Guide to Choosing a Wedding Party aka Avoiding Bad Bridesmaids

Boss Lady's Guide to Choosing a Wedding Party

No bride deserves a deadbeat bridesmaid in her wedding party. That said, unless the wedding is a Kim and Kanye style affair with all expenses paid, the reality is that being a bridesmaid is often about 30% glamour and 70% hard labor. With the growing interest in DIY and destination weddings, it’s more important than ever for a would-be bride to select her attendants carefully and be realistic with herself and with her potential maids about the demand on everyone’s time and pocketbook. There is a lot more to it than tulle and flowers, and not everyone will be enthusiastic about hot gluing sequins to masons jars for 12+ hours to save you a few bucks.

The question shouldn’t be “Do I owe it to this friend or family member to make her a bridesmaid?” — instead you should focus on whether or not she is really up for the challenge of being a bridesmaid in the first place. What will being a bridesmaid in your wedding actually mean? What will it cost? What are your expectations for attendance? Are you (the bride) prepared to shell out some dough for a proper thank you gift for each member of your bridal party?

Look, if you plan to buy everyone’s dress, pay for their hair/makeup, chip in on their travel arrangements, and will be hiring a planner to handle every aspect of the big day as well as your bachelorette party… well, then being your bridesmaid will be pretty darn easy. If you’re not doing all of that, then assume that your wedding entails some discomfort for your bridesmaids in the form of money spent, time dedicated, and probably some minor burns from hot glue guns.

Nowadays bridesmaid duty is exactly that: a duty and an honor. For most brides, bridal party members will be expected to contribute something, and your Maid of Honor in particular is going to shoulder most of the planning and work leading up to your big day. In fact, for some brides it may even make sense to appoint 2 Maids of Honor.

VIP Alternatives to Bridesmaid Duty

Always remember that there are ways to involve your friends and family in your wedding without including them in the bridal party specifically. If nothing else, there are exclusive VIP parties (engagement, shower(s), bachelorette, rehearsal dinner, pre-wedding activities) for them to attend that don’t require them to shell out for a bridesmaid dress and be on your speed dial for the next 6+ months.

You can ask them to do a reading during the ceremony, perform a musical piece, act as an usher, or you can actually form committees. I’ve heard of brides nominating a group of women to be her “Something Blue” and each one wore blue to the wedding to “stand up in spirit” with the bride. Other brides keep the bridal party very small and form committees instead: a dress committee (helping with the wedding dress selection and process), a crafting committee (invitations, decor, place cards, signage), and so on. Whatever you decide, you can always honor the relationship by giving them a special role or a small gift along with a handwritten note.

Keeping all of this in mind as you assemble your wedding party makes for a happy bride and minimizes the potential for deadbeat bridesmaid behavior. A boss lady bride is well aware that the group of people she assembles is going to be her primary support system on the big day as well as during the months beforehand. And let’s not forget that your wedding party is going to be in some of your most important wedding photos. If you are careless about choosing your bridesmaids, you may very well regret it while browsing through your wedding album 10 years from now.


How to Ask Someone to be a Bridesmaid / Maid of Honor / Matron of Honor

– Let her know how much her friendship means to you

– Invite her to join the wedding party while clearly expressing your actual expectations for her participation (“I am really going to value your creativity for the bachelorette party!” or “Your advice is really going to come in handy as I select floral vendors and put together our reception playlist for the DJ.”)

– Be concise about financial obligations for the role (“The budget I’ve worked out will mean that you will probably end up spending an extra $500-800 to be a bridesmaid. Is that going to work for you?”)

– Give her a polite and easy out (“I know this is a lot to ask, and my feelings won’t be hurt if you need to decline. I’d still love for you to participate as one of my best friends without the added stress. Maybe you could do a ceremony reading or just help plan the shower instead?”)

Image ℅ outreachr.com | https://www.flickr.com/photos/109249103@N05/14662117945

A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That’s why they don’t get what they want. – Madonna

Ladies, if you are going to need your bridesmaids to do more than just show up and smile, then you’ve got to be open about the help you may need. If you don’t ask for it by name and just assume that people can read your mind, you risk getting something other than Wonder-Bridesmaids in your wedding party.

If you choose bridesmaids from your close friends and family, very rarely will you end up with a bridesmaid who is deliberately disruptive or neglectful. Some are too young to know better; others are simply unaware of the wedding party protocols. But if you don’t properly communicate your expectations as a bride, then you’re probably going to end up with some bad behavior because your maids didn’t fully comprehend what they were getting themselves into when you asked them to help.

To avoid problems later on, communicate on the front end. There are essentially 5 types of bridesmaids that can round out your wedding party. If you choose wisely, and communicate effectively, I see no reason why you won’t be blessed with a wedding party full of Wonder-Bridesmaids. Cross your fingers that you don’t end up with a motley crew full of Divas and Deadbeats, though. Below is a description of each, in case you need help classifying yours…


 

Wonder-Bridesmaid

The golden standard for bridesmaids. She is faster than a speeding bullet to respond to your frantic calls, texts, and emails. Her negotiation skills are more powerful than a locomotive. She is able to leap over wedding snafus in a single bound, and has an emergency kit hidden in her bra full of double stick tape, safety pins, hair spray and other big day essentials. It’s Wonder-Bridesmaid to the rescue! When duty calls she springs into action, but otherwise she’s a supportive and unassuming member of your bridal party. She’s grateful to be included and her mission is to ensure that your special occasion is lovely and and as stress-free as possible for you.

Note: it is possible to have a Wonder-Bridesmaid in your group that truly is crunched for time (maybe she’s busy immunizing kids against diseases in Africa, for example) and truly can’t be available for every call, text, email, or event. She will find other ways to help and support you, and that is absolutely okay. That said, she may not be a wise choice to be your Maid of Honor.

