As if you don’t have enough to worry about during wedding planning, choosing your bridal party can be a minefield. From worrying best men speeches to picking out the dresses, there is a lot to consider. Here are some handy tips to take a little stress away.

1. Ask well in advance

It’s not just venues that book up fast in wedding planning – people do too! Decide on your bridal party as soon after your engagement as you can. Normally, people expect at least 6 months’ notice.

2. Don’t feel obligated…

…to choose people who had you in their wedding. Don’t feel obligated to put children in either, or particular members of the family. Think about who you are closest to and trust the most.

3. Pick responsible people

Bridal party obligations equate to more than just organizing bachelor and bachelorette parties and looking good in wedding day photos. When you whittle down the list, you need to make sure people will take their role seriously. Think about speeches, bridal showers, and generally being organized and punctual. Frat brothers need not apply.

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4. Stick with your decision.

You can’t really take it back, can you? Pick very carefully, and don’t feel pressured into adding more. Once you have chosen, you have chosen.

5. Decide who is paying for what

Who pays for the dresses and suits? A big question for modern weddings. It is common now to expect the bridal party to pay for their outfits, and if this is the case for you, make it clear when you ask potential bridal party members. Other factors to consider are beauty treatments – do you expect them to have hair, nails, and make-up done professionally? If so, who is paying for that?

6. Think about numbers

As a couple you should co-ordinate and decide what number is best for each side. It’s best to have a similar number for bridesmaids and groomsmen – 8 bridesmaids and 3 groomsmen will look a little one-sided in photographs. You should also factor in the amount of guests at your wedding. A more modest wedding lends itself to a smaller bridal party.

lisa dawn photographyPhoto credit: Lisa Dawn Photography

7. Be relaxed with outfits

Your bridal party should get some say in what they wear. While the color and material is up to you, a lot of modern brides let their bridesmaids choose style. If you have 4 bridesmaids, it’s unlikely they will all suit the same cut of dress. Modern brides often opt for varying styles or varying colors – you want your girls to look good!

emily wren photogrpahyPhoto credit: Emily Wren Photography

8. Be realistic with their roles

Being a groomsmen or bridesmaid is a big responsibility now; dedicating themselves to dates for dress fittings, organizing a bridal shower, organizing a bachelor/bachelorette party, and of course helping out in the wedding where they can. Be aware of what you are asking from them, and be as realistic and respectful as you can.

9. Flower girl and ring bearer

Are you having children in your wedding? If so, they might be perfect for the role of flower girl or ring bearer. The ideal age for these roles is between 4 and 8. Alternatively, you could always pick your pet dog to bring the rings!

tracy peterson photoPhoto credit: Tracy Peterson Photography

10. Be modern

If you can’t decide between best men and maids of honor, it’s okay to have two! Or if you can’t decide between bridesmaids, don’t have a maid of honor at all. Alternatively, skip tradition and switch gender roles – bridesmen and groomswomen!

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