Typically, the wedding party is made up of the bride and groom's closest friends and family. For some couples choosing the people for these special roles are easy, for others the decision is more difficult.
Ultimately you will choose people that will go through the whole planning process with you, who will give a helping hand or shoulder to cry on. So, you need to choose carefully, because not only are you choosing someone to support you, but you are asking someone to put a lot of their own time and effort into your day.
We have put together some tips to use when deciding on a wedding party.
So, to start off with a traditional wedding party includes:
Although this is traditionally a complete wedding party you don’t have to include all of them in your wedding. A lot of couples only have a maid of honour, best man and 2 or 3 bridesmaids and groomsmen.
Start by sitting down with your partner and making a list of all possible people for your wedding party. Include people you want, your partner wants as well as people you feel obligated to invite - try to think about options from family to high school friends to newer friends. This list can be quite long, but it is a good starting point for you to narrow down on.
Now you need to ask yourself 2 questions:
What do I want?
Your wedding day is after all ‘Your Day’ and you have all the right in the world to want it perfect - so take into account the people that you feel are the best fit for what you want. Realize that it is okay to choose one person over another and that it does not mean the person you chose is more important - just that they can offer more in the circumstances. Just sit down and explain the situation to those that did not get chosen, they will understand; and remember you can still include them in other festivities, such as the bachelor and bachelorette parties.
What do they want?
Put yourself in their shoes - take into account that if you ask them to be in the wedding party it comes with a certain amount of responsibilities and you need to ask yourself if they are in a place right now where they can take on these responsibilities.
Perhaps they cannot contribute financially (if required).
They may have a personal event in their lives - having a baby or a big project at work - which will interfere with what you’ve got planned, or add to their stress levels
Or they may be going through an emotional time - a breakup or difficulty in a relationship - that makes the lovey-dovey wedding planning difficult to go through.
Discuss the situation with them and give them the option to decide.
Lastly if you find yourself on the fence about certain people, consider 2 things:
1.Will they get along with the other attendants? It is important that the wedding party get along and if you feel this person might clash with the others it might be better to leave him/her off.
2.Will you be just as close to this person in five or ten years as you are now? Don’t supplement quantity for quality.
Set honest expectations
Make a complete list of what you expect from your wedding party. Do you want them involved in every aspect from cake tasting to dress fitting or are you happy with them just wearing what you chose and showing up on the wedding day. Make sure that before your wedding party agrees to the task they know what is expected of them before, during, and after the wedding.
Remember that your wedding party is there for support and love and to offer a helping hand - to an extent.
There are a couple of don’ts:
Discuss the finances
This can be a very touchy subject but is very important and you need to discuss this with your potential wedding party before they make a decision to be part of the wedding or not. It needs to be clear which expenses you as the bridal couple will take care of and which they will have to take care of in regard to their duties.
Traditionally the wedding party pays for:
Something to keep in mind is that everyone has a budget - they might be saving for a down payment, paying of a loan or simply just have 3 children. Not everyone will necessarily have the finances to be able to contribute and you definitely don’t want to put them in a tough or awkward situation.
So be honest with your wedding party about your expectations and be realistic about the costs. Don’t pick the most expensive bridesmaid dress if you know your bridesmaids can’t afford it or go on that weekend away bachelor party if your best man has to take out a loan to pay for it.
Also keep in mind that as the bridal couple you can of course decide to cut out all financial obligations for your wedding party or assist with certain payments.
You should take serious consideration to include family from both the bride and grooms side as part of the wedding party. Even if you're not particularly close to his sister or her brother, siblings are going to be around well past your 10-year anniversary, and chances are, you'll become closer over the years.
There is no set rule that you have to choose a sibling as the maid of honour or best man, but this can however come in handy if you are struggling to choose between 2 friends for this duty - no-one can blame you for choosing a sibling instead.
If you prefer you can choose your sibling as a bridesmaid or grooms men or if you don’t want a big wedding party you can always include them in the ceremony by asking them to serve as ushers, invite them to escort your grandparents down the aisle and making sure they have corsages and boutonnieres to denote their VIP status.
Consider the size of your wedding
There is no set rule stating that your wedding party has to be a certain size; however, it is usually best to match the amount of people standing up front to the amount of people attending your wedding. If you’re having a 50-person wedding, having 16 people in your wedding party may not make the most sense and can make your guests feel overwhelmed or not a part of the “VIP” crowd. Whereas a larger wedding of let’s say 200 may seem uneven with only 4 people in your wedding party.
This being said it is, once again, ‘Your Day’ and it is your choice whether you want a large or small wedding party. Just keep a couple of things in mind:
Don’t feel obligated to stick to tradition
Traditionally the bride will have an all-female party of 1 maid of honour with her bridesmaids; whereas the groom will have an all-male party of 1 best man with his groomsmen and furthermore the bridesmaids and groomsmen have to be the same amount.
However, you do not have to feel limited by tradition. There is no wrong way to do a wedding, so you should go with what feels right and include your favourite people. If that turns out to be 6 men and 3 ladies - so be it.
For an uneven wedding party have:
Additionally, if for example the bride’s best friend is a man she can choose him as her man of honour/brides man (or best woman/groomslady in the grooms case). Even further the men and woman don’t necessarily have to stand with the groom and bride respectively, the men can stand with the bride and women with the groom or you can even mix it up by having men and woman on both sides.
You might find yourself in a situation where you cannot decide between 2 friends as to whom you want as maid of honour; so why not give them both the title. Or the groom might decide that he does not want a best man - only groomsmen.
Choose responsible attendants
Keep in mind that some of the responsibilities of your wedding party can be quite big (e.g. looking after the rings) so you want to include people who are not just supportive but reliable.
Try to avoid choosing people that are dramatic or demanding or people who might not be as excited about your wedding day as you are (e.g. your cousin who thinks your fiancé is annoying or your friend who is visibly jealous).
This does not mean that if your best friend isn't always the most dependable person you cannot choose him/her as best man or maid of honour - you can just ask someone else in the wedding party to take care of the important duties and your best friend can still have the title.
Don't ask someone just because they asked you
Your wedding day is a very special day that you will want to spend with people that mean something to you. Don’t include people because you feel obligated, guilty or that you have to return a favour - you will regret it.
If you have mixed feeling about a specific person as to whether you are including them because you feel obligated or because you want them there just take a step back and evaluate the status of our friendship and how you see them being a part of your wedding and family in the future.
Don’t expect everyone to say yes
When you ask someone to be in your wedding party do not expect them to give you an answer as soon as you ask. Being in a wedding party comes with responsibilities and expenses and some people might need some time to think about it.
They might decide that they cannot take it on - they might have other commitments, financial strains, a fear of standing up in public or just don’t want to be in your wedding and they have the right to feel the way they do. So don’t be shocked if some of the people you ask decline, and if they do, don’t take personally - it does not take away from your friendship.
If there are children that you and/or your partner feel close to you can include them by giving them the following titles:
Including non-wedding party members
Whether you decide on a large or small wedding party, there is always a good chance you've got a few friends who don't make the cut - but still mean the world to you. If this is the case there are some other ways you can include them in your wedding celebration: