How to Choose Your Bridesmaids {& Bridal Party}

Hello all! I am sooo excited to share this blog post in hopes that I help OR touch many other bride-to-be’s and maybe even some other women who may simply be struggling in the girlfriend department.   Whether you’re single, already married, or engaged and planning a wedding, who you choose as you bridal party or even just as your friends is a BIG DEAL!  Ok here it goes…

I’m a girl’s girl.  I believe strongly in women loving, supporting and empowering each other…

Let me start by saying I am a girl’s girl.  I have always said that a girl who has no girlfriends and “only gets along with the guys because they don’t have any drama” is a red flag.  I also feel that a girl who has new girlfriends every year rather than keeping and investing in any previous friendships raises some eyebrows as well.  I believe that as women, we need other women friends.  Sometimes the men in our lives just don’t “get” certain things. And I love to support and promote women to be the happiest and the best version of themselves.  That’s a lot of the meaning behind my Southern Jewlz company.  Jewl: a self motivated woman who believes in empowering, complimenting and encouraging other women.

My personal bridal party story…

So here is my personal bridesmaid and bridal party story.  Grant proposed to me on December 4, 2015 and we set our wedding date for February 4, 2017.  (Fun fact: we dated for 14 months and were also engaged for exactly 14 months)  Even with a long engagement, I waited to ask my bridal party.  I did not send out my bridesmaid gift boxes until the middle of July 2016 and my house party gifts went out shortly after.  And here’s why…

First off, I was in 6 weddings within a year and a half of mine and Grant’s wedding.  Besides the fact that I was fully engulfed in running my store front boutique and online warehouse at Southern Jewlz, I was also a dedicated bridesmaid and even a maid of honor twice during this time of my engagement and wedding planning process.  I took the time since I had a 14 month engagement to let the friends of mine who were getting married sooner than me have the time to officially ask their bridal party and have their own glorified time.  My bridal party members were all asked with 6-7 months time before our wedding.  (Due to things like scheduling showers, a bachelorette party and purchasing bridesmaids dress, you need to allow at least few months notice before the wedding)  But the real reason I waited was to be sure to come off of the emotional “high” of becoming engaged.  I wanted plenty of time to think more logically rather than emotionally on who to choose for my bridal party.  Why?  Because to me this was serious business.  Very serious.

I already take my friendships very serious as well as the company I keep, so asking not only the RIGHT friends to stand by me, but also the RIGHT AMOUNT of friends was a very big decision for me!  Just like when I said I’m a girl’s girl, I do have a lot of girlfriends.  There are many women that I am proud to call friends and that I adore so very much who were only guests at my wedding.  So picking an amount of friends that would be feasible was the first decision I had to make.  Now not always do your bridesmaid numbers need to match up with your finance’s groomsmen numbers, however some people do prefer this.  And the same can apply for your house party and ushers.  So if even numbers are important to you, then talking thoroughly with your fiancé on the number of guys he will have stand in the wedding can be very crucial to your decision.  So we started with Grant and he had 10 groomsmen he wanted to ask.  Now I don’t personally think there is anything wrong with having 10+ bridesmaids, however I preferred a little smaller number like 8 for both space at our venue, for picture sake, and to still be able to ask my house party attendants.  Sometimes the super large bridal parties can be overwhelming in situations like getting ready, communication, pictures and unfortunately, it can also allow for a larger chance of girls within the bridal party that either don’t like each other as well as even more people to have to communicate with and plan for on YOUR big day.  Sometimes I can equate the communication and coordination of friends from different locations with different personalities to herding cats lol.  Because I’m not used to having all of my friends altogether at the same place very often.  And for me, a smaller amount to herd was more feasible both in my planning process and for the day of.  There are a handful of other girls that I very strongly considered asking because of the love and support they have shown to both Grant and I, however when I decided that I didn’t want 14+ bridesmaids, a line just had to be drawn. Realizing there are friends you have that fit the caliber to be in your bridal party, but being past the personal max limit you set for yourself can be hard (I mean I invited I believe 32 friends to my bachelorette party), but if those girls (or guys) are you real friends, they will be happy to simply be in attendance on your wedding day.  Do not feel that you have to over extend or ask every one of your friends.  So in my mind, I believe the first important step is figuring out just how big you want your bridal party to be.

