With parents, best men, bridesmaids, ushers and more all thrown into the mix, choosing who to have as a wedding witness can often be a complex affair.
First up the legalities on wedding witnesses. You will need to have two 'official' wedding witnesses present on the big day, although in most cases it is possible for more to sign the marriage certificate. The bride, groom or civil partners should personally know each wedding witness, and it is typical for the witnesses to be members of the bridal party although this is not legally binding. Each wedding witness should be old enough to properly fulfill their duty on the day, although some registrars will insist they are over 18 so be sure to check first if you plan to enlist the help of one of your children. Finally, whilst not essential, it is tradition to choose one wedding witness from each side of the family.
With the formalities out of the way, now comes the fun bit - choosing who to have!
If truth be told, there is no right or wrong way to choose the witnesses for your marriage certificate – it is very much a matter of personal preference, but if you are struggling here are a couple of pointers....
Your first option could be to choose the person/people who are the least contentious, i.e. the people who will be the most accepted by those not chosen as a wedding witness. Typically, a sister or brother will be more ‘put out’ if you don’t choose them than a friend will be – likewise your friends are more likely to understand that a relative has been chosen to perform the duty than if you were to choose another friend over them.
Your second option could be to allocate additional duties to those not chosen as a wedding witness in lieu of the register signing duties. Think about what duties these could be (a reading at the wedding etc.) and select the best person for them - the ones who don't get allocated additional tasks could be your wedding witnesses!
The final option is to swerve members of the wedding party altogether. Grandparents, Auntie's and Uncles are always a good bet for a wedding witness, or if this is likely to cause issue too, then simply opting for the mum's is always a good alternative. If you head down this route then symetry is always recommended (i.e. the Mother of the Bride and Mother of the Groom, the Grandfather of the Bride and Grandfather of the Groom etc.) to avoid any potential issues.
More information on wedding witnesses and marriage regulations can be found in our Wedding Laws article, whilst our Bridal Party section has full details of roles and duties you could allocate to bridesmaids, ushers etc