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How to Choose your Wedding Party: Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, MC & more

How to Choose your Wedding Party

Choosing your wedding party is one of the exciting first steps to planning your wedding, but it can also be a daunting one. Choosing bridesmaids, groomsmen, an MC, possibly flower girls and more for your Big Day is a lot to think about, usually before you’ve even set a date. Like with every aspect of wedding planning, it’s key not to rush into your decision – this one in particular is a hard one to undo.

Grab your wedding planner book, read on, and think seriously about how you wish to choose your wedding party.

Is it a Bridal Party or Wedding Party?

Traditionally, the ‘Bridal Party’ are the usually female attendants to the Bride: bridesmaids and maid or matron of honour, while ‘Wedding Party’ referred to the entire group, that’s the bridesmaids and groomsmen on both sides. We consider that ‘Wedding Party’ is also more inclusive of different gender roles on each side, such as a bride who has male attendants, and is also more appropriate for same-sex weddings which don’t have a bride at all, so we use ‘Wedding Party’ where possible.

We also think it’s a united decision for the couple to make, it’s not just for the bride to choose the bridesmaids, and the groom to choose the groomsmen. Ensure you and your partner are in complete agreement on who to ask, because although you are asking them to be your bridesmaids or groomsmen you are also asking them to be part of your joint wedding party. You will both spend a lot of time with your wedding party in the lead up and preparation for the wedding and on the Big Day itself, so it’s really best for everybody if you all get along.

Likewise, think about the dynamic between the people you want to ask, for instance (if you are having traditional female/male roles), ensure the bridesmaids will all get along with each other. It’s best to choose people who have been in your life a long time, whom you know you can trust to always have your best interests at heart.

How to Choose your Wedding Party

When considering who to ask as your bridesmaids and groomsmen (or bridesmen and groomsmaids), first consider what roles your wedding party will have have to help with. These might include:

  • Helping you to plan your engagement party – will at least one of them be organised, helpful and responsible?
  • Attending and helping you to shop for your wedding attire – able to be honest and help you look the best you can on your Wedding Day, not to mention be accommodating with your choice of bridesmaids dresses or other attire.
  • Getting creative with you to craft or help with DIY wedding projects – will they going to have the time and want to do so?
  • Plan your pre-wedding parties – a bridal shower and/or bachelorette party -and make sure you get home in one piece.
  • Getting on with one another, possibly following instructions from the maid/matron of honour of the best man – if they are not going to get on well with the other bridesmaids, your family members, the groomsmen or even the Groom, perhaps rethink your team.
  • Keeping you company the night before your Wedding Day and ease any last-minute jitters before you walk down the aisle.
  • Getting ready on your Wedding Day – will they calm you down or stress you out?
  • Making a kind and thoughtful speech – can they speak publicly and refrain from embarrassing you?
  • On-the-day roles including encouraging guests to sign the guest book; ordering family into photos; and tending to stray flower girls and page boys (and possibly groomsmen)
  • Appearing in your Wedding Photos – and therefore possibly appear on your living-room wall for the next 60 years – will you still be friends?

It might sound harsh, but being part of your bridal party is a big responsibility (and can be a costly one for both them and you).  If your friend is swamped with work and can barely come out at the weekend for brunch, they probably won’t have time to help with your wedding – which is, after all, the point. If you already know they’re on a tight budget, it may be difficult for them to contribute to planning some of the wedding events, or purchasing items for your wedding, so when you choose your wedding party, think about whether your friends really can commit.

How large a Wedding Party can you afford within your Wedding budget?

Like most things, the number of girls and guys you choose for your wedding party will affect your wedding budget. The more bridesmaids and groomsmen you have, the higher the cost.
Traditionally, bridesmaids have been responsible for all the costs of their own attire and accessories; organising the bachelorette party; gift for the couple and a gift for the bride or couple.  The couple traditionally covers the cost of each bridesmaid’s bouquet; transportation to the ceremony and reception; a thank-you gift; and hair and make-up if the couple requires it to be professionally done.  If that is the case, the couple ought to be prepared to spend at least $100 on each bridesmaid’s bouquet, and around another $100+ on a gift.
Alternatively, couples may choose to pay for their bridesmaids’ outfits in lieu of an expensive gift, but the costs add up either way. Choosing someone to be in your wedding party really shouldn’t be asking for a significant financial contribution to your big day. See also What should your bridesmaids pay for and keep this in mind when you decide on who to choose. The average cost of a Bridesmaid is apparently up to $1,700. so if you are on a tight budget, you may wish to just have one bridesmaid or groomsman.
P.s. I love this article on Why Bridal Musings’ Editor Claire didn’t have a bridal party!

Do you need to choose your Wedding Party to have an even number on each side?

Bridesmaids and Groomsmen and Wedding Parties in general do not need to be in even numbers.  Isn’t that a strange tradition, that Bride and Groom must have the same number of close friends to stand next to them on the day?  Traditionally, the Groomsmen’s job was to help the Groom kidnap the Bride, apparently… but that’s another story.

Don’t worry about having even numbers in the photos or at the ceremony line-up, instead choose your wedding party based on those you really want to be a part of your big day – and ideally, people who you truly want to be a part of the rest of your lives.  Seeking to even up numbers is likely to make you ask people you wouldn’t otherwise.
It’s also becoming increasingly common to have both genders on both sides – because as if men and women can’t be friends!?

Who should you avoid choosing to be part of your Wedding party?

I suggest you avoid asking anyone to be part of your wedding party just to be polite, for instance the friend from school who asked you to be a bridesmaid for her wedding – if that’s the only reason why.  We’re all grown ups now, we don’t need to return the favour on choosing our bridesmaids.  Each of us has a different set of circumstances and a different group of close friends, close sisters, a large circles of friends; etc – just because you made someone else’s ‘inner circle’ does not entitle that someone to be within yours. Of course, you don’t want to offend anybody by not asking them to be in your wedding party, when they may have expected to be asked, but you’ll be so much happier if you just ask the people you really want to have.
As above, due to the cost and time commitment which may be expected, you should avoid choosing anyone to be part of your bridal party who can’t afford the commitment – either financially or in time – or be prepared for them to graciously decline.

How to discuss your Wedding party with your fiancé

If you’re still having trouble, talk through with your partner and get back to your wedding priorities:

  • Who would you choose for each other – who are really your closest friends?
  • Would you like to include each other’s siblings?
  • What do you expect your wedding party to help each of you with, and pay for?
  • How large would your wedding party be ideally, esp. relative to your entire wedding guest list?
  • Will those you’re considering still be your closest friends in 5-10 years?
  • Can you afford to purchase everything for your bridal party, or will those you’re choosing be able and happy to contribute?

Once you have chosen your bridal party, here are some creative ways to ‘Propose’ to your bridesmaids – aka “Will you be my Bridesmaid”.

Photos from Elegant Waiheke Wedding

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