Through the course of getting engaged, wedding planning is supposed to be the most glorious and magical time of your life. And then that moment comes where you need to decide who is going to be the ones standing up there with you, through it all, on your big day and hopefully still around thereafter. This dilemma can make or break your friendships – in today’s day in age. The choosing bridesmaids dilemma has almost become a deadly sport. There are even times when the bridesmaid dilemma has lead to the brink of calling off weddings. How ridiculous does that sound?
That’s why every bride needs to take the bridal party hype seriously – these are the people that should feel honored as your friend, and who are willing to make such a commitment for you being this is one of the most important times in your life.
Unfortunately, throughout the course of wedding history, there has evolved rule of thumbs when it comes to choosing your bridesmaids. All coming from personal experiences as a bride, and through the eyes of bridesmaids themselves. So if you’re having a difficult time deciding on who to pick as your bridesmaids, these words of advice may come in great hand to help you in the decision-making process.
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The Choosing Bridesmaids Dilemma
1 | Think twice before asking
You’ve made your list – you’ve narrowed it down to twenty – that’s… a start. But say there’s quite a handful you’re just using as a filler. Maybe you have a few friends likely to decline the title – they’re either getting married around the same time (so they’re just as busy), are having a baby, or live very far away – and you want to have back ups. That’s fine, but realize that as soon as you ask and they approve, there’s no turning back from that.
The deal is: once you’re hesitant about giving somebody the title of being a factor in your wedding and in your wedding photos, you need to go with your gut. If you’re on the fence, evaluate your friendship currently and in the past. Now, picture that bridesmaid standing up there next to you or in your wedding photos, and ask yourself: ‘Why should this person be at the epicenter of the most important day of my life?’
In reality, many brides don’t actually see it from the other side: some women just don’t want to be a part of the bridesmaid scene, and they’d rather avoid it. Whether they’ve been in many weddings thus far and are exhausted of it, realize how expensive it can be depending on the bride’s expectations, or feel they just aren’t that good enough of friends to make that commitment to you. There’s absolutely no offense meant by it, but it’s important for brides to take that into account. Go for those on the list who are practically begging to be your bridesmaid first.
2 | Review your personal expectations
You’re getting married – it’s all about you and your fiance now – there’s no better time to feel important. And that’s why we treat our wedding day like we will only experience it once in our lives. More the reason to go ham on everything – but that sometimes can take a nasty turn for the worst if you let it.
As for the bridesmaids, it’s customary that they purchase the dress of the bride’s choosing (again, customary, not enforced). And as for all bridesmaid duties – they’re all customary. From my personal opinion: I can’t stand the whole ‘bridesmaid duties’ ordeal. I think it has become so outrageous – the things that brides demand today.
But here’s what you need to ask yourself: what exactly do I expect of my bridesmaids? Are you expecting them to be at every dress fitting, hair trial, makeup trial, or scheduled bridesmaid meeting? Do they need to participate in the making of wedding favors, centerpieces or even the setting up and down the day of the wedding? Are they expected to collaborate on the plans and paying for a Bridal Shower or Bachelorette Party? Do your needs have to be met by them dropping their lives on a dime? Is there friendship participation deductions (ie. being thrown out of the wedding) if they cannot attend certain events, such as missing ‘bridesmaid meetings’, the Bachelorette Party or Bridal Shower (whether due to finances, scheduling, illness, etc.)? Are they in charge of paying for their hair, makeup, shoes, jewelry and dress for the big day? Whatever expectations you have – go down your list, right now, to each individual and now ask yourself: Would I be willing to meet all of these expectations for them in return?
From that, I am clearly trying to say that not everyone can afford all of that nonsense, nor want to be a part of it – no matter how good of friends they are to you and vice-versa. And guess what, if you are automatically thinking ‘Well, then they can’t be a part of my day…’, then that is definitely for the best.
So go through your list, knowing your demands, and dig deep into those who would most likely repel your expectations. It’s not saying those people aren’t your ‘friends’ but if you have certain duties to be met, you need the friends who are more than willing to fulfill them.
3 | Give the M.O.H. title responsibly and appropriately
Duh, it’s your best friend of twenty years. Best choice. But is it? The MOH has the most crucial role in your wedding – she’s the attendant to your every need on that big day, helping you get dressed and running last minute errands. From that, a lot of trust needs to be instilled. Can you rely on that person, would they do just about anything for you, and most importantly are they loyal?
It’s become more prominent that families with siblings automatically have the choosing of MOH, but it’s not entirely like that. The choosing of a sibling as your MOH is likely that you have someone the most trustworthy making decisions for your wedding, unlike your best friend of twenty years who is mostly a drunk, shows up late to everything and is exaggerative and boisterous.
The point is, think about the quality in your friends. The MOH does NOT mean it has the be your best friend that you’ve known the longest, or you get along with the best. The MOH is the one who can take on the most responsibility, who you trust every inch and detail of your big day with, will shut their trap regarding opinions when not asked of them, and can be 100% relied on. For instance, if your bouquets haven’t shown up the morning of your wedding – your MOH better be on that – if not the wedding planner/coordinator.
4 | Avoid playing Tit-for-Tat
You were asked to be in her wedding, so you have to return the favor [eye roll]. No? If you were asked to be in a wedding that you joyfully accepted, that does NOT mean you are in her debt. Being asked as a bridesmaid is given as an ‘honor’, whether you’re good friends or acquaintances, so if the honor is not given in return that doesn’t change the meaning of your friendship. Yes, us women will probably always take these kind of things to heart (the, ‘I asked her, but she didn’t even ask me!’), but in the moment where this is the rest of our lives in a partnership, not everyone is expected to make the cut in being a part of it. And we, as women, really need to be more accepting of that.
5 | It’s not always about numbers
Whether you have 200 on your guest list, or 20 – nothing says you can’t just have a total bridal party of four. Don’t listen to your sorority sisters – they’re just there for the booze, anyhow. Coming from me, I had zero! I had a small guest list of less than 50, and 20 from both my husband and I were our friends. We figured there was no point in having half our guest list sitting and standing up there with us. With that, there’s no shame in having only a MOH and a BM standing up there with you at a 200 person wedding, or going completely against the norm and not having a bridal party at all. Who cares?
And if you want over 10, because you have it, well why not? I don’t condone it myself, because I’d actually like to look at my wedding photos down the road and not regret some of the decisions made in that area. But who I am I to talk? If you can make 15 bridesmaids happen, who cares what others say?
6 | Who says a bridesmaid can’t be your grandma?
Seriously! And I’ll say it again: if your grandma is the greatest thing to you since sweet tea, then you can damn well make her a bridesmaid for your big day. I’ve heard of bridesmaids being aunts, uncles, cousins, dogs, children, nieces, nephews – need I go on? The title of a bridesmaid is primarily who you care the most about being up there and being that honorable part of your special day and time in your life. There’s no say in that bridesmaids are limited to your girlfriends, or girls period. I have seen male bridesmaids and male MOH in these days.
Having a wedding today seems like it’s all about going by the book, when it shouldn’t. And the task of choosing your bridesmaids shouldn’t be a game of bingo, either. But there are ways to make it easier on you when narrowing down the list, and being sure you’re picking the right ones for the role. It is your day, and ultimately you should be going with your gut over what any tradition or person tells you.