It may seem almost impossible to choose which of your friends and family will be your bridesmaids on your wedding day – the pressure to whittle down your best gals to just a handful or even just one, is immense and we get that. Thankfully, we have put together a sensible guide on how to choose your bridesmaids for all you brides in the early planning stages of wedding. So before you put in that order for that adorable bridesmaid-proposal package read our tips before you finalise your bridal party line up. So, let’s unpack it…
Finalise Your Budget
Figuring out how many bridesmaids you’re going to have starts with numbers of a different kind – your budget. It’s not only about family and friendship politics – having bridesmaids comes with its own expenses from bridesmaid dresses to footwear, hair and makeup, bouquets and optional extras like bridesmaid proposal packages, gifts and beyond. Remember you can be as thrifty (ask them to wear something they already own) or as extravagant (Gucci shoes!) as you like. So figure out how much you have to spend, and how you want to spend it. Would you like to blow the budget on a smaller number of gals, or stretch it to have more in your bridal party, which may limit your style choices.
Pick the Magic Number
We’ve seen bridal parties with just one bridesmaid, all the way up to 10, and both are perfectly okay. There is no perfect number, just what feels right to you. If the extra planning that comes with a large bridal party sends cold shivers down your spine, then go smaller. If you’re chomping at the bit to devise the bride tribe aesthetic of dreams, then time to get out that moodboard you’ve been planning since you were 15 years old. Whichever way you’re leaning, there will be a number that feels comfortable and manageble, and that’s the number you should aim for regardless of who you feel you should include.
If you could take away who you think you should pick – and only chose the exact bridesmaids you would want with no poilitics involved – who would that be? Write those names down, and have a long think before you add any more. Remember this: anyone who really loves and cares for you will want you to do what makes you happy. So, put the people-pleasing aside if you can. Do you want family-only? Just your group of three friends? Maybe you don’t want any bridesmaids at all. Honestly, it’s your day, so you do you. There are so many other fabulous ways to involve the people you love in your wedding day that will make them feel special.
It Doesn’t Have to Match
If you’re partner is also having a wedding party, bear in mind that you don’t have to have the same numbers. They might want five of their friends by their side while you might have three as your magic number. There is nothing to say you can’t both have exactly what you want, so no need to go scrambling to find another two bridesmaids (or bridesmen!) to make up the numbers. The days of bridesmaids and groomsmen walking down the aisle in couples are gone. We have a great post on alternatives to a traditional wedding party here!
Be Prepared for Drama
Being prepared for drama, doesn’t necessarily mean there will be any. People can really surprise you with how supportive they are of your decisions, even when you thought they might be upset. But that’s the thing, we can have a tendency to catastrophise when it comes to other people’s reactions. Saying that, it is good to have a plan if you feel you might be stepping on someone’s toes. Tell them that you would have loved to include them, as they are very special to you, but you have a limited budget, and follow that with how you would like them to be involved. They’ll know you didn’t make the decision lightly and really considered them. If they are still put out, they mightn’t have what it take to be a good bridesmaid in the first place. More on that below…
What to Look For in a Bridesmaid
The importance of surrounding yourself with the right people in the run up to, and on the day of your wedding day cannot be underestimated. Sometimes you strike gold, and your best friend doubles as an amazing deputy. But not everyone has the calming qualities you need, or is fit for delegating duties to. If you’re on the fence about a loved one in their role as a potential bridesmaid, there are some green flags to look out for. In our One Fab Day podcast episode with Dearbhla Toal and Louise Cooney, these best friends explained what they felt what made a good bridesmaid: being supportive, organised, a good timekeeper, and fun. Dearbhla knew Louise was the perfect choice saying: “She really gets me, and I think you need that in a maid of honour.” While Louise says her rule for being the best bridesmaid is simple, “be there for your bride.” Do the people on your list possess those qualities? Then you’re on to a winning formula!
Alternative Wedding Roles
Luckily, even if your loved one doesn’t make the cut as a bridesmaid, there are plenty more roles they can play on your wedding day. Delegating as much as possible is key so that you can relax before and on the day, and your best girls will be only too happy to help where they can. Whether that’s helping you shop for your dress or asking them to help put your flower moodboard together. You can also put them front and centre on the day itself, by giving them a beautiful ceremony reading or even asking them to MC the speeches. Often, people are happy to not be a bridesmaid since it comes with extra costs for them too, or they might not have the time to commit to putting their all into being a great bridesmaid!
Got any other wedding planning queries? Check out our Essential Wedding Planning Guide with over 100 articles featuring tips and tricks on everything you need to know about wedding planning or listen to our podcast below!