Wedding planning can be stressful—there’s no doubt about that! And one of the earliest decisions you’ll make about your wedding is, unfortunately, one that has the potential to make your wedding a lot more stressful: choosing the wedding party. Picking the bridesmaids and groomsmen may seem like a simple task at first, but the process can be complicated on both a logistical and emotional level. What happens if people get upset that they aren’t included? Or someone joins the wedding party, only to flake at the last minute? These common dilemmas and more will be discussed in the following drama-free guide to choosing the wedding party in a way that helps make your wedding planning a little less stressful.
What You Need to Consider When Choosing Bridesmaids and Groomsmen
Choosing bridesmaids and groomsmen seems simple before you actually start planning a wedding. Most people think they’ll just choose their closest friends and be done with it—but there are a lot of important factors that need to be considered when picking the wedding party. The four most common factors are:
Family: Are there immediate siblings who expect to be asked?
If you have brothers or sisters, then they should be your first considerations for your wedding party. Some people choose to ask only adult brothers and sisters to be part of the wedding party, while asking teenage or younger siblings to be part of the wedding in a different way; it is up to you whether or not you feel your teenage brother or sister is up to the task.
Reliability: How reliable is this person?
The person you’re asking should be reliable, punctual and responsible. You don’t want someone who is going to get drunk the night before the wedding and show up nursing a massive hangover, or someone who will “forget” to book tickets for the bachelor party or who doesn’t follow up with bridesmaid dress alterations. Only pick people who you know will be reliable. You don’t want the added stress of dealing with a flaky, irresponsible wedding party member on top of the other stresses of wedding planning.
Time: Does this person have the time to be in my wedding party?
Being part of a wedding party takes up a significant amount of time, especially in the few weeks leading up to the actual wedding. Bridesmaids and groomsmen will be expected to attend dress and suit fittings, help plan and attend various events, and possibly even assist with things like creating wedding favors. You need to make sure that the people you are asking will have the time to be part of your wedding party before you ask them.
There is nothing wrong with asking someone who may be pressed for time to be part of the wedding party—but be prepared to accept a decline. You should also make your expectations for the wedding party responsibilities clear when you ask them, while leaving an out (such as “If you don’t have time, that’s perfectly okay—please, please don’t feel pressured to say yes!”) in case they feel pressured to say yes despite not having time.
Budget: Can this person afford to be in my wedding party?
Being a bridesmaid or groomsmen can be expensive, so carefully consider the costs associated with being in your wedding party before you ask someone on a tight budget. Will they be expected to buy their own suit or dress? Who will be paying for hair/makeup? Will they need to pay money for the bachelor/bachelorette party and other events? Again, you can still ask someone on a budget to be part of the wedding party—but you need to make the expectations regarding expense clear and leave them an out.
What to Do When Feelings Get Hurt
It’s unfortunate but true: no matter how careful you are with your wedding planning and wedding party choices, dilemmas and problems will occur. The most common problem that you will face when choosing your wedding party is dealing with the people who weren’t chosen. It is inevitable that feelings will be hurt no matter who you do/don’t invite to be part of your wedding party. Wedding parties simply can’t be big enough to invite everyone who wanted or expected to be included.
In cases where you need to let someone know that they won’t be part of the wedding party—or where you’ve discovered that their feelings were hurt by being left out—you need to have a gentle discussion with them to help soothe their feelings.
First, never tell them that you didn’t choose them because you aren’t close or because you’re closer with the people in the wedding party—this never ends well and will only hurt their feelings more. If you do have to give a reason why other people were chosen, emphasize things such as budget concerns, literal distance (such as “they live right next door”) as well as concerns about organization and other wedding essentials.
Next, if possible, you can help soothe hurt feelings by offering that person a different role in the wedding in the guise of praising them for their personal characteristics. For example, telling someone that you didn’t choose as part of your bridal party that you would instead be honored if they would welcome guests to the wedding and handle the wedding guest sign-in due to their exceptionally bright personality and people skills can do wonders with smoothing over hurt feelings. Just remember to never phrase this type of request as a consolation prize—“I know you can’t be a bridesmaid, but you can help people sign in!” will be viewed as patronizing and likely taken negatively.
Choosing a wedding party is one of the most difficult decisions that you’ll make in the earliest stages of your wedding. However, when you take the time to carefully plan out who you will choose while also making sure to smooth over hurt feelings, you will find that your wedding party can help take some of that age-old wedding planning stress off your shoulders. A good wedding party will lift you up, support you and be there for you from your engagement all the way to those final “I dos” at your wedding.