While we typically like to spread out our wedding posts, recently so many couples we know have gotten engaged, so we can't help but keep posting on the issues we feel are important to the planning process. Once you're engaged, all of a sudden you are bombarded with the big questions: when is the date, where are you getting married, what are your colors, and who will be in your bridal party? The last question is something every bride and groom struggle with because the thought of disappointing someone they care about is extremely unsettling. There are many things to consider when narrowing down your list. Will your BFF from 3rd grade remember your pact? Can you pick cousin Claire, but leave out cousin Cassie, without causing major family drama? Would your oldest friend be upset if you choose a new friend instead? Of course you don't want to offend your nearest and dearest, but there are only so many people you can pick to have standing up at the alter with you (unless you want it to look like a parade). First, you'll need to decide how many people you'll have, if any. Once you have that down, then it's time to do some real soul searching. Sometimes you just know from the start who to pick but for those of you who don't here are some tips to help select your bridesmaids and avoid any awkward encounters:
1. Family Only: Coming from a large family may be overwhelming sometimes, but at least it will help in picking bridesmaids! Rather than choosing from all of your friends, you can just tell them "Sorry, I would love to have you but we are just keeping it family only!" and they'll understand. Plus, sometimes it's that much easier to boss around family, because they can't abandon you post wedding and are pretty much forced to love you no matter how Bridezilla you may get.
2. Representatives from Each Nation: Okay, so we're not talking about the UN here, but choosing a representative from each group or part of your life is sometimes the safest way to go. If you have a group of hometown girls, college buddies, work friends, family, and a sister-in-law to be, why not choose from each category? Obviously, this will vary based on how many groups of friends you have, how large your family is, and if you or your future hubby have a sister! For example, Jen chose her best friend (Saira!), her sister, her sister-in-law to be, and a like-a-sister close friend from home. Her college friends understood, and a few of her other close friends were asked to participate in other ways so they still felt special.
3. Assign Tasks: If you're a fan of Friends, then you may remember at Phoebe's wedding how Ross, Chandler, and Joey were upset that they weren't groomsmen. In the end, however, they all were able to be part of the wedding, just in different roles. At Jen's wedding, Tom wanted to involve his college roommate, but had too many groomsmen, so instead the roommate got ordained and was the officiant at the wedding! Jen (as mentioned above) had her hometown friends speak at the wedding, which made them part of the ceremony. There's always having ushers, asking someone to man the guestbook (Miranda in Sex and the City!), or asking a friend or family member to perform or even act as DJ for the night. If you are creative you can easily include lots of special people in non-bridal party roles!
4. Cruel to be Kind: Sometimes, none of these neat little categories will work. So when it comes down to it, choose the number of bridesmaids you want (if your groom chose his groomsmen already, this step is much easier but keep in mind that they don't actually have to match up) and make a list of all your friends who are in the running. You'll want to consider who you have known the longest, you are closest too emotionally, you are closest to geographically, who will help you the most in planning your wedding (especially when choosing your MOH), who asked you to be a bridesmaid as well (tit for tat, baby), whether choosing one girl will make another feel too left out (if so, strike both names) and so forth. It's not exactly a science, but you can get a system going to choose your bridesmaids.
5. Flying Solo: Sure, it's nice to have help and people standing up for you. But, if you're really stressing about the selection process, why not eliminate the bridal party or maid of honor role altogether? This has become quite popular in recent years as being a bridesmaid is expensive and time consuming. Save yourself the worry of hurting someones feelings and save your girls the stress of having to buy a dress, throw a shower, pay for the bachelorette party, etc. Don't want to stand up there alone? Your parents or guardians have always been there to support you. So, be a little different and do what this couple did and invite them to share the spotlight with you.
BOTTOM LINE: Choosing bridesmaids, and particularly your MOH, can be a little tricky, but if you're upfront and honest in your decision, your girlfriends will understand. You may actually be surprised how many girls may be relieved not to be chosen -- it is really expensive after all. Explain to your friends how much they mean to you, ask them for guidance in other aspects of wedding planning, and call it a day. After all, your bridesmaids are meant as a source of comfort for you, not stress! In the end, it is your day and it all comes down to who will be there for you and who is the absolute most reliable. Who will keep you sane, take charge of tasks and time management, yell at the wait staff for putting all the candles in upside down, and, after seeing you at your craziest, still manage to love you? Those are the girls you want by your side.