 

Demanding Diva Bridesmaid

This is her world and everyone else is just living in it. Demanding Diva Bridesmaid doesn’t hold back in telling you exactly what she thinks of your wedding decisions, and she doesn’t think much of them at all. She’ll be the first to offer unbridled criticism on everything from the bouquet flowers to the bridesmaid gown colors, length, material, and thread count. She does not sugarcoat her disapproval and she is going to wreak absolute havoc on your bridal party with her negativity, bullying, and know-it-all attitude. Try not to take it personally, but be prepared to pull her aside and have a gentle heart-to-heart.

 

The Deadbeat Bridesmaid

She pretty much just wants to show up to collect her bouquet, strut down the aisle in a pretty dress, take a few selfies in the bathroom, and get rowdy at the reception. Outside of that, she simply cannot be bothered because she is always “too busy” or any number of other excuses. She is unresponsive to communications from you or the rest of the bridal party, offers unhelpful objections and roadblocks to the group’s efforts to plan, does not show up for the pre-wedding events, and generally puts her own priorities and interests ahead of anything else. This bridesmaid is a burden to the rest of the bridal party, forcing them to pick up her slack and costing them financially and emotionally in their efforts to shield your feelings from the crippling disinterest of your Deadbeat Bridesmaid.

If you find yourself continually hurt or distracted by a deadbeat bridesmaid’s behavior, or you see it taking a major toll on the rest of your wedding party, an intervention may be required. Let her know that her detachment is hurting your feelings and damaging the relationship, and politely offer her the opportunity to step down from the position if the responsibility is too much. Sometimes a deadbeat bridesmaid can be converted.

 

Penny Pincher Bridesmaid

Research on the subject has shown that serving as a bridesmaid in just one wedding can cost more than $1,500 on average. Here in Los Angeles, that’s about one month’s rent. In other places it’s closer to 2 or 3 months rent. Either way, it is an expensive decision and you should consider the burden it will pose to ask someone to join your bridal party when they really don’t have the means to participate.

You’re going to feel guilty asking this bridesmaid to participate because you know she’s struggling with her finances, and you’re going to feel guilty if you exclude her altogether. In my experience, the Penny Pincher bridesmaid will usually feel compelled to say yes to your bridal party invitation because they love you and really do want to support you, but I see it happen time and time and time again… these are the bridesmaids who take on financial hardship in order to be there for you, causing themselves a lot of stress in the process and ultimately failing to enjoy what should be a special celebration, or they turn into deadbeat bridesmaids and leave you feeling completely rejected and confused. It’s a bad result for everyone involved, and causes unnecessary damage to the friendship.

If you can get away with it, my recommendation is not to extend a bridal party invitation to friends or family members who struggle with their finances or, if you must extend the invitation, be crystal clear about the financial expectations at the time of the invitation. Let them think it over and decide what they can afford. This is not snobbery and you shouldn’t feel guilty. It’s responsible friend behavior and spares you both from months of embarrassment and frustration that will most certainly tax your friendship once the bills start to accumulate.

 

Frankenstein’s Bridesmaid

Oh boy, watch out. This bridesmaid is completely unpredictable. She is the Melissa McCarthy bridesmaid in the lot and such a hot mess that only Igor Frankenstein could concoct her using parts of the other bridesmaid types I’ve outlined above. She could be super sweet, but shows up to every event without a bra and loses her bouquet right before the processional. She could be the one that refuses hair and makeup and opts instead to paint her face like a drag queen or simply insists on showing up bare faced and “natural” for photos. Maybe she is great until the reception but ends up making out with your DJ, or the bouquet toss turns her into a panicked mess that confronts her single woman woes by trying to out-drink and arm wrestle the groomsmen during the slow songs.
Unfortunately there is not much you can do in this situation, and frankly she is probably going to provide a lot of good stories later on, so try to laugh it off.

 

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below. 

37 Comments
  • Coop
    July 3, 2014

    While you weren’t a bridesmaid in my wedding, you area definitely a ‘Wonder-Bridesmaid!’ Love the breakdown, too cute!

  • Erin
    November 30, 2014

    Hi there! Love your article-I found it through your reply to a similar article on The Knot.com. I was wondering if you could offer me some advice….
    I’ve chosen my bridesmaids in my head. I have 2 friends from elementary school, my best friend from college, and my future sister-in-law (who I LOVE).

    I have another friend from elementary school who is expecting me to ask her to be my maid of honor or a bridesmaid (I know from others telling me), but I wasn’t going to ask her. I don’t feel like we’ve been that close, and she’s only met my fiance a couple of times. Yet, she still refers to me as her best friend. I do not reciprocate that feeling. There’s no “beef” between us, but I really don’t want to hurt her feelings. I don’t know what kind of “job” I can give her to make her feel important and included-as we already have our readers picked (again, in our heads). What to do???

    • Lisa Tufano
      November 30, 2014

      Erin, wow, that is a great question and understandably a sticky situation. I’m going to email you with some suggestions, as I feel this may depend on several factors including geography, your friend’s skill set, whether she included you in her wedding party (if she’s married), whether she has previously gone above and beyond in the friendship, etc.

      • Kate
        April 21, 2015

        I’m in a bridal party dilemma as well! I have a group of close girlfriends from home, and of the 4 of them who have had bridesmaids in their weddings, I was a bridesmaid (weddings have been spread over the last 8 years). I’ve also lived away from home for a while and feel strongly about having friends who live in the same city as me be in my bridal party. The 2 girls from back home who either aren’t married or didn’t have bridesmaids I am SUPER close with – talk almost daily, more than some of the other girls, and can talk about anything. But my fiance reallly wants an even number in the wedding party so I’ve been stressing. One of these 2 friends volunteered to not be in the wedding but still be helpful, etc, and I talked to both of them about getting ready together, walking down the aisle and doing a reading a reading together. I want all of the above ladies to get ready with me, take part in all of the weekend festivities, and I am going to get them all bridesmaid gifts, etc, and if they want to wear the same dress I would love that. To me they are 100% part of the wedding party but I know that one of the girls’ feelings is really hurt about not having the bridesmaid title because we are so close, even though I talked to her about all of this before asking any of the bridesmaids. I’m so scared I’ve done the wrong thing – but how do you break apart a friend group?! I am hiring a planner so I don’t need to assign the girls duties, I really just care about spending time with them and getting photographs, etc. I hate hurting people’s feelings but I feel like no matter what I did someone would be hurt, and I have been trying to work this out in a way that everyone felt special and excited to be involved.

