How do I choose my bridal party?

The wedding planner hears it all. Besides actually planning the wedding, we sometimes become the shoulder to cry on for brides.  Wedding planners usually get to know their brides pretty well that brides feel completely at ease complaining to us about a number of issues they face while planning their wedding! I've heard these complaints over and over again regarding bridal party issues:

"I'm thinking of canceling my bridal shower. I don't care anymore because my maid of honor isn't doing anything!"

"I had to plan my own bachelorette party because nobody in my bridal party wanted to plan it."

"I think my bridesmaids expect me to pay for their dresses and I simply can't afford to pay for all of their dresses."

It's so sad when I hear these things.  That's why it is so important that bridesmaids and groomsmen be made aware that they actually have a role in your wedding. There is more to being a bridesmaid and groomsman than putting on a pretty dress or nice tux on the wedding day, standing by you during the ceremony, and being in all of the bridal party photos. Here are a few of my tips:

  • Don't choose someone because you need that 4th person to even out your bridal party. It's better (and okay) to have an odd number. We can work with 3 bridesmaids and 4 groomsmen for the processional without any problems.
  • Do explain to your potential bridal party members that they will need to take an active role in wedding activities such as planning bridal showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and making speeches/toasts.
  • Do explain to your potential bridal party members that there will be a cost involved - unless you're paying for their dresses/tux, they are responsible for their attire, contributing to the bridal luncheon, and paying for part of the bachelor/bachelorette parties.  If it is a destination wedding, they may also be responsible for travel and accommodations.  Do explain that you will understand if they must decline because of financial reasons.
  • Do choose people that are important to you in your life. This should go without saying.
  • Do remember that even if bridal party members are responsible for their own attire that you'll need to budget for extra boutonnieres and bouquets. If your budget is tight, don't choose to have 8 bridesmaids. Eight bridesmaids x $100 a bouquet can add up pretty quickly.
  • Don't hesitate to "let go" of an attendant if you feel he/she is not interested in being part of the bridal party and only accepted out of obligation.

Michelle and Rob, May 2009, Photo by Denise Hoogland


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