Are you newly engaged and starting to plan your wedding? First of all, congratulations on finding the person you want to spend your life with.
Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life, so it makes sense to put some serious thought into who will be in your wedding party. Bridesmaids have responsibilities, so think about the people who will be the best fit for the role as well as your relationship with each person.
Tradition vs. Reality
Some of the old rules of bridesmaid selection created even more stress during wedding planning. In the past, brides and grooms were expected to have an equal number of women and men in the bridal party to balance the lineup at the altar and for each person to have someone to walk with after the ceremony. However, that isn’t always what’s best for the event, so you don’t have to balance it to make it perfectly even.
Before you start making your list, you need to determine how many bridesmaids you’ll want in your wedding. Here are some things to consider:
- How much space you’ll have at the altar
- Cost for each person in your wedding party
- How many people will attend the wedding
- Size of families on both sides
Make Your List
Now it’s time to make a list of prospective bridesmaids. Jot down some notes beside each person’s name, such as how long you’ve been friends, your relationship with her, whether or not the person needs to be the center of attention, if she has created drama in the past, and how much time she has for the responsibilities.
Here are some additional things to consider when making your list:
- Can the person afford to be in your wedding? You’ll need at least a rough idea of how much it will cost per person.
- Is the person reliable, or is she always late? You can determine this based on her punctuality in the past, if she consistently stands you up, or if she says she’ll do something but never follows through.
- Does she have time? Someone who has a new baby or job may be preoccupied with her new responsibilities and not have the time you need for her to commit to wedding preparation.
If you are having a difficult time making a decision but have to limit the number of bridesmaids, think about your relationship and who will be around long after the wedding. In many cases, family comes first because they’ll be the ones who are still there, no matter what. However, if you come from a large family, you may have to limit the number of relatives in your wedding party.
Here are some criteria to help narrow down the number of family members:
- Select only those who are adults.
- Choose family members who live in your area.
- Select a sibling over a distant cousin.
Remember that there are other positions of honor for younger family members or people you’d like to include. Perhaps they can hand out programs, assist with seating, or make a toast at the reception.
Expectations and Responsibilities
You need to determine what you expect from your bridesmaids. Do you want them to be actively involved in the planning and dress selection? Or do you want them to concentrate strictly on their role in the ceremony? Do you expect them to participate in a special dance or skit during the reception? When choosing your wedding party, consider each person according to your expectations and the responsibilities they’ll have.
Man of Honor or Best Woman
Is your best friend or closest sibling the opposite sex? Traditionally, wedding parties had men on one side and the women on the other. However, that is no longer the rule. You may choose someone of the opposite sex to stand up with you during your big day.
Multiple Maids of Honor
The maid of honor should be the bridesmaid you feel closest to. If you find yourself torn between two people, you may choose to have two maids of honor. Make sure you are clear on what you expect from each of them and try to even out their responsibilities before, during, and after the wedding.
Don’t be upset if someone turns you down to be your bridesmaid, regardless of the reason. The person might not have the money or the time it takes to be a bridesmaid, or she might be too self-conscious to walk down the aisle in front of a church full of people. Graciously accept her wishes and let her know you hope she’s able to attend the ceremony and reception.
Ask the expert – Rania Anklis – a certified wedding planner based in Toronto from The Day Events.
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