        • Lisa Tufano
          April 21, 2015

          Hey Kate,

          I’m a little confused. What is your bridesmaid quota, and are you over quota by one person?

          I’m curious about the desire/requirement to have an even number of maids/groomsmen? Is it cost-related? I ask because there’s certainly no hard and fast rule that you need an even number.

          I know some weddings have the groomsmen escort the bridesmaids down the aisle before and/or after the ceremony, and then during the announcement of the wedding party at the reception, but you could switch it up and have the groomsmen and bridesmaids walk solo before/after the ceremony, and announce the bridesmaids first at the reception followed by the groomsmen. If they are all friends, they may even have a lot of fun choreographing a group entrance at the reception.

          If the concern is about your wedding photos looking “balanced”, trust me when I say that having an extra bridesmaid is probably not going to be visually distracting in your photos unless you plan a lot of shots with groomsmen paired up with bridesmaids. Trying to adhere to an even number of people in your photos is nearly impossible, especially for families that have an odd number of siblings, etc. And what’s the point? The photographer will ensure that your photos look great regardless of the number of groomsmen or bridesmaids.

          It’s most important that you and your fiancé are surrounded by the people you love, and love isn’t always symmetrical or perfect. If you think you’ll regret it later, why not embrace the uniqueness of your situation and invite an extra bridesmaid?

          I promise you that the satisfaction of celebrating your cherished friendships will far outlast any potential “scandal” from having an odd number of members in your wedding party.

    • lynn
      March 20, 2015

      Explain to her you’ve already chosen your bridal party with those who you are close with. You could have her help you with wedding favors and decorations. Ask her to help any of the elderly guests to their seats. Or even have her in charge of the rings until the ring bearer is about to go down the aisle/or up to the altar.

  • Jay
    December 6, 2014

    Hi! Helpful article! I saw that you were responding to another question so thought I would give this a shot. My best friend from high school and I were inseparable from ages 14-17. We always told each other we would be each other’s maid of honors. Since then, she has drifted away and she has become incredibly flaky, hurting me often due to it. It is honestly a surprise if she shows up to something when she says she will. She and I talk and see each other about once every 2 months now. Up until this past year, I think I still had no doubt she would be my maid of honor. Within the past year though, I’ve become fed up with a lot of it. I was proposed to on Thanksgiving and she did not even come to my surprise engagement party, even though she knew about it and was invited.

    Anyways, although we’ve barely talked since my engagement, she did tell me she’s already competing with the best man about who will have the best speech. I no longer really want to ask her to be my maid of honor, partly out of disappointment/being hurt, and also because I simply cannot count on her. Any advice on how to go about this? Will I regret not asking her?

    • Lisa Tufano
      December 7, 2014

      Hi Jay,

      Congratulations on your recent engagement! That’s so exciting and the next 6+ months are going to be intense but amazing. I will send you a separate email just in case you don’t see this response.

      I would consider a few things:

      1. It can be very disappointing when our friends seem to disconnect. Sometimes this separation is due to selfishness, and other times it’s really just a result of the natural forces of growing older and dealing with the juggling act of life, work, love, and family. Have you tried sitting down with her and having a heart to heart about your feelings? She may not realize the impact that her behavior is having on you, especially if she perceives that you have plenty of other distractions. She could (erroneously) believe that you’re doing really well in other areas of your life, and as a result she may feel that her friendship is not as critical to your happiness and that her presence won’t be missed.

      2. The alternative (and you’ll know this better than me) is that she is acting out, and being a neglectful friend. What was her reason for not attending the engagement party, for example? Did she blow it off for another party, or was there a more reasonable excuse?

      3. When you’re just a teenager, you really don’t comprehend what it means to be an attendant in a bridal party. It is an honor and can be super fun, but it is also a huge responsibility. The adult version of you now understands this in a way that your teenaged self could not at the time. Don’t be too hard on yourself about a promise you made so many years ago as a young girl. You can always change your mind. It’s your wedding and there’s no need to do something out of guilt.

      4. Unless I missed something, it doesn’t sound like you’ve met other friends and have grown so much closer to them that you wish to break the MOH pact in order to ask someone else, right?

      It’s entirely possible (deep down) that you do still want for her to stand as your MOH, but you’re overwhelmed by the feeling that you cannot trust her to be there for you during such an important time (given her more recent flakiness). I do think you could regret making a decision without really talking to her first.

      For one thing, you’ll gain a lot of clarity by gently confronting her about it. You can acknowledge the MOH pact and your desire to honor it, but you should also share the hurt you’ve been feeling as a result of her behavior, and how she has shaken your trust. It will be important to let her explain her side of the issue; if she sincerely apologizes and provides some valid reasons for her behavior and seems genuinely committed to being a better support for you, then you may actually feel compelled to forgive the past behavior and trust her moving forward.

      The other possibility is that after having this discussion, you feel the same way and her explanation/apology does not convince you that she will be able to fulfill the Maid of Honor duties. If so, you should let her know that it’s just too big of a responsibility and for your own peace of mind you may need to consider other options for now. She could still be a bridesmaid, and if she steps up to the plate with her bridesmaid duties then you might even decide to upgrade her to MOH later on. You can always have 2 MOHs. 🙂

  • Lissy
    December 15, 2014

    Great article!! The problem is when it is your sisters who are the penny pincher bridesmaids…I have three and none of them are finacially able to participate, but there’s no real way for me to not have them in my wedding…it’s stressing me out majorly.