So when I was wanting to stick more towards 8 and Grant had started at wanting 10 groomsmen, we looked at cutting 2 groomsmen and making them ushers.  The issue was 2 of Grant’s groomsmen were my guys – my younger brother Jacob and one of my very dear college and lifelong friends, James Dunklin.  All of my bridesmaids were my friends.  Grant is an only child and I was the only girl in between two brothers growing up (however I do have the most beautiful and incredible SIL who stood in my House Party).  So we decided it wasn’t fair for him to have to adjust down since he technically also had 8 of his friends listed as groomsmen, so we decided to make Dunklin a Bride’s Gentleman on my side and keep Jacob as a groomsman on Grant’s side.  We set it to where Jacob and Dunklin seated my family members and then stood on each respective side during the ceremony, and then escorted my family members once the ceremony was over to alleviate the two guys having to walk together down the aisle.  So there that dilemma was fixed and we technically each had 9 attendants stand on our each of our sides during the ceremony.

As you’ll see in some of my pictures, there are a few with as many as 13 (as well as the cutest little flower girl, too).  This is because I chose to have 4 House Party girls.  Now one of my House Party girls had never even heard of this term and didn’t even know what it meant.  A House Party is a great way to include more of your friends and/or family members in your bridal party without having a ginormous amount of bridesmaids.  Traditionally House Party members would take on wedding day tasks such as passing out programs, cutting and serving the cake, and they also help out and attend the bachelorette party and bridal showers.  I chose for my 4 house party girls to get ready with the rest of the bridesmaids that day as far as hair and makeup went.  I also asked them to walk down the aisle carrying bouquets and had them sit front row with my immediate family during the ceremony.   And why did I do that?  Well first off, the venue where we got married already covered all of the traditional house party roles.  But honestly, I didn’t like having to split bridesmaids from house party as I loved all my girlfriends so much.  I didn’t want my house party to feel second rate or left out.  So I had my 8 bridesmaids wear an assortment of blush dresses, while my house party girls all wore the same style and color dress that could be tied and styled versatile ways.  So my 8 bridesmaids, my 1 bride’s gentleman, my 4 house party ladies and my adorable little flower girl completed my bridal party.

The bridal party you envision at a young age like 18 is likely to not be the bridal party on your wedding day…

Now I got married at the age of 29, so I had grown and evolved through many stages of life as well as friends at this point.  The bridal party I would have envisioned for myself  years ago didn’t align with the bridal party I chose for my wedding day.  There were people over the years that I thought would be in my bridal party, however they were not.   And there’s one main contributing factor I can say has to do with this – and that is Grant.  For Grant and I have still not yet known each other yet 3 years as I type this blog (We’ve known each other 2 years and 8 months and have been marries for almost 2 months).  Now why does this matter?  Because asking someone to stand by your side on your wedding day also means you are asking them to stand beside your relationship, the man you chose (are choosing) to marry as well as your marriage.  When it came to mine and Grant’s relationship, there were some friends in my life who played and continue to play a more influential and active role than others.  And that’s ok!  There have been multiple weddings where I have stood as a bridesmaid, yet I did not ask those same friends to stand in my wedding.  Some of them didn’t even get invited to my wedding because our guest list was so small.  And I have by no means had any “falling-out’s” with these friends, but either time, distance or other relationships came in between us.  I still and am proud to call those ladies my friends, however we either grew apart, or else they had not really met Grant (and I mean like really, really met him) or spent much time around us as a couple.  So I chose the group of friends that I felt had supported me through some of my most pivotal times of life, had proven to be a true and loyal friend over the years and those who had taken the time to get to know Grant and well as mine and Grant’s relationship together.  So if you are only planning on asking somebody to stand in your wedding because you feel “obligated” or because you stood in their wedding, please know there is no such rule.

If she is going to cause you grief, strongly think about leaving her out…

Now that leads into my next point I want to talk about.  If there is someone you feel is going to cause trouble or heartache to you as a bridal party member, let me just say you should re-think asking her to be in your bridal party.  And when I say re-think, I mean think about hypothetical situations, because if you have someone who will not react well, then it’s better to just leave them out.  Whether she is going to cause an issue with another one of your friends, have an issue as far as upholding bridesmaid duties, and especially if she has an issue with you and/or your future husband – my advice would be to NOT ask her.  However I know some situations may not be that easy.  So I will again say take your time, re-think your decision and if there is some reason that you still “must” ask her, try to talk to her and handle whatever situation you may be worried about her causing from the very beginning before any issue happens or becomes bigger than it needs to be.

