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Choosing Bridesmaids and Groomsmen – 10 Terrific Tips

Still choosing bridesmaids and groomsmen? Whether it’s a yes or a no, take a look below at our deeply practical yet refreshingly amusing thoughts on the subject. It all boils down to one thing – in a wedding, as in real life, nice dependable people make all the difference. And 10 years from now, when you’re looking through your wedding album, you’ll want to have that warm fuzzy feeling inside when you look at the bridesmaids standing next to you… not thinking, ‘that cow! I wish I never asked her!’ So, here are our 10 terrific tips for choosing bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Don’t ask everyone you know!

In your initial excitement of being engaged and collecting all the congratulations, it’s easy to just agree when someone asks ‘can I be your bridesmaid?’ Resist this with all your might! This is how you end up with seven girls of whom only one truly cares about your wedding, and she’s not even the chief bridesmaid. Equally, don’t blurt out to every girl you know ‘be my bridesmaid?’ They’ll actually take you seriously! Take your time before popping the question!

It’s easy to ask… difficult to fire

‘I’m sorry, but you’re no longer in the wedding’ – these are the words even the most straightforward bride may struggle to say. It’ll be doubly difficult if you’re non-confrontational. For this reason alone, it’s best to consider choosing bridesmaids and groomsmen carefully. On top of that, very few friendships have survived being fired as a bridesmaid or a groomsman. In the best possible scenario, they take it in stride, agree with you and don’t make a fuss, but things will never be quite the same again. In the worst possible scenario, they stop speaking to you right there and then, making things very difficult if you’re cousins, work colleagues, or other close relations of any kind. Do you want months or years of awkwardness? No, you really don’t. Ask the right people, and you won’t have to go through this.

Photo from Marie & Brendan’s Real Wedding by Michelle Prunty Photography

What do you want from your bridesmaids?

Here’s a sample scenario. If you had your way, you’d meet with the girls once every two weeks for a wedding evening. You’ll lounge around, leafing through wedding magazines, sipping wine, cutting out pictures of things you like, and solving all planning problems together. Well, this scenario is only possible if the girls you pick are into that sort of thing, and have time to spare. Some girls can think of nothing worse than spending ONE whole evening leafing through bridal magazines and talking about the wedding – never mind many! By the third date, you may just be sitting, leafing and sipping alone. So, pick your girls according to what you want. Shoppers will love shopping with you. Adventurers will love visiting many different venues. But be ready to compromise, non-stop wedding talk won’t appeal to everyone!

Weddings make people MORE

There has never been a bridesmaid or groomsman who’s toned down their behaviour for a wedding – trust us on this. It’s just the nature of weddings – they have a truly surprising effect on people. So, if one of your bridesmaid candidates is a high-strung drama queen, she’ll be MORE. If the possible future best man thinks a party isn’t a party without a drunken brawl, he’ll be MORE. Are you prepared to handle people who may become unbearable and give you MORE stress? It’s simple – choosing bridesmaids and groomsmen who are lovely, dependable and calm in real life will also be that for your wedding. That’s the kind of help you want to help you sail through planning storms.

Consider your budget

If your budget is unlimited, then go ahead and skip to the next point. If it isn’t – get the calculator. The bigger the bridal party, the more expensive it will be. The usual spend is dresses, suit hire, flowers and boutonnieres, plus hair and makeup for the girls. On top of that, there are other expenses, like arranging transportation. If you have three bridesmaids, they’ll fit in one car. If you have seven, you’re now paying for two cars. Double that for a large party of groomsmen. In addition, it’s customary to give gifts to everyone. You could be buying seven gifts… or 14. Are you getting the picture of how easily the costs could add up? Be smart with your money – weddings are expensive.

Photo from 10 Absolutely Brilliant Bridesmaids’ Gifts

Long distance bridesmaiding

It happens a lot nowadays – the only person worthy of being a chief bridesmaid or best man lives in another city, another country, or even another continent. In fact, we know a chief bridesmaid who planned a wedding in England for her best friend who lives in Canada. Was it difficult? Well, there was the seven-hour time difference to begin with. They were sending thousands of photos back and forth. They broke all texting records. And, they were planning one of those DIY weddings in a barn – so there was no lovely venue coordinator saying ‘don’t worry, I’ll take care of that for you’. Did it work out in the end? Yes of course, the wedding was amazing. But if this is a situation you’re in, you’ll have to be extra patient and allow a bit more time for everything.

Say yes to the dress – but in the right size

We’d wager it happens at about 90% of weddings. One of the bridesmaids says ‘buy me a dress two sizes smaller, it’ll be a great incentive to lose weight.’ The success rate? Very small. Cue panic at final fitting – there isn’t any fabric to let the dress out! So when you go shopping for bridesmaid dresses, don’t give into the ‘two sizes smaller’ plea. Buy the size the bridesmaids are now – and if they lose weight, it’ll be far easier to have the dresses taken in. Trust us – we’ve seen it happen again and again.

The groomsmen

Has the groom picked his guys yet? He’ll be needing some dependable people by his side too. His best mate may be a winner in all the guy things they do together, but… is he also a prankster who’ll make the stag do as humiliating as possible? Give your guy a gentle nudge about who to ask. He’ll need a real friend to give him a hand – someone who’ll return the suits on time on his behalf. Someone who’ll call the limo company when they’re late for church. You know what we’re talking about – upstanding citizens of the male population, not just barely upstanding citizens propping up the bar.

Photo from Mairead & Neil’s real wedding by McMahon Studios

Get that checklist

Here’s our complete wedding planning checklist – something you’ll be using a lot for the next few months. It looks like a big job? Maybe, but you don’t have to do it all yourself! Read the list like a boss and ask yourself – what can you delegate to other people? And more importantly, can you count on your bridesmaids to help you with these things? Being in the bridal party means much more than just looking pretty. In fact, there are quite a few things the bridesmaids could do for you on the day itself. So when you see plainly in front of you what needs to be done, you’ll get how important it is to have helpful and dependable people by your side as a result.

And finally…

… when things get a little bit stressful, and you feel like you’re not getting any help from anyone, take a deep breath and remember this – it’s possible none of the bridesmaids or groomsmen have ever done it before. They may not even realise how important their roles are and how much you’re counting on them. It’s alright! A good calm talk is all you need. Tell them you’re feeling overwhelmed and ask for help. Tell them specific things you’re struggling with – for example, not a single supplier you emailed has gotten back to you. Or you don’t know where to start looking for your dress. You’ll get a lot more help by being specific.

And now – enjoy! It’s gonna be a fun but mad few months, but the guys and gals will be there for you.

Photo from Fiona & Sean’s real wedding by Emma Russell Photography

Main photo from Ellie & James’s real wedding by Couple Photography

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Rachel Green

Rachel Green

If you think the bride should always have the last word, then Rachel is on your side! A devoted fan of everything quirky, unusual, colourful or crafty, she loves scouting WOL's real weddings for unique and fun touches. When not gazing at pictures, she's dispensing no-nonsense advice on everything from reception entrance songs to bridesmaid problems.

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