One of the most exciting decisions to make after you get engaged is who will help you walk down the aisle. Your bridal party are your ride-or-dies, your emotional support system when the stress of wedding planning gets too much, your extra pairs of hands, and the people who will make you feel amazing on the morning of one of the most important days of your life. Choosing who to include in the bridal party is a big decision. But it’s also a great way to honour lifelong friendships and strengthen family bonds. And of course, a stylish bridesquad looks amazing in photos – especially when you all have your hair and makeup done by a pro.
But when is the right time to ask your bridal party? You may want to do it the minute that the ring is on your finger, but it’s always a good idea to take some time to consider your options. Remember: once you’ve made the offer, there’s no going back! Relationships can change, so if you’re having a long engagement or haven’t finalised your budget, it’s best to hold off until you have all your ducks in a row. At the same time, it’s important to give your bridal party time to get their outfits, plan the hen night, and book any time off work. Eight months to a year is the ideal amount of time.
But what else do you need to take into account when choosing your bridal party?
Consider your budget. So many decisions flow from your budget, so it’s important to get this finalised as soon as possible after getting engaged. You’ll need to budget for your bridesmaids’ and groomsmen’s outfits, gifts, and grooming. You may also choose to cover their accommodation, especially if it’s a destination wedding. So consider how big of a bridal party you can afford. If you’re having a small wedding, you may also want to keep the bridal party small (unless you don’t mind half your guests standing up at the altar with you!). Once you’ve decided on a maximum number, stick to it.
Start with the obvious choices. Some members of your bridal party will be a given. For example, if you have siblings you want to include (or your fiancé does). Make a list of the people you’re closest to and exclude anyone you no longer see or communicate with regularly, even if you have a long history. Don’t ask someone just because they asked you. Remember, you can always include friends and family in your wedding in other ways. These days, gender isn’t a factor either – the most important thing is to surround yourself with your favourite people on your big day.
How reliable/available are they? Being a bridesmaid is a major commitment, and you can be called on to help out in a number of ways, from DIY to duties like planning the hen night or bridal shower. You’ll need to know you can count on your bridal party. Think about their reliability as well as their availability. For example, a new mum might feel relief at not having to take on additional responsibilities at what’s already an exhausting time. Whoever you choose, be sure to communicate your expectations clearly – and be reasonable in your demands, of course!
Consider the dynamics. A bridal party is a mix of personalities, but the last thing you want on your big day is unnecessary drama. Think about how everyone in the group will get along and if there are any potential major clashes. You want the atmosphere on the day (and at pre-wedding events) to be positive and joyful, not strained and stressful. If there’s no way to make it work, remember there’s always the option of not having a bridal party at all.
Communicate clearly and take feelings into account. If you choose not to include someone in your bridal party, there may be hurt feelings. The easiest way to prepare for this is to talk to them honestly, let them know how much your relationship means to you, and explain that your decision is based on budget, limits on numbers, etc. Be sure to include these friends and family members both on the day and in the preparations beforehand.
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