Weddings are planned months and even years in advance. When an event has such a long lead time, it’s inevitable that some things will change along the way. One of the most annoying situations to arise is when a close friend or family member falls ill before the wedding. This is to be done when a member of the wedding party falls ill.

As with everything, there are degrees of illness. If a bridesmaid catches a cold the week of the wedding, she must take cold medicine, stuff a couple of tissues into her tiny little purse, and show up in her dress and bridesmaid jewelry at the appointed time, ready to go. Give your sick bridesmaid a little extra attention by keeping orange juice or a nice warm bowl of chicken soup waiting for her when she shows up to do her hair and makeup. Of course, she would be forgiven for leaving the front desk right after cutting the cake to go home and sleep.

Something like the flu, on the other hand, has the potential to throw a best man or bridesmaid right out of the wedding reception. You don’t want someone standing at the altar who is likely to vomit immediately when the minister asks if anyone objects to the marriage! Incidentally, your guests will not remember your wedding well if they have all caught the flu from a highly contagious groomsman. Of course, if the Fluish happens to be one of the bride or groom’s parents, they would do their best to make it to the wedding, but they should definitely skip the reception line!

When the disease is more severe, flexibility is key. Let’s say one of your bridesmaids had a pretty serious illness three months before your wedding. Maybe one that resulted in missing a lot of work or that requires surgery. In this situation, it is vital that the bride throws 100% of her support behind her sick friend. Let her know that you absolutely want her at your wedding when she feels like it, or as a guest if that’s all she can manage. Also, make sure your bridesmaid knows that if she feels too sick to even come, you will understand anything. This is no time to worry if the number of groomsmen and bridesmaids will be uneven at the last minute.

If a member of the bridal party has to say goodbye due to a serious illness, it would be very gracious of the bride to pay for her bridesmaid dress and jewelry and give it to her as a gift. No doubt your girlfriend is going to feel terrible if she lets you down and this is a great way to show her that you don’t have harsh feelings. If you have a wedding program, be sure to list her as a volunteer bridesmaid. It would be very, very cute to have a bridesmaid bouquet made for her and have it delivered to her bed as well.

In very rare cases, an immediate family member of the bride or groom (usually a parent, grandparent, or sibling) may be so sick just before the wedding that their life is in limbo. There comes a point where there is a need to either postpone or drastically reduce the wedding. It’s just in bad taste to have a big celebration when someone who should have been there is fighting for their life in the hospital. Under the circumstances, no one is going to be in the mood for a big party anyway. The wedding must be postponed until the sick family member has recovered or, if they die, until an appropriate period of mourning has passed. The other option, if a close family member is terminally ill, is to cancel the big celebration and have a very small wedding ceremony with just immediate family. If the very sick person is a parent of the bride or groom, they may even want to consider holding their ceremony at their parents’ bedside if the patient so wishes. At least that way, all the important people would still be there to witness the marriage.

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