Bridesmaids: Choosing Your Dream Team

When the excitement of saying “yes” turns to a flood of nervousness over choosing your attendants, take a deep breath. You’ll be bombarded with buzzwords like “supportive,” “devoted,” “family first” and “friends for life,” and it’s easy to let your emotions take over. (First hint: That’s why it’s never wise to go immediately from slipping on an engagement ring to picking up the phone and asking friends to be bridesmaids.) Give your choices some serious thought, and take your inspiration from these words of wisdom:

  • Reality check: Your bridesmaids need to support your relationship with your fiancé. Period. You also need to know they will support you after the wedding and well into your married years, so make sure these are the girls you’ll be just as close to in five years and in 10 years.
  • As we said, choose family first. You may not be close to your future sister-in-law today, but time may change that, and she will always be your family. Simply put, it’s the right thing to do.
  • Are these VIPs the friends you share heart-to-heart talks with, and the ones who encourage your dreams, during both good times and bad times? If they’ve been with you for the most important parts of your life so far, you can look to them for honesty when it counts.
  • Don’t extend invitations simply out of obligation. If you have friends on a tight budget or who are juggling career and family, they may be relieved to support you in other ways or work “behind the scenes.” Remember other significant tasks that are just as important: reading a favorite passage during the ceremony, passing out programs or lighting candles before the ceremony.
  • Your bridesmaids and groomsmen don’t have to balance. An uneven number is perfectly fine, and you can arrange the wedding party at the altar any way that suits you. The processional can also be configured in a number of different ways — don’t feel tied to one bridesmaid walking with one groomsman down the aisle. Recent bride, Erica Eagle, faced that very dilemma: “I was so worried about mine and my husband’s number being even. I ended up having a few of the groomsmen with a bridesmaid on each arm during the ceremony exit and reception entrance. There are ways around it if you don’t have the same number on each side!” Newlywed Sara Wiles says she was adamant about not having “fillers” just to ensure that her bridesmaids and groomsmen numbers were equal. “It was important to me to have a group of girls I knew supported me through thick and thin,” said Sara.
  • Don’t go overboard. Base the size of your wedding party on the size of your guest list. A large group of attendants is also a big commitment for the bride and groom. Entertaining them pre-wedding, potentially housing them for the weekend, purchasing attendants’ gifts and more — everything adds up. “I had 11 bridesmaids,” said Forsyth Woman Engaged! Associate Editor Brooke Eagle. “While it was a blast, it was also very, very expensive to include 11 people in everything we wanted to do.”
  • The labels of “maid-of-honor” and “matron-of-honor” aren’t defined in stone. Forsyth Magazines’ Denise Heidel recalls not making that distinction when she married five years ago. “I simply couldn’t rank my friends that way,” said Denise. “I was afraid if I tried, I’d have some hurt feelings to contend with.” Instead, be grateful you have more than one person who can calmly take over when a detail goes awry the morning of the wedding, after sitting you down and saying “I’ve got this!”
  • Keep your attendants’ dress shopping experience as painless as possible. “The biggest challenge I faced was walking the line of being an over-demanding bride with strict requests while still keeping their identities and making the process fun,” said Sara. “My bridesmaids wore mismatched dresses (all in the same color) that they chose the style. I had no preference on their hair and makeup, and I only asked they wear black shoes and have fun!”