The Wedding Party
Emma Margeaux Bride Online Columnist

Choosing Your Bridesmaids

So you're newly engaged and decided to get these wedding plans a-rolling! But narrowing down who'll be in your wedding party is one of them most notoriously difficult tasks in the entire planning process. No doubt you'd love to include your close and less- close family, your childhood besties, your favourite uni girls- but the fact of the matter is that you just won't be able to include everyone. So how do you determine who'll make your day the easiest, most fun, and memorable, and sidestep those who'll just add additional stress? We've determined some essential methods of narrowing down who's worth the cut, and who'll be taking a seat with the rest of your guests on your big day.

(Courtesy bridalmusings.com) 

To begin with, it always helps to put things into perspective by considering what your bridesmaids' duties will consist of. 

Bridesmaid's Responsibilities

  • Helping with any small- medium sized tasks the bride requests of her in the lead up to the wedding
  • Helping to plan and pay for the hen’s night
  • To be there for rehearsals
  • Ensuring the bride gets to the wedding on time
  • Arriving before other guests at the wedding
  • Wearing the correct attire
  • Paying for their dresses and showing up for fittings
  • Walking down the aisle 
  • Dance with a groomsman
  • Being available to pose in photos
  • Looking after the bride throughout her wedding day (yep, that includes possibly holding the bride's dress while she pees)

As you can see, bridesmaids have a fair amount of responsibility and will be spending considerable hours clocking in in that capacity- especially in the lead up to the wedding. So it's absolutely imperative you pick your ladies wisely. 

Know That Wedding Parties are Not Mandatory

Contrary to popular assumption, it is absolutely not  necessary for you to have a wedding party if it's not really your style. You can still get all the help you need from your close family and friends, and won't have to worry about issues like getting any of your bridesmaids upset/ them upsetting you over any of your wedding plans, or what gifts to buy them after the wedding. All you need to do is get your caboose to the ceremony (and you don't need an entourage to hold your hand). 

Manage Your Candidates' Expectations

In that finicky period where your friends know you'll be choosing your bridesmaids, be open with them. Let them know that you're narrowing down who you'd like to include, but in all probability won't be able to involve all of them purely for logistical/ financial reasons- not emotional ones. Tell them, however, that no matter what the outcome, they're all incredibly important to you and that your big day would simply not be a success without them.

Do What You Want

Include who you want in your wedding, and those who want to be in your wedding. Including someone you don't want, or someone who doesnt want to be there will simply impact on your plans and your big day negatively. Throughout this stressful period, you need as much positivity, enthusiasm, and simple mutual respect and affection as you can muster. 

Don't Bend to Guilt or Obligation

Is your mother insisting you make your third cousin who you've met twice in your entire life a part of the bridal party? Or a sister in law you can't stand? Or perhaps a friend who recently included you in her wedding party, so you feel obliged to reciprocate? Don't. Remember that this isn't just your big day, but a pretty lengthy process. Including anyone who you don't genuinely want to be there will simply breed discontent, resentment, and, as importantly, will be absolutely clear to the poor hanger-on. It's far easier to get over not being included in the wedding party than mending relationships that have been fractured because you've been forced upon eachother. 

Do Not Invite the Lady Who's Going to Be Devastated if You Don't Invite Her.

You don't want- much less need- anyone who's going to turn your wedding into a personal drama. This sort of reaction tends to be expressed often, and in ways you don't expect. Screw that noise and steer clear of this stressful choice. 

Don't Invite the Lady Who You're Not Sure Will Be Able to Follow Through

Maybe she lives far away, is particularly strapped for cash, is insanely busy, is about to have/ just had a baby, etc. Relying on this lady for all your bridesmaid- related needs is a big gamble, and won't necessarily pay off. What it will necessarily do it make both her and your life far more stressful (like handing in an essay at the last minute, only with much higher stakes).

You and Your Groom Don't Have to Match

It is perfectly acceptable to have mismatched numbers of bridesmaids/ groomsmen. Neither traditional etiquette nor your guests will even notice. Rather sacrifice visual equilibrium than incude someone you don't want or exclude someone you do.

Ask Who You Want

This is one situation in which the best advice is to ignore traditional etiquette and do you own thing. Ask who you're closest to, who you can rely on, and who you'll have a blast with. A great support system makes all the difference when it comes to planning and executing your wedding- etiquette be damned (or 'darned')!  The main point is to find your own groove and do what feels most comfortable to you. 

    Be Clear With Your Bridesmaids About Their Monetary Obligations

    It is vital to let your bride know what is to be expected of her financially. Traditionally the bridesmaid is expected to pay for her own dress and if located some distance away her travel fare. Alternatively you could offer to help pay for part of the dress or fare as a gift to say ‘Thank You’ for her help.

    Conflicting Personalities

    Consider how well the women you have picked for your bridal party will get along with each other. You may want to reconsider placing two friends who are no longer on good terms together in close contact. Having said this, however, true friends and bridesmaids who don’t know each other will work together to ensure that your wedding day runs smoothly.

    Nervous About Upsetting Friends and Family?

    In The Lead Up

    Just because you can't include everyone in your bridal partydoesnt mean that you can't make your bevvy of friends and family feel special. Aside from verbalising how important they are to you, try and include them in any bridal tasks you'd like. Get them to come to a dress fitting (though not to help you pick out the dress), ask them if they'd like to make a speech or toast at the wedding, see if they can help you out with any minor tasks, such as putting together your bomboniere, and seat them as close as possible to your table at the wedding. Emphasising that it's due to circumstances beyond your control- like your finances, for example that you can't include them, along with these extra inclusive measures, will help the medicine go down considerably smoother, so to speak. 

    Similarly, if you have a friend who thought they'd be a maid fo honour or best man, have them fulfil a duty usually carried out by someone in this role. Sharing the role around a little will make them feel more welcome and potentially less self conscious.

    On The Big Day

    Perhaps you have a talented friend who can sing or play an instrument on the day. You could ask a relative to do a reading during the ceremony, act as ushers, masters of ceremonies, guest book attendant or even include them in your speech and acknowledge their support and friendship through the years. By taking the time to ensure that you choose a responsible and supportive bridal party you can rest assured that your wedding day will be as enjoyable and run as smooth as possible with the help of your close companions and relatives by your side.

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