How to choose bridesmaids
The tradition of having bridesmaids began as a way of protecting the bride from evil spirits, and I don’t mean Sambuca. The bridesmaids would dress like the bride to confuse the evil spirits who may want to harm the bride, and in ancient Rome the Groomsmen would accompany the bride and not the groom in order to protect her dowry. These days your bridesmaid don’t have to protect you from evil or thieves, but they still have a role to play in helping and supporting the bride so when it comes to it, what do you need to consider when you are thinking about how to choose bridesmaids?
Duties of the bridesmaids
When thinking about how to choose bridesmaids, you may want to think about why you choose bridesmaids. The responsibilities of the bridesmaids are primarily to be there for the bride and to support her. In many cases bridesmaids will arrange the hen or bachelorette party, they will be with the bride on the morning she gets married and help her to get ready, trying to keep the nerves at bay in the process. A bride may also ask her chief bridesmaid or maid of honour to be a witness and sign the register. But bridesmaids can be so much more than that. It is important to discuss with your ‘maids, what you want them to help you with and how. When planning your wedding your bridesmaids can be invaluable. Many brides take bridesmaids along when choosing their dress for that all important second opinion. Your bridesmaid can help with the planning of your wedding, run errands, be there to listen when things aren’t going right or you are feeling stressed, help make things if you are having a DIY wedding and just generally be there for you thoughtout the process.
Readings and speeches
You may want to give your chief bridesmaid or maid of honour a little more responsibility and involve her in the ceremony. It is becoming increasingly common for bridesmaids to do a reading during the ceremony or to make a speech. Bridesmaids may want to talk about your friendship and how important you are for each other and the support you give. After all, if she is your best friend she now has to share you! No pressure bridesmaids out there but this is amazing! Do you think about who can rap when you think about how to choose bridesmaids? I know I may in the future!
Children in the wedding party
In some cultures the tradition is and has been, to only have children as bridesmaids, which does look very cute when it comes to the photos, but you will need to think about whether they will get down the aisle unaccompanied! When Princess Diana married Prince Charles she had five bridesmaids, the eldest being only 17 at the time. In modern western cultures the role of bridesmaids, who may help and support the bride has been separated from the role of the younger bridesmaids, or flower girls who may to scatter flowers whilst walking down the aisle.
Who pays for the bridesmaids dresses?
This is perhaps a discussion for early on. Many years ago the bridesmaids paid for their own dresses as it was a privilege to be part of the wedding party. In the past the tradition has been for the father of the bride to pay for the wedding, bridesmaid dresses including but it is increasingly common for the couple to pay for much if not all of their wedding and so paying for bridesmaids is a little more complicated, remember it isn’t just dresses, there is hair, make up, shoes, jewellery… the list goes on.
It is more common for the bridesmaids to pay for their own dresses in America than it is in the UK and some people may consider it rude to ask a bridesmaid to pay for her own dress. Wedding etiquette says that if you are dictating what the bridesmaids should wear then you should pay, if you are requesting them to wear a style or particular colour then it is seen as more acceptable for them to contribute. Perhaps rather than traditional dresses they could wear something from places like Coast and then they would be able to wear them again so wouldn’t mind buying their own dresses.
The same goes for hair and make-up, if you are having a make-up artist and hair dresser come and are dictating how they look, the bill should be yours to pay.
To be honest there is no right or wrong answer and different websites and blogs will tell you different things. But remember, these are your friends and if you are struggling with your budget they will understand if you asked them to help you out but at the same time, you may need to be aware if you have a friend who you would like to be in your wedding party who is struggling financially.
Buying gifts for bridesmaids is a way of thanking them. Thanking them for being there, for helping you, for supporting you if/when you were so stressed you had a bridezilla moment, for being wonderful and for being on #teambride! A small item of jewellery that they can wear down the aisle is always a nice idea but Etsy UK have some great less traditional ideas.
How many bridesmaids
Before thinking about how to choose bridesmaids you may want to think about how many. The number of bridesmaids is entirely up to you. You may choose not to have any and that’s totally fine, you may choose to have 10 and that’s fine too, but there are somethings you need to think about.
Will it be like herding cats? My sister and I have three children each and my goodness trying to get them together for a photo can take all flipping afternoon! The teenagers have to go to the bathroom to check their hair and make up so the boys get fed up and go and play and then when the teenagers get back the baby girls need the toilet! Hopefully your bridesmaids won’t be too bad…or will they? Checking hair and make-up…passing the bar on the way back…’oooo is that tequila?!’…and there you lose them!
If you are paying for dresses, hair, make up, shoes, gifts, the more bridesmaids you have the more expensive it will be. Make sure you factor this into your budget.
Will it be personal? If you have too many bridesmaids will it still feel personal and will you be calm and relaxed when getting ready, would you rather just have a couple of very close friends?
How big is your wedding and does it matter. Again a lot of sites and blogs talk about the number of bridesmaids you have in relation to the number of guest. I have been a bridesmaid twice where the number of bridesmaids was large in comparison to the number of guests. My sister had 8 bridesmaids and no one batted an eyelid. It didn’t matter and it didn’t look strange or uncomfortable. It’s all about who you want.
How to choose bridesmaids
Many websites and blogs will tell you to consider choosing someone responsible and someone you trust. If they are going to help you plan and run errands, they have to be trustworthy and reliable, otherwise you will only worry but you may not want them to help you plan anything so don’t think this must be your number one consideration. I chose my sister who was heavily pregnant and my best friend who has just had a baby and neither one of them had the time or the head space to help me plan anything, but they were my closest friends and I wanted them to be there with me. To me, that was most important.
It doesn’t have to be a woman, many couples are including a member of the opposite sex in their party, bridesmen and best women. It’s about having people with you that you want rather than sticking with tradition. Choosing bridesmaids is a very personal thing and no one should tell you what’s right or wrong.
How long have you known them? That new friend from work may be fun and great to be around. She may have become a close friend but will she still be there for you in a year’s time? You don’t want to be looking through your wedding photos on your wedding anniversary asking ‘Does anyone remember Liz?!
Thinking about how long you have known them, sisters and future sister in laws. People may expect you to ask your sisters. You may not be that close to your sister and may not want her in the wedding party but you might need to think politics on this one I’m afraid. Same goes for the in law. I am a big believer in your wedding day being your day but some battles might not be worth the stress.
And finally when thinking about how to choose bridesmaids, don’t think you have to ask someone just because they asked you.
So who’s on your #teambride?