    • Tiffany
      January 2, 2015

      I’m in a similar boat!

  • Tiffany
    January 2, 2015

    So I loved your article, but I have a dilemma. I have 3 older sisters who will all be in my wedding party but I would like to choose only 2 of them to be my maids of honor. The other sister is a “deadbeat bridesmaid”. My oldest two sisters really have been helping me a lot during my planning so far. So should I choose just one sister to be a MOH to keep the peace or should I go with my heart and tell my 2 oldest sisters that they’re both MOH?

    • Lisa Tufano
      January 2, 2015

      Hi Tiffany! I think you’ve got to go with your heart on this one. If the two oldest sisters have been pulling the wedding party weight, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to your younger sister and honestly she’s still a bridesmaid and that’s a big honor.

      If titles are not as important (and you think they won’t mind) then one other option is not to have a maid of honor at all, but choose some other special gift to acknowledge your older sisters’ MVP behavior and still treat them like co-MOHs (in terms of duties/perks). It could be slightly different gowns/accessories, an extra cool thank you gift that no one else knows about, and/or even calling out their contribution during the bachelorette party/shower/rehearsal dinner or some other appropriate time. The most important thing is to show that you recognize their efforts to go above and beyond.

      Whatever you decide, just remember that you’re tying this to their exemplary behavior and not to the biological fact that you’re related. I think your other sister will understand and if all else fails, tell mom. 😉

      • Tiffany
        January 5, 2015

        Lol! Thanks so much! I think I’ll go with the cool gifts

        • Lisa Tufano
          January 5, 2015

          Good luck and congratulations, Tiffany! I’m sure everything will work out just fine. And thanks for visiting my blog. 😀

  • Emily
    January 11, 2015

    Hi Lisa!

    I have a question concerning choosing my maid of honor. When I got engaged I immediately knew three girls who would be in my bridal party- my best friend growing up, my best friend from college, and my sister. It was simple to select the three of them because they mean so much for me and I know they’ll all be there for me.
    Initially I planned on asking my best friend from college to be my maid of honor, because of the three I’m closest with her, and when I see photos of brides with their maid of honor I picture pictures of myself with her. But the more I think about it, the more I’m starting to think that making her my maid of honor would be difficult for both of us. She’s from Massachusetts and I’m from Maryland, and next year when I’m back home planning the wedding she’ll still be in school in North Carolina. I’d feel bad asking her to make a 6 hour drive to come help me with all the details and events that come with planning my wedding.
    Now I’m starting to think my sister might be the right choice for my MoH instead because not only does she live about half an hour from me, making her more available to help me with all the silly little things that come with planning, but she also would be able to help me navigate any family drama that arises (which is bound to happen with my family). I’m just concerned that she’ll feel like I’m using her if on the wedding day I end up spending more time with my best friend. She’s also 10 years older than me and my two other bridesmaids so I’m worried that will make her feel left out to begin with. Do you have any advice?

    • Lisa Tufano
      January 19, 2015

      Hi Emily!

      I think I agree with you about having your sister stand as your MOH. The fact that you plan to make her your MOH should have the opposite effect of making her feel left out. She will likely feel singled out in a good way with the additional honor, and I wouldn’t stress about the age difference either.

      Your sister is probably aware that you have a best friend, and will likely expect that you’ll be spending a little extra time getting photos and enjoying the company of this person during your shower, bachelorette, wedding day, etc. That really shouldn’t make her feel used or left out. Naming her as your MOH is probably also going to bring you closer and it’s a lot of quality time you’ll be spending together to work on the wedding — so not only are you not leaving her out, you’re actually going to be spending the lion’s share of your time with your sister/MOH. Unless she’s an unreasonable person, she won’t think anything of you not being attached to her by the hip on your wedding day. 😉

      It’s very considerate of you to think about your sister’s feelings, but I suspect this will be a lot easier with your older sister than you think. The harder thing may be explaining to your best friend that you’re naming your sister as your MOH, but again, I think she will totally understand especially when you explain your reasons.

      Good luck and enjoy!!!

  • Paulette Altmaier
    February 1, 2015

    In all honesty, I disagree with the entire premise of this article, which assumes that it is entirely appropriate for a bride to impose on her friends’ time and finances in a pretty big way.

    Asking friends to shell out $1500 to be one’s bridesmaid, leaving out the people who can’t afford it, and demanding they be on speed dial and act as unpaid labor feels to me like an extremely self-centered approach to planning a wedding.

    Brides should plan their own weddings, and should pay for their bridesmaids’ clothes. That would bring a healthy dose of reality into wedding planning, and allow bridesmaids to revert to what they should be – friends whose only duty is to be there at the wedding, ‘standing up’ for their friend the bride as she gets married. They owe her nothing more, and nothing more should be demanded of them.

    • Lisa Tufano
      February 6, 2015

      Hi Paulette,

      I totally appreciate where you’re coming from. In a perfect world the situation you describe is ideal, but unfortunately it’s not often a reality so that’s what I have to address in this post.

      If you factor in the cost of hotels, flights, rental cars/transportation for out-of-town events you can easily close in on the $1000 mark quickly whether you’re in someone’s bridal party or not. Add to that dresses, hair, makeup and gifts, and Bob’s your uncle: $1500+ as a bridesmaid.

      Some brides do plan their own weddings and/or they hire a planner or even a day-of coordinator. I love those brides! But there are certainly other brides who rely on their friends and family to assist them. Additionally, I do not believe that it is customary in many situations for a bride to pay for her attendants’ clothing. I’ve only been in one wedding like this and the bride and groom were very wealthy.

      I like to think that I encourage a balanced approach. If you read my other post about bridal party gifts, you’ll see that I remind budget brides who require significant contributions of energy/money from their attendants that it’s not cool to thank people with a $15 scented candle. If a bride can’t afford to properly thank her bridal party, then she should rethink her expectations for her bridesmaids altogether.

