Selecting Your All-Star Wedding Party

Kellee Khalil
We’ve all seen those rom coms where the bride-to-be asks one of her "besties" to be in her wedding party, only to have a huge falling out before the wedding day (*ahem* Bridesmaids, Wedding Wars, we see you). You can't exactly "un-ask" someone to be a 'maid’ or ‘man’ of honor — which is why it's so important to really consider who you want by your side on your wedding day... before you ask them.
Below, we’ll help guide you through the selection process to help make it easier for you to weigh your options. 

The Size

Determine how large or small you want your wedding party to be. A good rule of thumb is to compare the number of Groomsmen your partner is considering to the number of Bridesmaids that you’re considering. Normally, they’re paired up to walk down the aisle but the final number is completely up to you. And remember you can always have an uneven number to pair walking down the aisle! Here are some additional ideas of ways to incorporate more people into your bridesmaids or groomsmen. Double or pair up: if you have two extra groomsmen to your bridesmaids, have three of them walk down the aisle together or vice versa. We’ve also seen some fully grown groomsmen double as the ‘flower boy or girl’ and it always turns into a major crowd pleaser! Select some people to be your welcome party. They’ll act as ushers or greeters at the door passing out the pamphlets, umbrellas, and roses or help guide people to their seats.It’s okay to have your party walk solo as well! Not everyone needs to be paired together and sometimes a solo walk down the aisle is an even more powerful statement. One important question to ask yourself when considering who to ask deals with the future. Do you think you’ll still be friends with these people in five, ten… even twenty years? If you answer yes, then those are the people you want in your wedding photos to look back on years later. If your answer is no, cut them from your list!
Photo by Jordan Voth
Photo by Jordan Voth

Consider reliability.

Your wedding party members help support you by taking on many of the tedious tasks leading up to your wedding day. That’s why it’s important to factor in reliability when making the decision. You probably have at least one amazingly funny and kind friend who also manages to be late for every meetup. You probably also have a friend who can be a little bit lazy. Depending on how much help you need you might want to balance these people out with others you know will be happy to help you when you need them most. 

Siblings & ‘Family’

Normally, siblings are an obvious choice to include in your wedding party.. If you’re close enough, those siblings might also be in the running for Maid of Honor or Best Man. If not, just including them in the wedding party might be enough. Again, this is the time to consider how close you are and where in the wedding party line up you want them to be. What about your siblings’ significant others? Do they also get included in your party? Not necessarily. Again, this is your special group, so you’re the only one who should be deciding who’s in the wedding party. If you're close with your sibling's significant other, it may feel natural to include them, but don’t feel obligated to!. Trust us, they’ll be fine spending an hour apart to celebrate your big day. It’s always nice to include your partner's sibling in your wedding party and vice versa. But again, this really depends on your relationship with their sibling but it’s always a nice gesture to have them included and it’s a great way for them to get to know your close friends a little more. After all, it’s impossible not to bond at a bachelorx or bachelor party after a couple of glasses of champagne, right?Is there anyone in your life that you aren’t related to, but would consider ‘family’? If so, this is definitely a person you’ll want to consider including as a part of your big day. These people can also be other family members that you’re especially close with including cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles... you name it. It all depends on your relationship with them.
Photo by Yumi Matsuo
Photo by Yumi Matsuo

Close Friends

Those who are close to both you and your partner. If there are people in your life who are close to both you and your partner, consider them as well. Even if you don’t necessarily want them in your wedding party, they might be a perfect choice for the wedding officiant. It’s always nice to have someone who knows both you and your partner standing up with you at the altar. That way, they can tell relatable stories and share meaningful anecdotes of you both as a couple. Who is on your ‘must invite list’ for all of your pre-wedding events like the bachelorx or bachelor party. Here, you should be thinking about all your FUN friends. The ones who are always down for a good time, always spice up boring moments with spontaneity and laughter, and, most importantly, are always drama free. These are your ‘yes!’ friends who you know will help make the festivities as fun as they possibly can be.And remember, even if some of these friends don’t make your wedding party list you can still invite them to all of your pre-wedding events including the bachelorx and wedding shower. 
Photo by Jordan Voth
Photo by Jordan Voth
Pro Tip: Those pre-wedding events don’t need to be limited to  the wedding party. You can invite as many people as you want!Who are the people that you can rely on for those small, detail-oriented tasks. Especially the one that might not be so glamorous? These are the friends you can rely on to grab you a snack when you’re feeling faint, tell you when you have lipstick on your teeth, lend a helping hand to your parents on the day of, and yes, even hold your dress while you pee. These are the people you may need to go entertain your guests if the ceremony is delayed. Or maybe to go talk to your crazy Uncle Sam so he doesn’t get on stage with the DJ. Whatever the task is, they won’t hesitate to help support you because they know this day is about you, not them. 

The Speakers of Your Friend Group

Who are the friends that can speak to your most memorable moments together? These are the friends that would easily be able to share a speech about your relationship!
Pro Tip: Speeches on your wedding day normally consist of the Father of The Bride, the Best Man, and the Maid of Honor. If you want to open the floor up to speeches from the rest of the wedding parties, this is usually done at the rehearsal dinner. 

