You’re excited and you feel relaxed and you’re ready to parrrrrrtayyyyyy… with the best of them!” but who exactly makes up “the best of them”? You’re probably asking yourself, “how do I pick my bridesmaids?”
Like most big decisions in life, there’s no real handbook or method of narrowing down your wedding party. At Oh My! Occasions, we’re going to do our best to help you select your bridesmaids to a crew that rivals Maya Rudolph’s in the popular comedy from 2011. When making important decisions, I often find it’s easiest to eliminate the things I do not want first. Here’s a list of DON’Ts while choosing your bridal party:
DON’T… hold a Hunger Games rally in which your ladies compete for the coveted title. You do know how those books ended, right? Spoiler alert: it’s not an eating contest.
DON’T… put an ad on Craigslist. Crime shows are literally based on this type of thing. Big Don’t.
DON’T… hold auditions; this is not The Voice.
DON’T… take bribes. This is a felony or misdemeanor, dependent on state. Although the financial gain could help out in paying for the wedd- No. Noo. Bribery is wrong.
DON’T… ask on impulse. The lady at Subway might have given you extra cheese at no charge, but she’s not your best friend. I promise.
DON’T… use the “eenie meenie miney moe” technique. We all know that was rigged based on which person you started on, but hey, I might still be a little bitter from a kickball tournament in 1997.
DON’T… attempt to win a world record for largest wedding party. Just, don’t.
In all seriousness, your bridal party should be a true reflection of you. You may end up with a group of people from all different times in your life. Your favorite recipes are ones that taste the best to you, right? So your recipe may be heavier on one ingredient than the next bride’s. And that’s okay! We don’t want any nuts in our recipe anyway! Add a pinch of your childhood friend mixed with your 2 college roommates and a side of coworker with a dash of sister.
So how do you choose your bridesmaids? The biggest piece of advice would be to select ladies that you know will be your forever friends. Do you see this person being involved in your life 5 years from now, 10 years, 20 years? Or will your future children look at your wedding album and wonder why there’s a face cut out of all the wedding party photos. We’ve created a checklist to help you. Your friend is bridesmaid quality is you can answer yes to these statements:
but it’s also important to assess your bridesmaids’ individual circumstances. One of your ladies might be paying off school loans or going through a breakup. Also take into consideration any young siblings or family members that you’re thinking about asking to be a bridesmaid. Does their age affect your ability to do certain things or go to certain places? A bachelorette trip to Vegas may be better suited for ladies 21+, but a tea party bridal luncheon could include all ages.
One, some, or all of your bridesmaids might not live near you which means going through the motions of bridal milestones could get a little lonely. I personally had 9 bridesmaids all living in different states, none of which were near me! Be honest with your bridesmaids about your expectations. Nowadays, it’s easy to include your gals with Facetime or ask for their assistance virtually, if they can not devote their time in person. Sharing photos and Pinterest boards is easier than ever! If your in-town bridesmaids can’t attend larger “events”, they can still help with other tasks like stuffing wedding invitations, giving their opinion on what color nail polish or hair styles they think look best, or helping you choose the best songs for your big day. I knew that there’d be a lot of travel involved during my planning process and ultimately to my wedding destination, so I talked to my girls and let them know that I did not expect them to be at all the pre-wedding festivities like the bridal shower, bachelorette party, or dress fittings. No hard feelings. Your bridesmaids don’t have to be present at all the other outings, but the only thing they are really required to attend is the actual wedding day.
As a bride, you can also take steps to make things financially easier for your ladies to uphold the bridesmaid title. Maybe make hair and makeup optional, or offer to pay for their services. I personally bought all my bridesmaids their dresses, because I knew there were other expenses they’d be covering later on. If your friend is going through an emotionally difficult time, it’s okay for them to decline your invitation to be a bridesmaid. She is allowed to say “no” or “I can’t”. Don’t take this personally. You can always suggest another wedding role with less responsibility. Weddings can have ushers, readers, gift collectors, or honorary attendees. There are ways to acknowledge a friend’s importance without the pressure or title of bridesmaid. Otherwise, let your friend know that you are there for her, that you respect her decision, and that you hope she will still come to celebrate as a guest!
While it’s common to think of a bridal party consisting of women, it’s totally fine to ask your guy friends to partake in the festivities too! We’ve seen the role reversal many times: Groomsmaids, Man of Honor, you name it!
Remember how this is your recipe? Well, Betty Crocker, you can adjust it however you please. You’re allowed to have more than one maid of honor… or none at all. And don’t worry if your bridesmaids and groomsmen create an uneven number. The way of tallest-to-shortest lined up wedding party photos are long gone. Photographers are able to create some really neat compositions to work with the asymmetry you may have. Plus, I don’t think the best man will mind if he’s escorting two pretty ladies on each arm. It is a good idea to keep your overall guest count in mind when making your wedding party selection. 12 bridesmaids and 10 groomsmen with 50 attendees may look a little off-kilter.
When all is said and done, and you’re on the other side of the wedding party, don’t expect an automatic invite. There are no rules about Bridesmaid reciprocity, so just because you ask her, doesn’t mean she has to ask you.
Lastly, it’s important to pick a group who is honest with you, while still considering your feelings. I had found “the” wedding dress and shared with my friends when I actually had someone tell me it was ugly! Make sure you have a crew who will give their opinions in a heartfelt manner, while still being able to read your reactions. If you love those 3 layers of feathers on your dress, or you’re keen on having a Polka band, you want to be sure that your girls will be supportive of those decisions, regardless if they would be their own.
Choosing your bridesmaids comes down to finding the perfect recipe of friends that will leave you saying, “This is such a stone-cold pack of weirdos, and I am so proud!” Now go choose your weirdos!