  • Jules
    February 25, 2015

    Love this article! Found it through LaurenConrad.com…

    Hoping you can help me out… I have a pretty good idea about who will be my bridesmaids/maid of honour… But I live in the US and they all live in Canada (I moved here two years ago… The closest bridesmaid lives 4 hrs away)… I’ve made great friends here while in the US and am wondering if it would be smart to invite one of my US friends to be part of the wedding party, even tho they haven’t been one of my “longest friends” like those from home

    Pros: they can help me put things together here “on the ground” like all those DIY projects, organizing a bridal shower with my friends/colleagues from here and just being local for when I have those “let’s go look at fabrics” type moments on a random Saturday

    cons: they will have a greater commitment than the others since they’ll have to travel to Canada for the bigger events (engagement party, bridal party with friends and family, dress shopping) and of course the potential that I might hurt one of my girls from home, who feels they deserved it more

    What would you do? Thank you 🙂

    • Jules
      February 25, 2015

      Ps I forgot to mention… I would only consider inviting a bridesmaid from the US that is truly a close friend and someone i imagine being in my life beyond the wedding. The decision to include them would not be based out of convenience… The convenience is just one of the pros

    • Lisa Tufano
      March 3, 2015

      Hey Jules!

      Thanks for the question and I’m glad that you found me! I gave this some thought and I say: why not? If you have made a close friend here in the States that you think would be up for it, then it certainly does make sense to have some support here “on the ground” and may actually take some pressure off your friends in Canada. Additionally, this hypothetical local bridesmaid may or may not end up at all events in Canada (depending on her schedule, finances, etc) just as some of your Canadian friends may not travel here to the States for a bridal shower, etc. And that’s totally okay.

      It sounds like you’ll be dividing various events and activities between the US and Canada, and as long as you are okay with your bridesmaids dividing the work and the attendance between the US and Canada as well then everything should be fine. I’d hope that they would all make an effort to attend the bachelorette party and the wedding at a minimum; anything above and beyond should be viewed as an added bonus.

      As for some of your “longest friends” feeling snubbed because you include one of your new, local girlfriends in the wedding party… I suppose it’s possible (especially if they have never been married and gone through this thought process as a bride) but it has been two years and it isn’t realistic to expect that you wouldn’t forge new friendships.

      One thing I have learned is that honoring friendship is important, but the date that you first met really doesn’t matter nor is it a substitute for a quality bond. Many people, including brides, put undue pressure on themselves because of the longevity of a relationship when in fact the relationship has changed substantially and there may not be much holding it together aside from the now-distant memories. You can still invite non-bridal party members to participate in dress shopping and the parties and DIY, but most reasonable people understand that not everyone can be a bridesmaid and the process is relatively esoteric.

      Congratulations on your upcoming wedding and let me know if anything else comes up!

  • Rox
    March 29, 2015

    Hi I think this article is brilliant but I do have a different problem. My 2bridesmaid are both my older sisters and are nearly impossible to deal with. I am paying for everything and don’t expect them to help out but we bought one lot of dresses then they decided they didn’t like them so I aloud them to get another but now a few months later they are trying to get me to buy another dress for them. I am on a budget as I have 2 kids and another due any day but they don’t seem to care. They try to get my mother to convince me to get another dress but I refuse. I am at the point of nearly asking them to back down only family situation is not the best at the moment and it would break the family for good

    • Lisa Tufano
      March 29, 2015

      Rox,

      That sounds like a total nightmare. Without knowing anything about your specific family dynamic, if you like the 2 different dress designs already purchased then I’d tell them they have two options and to make a decision. This is not a democracy; it’s your wedding. They should be more supportive by making this time easier for you if possible, not the other way around.

      Another option would be to gently advise them that you won’t be paying for any additional dresses, but that they can submit additional designs to you to review (since they are bridesmaids in your wedding and you should ultimately choose the dresses), and if you can all agree on the 3rd and FINAL style then they can purchase those new dresses with their own money.

      It’s usually unreasonable to expect a bride to pay for a bridesmaid dress (unless she’s loaded and insists on it), let alone 2 dresses and then a 3rd dress because the bridesmaids aren’t satisfied. If they don’t like those options, they don’t have to be in your wedding party and can wear whatever they like as a regular guest. It doesn’t sound like they are adding much value, anyhow. 😉 Problem solved!

  • Jennie
    August 24, 2015

    I have a few things to say about this article and bridesmaids, as well as about the various conundrums people experience when choosing their bridesmaids. These are things I rarely hear or see taken into consideration in choosing bridemaids and I think they are worth acknowledging, so I am putting them here.

    I have found the following principle to be useful in the vast majority of cases: people generally understand the need to priorotize family over friends. But prioritizing friends over family or one close friend over another is a recipe for hurt feelings. So try to avoid doing it, even if it means forgoing bridesmaids.

    Keep in mind that bridesmaids and MOH are not mandatory; you can get married without them. However, if you decide to have them, you have to realize that you are making a public statement that those are the people closest to you, and you can’t ever take that back or change it if you hurt someone’s feelings. Yes, you can choose whoever you want as a bridesmaid, just as you can do anything you want in life. But this doesn’t mean that actions have no consequences! Thus, in the vast majority of cases, the answer to questions like whether you should choose one of your sisters but not the other, or your best friend instead of your sister or future sister-in-law is probably no, regardless of what the reason is or whether one is more available or less religious or whatever (see principle above).

    In addition, I frequently hear the suggestion that a bride should ask a friend who was left out of the bridal party to “help” with some aspect of the wedding, as a sort of way of comforting her for not being included as a bridesmaid. I disagree with this very strongly. Helping is not a consolation prize. It is not appropriate to ask some people to be your bridesmaids and other people to help you with planning or dirty work, because why should they do that if they are not being publicly acknowledged as your most important friends, and other people are?

