How to Choose Your Bridal Party

It can be a tough decision – we'll try to make it easier!

Find out how to go about choosing the members of your bridal party – and get advice on when to start asking your nearest and dearest.

Photo: River Medlock Photography

We're approaching the holiday season, which also means engagement season is upon us. If you are recently engaged, you are probably bursting with excitement as you get ready to plan your wedding. While you go Pinterest-crazy, there is one aspect of planning that you should not rush: selecting your bridesmaids.

If your friends are pressuring you for answers, you can say you want to figure out where the wedding will be first, or even say you're waiting for your fiancé to finalize their attendant choices. Once you ask, you can't take it back, so think this through. We know this can be a difficult decision, so we have put together a list of tips to help you figure out who should stand beside you on your big day. 

bride and bridesmaids with champagne, bridesmaids in off-the-shoulder black gown, maid of honor in black velvet dress, how to choose your bridal party

Photo by Samuel Lippke Studios; Planning & Design by Geller Events

- Default to family. If you have a sister, it is probably easiest to make her the maid of honor, as your friends will understand.
- Feel free to double up. However, it's totally acceptable to have two maids of honor, or both a maid and matron of honor. Don't be afraid to have a man of honor either, if you want your brother or close friend beside you.
- Choose deliberately. Remember that your maid of honor should be responsible, as well as have a close relationship to you. At a minimum, she will be expected to give a toast at the reception.
- Reach across the aisle. It can be a nice gesture to include your future spouse's sister as a bridesmaid, but do not feel obligated, especially if you're not close. She can always be a groomsmaid.
- Determine the size. Discuss with your partner regarding how many people should be in the wedding party. One of you may have strong opinions about size or symmetry.
- Let people make their own choice. Don't not ask someone to be a bridesmaid just because you don't think she can afford it. Make your expectations clear and make it easy for someone to say no, but not even giving them the option is probably just going to lead to hurt feelings.
- Reciprocation is not required. It's okay to not ask a friend even if you were in their wedding, especially if she had a much bigger bridal party than you did.
- Consider friendship history. It’s probably best not to choose your brand new bestie who you've known less than a year (i.e. a best work friend) as you might not even be close by the time the wedding occurs. The same goes for an old friend with whom you seem to be growing apart. Don't use your wedding to try and mend the friendship.
- Don't worry about distance. Feel free to ask friends who live far away, but manage your expectations on how much they will be able to participate in pre-wedding events and planning.
- Supportive 'maids only. Don't choose a friend who doesn't support your relationship.
- When in doubt, don't. If you're unsure about whether to ask someone to be a bridesmaid, don't. Better to keep it simple than for it to blow up in your face later.