Your wedding day should, by rights, be all about you and your significant other. But the truth of the matter is, it is a celebration that includes many more people than just the happy couple. When it comes to planning, their feelings and preferences inevitably have to be taken into consideration, too.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the selection of your wedding party. It can be a delicate business. There are old bonds to maintain, egos to placate, emotions to soothe. Who you choose as your bridesmaids, plus how you do it, can take a diplomat’s expert skill.
Especially once friends from far and wide start dropping heavy hints – or even asking outright – the moment you let on you’re engaged, brides-to-be can start to feel under enormous pressure.
Here’s a quick guide to navigating the tricky issue of choosing your bridesmaids without tears and a whole lot of extra stress you don’t need.
Who to choose, and why
The larger your friendship group, the more difficult choosing your bridesmaids becomes. On average, most brides have between four and six bridesmaids at most, although there is nothing wrong with having less. Any more and the cost of all those dresses really starts to rack up. Plus you risk having attention deflected away from you, the bride, whose big day it is, after all.
So how do you narrow it down to just six bridesmaids max? The first thing is to decide on is who your maid of honour will be. If you have just the one sister, think seriously about giving her the job – it will make your parents very happy indeed. If you have more than one sister (or none at all, of course), then go with your bestest best friend – better that than risk the familial jealousies sparked by choosing a favourite sister over others.
Most people in your friendship group will recognise you have one friend you are especially close to and accept your choice of her as maid of honour. What can be more tricky is narrowing down a large group into the remaining bridesmaid positions. Location can be a good means of whittling your options down – you are justified in choosing friends who live closest to you on the grounds that they will be needed to help with all the preparations.
Another useful tip is to use other honorary roles as sweeteners for not being a bridesmaid. If you have friends with kids, ask if they can be flower girls or page boys instead – this is bound to keep proud mums happy. Alternatively, you can ask trusted friends to be ushers and attendants, meaning they can’t be in your wedding party as they have arrive earlier to help organise all the other guests, but still feel they are playing an important role.
How to choose your bridesmaids and how to ask
Above all considerations, make sure your bridesmaids are your choice. Don’t feel pressured to say yes to that friend who says “I can’t wait to be a bridesmaid!” the moment you tell them you’re getting hitched. In fact, this can be a good way to decide who the most deserving people are. Your most considerate friends will understand that it is unfair to put pressure on you and would rather wait to be asked.
When you come to asking your chosen bridesmaids, do it individually and discretely. Posting a list on, say, Facebook or Instagram will not only come across as impersonal, it will also encourage people to gossip about your choices and potentially make any hurt feelings worse. If there is anyone you haven’t chosen who you think might be a bit upset, do them the favour of saving face by speaking to them in private to explain why. Nine times out of 10, they will appreciate you taking the time to talk and accept your decision ungrudgingly – especially if you have another little role to offer them.
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