How to Choose Your Bridal Party

Amy and Sean's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Leave It To Me Photography
Planning a wedding is an exciting and important time in a couple's life, but let's be honest, it can also be incredibly stressful. Having the right people by your side can make all the difference. Your bridal party will impact every aspect of your wedding from the planning process up to the celebration itself. So how do you make sure you're choosing the right people?

Whatever you do, don't rush. After your fiance pops the question and you begin to announce the news to family and friends, one of your first instincts might be to select your bridal party. Try to resist the urge. Your engagement may be long, your relationships may change in that time frame, and your excitement over the proposal may cloud your judgement. Take your time and give the decision some serious thought. Consider waiting until after you've selected a date and a venue. By then you'll have a clearer picture of your wedding day and a better idea of what you might want your bridal party to look like.

While there's no real rule about the number of people who can stand by your side, some brides let the size and feel of their wedding help guide the size of their bridal party. For example, a maid of honor and eight bridesmaids might seem a bit out of place at a small and intimate wedding for fifty people. In general though, the size of your bridal party will be largely determined by who you really want to include, whether it's one person or a dozen. Just keep in mind that very large bridal parties come with their own set of challenges. There will be more dresses to alter, more hair to style, more bouquets to order and more people to wrangle in photographs. All of this is fine as long as you believe that everyone you ask is truly deserving of a spot. 

Figuring out who should be included is the hardest part. You'll have to navigate through who you want to choose and who others expect you to choose. While it's important to consider other people's feelings, the choice is ultimately yours. Don't let anyone pressure you into making a decision you'll end up being unhappy about later, and don't feel obligated to ask someone to be in your wedding just because you were in theirs years ago.

Look to family, especially siblings, first. It's also not a bad idea to consider your fiance's siblings, especially if you have a good relationship with them. Your close circle of friends is next. Choose the people who have been with you through thick and thin, not just the fun coworker you started hanging out with two months ago. 

Don't limit yourself to tradition. Bridal parties are really changing. Do you have two sisters or friends that you can't decide between? Have two maids of honor. Are you very close with your brother or is your best friend male? You don't have to make them groomsmen. They can be bridal attendants. And remember, the number of people in your bridal party doesn't have to match the number of groomsmen. The people you choose should be the most important people in your life, not just place fillers that will make both sides look even. 

While their relationship with you is the most important factor, there are other things to take into account. Think about their individual personalities as well as how they would mesh as a group. Your bridesmaids don't have to be best friends or even know each other, but it would be helpful if they could get along throughout the planning process and on the wedding day. Try to surround yourself with positive and friendly people who will make the experience fun, not complain and nit-pick every step of the way. 

Being in a bridal party is a huge honor, but it's also a big responsibility. Make sure the people you select are up to the task. Be honest about your expectations. Are you looking for someone to help you shop for dresses and complete DIY projects or do you just need moral support? If some of your potential bridal party members live out of town, would you be okay with them missing your shower or bachelorette party? Decide what it is you're looking for, but also be realistic. Your day is important, but everyone has their own lives and responsibilities to deal with. That being said, don't count someone out just because you think they can't afford that $200 dollar bridesmaid dress you love or they won't be able to make the trip for one of your pre-wedding events. In these situations, you can always ask, but be understanding and give them the option to decline if it's too much. If money is the only issue, consider whether or not you'd be willing to offset some of their costs. If time commitment or travel is the problem, try to include them in your wedding in some other way, whether it's as an usher or even a reader. 

Once you've found the perfect group, it's time for the fun part- asking them. Show your bridal party how much they mean to you and how much you'd love for them to be a part of your wedding day with a fun little proposal of your own. Here are some of the creative ways today's brides are asking the very important question, "Will you be my bridesmaid?"

Personalized note cards are a simple and beautiful choice. Check out Etsy or even The Wedding Chicks for custom options. 
These paper dolls are a cute way to show off the members of your bridal party.
If they look a bit too challenging, try a similar idea with bunting instead.
Appeal to everyone's sweet tooth with these personalized dress cookies available in your wedding colors.
Or get crafty with this cupcake-in-a-jar gift set.
Start celebrating early with a bottle of bridesmaid wine.
Attach a note to a personalized item such as a t-shirt, tote bag or even glassware for your perfect invite. These hangers are a perfect example and can be used for everyone's dresses on your wedding day.
Get your girls excited and keep them informed with this awesome box filled with inspiration for dresses and colors and details about their responsibilities and the wedding events. 
Or provide them will all the essentials in this bridesmaid survival kit.
No matter how you ask, your bridal party will be thrilled. So make your decisions, pop the question and enjoy this special time in your life with your nearest and dearest by your side.


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