How to Choose (then deal with!) your Bridesmaids

Or any member of your wedding party.
Let’s go about choosing these important girls for your wedding day. You (hopefully) spent time choosing a groom (don’t get me started if you did not spend time) so why do you think choosing the best people to stand by you should be a quick decision? You have flippantly mentioned things to these girls over the years of dating all the wrong guys. From chatting excitedly in the bathroom at that concert that one time you both had found the “perfect guys” at the same time or the time it was “fate” and you “better be bridesmaids at each others weddingssss”!!! (I have heard this exact conversation more than once in more than one bathroom. It’s a real thing.) All of that lasted about a week, yet girls feel the need to honor those late night promises. People grow and change in different ways and there are so few people who truly stay close to you over a lifetime.
There are SO many reasons- no, excuses– that I have been given to apologize for how a bridesmaid is acting during the big day. The following examples are barely scratching the surface:
 “I promised _____ in 2nd grade”. These are the sweetest memories, and should be cherished.  However this is NOT a valid reason to ask her into your wedding party. You haven’t spoken to Becky over the past decade so don’t be torn on this one. A funny screenshot texted at midnight or tag a on Instagram on something that reminded you about your third grade art teacher does not equal communication.
 Let her go. 
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She’s my fiancé’s sister”. Well, she is now going to be your new sister. She is family. She will have to understand. That’s what family is for. If she feels like the sister you always wanted then YES!! Please hand that special position over. But if the only reason you can think of is that “I have to” then you can release the guilt from the soon to be sister. Same with your fiancé’s cousin. Or niece. Which brings me to my next point.
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My future *MIL will be mad if I don’t ____”  If that is true- it’s more than likely that this is not going to be the last time she might get mad at you. You need to sit down with the one who put your ring on your finger and discuss THEIR wishes. If he doesn’t want his niece to be a flower girl, then you are off the hook. If your fiancé does not think it matters that their sibling should be in the wedding party, then again, you have zero obligation!
You are already getting sweaty, aren’t you. “But she…” No. NOPE! It’s not her wedding. A polite way to excuse yourself from it? “I am so excited about the people that me and enter your fiancé’s name have chosen for our wedding party, flower girl and ring bearer! If you would like enter you MIL wedding party choice here to be a special part of our day, I hope this doesn’t hurt your feelings, and I appreciate you letting us have our special day!”  Regardless of how sweet you are and how many times you ask, your MIL might still show up with your fiancé’s niece dressed up like a flower girl and walk her down the aisle. That is another blog topic in itself.
*(in case you’re new to this- MIL= Mother in Law)
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I don’t have siblings, so my cousins have to… Let me stop you right there. Are you best friends with your cousins? Yes?! Then yes!!! Family is the best! If the answer is no, and you hardly see them at Christmas or family reunion, then there is your answer. Your mom’s sister will get over her children being able to attend as guests… Or simply seeing photos from the event like everyone else.
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She’s my “little”!! Ok. Some might not even get this reference. I for one did not attend college so I certainly did not become part of a sorority. Whether or not this person was your “Big” or “Little” in your sorority hall or cheerleading squad, you might never talk to this person in the years following your wedding. Invite them into your circle if you are still in constant contact. Have you texted your little this month? Last month? Chances are they will have other opportunities for Bridesmaidsdom and will highly enjoy being a guest at your wedding/dancing the night away without the responsibilities of being a bridesmaid.
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Because let’s get one thing straight:
Being a bridesmaid IS a responsibility! 
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I did say I would help you deal, because chances are, you are already making excuses in your head as to why your scenario is the exception. It’s probably not, but let’s say that the following advice is “for a friend”. Your other friend that needs a dose of wedding reality. These are the typical hot topics that bridesmaids bring to the surface, and it can get ugly if you are not prepared.
ALL BODIES ARE NOT CREATED EQUALLY.  This is NOT saying choose bridesmaids based on who will look good in that bridesmaid dress you’ve been set on. That’s actually how some have justified bringing in the sorority girls as their bridesmaid-beauty lineup. I also don’t mean that everyone needs to be a ten. I am meaning the literal fact that we are not exact cutouts of each other and you might have a size ten, eighteen and two all standing next to you and you are expecting a similar look to go on everyone. From height, width, skin tone, hair color even eye color and preferred nail color (yes, that is a real story for another time) every girl has an idea of what will make her look prettiest. They tend to ignore that you have about a million things on your plate besides making sure they look like a knock out when walking down the runway/aisle of your wedding. Chances are if you are having 4-6 girls, at least one will hate the color or style and keep sending you Pins of what she thinks would work. Let them know your vision. Be firm, polite and excited. Let them know for their wedding you will wear what they would like even if it means sacrificing your personal style. Set boundaries from the get-go. Maybe they will start to soften around the edges and cave for the greater good.
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Group Text? Not the place for asking opinions.  
Texts can be extremely helpful, USE the group chat! It’s helpful to get your opinion across once you have already made your decision. You have one maid of honor for a reason. Go to them, or your mom if you are lucky enough to be close, if you are between a few things. The only thing 6 opinions brings is chaos and confusion. They all mean well, but it’s too many cooks in your kitchen. They are standing next to you during your vows! Clearly they are important. If you do want some opinions- call them. Meet for a latte. Skype if you are long distance. They will be kinder and think more about your opinion face to face. They respond better to something when they can’t misinterpret your “tone” as you being “Bridezilla”.
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Yes, it costs that much. 
 Disclaimer!!! —> If your bridesmaids are eating Ramen noodles through college, then please consider doing this: Pick a dress color and material. Example? Black satin. Pick a length: 2 inches above the knee, tea length, floor length, etc. Let them have at it. Those who can afford it can go to a premium bridal store and and choose a premium dress. Those who can’t can go online and order a ten dollar dress from JCPenney and still fit in! That is the exclusion to this point. I am not completely heartless. 
For the rest of them who have moved on to any sort of career or job other than going to school: they need to bite the proverbial bullet. (“bite the bullet” might not be a Proverb, but it may as well be). NO ONE wants to pay David’s Bridal exactly one arm and one leg for a navy blue chiffon dress they will never wear again. But it’s a wonderful and expected part of life. That “squad” you picked will be there when you find out you’re having your first baby. They will be there when you have your first big fight with the love of your life that you’re about to walk down the aisle to marry. They will be there through the loss of a parent. These are just things that we have to go through in life and they are beautiful. Everything has a bit of pain to get to the beauty. And making everyone look like a magazine model is costly process.
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It IS about you. 
I will say it again and again to brides and grooms alike. What do YOU want? It’s the one time you can ask those closest to you for exactly that— what. you. want.  Small or large. You are inviting them in to your inner clan. You are asking them to be your tightest click for the first biggest day of your life. Don’t force anything that is clearly not happening. End things amicably. People will understand and possibly be less stressed if you let them off the hook of your wedding day early on. Inviting as a guest is an incredible honor! You can even find a table full of the “fun crowd” to place them and you are ensuring them a good time.
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The end goal is and always has been for you and your fiancé to be wed by the end of the night. This is the group to get you there. If you think they will fight you tooth and nail the entire way there I don’t see why you are friends. But if you can’t see anything other than them being by your side for life? You are set. I not only love every girl that was in my bridal party dearly, I will always regret not adding one more of my sweet friends into my bridal clan. Deep breaths. If you have two on one side and five on the other, it won’t matter. A good photographer (cough cough.. hint hint… you’re reading from one right now) will be able to take killer images regardless of the number. I know I am harsh with my opinions. I just want to release you from as much stress as possible for your wedding. I want you to truly have your own “best day ever!”
Love and honesty-
Amy Elizabeth

