Here's exactly what to do if a key player is too ill to fulfill his or her duties.

By Lauren Katims
December 20, 2019

The maid of honor and best man are two of the most important people—with some of the most prominent responsibilities—in the entire wedding. Even though your best buddy or sibling might seem invincible to you, they have just as much of a chance of getting sick in the days leading up to the wedding as any other guest. While wedding planners typically carry a plethora of medications and first aid supplies to treat day-of sicknesses, these can rarely treat more than a headache or upset stomach. So, what happens if your maid of honor or best man is simply too ill to participate in the wedding? Her, experts share their best tips for handling this unexpected absence.

Prioritize the Duties

The wedding day is long, often starting early in the morning and ending late, so allowing a sick maid of honor or best man to sit out on some of the activities that aren't as important to you can make it easier for them to be able to attend the most crucial moments, like the ceremony and reception. Instead of asking for your ill maid of honor to arrive for hair and makeup at 7 a.m., move her to end of the lineup so she can sleep in and rest longer, says Adrienne Coffey, owner of A Touch of Bliss Events in Denver. If the guys were planning to play golf during that time, have the sick best man skip out until it's time to get dressed. If someone is feeling ill the night before, encourage them to skip the rehearsal dinner or leave early so they can get a good night's rest.

Rearrange the Pairings for the Processional and Recessional

During the ceremony, an absent maid of honor or best man will leave a lonely partner for the walk up and down the aisle. Add the solo walker to another pair of the wedding party, says Coffey, rather than brining someone to fill her space. "It's pretty common to have uneven numbers," says Coffey. "It's not a big deal." If the best man was planning on passing the rings to the groom, consider assigning that task to another family member, who will most likely cherish the responsibility.

Have Someone Else Give the Speech or Skip it All Together

If the maid of honor or best man prepared a special speech, and it's important you hear it during your reception, ask someone to read it on his behalf, says Carla Friday, a day of wedding coordinator and owner of Details Made Simple. Otherwise, skip the speech and have him read it to you at another time when he can deliver it personally.

Let Someone Else Figure Out the Logistics

Most importantly, have someone else who you trust figure out how to work around the absence, says Friday. Dealing with an unexpected issue like this is stressful, so give someone else, such as your wedding planner or day of wedding coordinator, the task of making it work. And just remember, Friday advises, "It's okay; the wedding will go on."


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