Congratulations to everybody who has just gotten engaged!!! The holidays are a big time for new engagements and I know there are a lot of new brides-to-be out there reading this as they consider all their options for their weddings. Get married in Vieques or Culebra and leave the wedding planning stress to us! Okay, cheap ad finished, onward to the topic of the day — how should you go about choosing your bridesmaids, groomsmen, and everybody else that’s going to play a major role in the most important day of your life!
You would be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) by the number of overly-enthusiastic brides who start asking girlfriends to be in their wedding before they sit down and really think about who should be a part of their wedding party. This isn’t a decision to make lightly, in haste, or under the influence of alcohol. Whether you have a small, low-key affair, or a big wedding with a large number of attendants, you are going to be spending a lot of time and money on these people, and they are going to be doing just as much for you.
Here are 10 tips to help you make this very important decision!
1 — Let the groom choose his attendants first. With few exceptions, usually guys have fewer friends they want to ask to be in the wedding than girls. It’s not important that you both have the same number of attendants, but letting him make his list first often keeps the numbers under control. If he only wants to ask his best friend and two brothers, you might want to consider limiting the number of girls to no more than twice what he’s having.
2 — Choose bridesmaids who can afford to be in your wedding. You’ll be subsidizing their trips just through all the food and beverage you’re providing during your wedding weekend. But with everything else you need to pay for during your destination wedding weekend, you cannot afford to pick up the tab for dresses, airfare, accommodations, and anything else that comes up. You may have one special exception that you need to help out financially (I did), but that’s not something you should advertise to the rest of the wedding party. You are under no obligation to pay for anything other than the regular stuff — bridesmaids gifts, special accessories, etc. Remember, if you were a bridesmaid for your friend’s wedding, you would have to cover your own dress, hotel and transportation. Just because the wedding is in the Caribbean doesn’t mean you have to become the “BOB” (Bank of Bride).
3 — Choose a maid of honor who actually has the time to help you with some of your wedding. The maid of honor should throw a bridal shower (or make sure that a couple are being given by other people). She should put together your bachelorette party. She should dress shop with you. She should help you stuff invitations into envelopes. And she should be prepared to hold your hand and stick with you during your destination wedding weekend. If you have a BFF who doesn’t live nearby or can’t afford to do these things, she might not be the right choice for maid of honor. If you have another good friend who does fit the bill but you’d devastate your other BFF if you didn’t pick her, consider making them both maids of honor. What you don’t want to do is ask your unprepared or geographically-undesirable BFF to be the maid of honor and then ask one of your bridesmaids to do all the heavy lifting. It’s not fair and believe me, even if she never says a word about it, she will have hurt feelings.
4 — Don’t automatically ask every girlfriend who made you a bridesmaid in her wedding to be in your wedding. Evaluate each friendship individually and determine whether the friendship is at a level that requires the invitation. Time passes and friendships change. While I don’t advocate neglecting people who have been important to you all of your life, you don’t have to ask a sorority sister who got married a week after graduation and had you in her wedding if you’ve only exchanged Christmas cards in the eight years since you graduated from college.
5 — Don’t ask a friend to be a bridesmaid if she doesn’t like your fiance or support your relationship and marriage 100%. Sound like an obvious one? Not really. We all have that one friend who has negative things to say about all of her friends’ significant others. While that may be a personality flaw you’re willing to tolerate in your friendship with her, she might not be the one you want helping to zip your wedding gown on the biggest day of your life. If you’ve accepted your fiance’s proposal, you’ve chosen him over her anyway. She should be invited to your wedding if she’s a good friend, but she shouldn’t be in the wedding party if she makes comments about “if” you get married.
6 — Don’t automatically invite every one of your female first cousins and his sisters. The two of you should discuss what you’re going to do about siblings. If he’s going to ask one of your brothers to be a groomsman, he should ask them both. If he’s asking your brothers, you have to ask his sisters. Remember, there are other things you can ask them to do in your wedding if you don’t want to ask them to be attendants — ushers, readers, etc. — not everybody has to be a bridesmaid or groomsman. If you are particularly close to one of your cousins, you should ask her to be in your wedding. That doesn’t mean you have to ask every cousin. However, don’t ask three of your four female cousins and leave one out. Use common sense and think about how it would make you feel in her shoes.
7 — Don’t let anybody push you into committing to having their “little darlings” in your wedding as flower girls or ring bearers unless this is something you want to do. Lots of brides prefer not to have any little people disturbing the solemnity of their wedding ceremony. Many don’t want to compete with the little ones for attention — let’s not pretend that everybody isn’t watching the three little girls in tutus instead of you for half of the ceremony. Just because you have nieces and nephews doesn’t obligate you to include them in the wedding party. Remember, this is your wedding.
8 — Do choose at least one maid of honor and one best man. Sometimes I have brides who don’t want to name one particular girl in the position of “honor” for fear of hurting somebody else’s feelings. But the reason the maid of honor spot exists is so that the bride has one particular person to lean on for emotional and practical support throughout the planning process and on the wedding day. Somebody has to be responsible for keeping you on schedule on the wedding day. Somebody has to be the point person for your wedding planner or your mom or whomever is making it all happen. If you don’t name a person of “honor” then you’re stuck hoping that somebody in your gaggle of bridesmaids takes on those responsibilities even though it’s not her job.
9 — Don’t choose bridal attendants that your fiance can’t stand. We all have at least one friend who drives our significant other completely nuts — this is not a person who you want to put in your wedding party so that she puts a damper on his wedding experience. It’s the groom’s big day too, and if you’ve chosen to marry him, you know deep down that he’s totally justified in wanting to distance himself from that particular friend of yours.
10 — Don’t ask a girlfriend you haven’t known very long to be in your wedding. Your bridesmaids should be people you’ve known well for a long period of time. Sadly, friends come and go. We all meet people at work we “click” with and hang out with, but those friendships often don’t last past the duration of the mutual employment. The spouse of one of your fiance’s groomsmen may hint strongly that she wants to be a bridesmaid and yes, you hang out together as a couple quite a bit. But that doesn’t mean she ranks a spot on the altar at your wedding. If she’s pissy about it, that’s her problem. Let her be pissy. It’ll be a lot less painful than having to look at her in your wedding pics forever (especially after she and your husband’s buddy have divorced a few years later). If you ask her to be in your wedding, or let her bully you into a spot on the dais, you’re taking a spot away from another girlfriend or family member who deserves that honor.
Once the two of you have made up your lists, make sure you both are comfortable with the entire lineup. Then it’s time to call up those friends and pop the question, so to speak. You will never regret choosing your wedding party carefully, but you can’t take it back after you’ve asked somebody in haste and can’t undo it.
Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!