9 thoughts on “How to Choose (then deal with!) your Bridesmaids

  1. SUCH incredible wedding planning advice from this Austin wedding photographer! I adore your wedding planning advice articles which are perfect for anyone planning a wedding of any kind. Your bridal party shots are always so much fun while still being elegant and lovely. Beautiful wedding photography as always!

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  2. These are amazing bridal party and getting ready shots. Also, the advice is spot on! The people in Austin are lucky to have you as a wedding photographer!

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  3. Ah, I love this blog post! Great advice for anyone planning their wedding. I love you you suggest that couples focus on them, and not what family members might want for them. When it’s your wedding day, you do you!

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  4. I love your advice columns Amy. Picking a bridesmaid (or several) for a wedding is a difficult decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly and I think you bring up great points. As wedding photographers we often see a different side of weddings and we see more weddings then the average person and it gives us a great insist. its so great of you to share yours.

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  5. This is all such great advice. I like how you keep the priority focused on the couple, which is exactly where it should be for their wedding! You also have great things to say about how to let people down gently. Your photos couple beautifully, and match you poised but fun style of writing. Great work!

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  6. What a wonder post on picking your bridal party – this may be the most important detail of any wedding day that can also cause the most drama within your friends and family. The images that accompany your post are just beautiful and capture the happiness and joy a bride has with her maids. This is a great read for any bride looking for tips on how to decide!

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  7. Amy, this is such an insightful post and I hope more of couples take this type of advice seriously before planning out their wedding party.
    Knowing who to choose to be a bridesmaid or groomsman is such an underrated part of planning a wedding but it really has a huge impact on how successful the day itself is going to be.
    Wonderful blog. 😉

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