Soon after your fairytale engagement, you’ll probably start fantasizing about your closest friends and family by your side on your wedding day. For many brides, however, there may be an overabundance of people they could potentially pop the bridesmaid question to, which can make their selections difficult. If you’re in this position, we’ve compiled an essential guide—with 10 key tips—to help you narrow down your list, choose your bridesmaids, and feel secure in your decision so it feels as natural as when you said yes to marrying your special someone.
1. Make a list of who you feel closest to.
The bridesmaid selection process can be overwhelming, so why not create a list of your best friends and closest family members to start? Note that although you might feel close to women like your mother, aunt, or future mother-in-law, they won’t expect a bridesmaid ask as this role is usually filled by peers such as female friends, sisters (or a sister-in-law), and cousins.
2. Remember your bridesmaids can be men.
There’s no rule saying you can’t have a close male friend standing by your side as you say your I Dos, so don’t feel like you have to leave a boy-BFF off your list just because he’s not a maid or matron. A bride can totally have a man of honor or bridesman.
3. Consider your expectations for a maid of honor and the rest of your bridal party.
The biggest advantages of including 1 or more maids of honor and bridesmaids in your wedding are a) they can minimize your stress and b) they can enhance your joy during wedding-related events leading up to the big day. Common maid of honor and bridesmaids tasks include:
- organizing the bridal shower and bachelorette party
- helping to choose the perfect wedding dress (and bridesmaid dresses that compliment it)
- supporting you in managing jitters
- taking care of other tasks that make your wedding planning easier
As you narrow down the list and choose your bridesmaids, think about who would be best-suited to handle these tasks with grace, efficiency, and a good attitude.
4. Decide if you want an even number of bridesmaids and groomsmen.
While your wedding party doesn’t have to be balanced, some couples prefer to have an equal number of bridesmaids and groomsmen, often for the sake of photos. Communicate with your fiancé to note their preference, and make the decision together. The average is 5 bridesmaids and groomsmen on either side, but you can have as many as you wish.
5. Think about the availability of your potential bridesmaids.
As much as you love certain people in your life, circumstances such as a demanding job or busy family may make it difficult for them to fulfill the bridesmaid role. If you decide to not ask someone, for this reason, mitigate any confusion or hurt feelings by relaying that you’d rather not heap extra obligations onto their already full life—not because you don’t love them.
6. Reflect on how your potential bridesmaids and groomsmen get along.
If you plan to have events that include your full wedding party—such as a joint bachelor and bachelorette gathering—you may want to evaluate the relationships within the group. For example, if one of the potential bridesmaids just had a volatile breakup with one of the potential groomsmen, take into account the possible strife that could create before you add those loved ones to the list.
7. Determine if you’re inclined to ask someone to be a bridesmaid because you think you “have” to.
Are there 1 or 2 ladies in your life you’d rather not ask to be your bridesmaid, for one reason or another, but you feel you have to out of fear they’ll cause drama? Remember this moment is a huge milestone, and you have every right to determine the right people for you: those bridesmaids who’ll make you feel amazing on your special day.
8. Create roles for close friends who won’t be bridesmaids.
If you have friends who won’t be in your bridal party but you’d still like to honor them, think about special parts they can play at your wedding. For example, you can ask a friend who is musically gifted to play a song or a family member with a knack for weaving words to give a speech.
9. Be certain before you make the big ask.
Once you ask someone to do you the honor of being in your wedding party, you can’t rescind the offer. So while it can be tempting to blurt out “Will you be my bridesmaid?” when you’re high from your recent engagement, be intentional about who and when you ask.
10. Fill other wedding roles while you’re at it.
As you choose your bridesmaids, you might as well select your flower girl and ring bearer, too. If you have several children in your life you think would enjoy gracing the aisle with their cuteness, feel free to have multiple flower girls and ring bearers.
Bailey Gaddis is a travel writer and author of Feng Shui Mommy: Creating Balance and Harmony for Blissful Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood. In addition, she works as a childbirth preparation educator and birth doula who supports mothers-to-be and new mothers. She is also a regular contributor to media outlets including Disney’s Babble, Working Mother, Pregnancy & Newborn, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, and Woman’s Day. In addition to her childbirth-prep work, she volunteers for families in need of postpartum support. She lives in Ojai, California.