Choosing your bridal party is one of the exciting first steps to wedding planning – asking your best friends to be part of the lead up and celebration of your big day. You have probably thought about who your bridesmaids and groomsmen will be already – possibly prior to getting engaged, but there are a lot of things to consider before you choose your bridal party – and it’s a difficult decision to undo.
I hope that following this short guide, you can choose wedding parties you can lean on, that you can cry to when planning’s not going perfectly; that will tell you to put down the hot-glue gun while pouring you a glass of wine (and hopefully finish off your centrepieces); make you laugh and snap you back to reality; have a fun night out on your hen’s; tidy your veil for the ceremony and fix your lippy for photos; and take you aside for 10 minutes on the day and tell you how beautiful you look and how happy they are there for you. You probably instinctively know who they are, but having a read through this might make or break your decision.
How to choose your bridal party
When considering who to ask as your bridesmaids and groomsmen (or bridesmen and groomsmaids), first consider what roles your bridal party will have have to help with:
- Helping you to plan your engagement party – will at least one of them be organised, helpful and responsible?
- Attending and helping you to shop for your wedding dress – able to be honest and help you look the best you can on your Wedding Day, not to mention be accommodating with your choice of bridesmaids dresses.
- Getting creative with you to craft or help with DIY wedding projects – will they going to have the time and want to do so?
- Plan your pre-wedding parties – a bridal shower and/or bachelorette party -and make sure you get home in one piece.
- Getting on with one another, possibly following instructions from the maid of honour – if they are not going to get on well with the other bridesmaids, your family members, the groomsmen or even the Groom, perhaps rethink your team.
- Keeping you company the night before your Wedding Day and ease any last-minute jitters before you walk down the aisle.
- Getting ready on your Wedding Day – will they calm you down or stress you out?
- Making a kind and thoughtful speech – can they speak publicly and refrain from embarrassing you?
- On-the-day roles including encouraging guests to sign the guest book; ordering family into photos; and tending to stray flower girls and page boys (and possibly groomsmen)
- Appearing in your Wedding Photos – and therefore possibly appear on your living-room wall for the next 60 years – will you still be friends?
It might sound harsh, but being a bridesmaid does come with responsibilities – and expenses. If your friend is swamped with work and can barely come out at the weekend for brunch, they probably won’t have time to help with your wedding – which is, after all, the point. If you already know they’re on a tight budget, it may be difficult for them to contribute to planning some of the wedding events, or purchasing items for your wedding, so when you choose your bridal party, think about whether your friends really can commit.
How large a bridal party can you afford on your wedding budget?
Like most things, the number of girls and guys you choose for your bridal party will affect your wedding budget. The more Bridesmaids and Groomsmen you have, the higher the cost.
Traditionally, Bridesmaids have been responsible for all the costs of their own attire and accessories; organising the bachelorette party; gift for the couple and a gift for the Bride. The Bride traditionally covers the cost of each Bridesmaid’s bouquet; transportation to the ceremony and reception; a thank-you gift; and hair and make-up if the Bride requires it to be professionally done. If that is the case, Brides ought to be prepared to spend at least $100 on each Bridesmaid’s bouquet, and around another $100+ on a gift.
Alternatively, Brides may choose to pay for their Bridesmaids’ outfits in lieu of an expensive gift, but the costs add up either way. Choosing someone to be in your bridal party really shouldn’t be asking for a significant financial contribution to your big day. See also What should your bridesmaids pay for and keep this in mind when you decide on who to choose. The average cost of a Bridesmaid is apparently up to $1,700. so if you are on a tight budget, you may wish to just have one bridesmaid or groomsman.
P.s. I love this article on Why Bridal Musings’ Editor Claire didn’t have a bridal party!
Do you need to choose your bridal party to be an even number on each side?
Bridesmaids and Groomsmen do not need to be in even numbers. Isn’t that a strange tradition, that Bride and Groom must have the same number of close friends to stand next to them on the day? Traditionally, the Groomsmen’s job was to help the Groom kidnap the Bride, apparently… but that’s another story.
Don’t worry about having even numbers in the photos or at the Ceremony line-up, instead choose your bridal party based on those you really want to be a part of your big day – and ideally, people who you truly want to be a part of the rest of your lives. Seeking to even up numbers is likely to make you ask people you wouldn’t otherwise
It’s also becoming increasingly common to have both genders on both sides – because as if men and women can’t be friends!?
Who should you avoid choosing to be part of your bridal party?
I suggest you avoid asking anyone to be part of your bridal party just to be polite, for instance the friend from school who asked you to be a bridesmaid for her wedding – if that’s the only reason why. We’re all grown ups now, we don’t need to return the favour on choosing our bridesmaids. Each of us has a different set of circumstances and a different group of close friends, close sisters, a large circles of friends; etc – just because you made someone else’s ‘inner circle’ does not entitle that someone to be within yours.
As above, due to the cost and time commitment which may be expected, you should avoid choosing anyone to be part of your bridal party who can’t afford the commitment – either financially or in time – or be prepared for them to graciously decline.
How to discuss your bridal party with your fiancé
If you’re still having trouble, talk through with your partner and get back to your wedding priorities:
- Who would you choose for each other – who are really your closest friends?
- Would you like to include each other’s siblings?
- What do you expect your bridal party to help each of you with?
- How large would your bridal party be ideally, esp. relative to your entire wedding guest list?
- Will those you’re considering still be your closest friends in 5-10 years?
- Can you afford to purchase everything for your bridal party, or will those you’re choosing be able and happy to contribute?
Once you have chosen your bridal party, here are some creative ways to ‘Propose’ to your bridesmaids – aka “Will you be my Bridesmaid”.