Ideas for How to Choose a Bridal Party

choosing your wedding party


The ideal wedding party should look something like a group photo of the people who are nearest and dearest to you. Family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers are the most common attendants, but this is not necessarily the case for everyone. We understand deciding who to include in your bridal party is not so simple, and we’re here to help. Follow our tips and you’ll live happily ever after…well, at least happily through the wedding planning process!

Behind Every Great Bride is a Great Bridesmaid!



Dependability is the most important characteristic of the best bridesmaid. A bridesmaid or maid of honor who forgets to show up for fittings, ignores your phone calls, and drags on the planning process is more than likely not the best choice. You’re probably thinking, “Isn’t that obvious?” but think about the candidates in your life for a moment. We all have friends who are close to us yet are careless and irresponsible. Do you want them involved in something as important as your wedding? Don’t worry though; those who have been there for you in the past and truly care about you will step up to help ensure that your wedding day is everything you imagined. Do your best to choose those that are reliable and play a big role in your life.

Be realistic and look into your past. As soon as the wedding is announced, relatives, old friends, and the like will come out of the woodwork to offer help, but not everyone will manage to follow through. Who came through for you before the wedding announcement? Who is closest to you now, and which of these women are most likely to be in your life in 10 years? Choose the ladies fitting this bill.

Unfortunately, many brides feel obligated to include family members in their bridal party because of tradition or pressure from family, but if they are not a part of your life, then maybe they have no place in your bridal party either. Be careful! There may be relatives who assume that they’re going to be in the wedding party and may feel stiffed without an invite. To save yourself some grief, it could be wise to give these relatives a more minor role in the wedding as an offering of appeasement. They could hand out wedding programs or bubbles or can oversee the wedding guest book at the reception. If they’re happy, you’ll be happier.

Groomsmen – Who Makes the Cut?

groomsmen photos



No matter what your family or friends say, there aren’t people who must be in the wedding party. You’ll want to choose the guys who are closest (same as the ladies) to you and have been there for you; not those you feel obligated to ask. Remember that some friendships are fleeting, so choose the people who have been with you through the good and bad times, not some guy, who seems cool, that you met down at the pub a couple weeks ago! Whether he’s a blood relative or close friend, when your wedding day arrives, you’ll be glad that you picked a trustworthy, deserving friend for your wedding party. These men care about you, and want to see you happy, so chances are they will do everything they can to ensure your wedding goes off without a hitch.

Now, let’s face it guys, we don’t know much about weddings, and neither will your friends. Make sure they know exactly what’s expected of them before they commit to being a groomsman because there’s much more to a wedding then attending the reception party and sitting in the front. The men in the bridal party cover their own travel and accommodations (unless it’s a destination wedding – in this case the bride and groom pay the lodging), attend the rehearsal and dinner, show up for tuxedo fittings, and rent one. In addition to these responsibilities, reliability (again – just like the gals) is absolutely key to choosing the best attendants. These “wise-guys” will be responsible for taking charge of everything from the marriage license to the ring. Although we all wish it were, the planning is not solely on the ladies! Your best man may not know that he’s responsible for the ring during the ceremony, so when you turn to him, and he doesn’t know what’s going on, you may wish you had talked to him before the ceremony.

Keep in mind that a lot of money and effort are being spent on one of the biggest days of your life, and you and your wife will look back on it forever. You don’t want your drunken frat buddies or creepy cousin winking at the maid of honor during the vows, or half of your bridal party showing up late to your wedding ceremony hung over! Your groomsmen / ushers are your ambassadors; don’t let them misrepresent you. If there’s any doubt about your bud, you probably shouldn’t ask him. If you and your bride follow these tips – and your hearts – we can guarantee STRESS-LESS wedding planning!

The Golden Rules of Bridal Party Selection

  1. Yes, there is such a thing as a male bridesmaid! Mixed gender attendants are perfectly acceptable. Brides are asking brothers to stand up for them; grooms are asking sisters. Their titles can simply be honor attendants. However, they should dress according to their sex. No women in tuxedos or vice versa.
  2. It is fine to have an uneven number of attendants in the wedding party, more girls than guys, or more guys than girls. Try not to have numbers that are too unbalanced. If an attendant drops put for some reason, please don’t try to replace them, it’s insulting to the new attendant to be second choice.
  3. Being asked to be in a wedding is not a socially reciprocal event. You are not obligated to ask someone to be your bridesmaid simply because she asked you to be one.
  4. Junior bridesmaids are young ladies age 12 to 15 years who can’t carry the responsibility of being a full attendant. They are part of the wedding party and need to be treated accordingly without dressing them up like miniature adults (Please, no strapless dresses or gowns slit up the sides).
  5. Flower girls and ring bearers are 4 to 6 years old. Children three and under, though adorable, are typically not able to cope with all those wedding expectations. Consider the size and maturity of the child before asking – and remember- children of this age can be fickle. Be prepared for the unexpected and be willing to find humor in behaviour that’s less than perfect.
  6. Brides – please be kind to the bridesmaids. This means asking, not demanding; choosing gowns that flatter every size, and consideration of expense and budget limitations. And, just becuse the word “maid” appears in bridesmaid, don’t treat your attendants like slaves. Remember, these are the people you most care about so treat them well.
deciding on the bridal party


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  1. Lisa

    I am getting married. My brother is married. He and his wife both have a child from previous realtionship. Is it ok that I asked my niece to be a flower girl but not his wife’s son? His wife is furious with me and won’t speak to me because she said I am not helping blend their family and there is too much competion between the kids. I need input please.

