Wedding Party Bridesmaids and Groomsmen – How to Choose Wisely

It may seem that choosing wedding party bridesmaids and groomsmen, plus a maid or matron of honor and a best man, is easy. But issues arise that may make the situation more complex than you’d imagined.

The Maid of Honor and Best Man

The wedding party members with the most responsibilities to the bride and groom are the maid or matron of honor and the best man. They are both positions of honor in the wedding party, and those chosen to fill such important roles are customarily close family members or best friends. But what if there is more than one equally special person who deserves to be chosen?

No bride or groom should feel restricted by hierarchy. If the bride has both a younger sister and an older one, tradition would mandate that the older sister be chosen as the maid or matron of honor. But if the bride is closer to the younger sister, there is no reason she should not be asked instead. There is also no steadfast rule that there be only one maid or matron of honor or one best man. Sometimes the right solution is to ask both sisters to share the maid of honor role and responsibilities or two friends to share best man duties.

If a bride has sisters, but feels closer to her best friend, the best friend should be the obvious choice. The bride or groom’s wishes should not become secondary to perceived protocol. Many factors come into play—potential hurt feelings, time demands, the burden of expense, and personalities. But in the end, choosing the person the bride or groom wants most is what matters—even if that person crosses traditional gender boundaries. Many modern wedding couples have chosen a Gentleman of Honor or a Best Woman to stand with them.

Selecting Bridesmaids and Groomsmen

Choosing bridesmaids and groomsmen also works best without hard, fast rules. The following considerations can help with the selection:

  • Must bridesmaids and groomsmen be in equal numbers? No. It is perfectly acceptable to have more of one than the other. For example, if there were one less bridesmaid, one of them would walk down the aisle with two groomsmen instead of one.
  • Should the bride and groom pay for wedding party attire? It is customary for wedding party members to be responsible for their own wedding day expenses, including attire. However, subsidizing or paying for attire may make the difference for some wedding party participants. Deciding up front if attendant dresses and men’s formalwear can be factored into the wedding budget is wise. It helps prevent later embarrassment for all parties.
  • Should I ask old friends I haven’t seen in a while or newer friends I really like but haven’t known as long? Your wedding day is a unique life experience. The criteria for who should be chosen as wedding party members is simple. Ask those who matter most to you. They may be friends or family members you’ve known all your life, or they may be people with whom you’ve only recently formed a special bond. Set the priority by how you feel about them, not by what is traditionally expected.
  • What if my intended doesn’t like a person I choose? Your wedding day should be about harmony and unity, but no bride or groom should sacrifice their own individuality as they enter into marriage. Choosing someone the other party doesn’t care for is a judgment call. Is choosing that person worth a disagreement? If the answer is yes, and you just wouldn’t forgive yourself if you didn’t ask a friend simply because your intended doesn’t approve, then find a way to make it work. A person who is important to you is likely going to be a part of your life even after you are married. Getting adverse parties together and working out differences is the best solution. If, on the other hand, an amicable resolution can’t be reached, ask yourself if having that person in the wedding party is worth a wedding day fraught with unnecessary tension. If the answer is “no,” then it’s the friend who will have to understand why you can’t ask him or her.

Wedding Attendants Matter

While it is true that a wedding is essentially about two people, it is those who surround those two people who make it a celebration. The bride and groom bring the heart and soul to the occasion. Family and friends bring the spirit.

Carefully selecting bridesmaids and groomsmen is one of the most rewarding of all wedding planning tasks. Doing so with thoughtful passion will make the wedding experience even more joyful.

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