Choosing Your Bridesmaids

Education, Wedding Tips for Brides, Weddings

When it comes to choosing your bridesmaids, there is so much to consider and it can easily become overwhelming, especially if you have a lot of close friends and are finding it hard to choose among them. 

A group of my married friends were sitting around the other day and chatting about the bridesmaids we chose for our weddings. Two of us have been married for awhile and neither of us even see or socialize with the ladies we chose to be our bridesmaids. Another has only been married for a year and still hangs with all of hers, but it sparked a conversation about how, as wedding photographers, we often witness what happens when our beloved brides make poor choices for their bridesmaids. 

Here are just a few of the examples (some funny, some not so much) of the things we’ve witnessed at weddings we’ve photographed: 

  • a bridesmaid pulling out her cell phone in the middle of a wedding ceremony to take a selfie with the bride and groom behind her;
  • bridesmaids getting so drunk before the ceremony that they can’t walk down the aisle;
  • bridesmaids refusing to help the bride during while she’s getting ready because they are texting with other friends or too caught up in getting themselves ready for the day;
  • A bridesmaid spilling her red wine down the back of the brides dress because she was too drunk to walk straight;
  • A bridesmaid showing up 45 minutes late for the wedding ceremony and holding everything up because she was getting her nails done; and
  • A bridesmaid telling the bride that there’s “nothing special” about her wedding day and that she only agreed to be a bridesmaid because one of the groomsmen was single and cute.

I’m not making this stuff up! And, unfortunately, this kind of thing happens all too often because brides just choose their buddies to be their bridesmaids but don’t really understand what a bridesmaid is supposed to be and do. So, I thought it would be a fantastic idea to send some advice out into the world for newly engaged ladies who are trying to choose their bridesmaids. It’s understandable that this topic isn’t talked about very often or is only addressed after the fact—it’s a tough aspect of the wedding-planning process to address because most brides just want their friends to feel included, even if a friend isn’t an ideal choice! 

Do you know that the idea of bridesmaids originated in biblical times when brides were helped into their wedding day attire and helped down the aisle by their maids or their Ladies In Waiting? History is chock full of all sorts of folklore, bible stories, and anecdotal evidence about the bride’s attendants and their origin. There are even historical accounts of chinese brides whose attendants wore the exact outfit and face paint the bride did to fool would-be kidnappers from rival clans. 

The point is that, in all the stories and historical evidence, bridesmaids were meant to help the bride on her wedding day. Of course, in today’s world, bridesmaids are often chosen from the brides friends and family with very little thought going into choosing who will be best suited for the role.

bridesmaid applies lipstick to a bride during photos and then all of the ladies stand together, laughing

Bridesmaids help their bride get into her dress on her wedding day. Choosing your bridesmaids is very important to ensure your day is amazing

So before you call up your 10 closest girlfriends and ask them all to be in your wedding party, consider these tips for choosing your bridesmaids first:

The Depth of Your Friendship. Get real with yourself about each friend you’re considering:

  • Can you see yourself being friends with them for many years to come? 
  • Do you have an amazing connection that tells you that your friend has been and always will be there for you, through thick and thin? 
  • Will your friend be there for you during the wedding planning (which is part of what a modern bridesmaid’s role is—helping to plan, helping with your pre-wedding activities such as your bridal showers and stagette) and during the wedding day (to run errands, help you into your dress, hold your flowers and other things for you, help you get into a bathroom stall when your dress is too poofy to do it alone…)? 
  • Will your friend be able to set aside her need to be in the spotlight or be the center of attention during my wedding day or will she probably spend the entire time taking selfies and photobombing all of our photos? 

If the answer to any of these questions is no, they are most likely not a great choice for a bridesmaid or Maid/Matron of Honor. To prompt you to dig even deeper:

  • Is this friend selfish? Do they make everything about them and seldom step aside to give the spotlight to others? Will they end up turning your day into their day?
  • Is this friend stubborn or argumentative? Are they likely to argue with you about your wedding details or cause issues on your wedding day?
  • Is this friend a Drama Llama? Do they purposely create problems where problems don’t exist to spread angst and turmoil?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, they are most likely not a great choice for your wedding party.

choosing your bridesmaids is one of the most important parts of your wedding. Cute bridesmaids photos by Comfort and Cashmere

Less is often more.

The more bridesmaids you choose for your big day, the more work it is to wrangle them, the more expensive it is to outfit them (if you are paying for their dresses), and the tougher it can be for all of them to keep the peace. (Let’s face it, ladies, we sometimes get a little weird and catty when we spend time in groups!) Ask yourself if it would be easier—on you, your budget, and your psyche—if you chose one or two bridesmaids instead of all of your friends. You might be surprised at your answer!

Costs Involved.

Can I afford to have a lot of bridesmaids? Can my bridesmaids afford to be part of my wedding. 

Most brides don’t really think about this aspect of their wedding, but the more people in your wedding party, the more gifts you have to buy them to thank them for sharing and helping in your day, the more mouths you have to feed at dinner, the more money you have to dish out for dresses (if you are purchasing the dresses). On the flip side, if you plan to ask your friends to buy their own dresses, there is a chance that you will be putting people out because they don’t have surplus cash to buy a bridesmaid’s dress, but they may say yes anyway because they are worried saying no will upset you.

Do they like your fiancé?

This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you have a friend who doesn’t seem to love your fiancé and often makes remarks about them or causes strain when the three of you are together, they are probably not the best choice as a bridesmaid. 

bridesmaids laugh it up with a happy bride who cleary had no problems choosing her bridesmaids

If you get through this list and realize that there are many on yours that you no longer wish to consider as bridesmaids, that’s okay. Also, if you are worried about hurting their feelings by not inviting them to be in your wedding party, there is a really simple fix! Instead, ask them to be your MC or to help decorate or to participate in other wedding activities before the big day. For example, invite them to come over and hang out with you and your bridesmaids the night before the wedding so they know you love them and want to make them feel included.

Whatever you decide to do when you choose your bridesmaids, remember that your wedding day is 100% about you and your love and it is completely your choice how to do it. It’s not about making your friends or family members happy, it’s about celebrating your love in a way that makes you happiest. If your friends love you, they will respect and support your decisions, whether they are your bridesmaids or not. 

Now, go find your wedding tribe, lovely. You’ve got this!

For more information on planning your wedding, have a look at our other helpful tips, such as remembering to include self-care and considering a First Look!



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Fueled by equal parts strong coffee and French 75’s, I spend my days capturing the kinds of images that convey distinctive emotion through intentional moments and create elevated images you’ll treasure for a lifetime. I showcase your story and your love in an exceptional, gracious way. I believe in real moments, heartfelt conversations, love stories that grow stronger through the storms and the kind of joy that can be found in the simplest of moments together. When I'm not tearing up during the vows, you'll find me whipping up a new recipe in the kitchen, listening to Sinatra, or snuggling with my mini me.

I’m Rohana Olson

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