.

As for the drag queen question, he stands on the side of whoever asked him first (or whoever bargained well enough to have him on their side) and as far as attire goes, whatever's going to make the couple comfortable. This might be the one day of the year that he goes in male clothing or he might dress in the very lovely bridesmaid's dress and put the rest of them to shame. Again, this is all to the comfort level of the soon-to-be-married couple.

Hope that helped. When it comes to these sorts of things, there's tons and tons of choices. It all comes down to what makes the bride and groom happy and how much flak they're willing to take (or would even get) from who they're inviting.

-Draconis Leona-
20th-Feb-2005 10:30 pm (UTC)
I will weigh in with what I have gleaned from extensive reading of Miss Manners, who is as close to Official™ as I think anyone should be.

First off: Gender of attendants is irrelevant. In the past, it was generally the case that one's friends were the same gender as oneself, but the rule is that one has people one cares about at one's side during the wedding. One could call them "bridesmen" and "groomsmaids" if so inclined, (likewise "man of honor" and "best woman"), but "attendant" is also a fine word. Guests who find anything tittilating or scandalous about the newlyweds' friendships are boorish and should be ignored.

I'm pretty sure that the rule with mutual friends is that you put them on whichever side you want. This makes them especially useful for balancing things out, if you care about that sort of thing. (The idea that you need a matching number of boys and girls, all nealty paired up on both sides, is completely specious as far as ettiquette is concerned. Lots of people do it, but ettiquette definitely does NOT require or even suggest it.)

Okay, so that's all the totally official opinions, and I could even back them up with citations from my Miss Manners books if I weren't so lazy. You might be violating social expectations, but you're definitely not being improper.

As for the drag queen: This is trickier. I haven't seen a Miss Manners answer that applies directly, but I will attempt to synthesize what I do know.

First off, if any of the wedding arrangements are likely to cause shock, dismay, or discomfort amongst the guests, they deserve a fair warning. (So, for example, if the wedding party will be nude, it should be mentioned in the invitation, along with indications about what kind of dress is expected from the guests. Yes, somebody actually asked her about this one...) I don't think that really applies here, but it might be kind to have your parents pass the word, informally, to any stodgy relatives that might otherwise be perplexed that you've got a drag queen in your wedding party -- assuming he isn't dressed in men's clothes, of course, because if so, who cares?

Let's see, what else. Okay, she's also said that you don't put boys in dresses and girls in tuxedos just because they're on the brides/groom's side, respectively. You let your attendants dress in a way that will be flattering and comfortable. So I think that means that it would be quite proper to ask your drag queen friend if he has any preferences about what he would like to wear. You could probably also make a request, if you guys have a preference, but naturally it depends on what he's comfortable with. The really important thing is that you have people in your wedding party because you love them, not because of how they look.

So my thought is that you should have your drag queen friend on whatever side of the aisle works best, and have him dress in drag if that's the side of him that you love and want to be a part of your wedding. If he were a cross-dresser or transgender person, I'd say it would be a wonderful recognition to have him dress as a woman; the only difference with a drag queen is that it's possible he might give the impression of trying to out-do the bride, which one should never do.

But honestly, while there might be people whose social norms are being violated, I think that y'all are fully proper when it comes to ettiquette.
20th-Feb-2005 10:52 pm (UTC)
Gender is the opponent! Gender is the enemy! I'm all for a female "best man" and a male "maid of honor". And a drag queen? [drag_queen_speech] Honey, a drag queen can do whatever she wants to do, as long as she does it fabulously.[/drag_queen]
21st-Feb-2005 02:53 am (UTC)
Having been to so many genderfucked weddings, I've kind of forgotten what they're 'supposed' to look like according to tradition, so I'm really not a good judge of what's proper anyway. I've completely lost touch.

But on a completely unrelated note, it amuses me greatly when I see an icon, such as yours, and think to myself "Now see, there's an icon with text that is not only legible, but in a really well-thought-out font! There are people who actually take pride in that!" ...and then remember that I made the font myself. *sigh*

I could totally see myself becoming a big ole' typesetting and font geek. My printing press class in college was way too much fun. Few things are more fun than coming back to the dorm and watching the shower stall running a dark ruddy brown color from all the printing ink that is washing off of your arms, hands, and face. *more sighs*
21st-Feb-2005 04:43 am (UTC)
When Arian's aunt and uncle were married, they had at least one man on the bride's side and one woman on the groom's side (I think the groom's sister, Arian's aunt). So it totally doesn't matter unless you're having a super traditional wedding (in which case the women are all on one side and the men on the other. When it was an issue this used to be the case, often in the case of siblings....my mother's brothers were among my father's groomsmen and his sisters were among her bridesmaids. However, neither were the Best Man nor Matron of Honor). I like the above friend's idea of walking in with their families.

As for the drag queen, not to be a killjoy, but "drag queen" can mean different things, so the answer to that one is, it depends. If it is just a man who likes to dress in drag occasionally but identifies himself as male, then I would assume he would wear male attire for the wedding. If it is a woman who is anatomically and/or genetically male, then I would assume she would wear female attire. And if it is a man who identifies as male but always dresses as a female, then, I have NO idea.
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