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Selecting the Bridal (and Groom) Party

Bridal Party Wedding Guests

By Maddie Haynes

We are now at the exciting stage of selecting your bridesmaids and groomsmen!  This is a big one because these are the people you will be relying on to help you stay sane during the wedding-planning, and they’ll be partying it up with you leading up to your big day.  There are a lot of factors to consider (and NOT consider) when making your selection for this special group.



Let me begin by being very brutally honest.  Just because you are not selected to be in someone’s wedding party does NOT mean they don’t value your friendship/support.  There are several reasons why someone who you may have thought would put you in their party didn’t and at the end of the day, you shouldn’t be concerned nor should you ask them about it.  You may receive varying advice about bringing it up to the person but in my experience, it usually makes both parties feel awkward.  If the bride or groom comes to you ahead of time or after the selections are made and explains their decision, they are opening up to you by choice and you can talk about the situation at that time.


Family & Family-in-Law: What Are My Obligations?

To put it simply, as harsh as it will sound, nobody is “required” to be a part of your special day.  When a couple who loves each other dearly chooses to elope instead of throw a large wedding celebration, it doesn’t mean they love their friends and family less, they just opted for something that fit their style and preference as a couple.  The same rule of thumb applies to who will be a part of your wedding (party members as well as guests).  I have known several women who end up putting their sister(s)-in-law in their wedding party as bridesmaids out of obligation and tradition, not because they had much in common or were best friends.  In fact, I have learned it is rare (as we get older especially) that the bride and the sister-in-law become BFF’s just because you are now a future family member.  Unless the friendship was solid and existed before the engagement, you may not feel that “best friend/sister” vibe with your Fiancé’s sister or his sister-in-law.  Don’t feel guilty if you do not want to ask this person to be a bridesmaid based on your lack of knowing each other well.  Chances are, she won’t be offended because let’s be honest, who wants to be in someone’s wedding out of obligation anyway?

Sidenote:  This applies to groomsmen as well.  You can totally put your bride’s brother in the wedding if you feel close to him but do not feel pressure to do this out of expectation.  It will be felt on both sides and will potentially make the experience less special for you both if there is not a genuine bond already there.



The sister-in-law example may have seemed easy to some of you, but what about your own sister(s)?  Or cousin(s)?  This is where family ties can get tricky depending on your relationship with the women in your family.  While it is not common to ask your mother to be a part of your wedding party (she always ends up helping you out the most, funny enough) a sister or close cousin will almost definitely expect to be included by your side.  Almost all of my girlfriends who have sisters are pretty close to their sisters/female cousins, or at least get along well enough to where they absolutely want them as their bridesmaids or MOH.  This is not the case for everyone and my advice to you is to think very carefully about whether you want this person to be a part of your big day ALL day (getting ready with you, mingling with your best friends, and potentially giving a speech) and your lead-up parties (bachelorette weekend, bridal shower, group chats).  If a family member is someone you enjoy spending time with and you want them there but you fear the drama they could bring, talk to them before you officially ask.  Be honest about your expectations and requirement.  There is no reason to hurt their feelings but you have the right to be honest about your preferences on your big day.  This is one of the few times an entire day will be about you (and your future hubby!) and it’s important to have the most supportive people by your side.



Childhood Friends: Is This a Given?

This is another touchy subject, as everyone has their own views on the “rights” of a childhood friend being involved as a bridesmaid or MOH.  The best rule of thumb is if you have to think twice about putting someone in your wedding based on your relationship with them, they probably don’t need to be in that circle.  Not to make it sound exclusive by calling it a “circle”, but to some degree there is a level of exclusivity in who you choose to be with you throughout your wedding planning process and on the big day.  If you have someone in your life that has been your ride or die since age 5 and to this day they still are, you probably already know who your biggest support system will be.  On the other hand, if you have someone who you still keep in touch with and care about but you don’t find yourself spending tons of time with them or calling/texting them every time something important happens, they might not be the most ideal candidate for a bridesmaid or MOH role. 


From a personal perspective, I know you can care so much about a girlfriend and want them to be a part of your big day without needing them to be involved in every aspect.  They may not understand initially, especially if they still consider you a best friend in their circle, but you have created new and deeper bonds with others.  This is not a fun conversation to have but again, it is YOUR right to only involve the people who truly support and get you during this major step in your life journey.  Don’t put yourself in a position where you are frustrated the whole time because the group doesn’t mesh.



The Bottom Line

Not to sound like a cliché, but do what feels right to you when it comes to your decision about who will be in your bridal and groom parties.  When I was preparing for a wedding years ago, I chose my ultimate, closest best friend from my childhood to be my MOH.  We had been through so much together and she knew everything there was to know about me.  She was the perfect fit for an MOH.  I think it was a combination of reasons that caused her lack of enthusiasm (the person I was marrying even though she supported me no matter what, the season she was at in her own life, and the organization required in planning parties) and ultimately, it showed me that she was not the best fit for that role.  Up until I called the whole thing off, I was going to have her be my MOH because I wanted her in that role.  When it was all said and done and I had a chance to reflect, I realized there were other people in my life who took on what her “duties” should have been and they did it because they wanted to ensure I was happy and all was smooth in the events leading up to my wedding day.  You’ll have a better experience if you carefully select who you place in those roles so that when you do look back on photos and memories, you know you can still call these people and reminisce together on one of the most special days of your life.


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