You’re marrying the guy of your dreams, and you couldn’t be more prepared: You know the exact dress you want, which flowers will make up your bouquet, and even who your DJ will be. But what about your bridesmaid roster? Sure, you’ve probably had a rough lineup in mind even before he popped the question, but a lot more goes into picking your bridesmaids than who looks good in pink. Follow these four steps before officially extending any bridal party invites.
Step 1: Don’t Give in to Pressure
So what if you were a bridesmaid at her wedding, or she made you promise to make her your maid of honor when you were in the fifth grade? There’s no such thing as a guaranteed spot in someone’s wedding -- yours included. (This also goes for anyone your mom or future mother-in-law would like to see added!) You and your bridesmaids will be spending a lot of time together during the planning process, and you will want your best girls prepping you to walk down the aisle on your big day. As you pick your attendants, follow your heart, but don't lose your head. If someone isn’t a good fit and you know it, don’t fill a spot to make someone else happy. Remember, it’s your day.
Step 2: Sleep on It
We know there’s no stopping you from calling the girls immediately after the big proposal -- we’re probably talking about a matter of seconds here -- but you should avoid dropping the “b” word too soon. Gush all you want about how he stumbled over his words, or dropped down on bended knee, but whatever you do, be sure the word “bridesmaid” is kept out of the conversation. If you act impulsively and make the offer too soon, you run the risk of possibly regretting it later, or committing to an arrangement that will put a damper on your wedding day (like offering the maid of honor role to your fiance’s sister instead of your best friend because it seemed like the “right thing to do”). Once you’ve slept on it, you’ll have a better idea of what you truly want. Keep in mind, while you can always ask someone to be in your wedding, kicking them out is not so easy.
Step 3: Assess Her Situation
Is your best friend already committed to be in two other weddings this year? Maybe she’s working two jobs or finishing grad school? If this sounds like one of your possible picks, believe it or not, she might be a much happier guest. Being a bridesmaid is not an easy, or cheap, job (think: dress fittings, bachelorette parties, showers, etc.). Maybe now isn't the time to ask her to buy a pricey dress and chip in for the bridal shower. Her heart may be in the right place, but her schedule or financial obligations could make joining your bridal party hard on her -- and you should be sensitive to that. The same goes for family members or close friends with small children. There are other ways to include them in a special way without asking so much of them. You still need someone to monitor the guest book and hand out programs at the ceremony, don’t you? If you’re not sure, you can always have a chat with them before extending official invitations to find out what they prefer.
Step 4: Think About the Group as a Whole
Are your close friends also friends with each other? Like it or not, you may have to break up the group in order to keep the peace at your wedding! Instead of asking two feuding friends to be bridesmaids, try assigning them other roles in the ceremony that they’ll enjoy just as much, like reading a poem or religious passage, or perhaps even performing a special song. (The same goes for relatives who are at odds or ex-coworkers who parted under bad circumstances.) Otherwise, you can’t expect two people who don’t get along any other day to magically let bygones be bygones for your wedding. It’s a nice idea, but it’s not always realistic. If they’re going to pull off events like your bachelorette party and bridal shower drama-free, your bridesmaids will need to work well together.