  • May
    October 12, 2015

    I have a bridesmaid dilemma; haven’t asked anyone yet but here’s the plan: My sister is my MoH, my FI sister and my college bestie are also bridesmaids. Then there’s my childhood friends. I’m close with 4 of them. Two of those 4 live in our hometown. I’ve been in all the weddings of those that are married. Then there’s a 5th. She also lives in our hometown. She (and I and the others) was in one of the girls’ weddings just a few months ago. She and I haven’t stayed close, she rarely makes time to see me when I go home, but she is there for others’ big moments (bringing a newborn home for the holidays, weddings, showers, etc.), and we get along great when we actually do hang out. I feel like if I don’t ask her, I’ll feel exclusive and guilty. But feeling exclusive and guilty seems like a bad reason to ask someone to be in your wedding (especially when I already have 7 bridesmaids!). If she didn’t live in our small hometown (like two of the other girls), it wouldn’t be so weird. But it just doesn’t seem right to ask her, but I feel like I’ll be resentful if I do, since she’s not always there outside of “big life stuff”. She hasn’t even called me back since I got engaged a month ago to hear the story.

    What to do, what to do??

    • Lisa Tufano
      October 18, 2015

      Hi May!

      I feel like I might need a little more background. So far I think I’m understanding that this 5th friend/potential bridesmaid is a childhood friend along with the other 4, but you feel that you’ve grown further apart from each other in adulthood than the other girls?

      I totally understand how her lack of response would hurt your feelings as you’re trying to share your happy news; that does suck. But do you mind if I ask why you called her to announce your engagement if you’re not that close anymore? Is there a part of you hoping to repair/become closer with her again in the future?

      Would you be upset if she got married and invited the other 4 gals to be in the wedding party, but excluded you?

      I’m asking all of this because if you are seeking a better connection, now might be a good opportunity to communicate that to her and see how she responds. How was she as a bridesmaid in the other weddings? Was she helpful and involved? Could inviting her to be a bridesmaid be an opportunity to become closer again/repair some of the distance? I only ask since you mentioned that you get along great when you do manage to be in the same place.

      If you would rather let the relationship cool off entirely, and are not interested in maintaining an active friendship, then I might suggest confiding your struggle to one of the other girls who knows you both well and see what she thinks about this. Maybe she has some scoop or went through a similar conflict of the heart when selecting her wedding party? It’s entirely possible that this 5th childhood friend is aware that you are not as close anymore, and may not even have an expectation of being invited to serve as a bridesmaid at all. Maybe that’s why she hasn’t prioritized following up with you about your engagement news?

  • Nicole
    November 23, 2015

    I have a dilemma and need some advice! I am struggling to choose a maid of honor, and I have 3 potential choices. 1. My best friend since 8th grade who lives 6 hours away in my hometown. 2. My little sister who is currently 17 and a junior in hs, also lives 6 hours away. 3. One of my very close friends who lives in the same city that I do. She is a big planner, however, she was a MOH in a wedding last June and stresses out very easily/stressed out during that wedding. I would feel bad asking her to do that again.

    I feel as though my little sister is too young and too far away, and I feel that my best friend is too far away and it would be unfair to ask either of them. At the same time, I don’t want to ask my friend up here because I do not want to put her through the stress again.

    My man will also be having two best men, so I have toyed a bit with that idea but can’t seem to come to any good conclusion.

    • Lisa Tufano
      December 2, 2015

      Hey Nicole!

      I would say this depends on the complexity of your wedding. Will it be local or out of town? If out of town then the physical location of your MOH is probably less important. Do you have a wedding coordinator/planner who is overseeing most of the logistics and day-of bustle? If so, that might alleviate some of the logistical anxiety and responsibilities of your MOH and bridal party in general.

      If, however, you’re looking to lean upon your MOH (and the rest of your bridesmaids) for help in these areas then I would probably advise against nominating your little sister. This will be a great learning opportunity for her as a bridesmaid and she will have lots of chances to help out without being in over her head.

      That leaves your best friend (6 hrs distance) and your other close friend who resides in your city. My first inclination is to go with your best friend as your MOH, as 6 hours isn’t *too* terribly far away. You could also split the MOH duties and MOH perks between both friends, and you might compose a list of areas you’re most likely to require assistance and see if they have preferred areas that they could best support you while minimizing the potential for stress?

  • Jen Q
    February 3, 2016

    Hi!

    So I already have my bridesmaids picked out but I have two little sisters ages 14 and 12 and they’re expecting to be bridesmaids. My dilemma is that they are both really young and I wouldn’t want the bridal party to look weird having a bunch of adults and then two little girls. How could I incorporate my little sisters in the bridal party without them actually being bridesmaids? Any suggestions would be helpful!
    THANKS!!

    • Lisa Tufano
      February 4, 2016

      Hey Jen!

      I think the bigger issue (aside from the visual one you mentioned) is that typically the bridesmaids also throw your bridal shower, your bachelorette party, and help out with other tasks that are probably more suitable for adults.

      You could certainly make them junior bridesmaids, which mostly just means they could wear a special dress/hold a bouquet/sprinkle flowers, and maybe walk down the aisle (but maybe not stand as witnesses during the ceremony or be in all of your wedding party photos unless you wanted that). You could bring them along for your wedding gown selection, but that isn’t required. You could also task them with helping with DIY projects, handing out programs at the ceremony, helping clean up, etc.

      Ask yourself why do they want to be bridesmaids? Are you close with them and do you get along? Is it just about wearing a pretty dress and getting to be part of your big day? Is expense an issue?

      Plenty of younger siblings are not included in the main wedding party especially if the age gap is significant, and if that’s your preference you might just ask your mom to step in and explain the expense and responsibilities that typically go along with being a “bridesmaid” and why they are just a bit too young for that to make sense.

