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Laura Hunt

Wedding Topics: Pondering the Selection of your Bridesmaids ...

Gayle O'Donnell, A Perfect Celebration!

Photography:  Meg and Michael Weddings

As soon as you've become    engaged you will likely start thinking about which of your friends and family will make up the members of your wedding party.

There are many things to consider, and it is wise to make the decisions carefully but quickly, so those who may have to travel or budget for their roles will have ample time to do so.

You should select bridesmaids who are reliable, flexible, and available to help with the details and planning of your wedding. It also helps if your chosen bridesmaids are happy for you, instead of having feelings of jealousy that may be revealed in a passive aggressive manner.

There are several questions that I hear most often as brides struggle with whom to choose.

1. Do I have to have my fiancé's sister(s) in my wedding; we aren't really close?

No, it is not imperative that you have your fiancé's sister as a bridesmaid if you do not have a close friendship with her. However, it is a nice gesture to include your future sister-in-law if you have room in the wedding party. If you have a very close girlfriend of many years who you would have to exclude in order to include the sister you barely know, it is appropriate to invite the girlfriend over the groom's sister.

2. I have sisters who I love, but I have a lot of close girlfriends, too. Who should I have as my bridesmaids?

If you have a limit on the number of bridesmaids, include close sisters before girlfriends. Family is forever; friends usually will understand if they are not chosen due to family obligation.

3. Who has to pay for the bridesmaid dresses and travel expenses?

For many years it has become accepted tradition that the bridesmaids pay for their own attire, hair and makeup, and travel. Consider a potential bridesmaid's ability to afford the cost before asking her to be in the wedding. To invite her is to honor her; after you invite her, it is certainly fair discuss the costs with her. Let her know that you will understand if she feels unable to fill the role for financial reasons. There are other roles for her without the same financial commitment. Research the costs and set an approximate budget in advance, so your bridesmaids can plan.

Your expenses: Even though the bridesmaids pay for their own attire, you will not be without costs associated with their participation. Keep that in mind when you decide how many attendants to have. You and your fiancé's family will have to pay for bouquets, gifts for each person, meals at the rehearsal dinner, and limousines if you're providing transportation for the wedding party. It all adds up quickly.

When selecting your bridesmaids, keep in mind that those who live locally will need to help you with the wedding preparations, so choose those who will enjoy the pre-wedding tasks and activities. Choose really close friends or family members with whom you do not have to feel shy about asking for help. It doesn't make much sense to invite a friend to be a bridesmaid if you haven't talked to her much in the last ten years. When making your selections you needn't worry about marital status or even gender of the friends you would like to have attend for you. If you have a close male friend or relative you want to participate, you simply call him an honor attendant. That person would wear a suit or tuxedo matching that worn by groomsmen and ushers, with a different boutonnière to designate the different role. You are under no obligation to invite someone to be a bridesmaid just because you may have been one in her wedding previously. Relationships change, so stay true to your closest family and friends. If you have friendships that have historically been on again - off again, it's probably best not to tempt fate even if you're on good terms at the time you're making the decision.

It isn't necessary to have an equal number of attendants on each side of the aisle. It is recommended that there be one usher for every 50 guests. You don't have to have one lady for every man. And if you have extra ladies, don't worry. Most groomsmen will be more than happy to escort a lady on each arm.

At A Perfect Celebration! (in Bellevue WA), we provide you with a free Maid/Matron of Honor Guidance Kit with additional information and tips for this very special person in your wedding party. Be sure to stop by and pick up a kit soon so you and your honor attendant can enjoy the planning and work well together.

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