Every wedding decision is fraught with tension, but none more so than choosing your attendants. To avoid as many hurt feelings as possible, consider the following before you make your choices.
Set a firm number of attendants
Do you want a big wedding or a smaller, more intimate ceremony? Is it vital that you include all your childhood friends or fraternity brothers? And, most importantly, how many bridesmaids and groomsmen can you afford?
You and your future spouse should set a number in the early planning stages. Stick to it, even if you’re tempted to add more attendants later.
Brainstorm the list with your future spouse
Once you’ve decided on a number, sit down together and make a list of everyone you’d like to ask. It’s a good idea to include close siblings first, then friends you’ve known since childhood or school. List more names than you need because some people may decline.
Will you include kids in the ceremony?
Are you planning to have flower girls, ring bearers, or other kids as part of the party? If so, you’d better make sure their parents are attendants, too. The opposite is also true; if you don’t want kids as part of your ceremony, then ensure that the adults in your party are aware of the fact.
Be realistic about your expectations
How much do you expect your attendants to take on? Will they be responsible for bachelor/ette parties? Do they need to buy their own gowns and suits? Are you paying for hair and makeup services? Will you expect them to travel for the wedding, and if so, how much are you willing to contribute financially?
Asking someone to be your bridesmaid or groomsmen is like offering them an unpaid job. Be sure that the people you choose can afford to meet your expectations.
Don’t obsess about appearances
You’d never do this, of course. But you hear horror stories of bridezillas who make outlandish demands of their bridesmaids, such as cutting or dying their hair. Some may even decide not to ask friends and family to be in the wedding party unless they meet a certain aesthetic standard. Don’t be like those bridezillas.
Picking your lead attendant
Your maid of honor and best man are the quarterbacks of your wedding party. There’s a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. Choose your most reliable, punctual, and trustworthy friend or family member for the role.
If that person is the opposite gender, don’t sweat it; more and more weddings feature a “man of honor” or a “groomsmaid.” Just steer clear of “best woman,” since that title may raise a few eyebrows.
Think about group dynamics
How will your attendants deal with each other? Just because they’re all friends with you doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll get along. You and your spouse should consider how the party members will interact. Ideally, they can put aside any minor differences for a day. However, serious personality clashes should be avoided at all costs.
Send gifts with your ‘proposal’
When you ask people to be your wedding attendants, it’s customary to give them a gift or at least treat them to a meal. It’s an acknowledgment of what a big “ask” this is. Don’t go overboard, but a small, thoughtful gift is a good way to establish the tone for your wedding.
Brace yourself for rejection
Not everyone wants the responsibility. If a friend or family member declines the honor to be in your wedding, accept it with grace. That’s why you had extra people on the list, remember?
Getting rejected by your chosen best man or maid of honor is a major blow. However, it’s better to know now that they aren’t up to the task. Simply move on to your backup–but never tell that person they were the second choice!
Prepare to soothe some hurt feelings
Inevitably, someone will be disappointed. If you didn’t pick your cousin/sorority sister/coworker/niece/whatever, be prepared to justify the decision. There’s no need to be defensive or too blunt.
Just say that you had to make hard decisions, but that you hope the person will still be able to celebrate with you at the wedding.