Q&A: How do I select my wedding attendants?

When selecting your bridesmaids and groomsmen, let your mind, not your heart, be your guide. When a couple gets engaged, the bride is often on the phone the very next day calling her best friends to ask them to be in the wedding. This is too often done without proper thought and planning. For example, the friend you want to be your maid of honor might have just moved across the country, or had her first baby, or started a new business. Can she afford the travel expense, the dress and accessories, the time involved, and the responsibility of being a matron/maid of honor? Before you put your best friend into an embarrassing or awkward situation, think about her circumstances, and the demands you will be placing on her. Yes, you want her to share in your joy and celebration — but maybe it would be better if she handled your guest book, or lit the candelabra.

Also consider whether the friends you want to include know each other and get along.  Stress is bad enough without having to play mediator between your attendants! Are your friends supportive of you? The last thing you need is a Prima Donna who doesn’t seem to realize the day is about YOU and not her! What if you have a brother you are close to but your guy doesn’t want him as a groomsman? Consider asking him to be your “Man of Honor”.

Whatever you decide, be sure to select family members and friends with whom you want to share your special time, and not  those you feel obligated to ask. There’s plenty of jobs to go around, so you don’t need to have everyone you know stand with you. Remember, every job is important!

Now that you’ve thought through whom you want to ask, the next decision is: What do they wear? First, determine the type of wedding you want and select your own dress. Your attendants’ attire should complement your dress. Keep in mind the different body builds of your friends when looking at styles. The same goes for color. Not everyone looks good in orange or pink. Also think about your attendants’ financial means when selecting attire. Can they afford that $250 dress you fell in love with? And even if they can, is it money well spent? Is the dress something they can possibly use later?

You might consider selecting a designer, a length and a color or fabric, then allow the bridesmaids to select their own style. This way they will  be free to select a garment that suits their build. This, in turn, will lead to happy bridesmaids and a wonderful look at the altar!

If you have a bridesmaid who will be pregnant for the ceremony, be sure to allow for this when calculating measurements.  You’ll need to get all of  the measurements to your chosen vendor as soon as possible to allow plenty of time for delivery — especially if the dresses need to be sent on to the attendants.

When shopping for dresses, don’t rule out regular department stores. Off-the-rack dresses are usually well made, sometimes fit better, and often cost less. Be sure to inquire whether all of the dresses can be ordered at the same time — this will ensure that you have a uniform dye lot.

Whatever you do, resist the temptation to take all of your bridesmaids shopping with you. If you have four attendants, you will receive four different opinions, and you will never be able to please everyone. Consider asking your coordinator, mother or maid of honor to accompany you. After you’ve made your decision,  let your bridesmaids know by sending them a picture or website address where they can see the dress, along with instructions about measurements, costs, down payments, etc.

Good luck with all of your decisions, and let me know if I can help!