      But hey, if money isn’t an issue and you don’t mind them taking part in a smaller way, the junior bridesmaid route could be a perfect solution!

  • Estrella
    April 23, 2016

    Hi all!

    I got engaged in January and I am finalising my bridal party.
    I have 6 but there are 2 other girls that I was very close to in uni and now not so much that I am also considering. They are lovely girls but as we lost the connection over the years I am having second thoughts – I just don’t know if I should use this as an opportunity to build the friendship back?

    I believe they would help out – should I ask them if they want to be bridesmaids before I ask them? One is very excited to be one but I’m not sure if it’s just for the novelty of bridesmaid.

    Just so confusing. The other 6 I have absolutely no doubts about – these 2 girls however…

    Any help would be great!

    • Lisa Tufano
      April 24, 2016

      Hey Estrella! Congratulations on your recent engagement. Now the fun begins, as you’re finding out! ;D

      My first thought is this: if you do seize upon this as a chance to rebuild the former friendships, what is the likelihood of being able to maintain it post-wedding? Are you relatively close geographically? Do you see yourself making time to rendezvous with them once all the rice and confetti settles?

      Maybe you could ask your first 6 picks, being sure that you explain the potential cost/duties/anticipated time investment. If you position it correctly, is it possible that any of your picks might decline? If so, that opens up a spot for your university girlfriends.

      If you graduated more than 5 years ago and truly haven’t maintained a face-to-face relationship on the regular, then I can’t imagine that they would be too devastated not to make the cut. It might be a nice thing for them, but it probably won’t damage the status quo if you don’t include them in your wedding party. They can still attend the bachelorette, shower, etc. 🙂

      I hope that helps!

  • Anonymous...
    July 13, 2016

    Hi Lisa,

    I’ve got a complicated situation.

    3 sisters (& 2 cousins who have been bridesmaids for them in the past), and 4 close friends = 8 bridesmaids (1 MOH, my twin)

    I have discussed my plans to include friends with my mother and sisters and they were horrified at the idea that I would include them instead of family — but these friends were there for me during all of my dating years. With the exception of 1 friend who has drifted away since college (and since I served as her MOH), they are all very close friends. This distant friend received A LOT of support and help from me for her wedding. And I never hesitated. Over time, I came to realize through her behavior toward another bridesmaid (that lived in FL) that I was not in fact her preferred/closest friend. She continues a close relationship with her and does not include me when she visits town. When I finally realized this, I felt embarrassed and used. Honestly, it was a bad experience that I think damaged the relationship for me. And since I have become engaged, she continues to draw more and more distant. I have many people to consider who expect to be in my wedding party, so I suppose I should not be too bothered by it, and take the hint by not asking her. The problem is that she is the friend I partied with in college and that knows that part of my life. I would like her to be there, but our friend history is kind of strange now. I have tried to feel her out to see if she is available or excited about being a bridesmaid. At first when she heard I was engaged, she stated “We’ve got work to do!” I wasn’t quick to ask her or anyone for that matter because there are so many women in my family with expectations. So, I wonder if she was insulted and thinks that I have decided not to ask her. (My wedding is planned for Sept 2017, and we got engaged in December 2015 for some context.)

    My fiance has 2 brothers, and planned to ask 5 friends. My family was surprised and hurt that he didnt instinctively know to ask my 2 brother in laws… and we have since corrected that by asking them too.

    So now, I have this monstrous wedding party and don’t feel satisfied about it.. I feel conflicted by my desire to have more friends who I am close with, and am still struggling with my hurt over the one distant friend.

    • Lisa Tufano
      July 14, 2016

      Hi Anonymous!

      Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Many brides-to-be struggle with these same conflicted feelings and can feel very torn between obligations to their family and their friends.

      The first thing that I will say is that you should really address your lingering hurt with the more distant friend. This is a common theme as we age and start establishing ourselves in adulthood, and things like marriage shine a light on our unresolved hurts and conflicts with those we care(d) about most. It sounds like you really do still care about her and miss the friendship you once shared.

      If so, this is a great time to let her know how you feel about the growing distance (she may have no idea and may have an explanation that soothes you and explains her relationship with the other bridesmaid) and let her know that you want the two of you to work on fixing it. Perhaps she feels the same way? If she does, then you can discuss whether being a bridesmaid is a good opportunity to do work on the relationship? If she doesn’t want to repair it with you then at least you won’t feel conflicted about including her in your wedding party and you’ve got awhile before your wedding to make peace with that friendship ending. Sometimes that happens too, and that’s okay. 🙂

      The second thing I’m picking up from your question is that you’re not loving how huge the wedding party has grown due to outside pressures.

      Please know this: wedding etiquette does NOT dictate that you must include someone in your wedding party just because you served in theirs. Logistically it would be impossible to adhere to this type of rule because some people get married earlier in life, some people know more people than others, have larger families than others, can’t afford the additional expense, etc. So if you’re feeling that you’re obligated to reciprocate an invitation for that reason, please banish the thought! It’s not necessary at all and you’re not being impolite. If you’re not close with your cousins, it’s really NOT a big deal for them not to be included.

      Also know that it’s relatively unfair for in-laws to expect inclusion in a wedding party, for the same logistical reasons I outlined earlier. It sounds as if you’ve already asked your brother-in-laws, but I sense that you’re beginning to grow frustrated by so many other people dictating the moral code around your wedding, especially since it seems like you’d end up with a wedding party of a dozen or more people on each side of the aisle if you reciprocated and included every immediate family member and their spouse out of sheer politeness.

      There is truly only one solution and that is for you to tune out your family’s opinions and sit down with your future husband and discuss this. Your wedding is still quite some time from now, and you are ENTITLED to change your mind entirely and start over. Nothing has been decided that can’t be undecided in this area. You can still uninvite your brothers-in-law if that is what makes the most sense, and if that is what your fiancé prefers because he wants to invite his close friends to stand next to him. He would not be wrong in feeling that way. It’s really not fair to expect them to be included automatically (after all, your fiancé was not included in your sisters’ weddings, was he? How is it fair that there is this expectation weighing on you just because you’re the last sister to get married?).