Wedding Party Rehearsal Speeches: 

If you do want to have your wedding parties give speeches on the night before the wedding - and this is something we recommend - it’s ALWAYS helpful to give them advance notice. We recommend giving them at least a week to prepare what they want to say. Trust us, whenever you combine public speaking, lack of preparedness, and alcohol... you’re asking for trouble! Normally, 1-2 minutes will be perfect to share a memory or thought and will still make sure that everyone who wants to gets to speak. These rehearsal speeches are a great way for your other family members and guests to get to know your wedding party a little better before the big day.
Image
A good rule of thumb for these speeches is to tell your parties that they can speak to your friendship, when they first met or heard about your partner, a favorite moment they’ve shared with you and your partner, what their hope for you is in the future - overall any sentimental moment that shares how your related to the couple and why you’re included in their special dayIt’s also important to let everyone know it’s OK if they do not want to give a speech. Remember, not everyone is as comfortable with public speaking as others. IF they don’t want to speak it doesn’t mean they love you any less!
Pro Tip: The rehearsal dinner is also a great place for the couple to speak. Usually, this is where you thank your families and the wedding party for everything they’ve done to get to this point. It’s also a great way to get everyone excited for the wedding day! 

It’s Okay to Not Include Someone - even if you were in their wedding!

One key piece of advice we’ve heard from nearlyweds in the past is that it’s OKAY if you don’t include someone in your party, even if you were included in their wedding party. Relationships change all the time, we cannot stress this enough. This is one of the most important call outs that every Bride and Groom should know when thinking of the people they want on their special day. Just because you were included in someone else's wedding doesn’t mean they automatically get to be a part of yours. Yes, you can invite them to the wedding, but if you don’t consider them as close of a friend as they consider you, that is OKAY. Don’t worry about offending them or hurting their feelings, they will get over it. And if you don’t want to have them in your wedding group photos, consider them cut off from the party. Remember: This is YOUR special day, it’s not about them or their feelings.

Those Who Are Financially Secure

Last but not least, think about financial security when planning your wedding party. Let’s face it, weddings are expensive for guests, too. Being a part of the wedding party may be fun, but it comes with costs that can add up quickly. So, when choosing who will be a part of your wedding party, think about their financial situations. Remember, they’ll need to have the money to purchase a dress or tuxedo along with tailoring if necessary, to attend your bachelorx or bachelor party, to pay for their hair and makeup on the day of the ceremony, and tons of other things. 
Photo by Yumi Matsuo
Photo by Yumi Matsuo
Keep in mind, most of your friends will be more than willing to be a part of all this, but it’s always nice to reach out to those who may be on a budget or financially struggling INDIVIDUALLY to make sure they can afford to be. You can always give them the option to opt out of some of the more expensive festivities or help them out with some financial support when needed.It’s also important to remember that just because you may have attended their wedding and festivities, they may not be able to afford or attend yours. That’s OK, too. Friends are often at different points in their lives at different times. Some may be saving for a house. Others may be trying to have a baby. It’s always important to be respectful  of people's feelings and choices, especially when it comes to money.

The Maid or Matron of Honor, Best Man, or Person of Honor 

Is there a particularly special someone that you would consider your number one? Your BFF? Your ride or die? Everyone deserves a platonic soulmate as much as a romantic one! If you want to highlight a particularly special platonic love in your life, giving one of your loved ones a title in your wedding party is a great way to go about it. Don’t think of this as “playing favorites” so much as saying “thanks for always being there”. Embarking on a lifelong partnership is a big deal, and this is a nice way of reminding your friend(s) that no matter what, you’ll always be there for them, too.

How Many People In The Wedding Party Is Too Many?

On average, North American brides have between three and five bridesmaids. Some have way, way more than that; others forgo the bridal party altogether. If you're considering going above average (six bridesmaids or more), make sure you take into consideration the effect that this will have on the rest of your wedding.If you do need to make some cuts to your ever-expanding bridesmaid list, remember that most friends will happily just be guests at your wedding. What they truly care about is witnessing the wedding ceremony, not necessarily being a part of it. So trust your instincts and make sure that you prioritize yourself. To get all of our recommendations when it comes to your wedding party number, read our full article on How Many Bridesmaids is Too Many.
Photo by Jordan Voth
Photo by Jordan Voth

What to do if someone declines to be in your wedding party.

Being asked to stand up as a bridesmaid is a huge honor, but let's be honest — it's also a lot of responsibility. Between pre-wedding showers, bachelorette bashes, and the big day itself, you're wedding party are going to have a lot on their plate. Sometimes, individuals choose to opt out of being a part of the wedding party for a number of reasons. These reasons could include, financial commitments, distance and travel, previously commitments, wedding conflicts, and personal reasons. Read our full article on 5 Reasons Why It’s Okay to Say No To Being a Bridesmaid.

How to break the news to one of your friends that they won’t be in the wedding party 

Planning your dream wedding is fraught with difficult decisions. You have to find the right venue, the perfect flowers, and your dream dress. However, there’s only one decision that can tear friendships apart at the seams: choosing your bridesmaids. When you’ve picked your closest friends or relatives to take on the job, there’s a chance that some people will be disappointed. Telling a close friend that they won’t be a bridesmaid is a hard move, no matter the reason. So, how can you get it right? Let’s take a look at some important tips to soften the blow. Note that regardless of their gender, these tips are relevant for any friends you have who may have expected to be a part of your wedding party, whether as bridesmaids, groomsmen, or anything in between.  And it’s always important to remember, this is YOUR day, so do what is best for YOU. Read our full article on How To Tell Your Friend She’s Not a Bridesmaid - Without Breaking Her Heart.
  1. Talk to them face to face.
  2. Don’t sugarcoat the news
  3. Give a short explanation (if you want)
  4. Hear out what she has to say
  5. Tell them you value their friendship
  6. Invite them to all of the wedding events
  7. Tell them how excited you are for them to come to your wedding! You’ll still have plenty of time to celebrate together.
  8. Remember, this day is for YOU!