Being engaged, planning a wedding and getting married are all a huge part someone’s life.  So be sure the friends and family members that you ask to be in your bridal party are loving, supportive, and ready to help with YOUR day.  I advise to steer clear of those who will make it about them, cause you grief, complain, question, nag, try to drag you down or give you any type of a stressful feeling during a super happy and special time of your life.  You only get this time once.  And time is a precious resource that you cannot get back.  It always breaks my heart when I see girls who have bad bridesmaids or do not stay friends with their bridal party after the wedding.  That’s the absolute worst – so do your part by asking the RIGHT people.

I encourage choosing who will be in your future rather than who has been more in your past…

One big piece of advice that I received and I thoroughly believe in is to choose those who are going to be in yours and your spouse’s future rather than putting so much emphasis on the past.  For me, the majority of my bridal party members had been my friends for 6+ years, however there were a few who I had not even known for that long.  And the reason why I asked them over some friends I had in my past for a very long time?  Because they were going to be in mine and Grant’s future.  Whether this be as family members or close, loving and supportive friends – whenever I may have questioned who to ask or debated between friends – the bridal party prize went to the friend/family member who I felt very very strongly would be more supportive and active in mine and Grant’s future.

Having the opposite sex stand on your side…

What about having a guy friend stand on the girl’s side and/or a girl friend stand on the guy’s side?  I’m obviously on board with this because I had my very own Bride’s Gentlemen, however my advice would be to make sure that you and your fiancé agree you are good with the decision as well as the person that you are asking to stand.  If for some reason someone (Bride, Groom, Family Member, the Friend who is asked to stand and/or their husband or wife) isn’t as comfortable with having a guy on the girl’s side or vice versa, then I would suggest having the guy friend stand on the groom’s side and the girl friend stand on the bride’s side if being traditional is your thing.  I do not think you should cut a friend out of being in your bridal party for this reason.  Because if you’re not willing to stand up and say you want that person truly in your wedding and your fiancé is not willing to have that person stand on their side, then there is clearly an issue somewhere in the midst of the friendship or relationship that needs to be handled before asking them to stand in your wedding.

Choosing your Maid of Honor (s)…

Now let’s talk asking your Maid of Honor, Matron of Honor, possibly both or even multiple of each to stand in your wedding.  This can be a tricky and hard decision for some.  I personally chose to choose only 1 even though I had been a Maid of Honor in multiple of my girlfriend’s weddings.  I by no means am against having multiple MOH’s, I just personally chose to be more traditional and since Grant was only having 1 Best Man, I preferred to keep my MOH to only 1 as well.  If you were to ask me what’s the hardest part about choosing a (or multiple) MOH, it would be not hurting the other of my friend’s feelings that I didn’t ask to be a MOH.  I have so many beautiful, loving and supportive girlfriends who stood by my side (and others who sat as guests) on the most important day of my life, however there was one that stuck out to me among the rest.  Reasons why?  We shared our college years together, the primary of our “single in our 20s” years together, traveled together, went through multiple break-ups together, we both started our own businesses near the same time as each other, and we even started dating our now husbands within 2 weeks of each other as well as got engaged within 2 weeks of each other.  When you have a friend who is on a similar timeline as you when it comes to being at the same stage in your love relationships (or the lack thereof i.e. being single girlfriends together) as well as your educational or career stages of life, it just naturally makes sense for that person to be your advice go-to on a lot of the same life situations and events that mirror your own.  So this is how I came to choosing my MOH.  And besides those reasons, I feel a MOH should feel very strongly that you are in the right relationship and marrying him for a marriage instead of a wedding.  Fortunate for me, I felt that all of my bridal party felt this way towards mine and Grant’s relationship.  And if you’re concerned about hurting a friend that you are not asking to be your MOH feelings, just talk to her.  Now maybe you don’t have the relationship or the situation’s not easily approachable to hear “This is why I chose who I did as my MOH”, but at least talk to her in some sort of a level that is approachable and comfortable to where you don’t feel awkward about having another friend as a MOH.  Any issue you feel may arise is very likely to arise (as our gut feelings normally are accurate), so my advice is to handle it from the beginning if you can.  And handle it with love, compassion, and honesty.  The last thing you want to do during your wedding planning process is to hurt one of your girlfriend’s feelings.

