As wonderful as an upcoming wedding can feel for a bride and groom, the months leading up can feel like the equivalent to swimming in an ocean fully of jellyfish ready to lay in a sting. Choosing bridesmaids is one such situation that may result in anger, frustration, offence, and, at worst, war. When selecting bridesmaids, treading carefully is a must. Weigh each selection and keep in mind the rules to follow.
Wedding etiquette is where we begin on our journey to selecting bridesmaids. Defining how many you need for your wedding party is key. The general etiquette on weddings does not suggest a specific ratio of bridesmaids to wedding guests. We recommend a maximum limit of twelve. There are some wedding parties who have as few as one. The primary motivation behind how many bridesmaids one wishes to include is centered on including those who you feel closest to. In addition, depending on the venue and where you will be standing, you may want to consider what aesthetically looks best. When it comes to a precise number though, it’s up to you.
Assembling the list of possibilities
Put together a list of all those who will be attending your wedding. Discuss with your fiancé who they wish to have attend from their end and ensure that any friends or family expecting an invite receive it. There may be natural groupings within the attendants that you can use as a theme for your bridesmaids’ selection, such as all family, all high school friends, etc. Narrow down to those who could be considered as a bridesmaid.
Every person included in the wedding party has a role to play. The maid of honor is the bride’s go-to throughout the wedding experience, and the bridesmaids are there in large part to assist the maid of honor. The bridesmaids may help in planning the bridal shower and selecting the wedding gown. All bridesmaids are expected to pay for their own dresses, makeup, travel, and other expenses. There may be some better suited to these responsibilities than others. As a bride, you get to decide how you wish to arrange the expenses and the responsibilities. What’s key is defining early what you will expect from your bridesmaids. When it comes time to ask candidates to be bridesmaids, you can provide some insight into what you require from them.
Define your expectations
Every bride comes with different needs and expectations regarding their wedding. Be it a rustic affair, a glamorous gala, something more intimate, or something loud, consider whether bigger is in fact better, or whether you just need one or two people there to act as your confidantes. Think of how much time and money guests will spend on your wedding, and whom in your attendees you feel comfortable putting additional expenses on. Also, if someone says they can’t afford to participate, are you able to cover their lack of financing or will you choose someone else – be honest. We all come with our own work, family, and personal commitments so be sure that those chosen are able to provide the assistance you require to get things going.
Most brides will attempt not to offend or disappoint anyone, inviting people to their wedding that they have familial or political obligations to. That’s more than fair, at least most would say so. Bridesmaids are a little more intimate though. Don’t ask anyone to be a bridesmaid if the expectation is that they will say no – sometimes, you might get a ‘yes’. To this point, when asking a friend to be a bridesmaid and they say ‘no’, don’t take it personally. It’s not necessarily a reflection of the relationship. More often than not, it’s just someone being honest about not having the time or money to put towards your wedding.
You may have someone who says ‘yes’ to being a bridesmaid who may end up appearing regretful or disappointed with the decision. If so, just ask what’s up. There may be a scheduling issue. It might be more responsibility to take on than the bridesmaid expected. It might be something entirely different. The important thing is to keep communication open and make sure that no one is bringing the group down.
No matter how you look at, deciding on the wedding party is never going to be cut clear as can be. There will be conflicts and obligations with regards to parents and family insisting on the inclusion of one or more individuals. There may be edicts passed down that you entirely don’t agree with. As long as your friends are there though, you still get to have your wedding the way you want it. If you were planning on a smaller affair and it’s being filled with people with whom you do not share a friendship, consider making it bigger to tailor it more towards you.
There’s enough stress to planning and pulling off a wedding. If choosing bridesmaids makes you anxious, sitting down with someone you trust might help make it easier. Consider having a conversation with a parent or someone who really knows you, to narrow down possible choices.
All in all, choosing bridesmaids is very tricky business. As long as you give it some serious thought and anticipate the reaction, it’s your wedding and you get to call the shots. Every bride has one day to call her own and this is it. Don’t think twice about it, once you get your list down. Be open about expectations, be honest with all guest attendees, and include the bridesmaids you most want.