  2. Yvonne Kelly

    That is a tough one. While you can invite anyone you want to be in your wedding party, I can also understand how this might present a dilemma in your brother’s family as they’re probably working hard to blend their family and could see this as an opportunity to level the playing field for the kids and also welcome your stepnephew into the family. Having said that, I think your brother’s wife isn’t handling this in a way that will minizime the impact on the kids, but will likely make it worse, if in fact the kids are picking up on her discontent. It’s a situation that could be handled well both ways, although that would take everyone being willing to present it in a favorable light and it already looks like it is too late on the other side. If you had asked me before you had made a decision, I would have suggested that if you were open to this possibility of involving your new nephew, it would be a wonderful way of including him and thereby helping them to blend their family. However, if you are choosing your brother’s daughter and other kids are not being chosen because you want/need to limit the size of the bridal party, then the boy is not the only one not being included. Hopefully your brother and his wife would see that explaining it that way to the kids would be in their best interest. But it may be too late for that.

    It really depends on how important this is to you to do it the way you had originally wanted. There’s just no question that it will strain some familial relationships and you need to be aware of that. These are sometimes consequences of our decisions, even if we didn’t mean any harm. I would consider what you want for your wedding and choose what might be best for everyone involved, then you may have your answer.

    I can understand you might be angry with your sister-in-law for her response and maybe even feel pressured into doing things their way, especially if you hadn’t seen this coming or fully realized how this might impact on their family. You can let her know that you had no intention of causing a problem. Remember too that new steparents are also under a lot of strain and don’t appreciate that their decisions to blend their families put a bit of a demand on everyone else in the family. I often have to remind them that other people are just living their lives and that everything extended family do is not necessarily about supporitng or sabotaging their chances as a blended family.

    We can always re-think our decisions based on what is best in the short and long-term overall. It’s not an admission of being wrong if you change your mind, but a strength to be able open yourself to other options and reconsider the decision now that you have all of the information.

  3. Rebecca

    Of course you may invite anyone to be a part of your bridal party. It is your decision. But, since there are just the two children, it would have been better to try to find something for both of them to do. Your niece could be your flower girl and the boy could do something else entirely. However, they should be the correct age for the position. The perfect age for a flower girl or ring bearer is six to eight years old.

  4. Alyssa Johnson

    Hi Lisa,

    I have to agree with the posts already offered, but want to add one extra option. I’m sure the last thing you want to worry about on your wedding day is people being mad at you. I don’t know what your relationship with your sister-in-law was like before this situation.

    I’d play what I call the “naive card.” If you honestly hadn’t considered this would be a problem, tell her. I don’t believe your intention was to purposely not include her son or be the cause of competition. I’m guessing you just didn’t think about him as part of the family, but he is.

    Depending on how strongly you feel about the situation, it might be a good idea to be creative and think about some way you might be able to include him. It may be as simple as handing the pen to guests to sign the wedding book. Depending on his age, that may be something one of his parents might need to assist with which might make mom feel more included too. If you’re open to this idea, it might be helpful during your above conversation with his mom, you could always ask her if she has any suggestions to offer on things he could do. Ultimately YOU will be the one to make the decision, but she might have a helpful idea.

    I hope this helps and decreases your stress before your big day!

  5. Marie

    Have been engaged for 2 years and getting married in another 7 months. Did not set the date for the wedding until last March 2009, but had selected maid of honor and Bestman (summer ’08). I was not sure if I wanted a larger wedding party, nor wanted to ask more people until we had a date. Since the summer of ’08 my brother had been making off-handed comments such as “I better be in the wedding”. I usually just ignored him because I thought it was completely rude, not my decision, and not necessarilly having more people. Anyway, it got worse. I decided to have a total of 5 girls and before my fiance even chose his people,my brother approached him and said, “If I’m not in the wedding, I’m not coming”. It continued all summer, with him moping around, being grumpy, taking behind our backs, until he finally confronted me. I told him his approach was not appreciated and people usually wait to be asked to be in the party, rather than making threats and ultimatums. I need an outside perspective, please help! At this point I want him to just disappear!

  6. donna

    Please post questions on Top Wedding Questions. You should be careful about what you post online, though. Your information seems sensitive.

  7. Alison

    I am newly engaged and planning a wedding for two years away. I am already dreading one thing: the bridal party. I would like to ask people early to get the pressure out of the way and let the fun planning begin, but I have a hard decision to make. I have five very close friends of 10+ years that I am fairly set on having as bridesmaids/maid of honor. However, I have two sister in laws by marriage and two nieces, all of whom I am extremely close with. They have also been in my family for 10+ years, so they are not new entrants to my family. I know I can’t include everyone in the bridal party (wedding will probably be 300 people) but who do I choose? Is it okay to choose my friends and nieces while asking my sister in laws to do a reading or something of that sort? Should I include them all? Or should I include the sister in laws, not the nieces, and drop out two friends? Torn, please help!

  8. Top Wedding Sites

    Hi Allison – I think you’ll find your answer on How to Choose a Bridesmaid.
    But, the first thing you’ll need to do is decide on the formality of the wedding which will determine how many bridesmaids you’ll need. But you should wait until it gets closer to the wedding to choose since relationships may change. You have plenty of time. Relax and enjoy the ride.

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