What being a Bridesmaid means to me…

Now what does being a bridesmaid entail?  – Side note, these types of situations or any frustrations you may feel are not personally from my wedding. However, I have seen other friends struggle with people they chose to be in their wedding. I have also heard girls who are bridesmaids publicly complain about duties or finances entailed, so I’m sharing what I personally feel being a bridesmaid means. When it came by my events, my friends all went above and beyond their duties and made me feel so loved, and I like to do the same whenever I am a bridesmaid. – End side note. In my mind, a bridesmaid means being there in full support of your friend through the engagement, wedding and the upcoming marriage.  This includes helping (either in true work help or financial help) or attending (however the following I do not believe are all mandatory nor are limited to) bridal shower (s), couple shower (s), bachelorette party (if I need to put an S on the end of that then you are quite the little party animal and also an outlier in my equation haha), wedding rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, purchasing a bridesmaids dress (that the Bride chooses unless she states that is is your decision because you must remember it is HER wedding and NOT yours), and even hair and makeup costs during the wedding weekend should the bride choose to make it mandatory (and if she chooses to make it mandatory, please do not complain about this matter ESPECIALLY not to the bride).  My advice on this situation is if you CANNOT attend or help with anything leading up to the wedding or during the wedding weekend and/or if you cannot afford what the bride is going to ask that you purchase/spend to be in her wedding, then that conversion needs to be had either when or soon after you are asked to be in the bridal party and preferably before you agree to saying yes!  Why?  Because if there is an issue with your schedule or your financials that will limit your bridesmaids/bridal party duties, then you need to be honest with the bride (because you are clearly friends if you are put in the position to stand in her wedding).  If you tell her up front that you will have an issue fulfilling your duties, then she knows up front and there’s really no issue that can build and cause an issue between you two.  If the Bride is aware of the limitations from a bridal party member, then it won’t be a shock, surprise or let-down during such a special time in her life. And if the bride knows that a bridesmaid may have some financial limitations, one would like to think that then the bride would be more understanding and/or not ask as much from that bridesmaid. For instance, one of my bridesmaid had gotten engaged only a few months before me and had her wedding only a few months after mind. Since I wanted to do my bachelorette party at an all inclusive resort in Punta Cana, I was sure to tell her personally as soon as this thought entered my mind. Since our timelines overlapped, I did not want her to think I was expecting her to spend more money on my stuff rather than her own. And in turn, she respected that I gave her ample amount of time to save because she still came and attended. Friendships are about communication, understanding and caring. So don’t forget through this that either the bridesmaid is a part of your wedding or you are a bridesmaid in a wedding due to the fact that there is a friendship between the two girls. Some people can let the planning or event come in between a beautiful relationship, so keep to the basis of what a friendship means on both sides and everything should be golden. And just like there are bridesmaids “duties” in my mind, I also feel that the bride should not go too crazy on her requests from her bridesmaids either. Keep everything a two way street and always try to put yourself if the other’s shoes during wedding planning. In my situation, I didn’t ask anything of my bridesmaids that I wouldn’t be glad to do as a bridesmaid.

Asking a bridesmaid does not warrant the answer yes…

Now just because you are asked to stand in a wedding does not mean you have to say yes.  I feel it is ok to saying “No” to being a bridesmaid should you not be able to fulfill your duties, spare the extra money that will be spent, or if you are not in support of the upcoming marriage for some reason or another.   And even if the bride knows of your inability to fulfill bridesmaid duties and she still wants you to stand, it is ok to still say no thanks.  And the biggest reason I believe it is ok to say NO to being a bridesmaid is if you are not in support of the relationship of the man your friend has decided to marry.  Because if you are not in support at all of the upcoming marriage, then really re-thinking the future of your friendship in addition to the re-thinking of being in the bridal party or not should come about.  Should you find yourself talking ugly about the bride or her husband-to-be, then you should re-think before you commit to saying yes.  Because the bride deserves someone supportive. And from my when I’ve been a bridesmaid’s, I want to be in full support of the friendship, wedding and upcoming marriage!

