OK, so you’ve decided to get married. You’ve chosen the engagement ring, flashed it about a bit, and told your family and friends your happy news. Then it strikes you – who will you have as your bridesmaids? How many? What will they do? What happens if you have too many? ARGH!
It’s a common dilemma and one that we often see on our forums. Problems range from the best friend who is lovely but lonely and a little, shall we say, jealous, to the expectations of your family who decide that little Joe’s cousin’s daughter twice removed has never been a flower girl and this is her ONLY CHANCE.
Before you know where you are, instead of the two close friends you envisaged, you have a team of very small, confused little girls in frocks who you hardly know and probably won’t meet again until they are 18. Believe me, girls, it happens!
SO, deep breaths ladies. How DO you choose?
Well, a bridesmaid is not only a pretty prop for the wedding pictures, she is also there to DO a JOB. And it’s an important one. She’s the one who will help you plan the day, come with you to fittings, listen when the stress of organising the reception overwhelms you, and be there when you want to talk.
On the day itself, she will calm your nerves, make you drink your tea through a straw so you don’t smudge your makeup, tell you how stunning you look and give you the 360 degree once over to make sure there is no VPL and that you have your shoes on the right feet.
Take your time
In the first excitement of engagement announcements, it’s pretty normal to feel like you want the whole world to share your joy – so it’s only natural to want to ask every friend if she wants to be your bridesmaid and she’ll probably say yes! Also, you’ll have friends who will be so happy for you, they’ll actually volunteer to be your bridesmaids.
Your answer to this is, “I’m so happy I can’t collect my thoughts just yet, so I’m not making any decisions, I’ll get back to you once I know more about the budget/speak to fiancé/set the date etc!” Then give her a big hug.
Once you’ve calmed down and had a chance to see just how much it costs to have 3, 5, 7, or 10 girls dressed, booted, styled and gifted, you’ll be able to make a far more rational decision on the numbers and which one of your friends really matters to you.
The feel-good vibe
You need a girl who is calm, capable, organised, and available. Someone who will share your excitement while remaining optimistic about her own situation if single, and who will give you an honest opinion.
Someone who will arrange the hen night you want, not the one she thinks will make her laugh the most. She must be prepared to be styled within an inch of her life, and be diplomatic when your spotty cousin tries to flirt with her. See, easy isn’t it? Well, no, actually, it’s not.
It’s important to keep perspective in this. Budget will often be a deciding factor as it’s usually the couple who pay for the frocks. Space is another deal-breaker as the size of the ceremony is important – too many bridesmaids huddled into a civil ceremony will look silly and be a nightmare to arrange.
Then, think about who really matters to you. It’s no use asking your best childhood friend if you haven’t seen her in years and are unlikely to ever get beyond the once-a-year Christmas card stage ever again. We all move on in life so choose someone who you are close to and who you can rely on.
Also, keep the future in mind – you don’t want to be looking at your wedding photos 10 years from now, saying “I wish I never asked her to be one of my bridesmaids, she was a complete nightmare diva.”
Sisters will usually expect to be asked, but if they are older with kids they may be relieved to attend your wedding without taking a formal role. Young girls can be a charming addition to the day, but again it has to be your choice and you will need to allocate an older bridesmaid to look after them on the day, provide food before hand if it is a long ceremony, and be there to calm any little nerves.
If you have to let someone down, do it gently by giving them another role – perhaps by doing a reading at the wedding service, or arranging the flowers (for which your new husband thanks them profusely in his speech).
Explain to them that you can’t have everyone, and that they are important to you and this is why you are asking them.
If all else fails, visit our forum and share your story with other brides or tell us how you resolved your dilemma. Good luck !