      Ultimately you and he need to decide what makes the two of you feel most comfortable and honored on this special day, and you need to firmly but nicely communicate that to your mother and sisters and plead with them to support you and help to relay the message to other family members. All of this can be done kindly — it’s all in the packaging. We sometimes have to say no, but we can do it nicely.

      Bottom line: Know that it is 100% certain that people are going to be disappointed in this process. But also know that it’s temporary (I promise!) as long as you explain your reasons and be kind about it. Your goal is to minimize YOUR disappointment, not the disappointment of other people, so that you don’t end up resenting your family later on or having regrets about this important moment.

  • Paige
    July 18, 2016

    Choosing bridesmaids is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I have no sisters so that obligation is not there but I do have 2 sister in laws. One sister in law- I love to death and couldn’t imagine her not being a part of my wedding. The other, however, is not my favorite person. I would rather her not be in the wedding – she isn’t a positive person and seems to always cause family drama. If I have one sister in law, do I need to have the other? My mom says that if I choose one, I have to choose both to avoid a fight. I was in both of their weddings but I feel that I was only in the one wedding because my brother made it happen. Also, my fiance has 4 nieces and I have 1. 2 of his nieces are young enough to be flower girls but the other 2 and my 1 are at the junior bridesmaid age. Is it stupid to have 3 jr bridesmaids and no Jr. Groomsmen? Can they just all walk in together and then sit down instead of standing with me?

  • Jacki
    July 21, 2016

    All newly engaged women should read this post. There is some great advice in here on how you should proceed with picking out bridesmaids, what you should look out for and more. And honestly, who knew that bridesmaids could come in all types!? Believe me, they do.

    Love the article!

  • Dani
    September 26, 2016

    Hello everyone!

    I have been having a huge dilemma over choosing who to ask to be in my side of the wedding party. My FH and I have been engaged for 9 months and have been nearing our 1 year countdown (Oct 2017!) We want 6 total in each party (I know people on here have said not to stress about numbers but it personally irks me not having a even, equal number.) Two of my best friends from high school got engaged right around Christmas 2015 so when I learned about their news, naturally I was really excited for them and hoping to maybe be asked to be in their weddings and vice versa. Great right?

    If only thing were that easy. Here’s where things get complicated and very stressful. Originally when Nicole, one of my bf’s in high school got engaged, many of my other friends were in on the engagement and it was all over Facebook (it was at a winery). That’s basically how I found out and although it kind of stung that she or no one else told me personally, I chalked it up to it being that we just hadn’t been seeing each other lately as often and that our friends were simply busy. Friend two from high school, Amy ended up forgoing her whole wedding planning and got married a few months after engagement to her now Husband at the courthouse and they recently moved down to N.C.

    We all still keep in touch but don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like due to work and other engagements. I love dear friend Nicole, but she did not ask me to be in her party, which is totally fine, as she later awkwardly explained at her engagement party that she had many family obligations she felt she needed to fulfill. I wasn’t so much hurt about the reasoning (I am a very understanding person), but the fact she felt awkward addressing it sent me red flags that she just didn’t consider me to be such a good friend anymore. I assured her it was totally fine none the less, and got over it rather quickly.

    My dilemma is my other 3 friends (including Amy) were asked to be in HER party first… so even if I couldn’t be in hers, I’m thinking, will those two out of our three friends afford to be in two weddings next year???? And one of these friends is her MOH?? We’re in our mid-late 20’s and most of us are barely into our career years, and I don’t think they will be able to afford multi thousand dollar expenses at the drop of a hat, especially after making prior commitments.

    I am even currently on the fence of asking Nicole herself to be in my party (i know she can afford it) because I’ve generally felt iced out by her whenever we’ve recently gotten together with friends. Regardless, I love these girls so much, and am considering asking them to be my BM’s, but am absolutely terrified to ask them and be turned down, half due to the fact that they may or may not be able to afford it, but also because we just haven’t seen each other lately as much as we’ve wanted to, (still keep in touch through the phone and social media.)

    Meanwhile my FH has 6 GM total, and had plenty of friends to choose from, no issues no drama (guys sometimes have it easy I tell you.) My three back-ups would be my two cousins (whom I was extremely close to when we were kids until they both moved and now they’re super close) both of whom live in Texas with lives of their own and one just had a baby, so I’m nervous about rejection from them too. third possible option would be my S-I-L, whom I also love dearly, but we just found out she is pregnant and she travels a lot so I am also nervous about asking her. :/ I know people on here have been saying that having an odd number of BM’s isn’t a big deal, but to me it personally is, so you can imagine the self-imposed stress I’m currently putting myself through. I’ve over all waited on asking because of financial reason, and I’ve been saving money to make the asking process really special (thinking of doing trinket boxes for my BM’s) Do you have any advice on how to approach this situation in the best manner?

    Just to summarize, I can’t seem to shake this strange air of exclusivity Nicole has sort of imposed on me within our group of friends. Whenever we DO see each other, or talk in a group text, it feels as if she might not be completely genuine towards me. Ever since she got engaged I’ve felt pretty left out of that group of friends, though I haven’t confronted her about it. And I’ve been talking to my two potential BM’s a lot more recently. I don’t know if its even worth confronting her it at this point. As I said before, she chose her BM party immediately after she got engaged and I am just worried about asking two of those close friends in her party to also be in mine (not just because of the money issue) but because I am afraid it will make her more resentful towards me (I think she was annoyed that I got engaged right after her and maybe stole the thunder, idk. For what it’s worth, I had NO CLUE my Fiancé was going to purpose to me then.) I feel she might be acting this way, because of how very little we see each other as well, too. I am torn! Am I being way to considerate? Or just plain indecisive? LOL

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