5 Step Survival Guide For Choosing Your Bridesmaids

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For some lucky brides-to-be, the process of selecting bridesmaids is smooth and painless. For others, having to choose between friends and family, as well as managing the expectations of others, is enough to send them into panic mode. The average number of bridesmaids in a UK wedding? Four.

If you’re struggling with choosing your bridesmaids, we’ve got five steps in our survival guide to help:

1. Decide if it’s worth it.

Not everyone gets on with their relatives, and many people don’t want to fork out for a big day only to have an irked Aunt or displeased cousin wreak havoc and spoil the atmosphere. Whether you have concerns about the behaviour of your family or not, it is absolutely your right to decide whether you want to have a more traditional wedding at home, or jet off to a different location with just a small number of very close family and friends to get married (if you choose to bring any others along at all!).

If the thought of deciding who to invite, never mind who should be in your wedding party, is enough to induce panic, going abroad to get married may be the solution you’re looking for.

2. How many do you need?

Traditional etiquette books suggest a minimum of one usher per 50 guests, and it’s typical to have equal numbers of groomsmen and bridesmaids (with 12 of each being the absolute maximum). However, for many people tradition has gone out of the window, so it’s really up to you how many groomsmen and bridesmaids you would like to have. Most people want to include those with whom they feel closest, which usually includes sisters, future sister-in-laws, and best friends. Your budget is likely to play a factor in the total number you can afford to have, so make the decision early to avoid spiraling costs (and emotions!) later on.


3. Who is your maid of honour?

A maid of honour is a traditional role and when it comes to modern weddings, anything goes. Whether or not to have a maid of honour is entirely up to you. This person is usually responsible for organising the hen party, and for providing additional moral and organisational support above and beyond the role of a regular bridesmaid, so it pays to pick someone who is level-headed, well organised, calm and responsible.

4. Have you considered the lifestyle and situation of those you intend to ask?

You should think about your needs as a bride before selecting your bridesmaids. If you are having a low-key wedding with the minimal of fuss and you’re a confident decision maker, it’s likely that your bridesmaids will have little to do in the way of planning your wedding. However, if you are expecting moral support and a commitment of time from your bridesmaids, you should consider their circumstances as they may not be in a position to be there for your needs if, for example, they have a very demanding job or small children to look after. It’s also worth bearing in mind that some people can feel obligated to say “yes” if they are asked to be a bridesmaid, but hopefully those you have decided to ask are close enough to you that you both are able to have an open and frank conversation.

5. Letting down gently is as important as asking.

It’s likely you will have some friends or family who think that they’re an obvious choice for bridesmaid, especially if you have a larger friendship group. There are many reasons you may decide against choosing someone for this important role, but whatever your decision, it’s important to break the news to an expectant friend or relative gently, and the key is to empathise. Don’t brush it under the carpet or ignore it altogether as that can cause hurt feelings. Instead, apologise if they feel let down or disappointed and provide an explanation – perhaps financially it just wasn’t possible.

For any friends or family who would still like to play a part, there are other ways you can involve them in your wedding day without them having to be part of the bridal party. Perhaps they could do a reading during the ceremony, take part in the pre-wedding preparations, or you could create a second top-table of sorts for close friends and family to feel that bit more special.