Steph was sweet enough to share her wisdom about choosing bridesmaids and groomsmen last month, specifically about things to consider when, like her, you can't imagine having a small wedding party. Today, she's touching on friends, family, and how to narrow down your choices sensitively and smartly. Enjoy, and be sure to stop by her blog!
|Michael and his groomsmen! Brian Powell Photography|
Each bride and groom has unique relationships with their family members and friends. If you are both close with your families (i.e. siblings, cousins, etc.) this will most likely influence and/or shape your choices.
Things to consider:
Your family - Who are your non-negotiable family members? And I don't mean who would your mother like you to choose...but who do you absolutely want standing beside you as you get married? For me this was a no-brainer: my two sisters. I was able to honor one of my cousins in another way by having her read the prayer petitions during our wedding mass. If you have brothers or male cousins you are close to, do you expect your groom to include them in his groomsmen or is there another role these men could serve (i.e. ushers, lectors)?
His family - Does he have a lot of siblings or cousins he is close to? Would he expect any of his sisters to be included in your bridesmaids? My husband has one sister and while he didn't force me to have her as a bridesmaid, I think my including her was a gesture of good will towards my new family members that will be more long-lasting than squeezing in one more friend instead of her. Fortunately I really like my sister-in-law...but if you really can't stand yours you shouldn't feel obligated to include her; remember that you’ll be spending significant time with the people you choose (bachelorette party, rehearsal and dinner, getting ready on the big day, etc.). Make sure you discuss all of this with your groom and what his expectations are and/or what the implications of choosing people in his family - or not - may be.
Your friends - If you already have a list of non-negotiable family members from your side and his you may find your "friend slots" limited (unless you're aiming for that 20-person wedding party). My best advice in this arena: choose the friends you consider to be family. It sounds simple, but I found myself agonizing over not hurting people's feelings and not wanting to include some people from a particular friend group but not all. It's your wedding day and if you aren't that close to someone in a friend group, don't feel obligated to include her. She probably already knows if she is one of your closest friends or not and shouldn't be surprised or offended (and if she is offended, she probably didn't deserve to be chosen in the first place). Don't forget that you can include other friends in other ways as well. Because my husband is a convert and doesn't have Catholic family members and several of mine are non-practicing, I was able to utilize a lot of my other close, Catholic friends as ushers, lectors, the cantor, musician, etc. In hindsight, I should have made one of my lectors a bridesmaid but I got caught up in trying to include as many good friends as possible and was able to place her there because she is Catholic (so she already knew what to do) when many of my bridesmaids were not - a rookie mistake (but it's not like I'd ever been married before, after all).
So that's it! Hopefully these tips can help you pinpoint how many bridesmaids you're willing and able to have and who fits the bill. As always, make sure you consult your groom and weigh in on any of his desires or expectations surrounding his groomsmen. At the end of the day your family members and sincere friends will be happy for you regardless of whether or not they were standing by your side, helping out in some other capacity (singing, reading, ushering, etc.), or simply witnessing your vows from a pew. One of my friends actually told me she didn't care where she stood or sat - and would be happy standing outside the church in the pouring rain if it meant getting to witness my wedding...which is real best friend and bridesmaid status right there.
For all of you that are engaged: may the Holy Spirit guide you as you continue your marital preparations and if you find this or any other decision to be overwhelming don't forget to pray. God has already led you to the 2 most important parts of your big day - your man and the decision to marry him...so trust that He can help you handle the minor details as well.
Tell us! Any other advice for selecting your wedding party? Let Steph and I know in the comments!