How to: choose your bridesmaids

Any wedding decision can cause drama, but one of the higher-octane decisions is who will be in your wedding party. A cousin of mine who got married a few years ago recently told me “if you don’t want to speak to someone ever again, put them in your bridal party”. She was joking, of course, but this decision is an important one. The people you choose to stand up with you on your wedding day should be there for good reason. Here’s how to deal with making the choice.

How to choose your bridesmaids

Full disclosure: I haven’t yet officially asked anyone to be a bridesmaid. I know how many girls there will be and I’m 99.9% sure I know who they are, but I’m not quite ready to pop the question. That brings us to the first “rule”:

Don’t feel like you have to ask right away

When you first get engaged, there can be this overwhelming desire to ask your girlfriends right away if they’d like to be in your bridal party. Unless this is something you’ve been talking about since you were children and you and your fiance are in absolute agreement, I’d say to wait it out a little while. There’s really no rush unless you’re having a quickie wedding and the dress fittings need to be tomorrow. Be prepared for people to get a bit antsy and make assumptions about who is in/not in – this happened to me less than a week into our engagement! Also be prepared for people’s true colours to emerge during the planning process. From the friend who had a completely unexpected and wholly inappropriate reaction the night we got engaged to a full personality change during the engagement so far, weddings really do bring out the best and worst of people. Choose wisely and don’t take the process lightly.

Determine how many bridesmaids you want & who would be a good fit

If you want a balanced bridal party, you and your fiancé will have to come to an agreement about how many people you’d like in your wedding party. Not all couples decide to have equal numbers of bride’s attendants and groomsmen, but if you are it’s a good place to start. Decide which people you absolutely want to have in your wedding party and work from there. Consider fit within the group – will everyone have fun together? will the mix make your life easier or more difficult? – and starting building a list from there.

JCrew x Sugar paper LA Bridesmaid gold foil cards

Decide how involved you want them to be & if they can handle it

Being in a bridal party can be a major commitment, both financially and in terms of time. If you plan to do a lot of the planning yourself, it may make perfect sense to have far-flung bridesmaids who will only be making it to the wedding. However, if you have a ton of pre-wedding events or are hoping to have your friends participate in a ton of DIY, make sure your girls are geographically and financially able to make the trip.

Consider family obligations

Is your mom insisting that you include your sister-in-law? Does grandma refuse to come unless cousin Susan is included? Find out where your family draws the line and decide if you’re willing to participate

…But don’t choose out of obligation

This is probably the toughest one of them all. As a bride, you’ll be pulled in a thousand different directions throughout the planning process by your various “stakeholders”. Every bride I talked to cautioned against making decisions half-heartedly. Sometimes putting someone in your wedding party can be easier than leaving them out, but it may be a decision you regret later on when the reasons your desire to have them in the party was hot & cold rears its ugly head. Of course you don’t want to disappoint anybody, but at the end of the day this is a decision you’ll have to deal with both leading up to the event and afterwards.

So, how am I choosing?

Since Mike & I began dating, I’ve had a pretty good idea of who I would eventually want in our bridal party. The group is comprised of girls from most of the stages of my life and they are people who I would be proud to have stand with me on our wedding day. Are there potential problems? Of course. There have been a few red flags that have given me pause in the engagement & planning process, but I’ve used those moments to better inform my decisions. When I do make the final decision, I want to be 100% sure that not only can these people support me on the day but also make the wedding planning process fun and easy.

How did you choose your bridesmaids? Do you have any nightmare stories to share?