Maybe not all your friends are going to get along.  But they will (or at least should) on your big day…

And the last topic I’m going to hit on can be a rather uncomfortable point.  When you ask your bridal party members to stand in your wedding, know that they are there because they are YOUR friend.  That does not necessarily mean they are all friends with each other.  And you know what?  This is ok.  And I say “this is ok” so nonchalantly in hopes that the friends will act maturely and be kind to all of the bridal party.  However, if there are girls who have issues with each other, I feel they should keep those issues to themselves and handle them amongst themselves.  The moment when the bridal party members who are not friends/do not get along/cannot get along start allowing the bride to see their issue, then the situation has gone too far.  And if you’ve been a bridesmaid in this issue and have handled it in a way that you feel is correctly, you will know that you left the bride out of this so she could enjoy such a special time in her life rather than be caught up in an issue involving her friends not getting along.  If you’ve been a bridesmaid or are going to be a bridesmaid and there was/is another bridal party member that you do not get along with – I only hope that you did not/will not let the bride be stressed or bothered with your issue.  You know why?  Because it is HER special time and she is obviously friends with the BOTH of you.  Should you as a bridal party member decide that you need to tell the bride what another one of her friends did or said, my advice is to at least wait until after the wedding and honeymoon. Try to handle it between the parties who cannot seem to get along rather than involving the bride because I can promise you, the bride only wants all of her friends to get along (especially during her wedding process).  And most importantly, all the bride’s friends should get along on wedding day!  The bride’s wishes come first on her day!

If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing…

Looking back, I asked my bridal party members to stand in my wedding 7 months ago and if I had to do it all over again today, I would hands down ask the same group of friends.  I hope this continues to stay the same down the path of life.  Now I know I may acquire new family members and/or create deeper friendships with current friends or cultivate new friendships in my future, but I will forever feel confident that I personally chose the best Bridal Party during my engagement and for my wedding weekend during that time of life no matter where the road may lead in the future.

To my loving bridal party – my MOH, bridesmaids, bride’s gentleman, house party and even my adorable flower girl – thank you ALL for being so loving and supportive to myself and Grant during such a meaningful time in our lives.  You went above and beyond in my showers, my bachelorette party and made me feel so loved during the best weekend of my life.  Now I’m not going to say there were absolutely no kinks in the road, however whenever anything came about, my friends either handled it on their own to keep me stress free, or if it did come to me, the situation at hand got resolved and the relationships through it became more real and created a tighter bond.  In fact, almost all of these friends and I have had some sort of a disagreement, conflict or maybe even said something to hurt another’s feelings during the tenure of our friendship.  But you know what?  We’re human and we all make mistakes.  And if you’re going to have a long term friendship or even a relationship in general for that matter, differences are going to arise! The real victory is whenever you can talk in conflict, debate in disagreements and communicate through the hurt.  Because friendships are very very special relationships that take a nurturing and love to grow!  You are all so very special and beautiful to me.  I will forever cherish the memories I share with my bridal party and those future memories that I will continue to make now as a married woman.

Now let me take a moment to brag on how gorgeous my girls (and my gentleman!) looked on our wedding day.  The bridesmaids dresses were an assortment from Rent the Runway, Lulus, Ebay (yes, for real!), and Dillards and the house party dresses were from Lulus.  Thank you Hey Lovely Hair and Makeup for getting my squad so beautifully ready and thank you Luke and Cat for these precious photographs I will forever cherish.

My hope is that this blog help even just one future bride-to-be while choosing her bridal party.  Keep in touch with the comments below.  I would love to hear your feedback.

xo,

5 thoughts on “How to Choose Your Bridesmaids {& Bridal Party}

  1. Thank you for posting this it really helped me make my final decision as I chose my bridesmaids for my wedding next July! Reading your blog has opened my eyes about this whole bridesmaid thing, so thank you for this! Your girls also had beautiful dresses!

    Xoxo

  2. I love all your wedding related posts, especially since I’ll be getting married in a couple months! Can’t wait to read more of your blog.

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