Many people get excited about being asked to be a bridesmaid at a wedding. But theres also probably a handful of women who don’t particularly relish being asked to be one. If you’re getting married and will soon be in the process of choosing a bridesmaid or several bridesmaids, you may want to think long and hard about the feelings of your potential bridesmaid before popping the question. We get blind-sided by not wanting to offend friends or family who don’t get asked, but there’s always the other side of the fence. Some women actually cringe when asked!
Take the case of Siri Agrell who wrote a piece, ‘Bad Bridesmaid’ on the National Post this month. She said she had never fancied herself as bridesmaid material but a friend is a friend and so’ ’Still, I found the whole process bizarrely entertaining, even though I was occasionally overwhelmed by the expense, excess and drama of the bridal circus. I thought it was funny how much time, energy and $50-per-yard fabric could be employed in an event that would last a maximum of eight hours’ When I started researching the bridesmaid institution, its origins and obligations, I was equally stunned by the advice given by wedding planners, etiquette experts and seasoned attendants. Almost all of them acknowledged that being a bridesmaid is sometimes not a whole lot of fun, but the only response, they warned, is to shut up and take it.’
We’re not going to scare you away by talking about friends who secretly dislike being asked, but this is fair warning for future brides: consider the feelings of others.
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of bridesmaid selection:
It’s All About the Women You Care About
Great! The site has been sighted, the church has been reserved, the pastor ‘pasteured’ and the dress hand-picked with your very own ‘specs.’ You might be surprised, however, that perhaps one of the decisions that could kickstart a warren of emotions is choosing your bridesmaid.
Choosing your bridesmaids means more than just who you’ve known the longest or liked the best it can be a decision that is rife with family politics, practicalities, and other issues. You’re suddenly feeling that choosing a bridesmaid is like treading into the murky waters of quick sand.
The thing to remember is that choosing a bridesmaid should be about the women that you want to share your special day with. Narrowing down your choices to include your favorite friends and relatives you’re very fond of can jingle and jangle the nerves not only yours but theirs as well. Since drawing names out of a hat is only child’s play and therefore not an option, you have to seriously consider how you will select your bridesmaids.
First, decide how grand you want your wedding party to be. If you are trying to limit the number of guests, then choose conservatively. In one wedding we attended, the groom had three men that he wanted on his side of the line, no more and no less. If your groom has already chosen his men, then try to match his number. If you seriously feel that you NEED one or two more people, or if you can’t come up with enough ladies who will stand with you, have a serious talk with your groom and resolve the problem without the involvement of anyone else.
Once you have your number set, then draw up a list of the women you are thinking of. When you are drawing up this list, put a star beside those names that constitute your first choices and those who are actually expecting to be asked. This includes family members who you don’t want to include, but who are nevertheless expecting an invite.
Once this list is complete, it might be a good idea to come up with a short list containing ‘on reserve’ names in case your invitation is declined. If you have lost contact for years with a friend or two, they will understand if they receive an invitation only the wedding but not to stand at the altar with you regardless of a pact you made with them when you were 12 years old. You’ll experience feelings of doubt when you have to cross off female family members such as cousins so arbitrarily. Call each one of them if they expect to be included, and explain that while you’d be happy to share your day with them, you simply don’t have enough room up front to include everyone. That should quell most hurt feelings if you’re honest and candid about it.
Sisters are hard to say no to as well, and for the sake of family unity, you might just want to bite the bullet and include them if they wish to participate. The same does not necessarily go for the future sisters-in-law but do consider them at least. They just might be the people you could count on when you have some marital conflicts to smooth over. Your husband’s sisters would know which would calm him down, having shared their childhood with him.
Bridesmaids: Responsibility is Key!
Your best friends are on top of your list but when you do make THE final decision, one factor to think of is, ‘just how responsible each of these ladies is?’ Your bridesmaids are not limited to framing you and the groom and adding beauty and glamour to the ceremony, they too have responsibilities on and before the wedding day.
Naturally, the bulk of the responsibilities falls on the shoulders of the bridesmaid:‘
- Planning any pre-wedding parties and the shower,
- Coordinating the numerous details like cake, gifts, favours, speeches, sending messages and thank you notes, establishing the bridal register and any other duties the bride may need assistance on.
- During the ceremony, the bridesmaid will have to hand out tips to the caterers and cue the band or DJ for the first dance.
Bridesmaids have to be reliable 100% so tick off the ‘flaky’ ones who are likely to commit a faux pas and cause an embarrassment. You can assign these ladies less important roles such as reading a passage or making a toast. If she tends to struggle with words, you may want to clip out a piece of poetry for her to read or pick out a toast or speech sample from the Web.
Did Anyone Think She May Not Afford it?
Money is a taboo subject, but if you sort of suspect that your favorite friend may be having financial troubles, you can spare her the embarrassment of an explanation of why she won’t be able to take on the role. For example, if she lives in another city, the plane fare might be a hindrance, or buying a wedding dress would seem like an extravagance when she has kids to support. One piece of wisdom is to let bridesmaid nominees know ahead of time so that they can make plans to attend or politely decline. DO NOT be offended if some of your top choices cannot participate. They have their own lives to deal with, and it is not a reflection of how much they like you.
When the bridesmaid or bridesmaids have been chosen, do think about the pregnant bridesmaid as well. While pregnancy is exciting and wonderful, it is a challenge to outfit a pregnant woman when her waistline will fluctuate weekly. This does not mean that you should exclude friends who are trying to get pregnant, but be aware of the risks and headaches that this might cause. Anyone who is expecting to deliver within a timeframe of 30-45 days before your wedding date should consider stepping down; otherwise she’d need to step out in great rush during the ceremony. You want to hear wedding bells ringing, not ambulance sirens wailing!