Who would’ve thought that choosing bridesmaids could be just as politically sensitive and dauntingly diplomatic as selecting Members of Cabinet! Here’s our no-nonsense guide to getting it right…
Be Pragmatic, Not Sentimental
First up, don’t feel obliged to make someone a bridesmaid just because so-and-so (your mom or future mother-in-law, for example) is insisting on it. Similarly, don’t feel compelled to return the favour and select someone just because, years ago, you were a bridesmaid at her wedding. And don’t choose someone just because you’re friends without taking into account her current personal situation – yes, she may be your best mate, but if she’s a brand new mom or has just been made CEO of her company, now might not be the right time for her to take this on.
DO THIS: Draw up a list of tasks, chores and activities on a timeline and choose bridesmaids on the basis of who has the time, money, skills and inclination to get the job done well.
Keep the Numbers Manageable
Research suggests that the optimum number of people for maximum productivity in any team is five. This is because there appears to be a natural limit on the number of social relationships which the human brain can maintain. Having an odd number of team members also facilitates decision-making, reaching consensus and avoiding ties.
DO THIS: For a smoother ride, elect one, three or five bridesmaids to the team – no more.
Opt for a Mature MoH
Traditionally, the Matron of Honour (MoH) was – as the title suggests – a married woman. The theory goes that, having been through the process herself, she understands the finer nuances of wedding planning, has a good head on her shoulders and is less inclined to drama – she’s had her day and is big enough and old enough to realise that this is about you and to keep the other girls in line.
DO THIS: Have a look around your girlfriends – which one of them is reliable, practical, hard-working, a good organiser, generous of spirit and personable? She doesn’t have to be married, but if she’s the solid, dependable, drama-free type, choose her!
Run it by Them, First!
Just as some people love to be bridesmaids, but totally suck at the job, some people just don’t, even though they’ve got all the right qualities.
DO THIS: Write down your preferred selections in one list, and back-up options in another. Then, call your A-Listers and ask them if they’re willing and able to take on the job. Give them a chance to say yes or no, rather than simply thrusting them into the role. If it’s a no, respect the decision and move on.
Strategically Appoint ‘Honorary Bridesmaids’
Remember those who didn’t make the cut – like, say, the snotty cousin of your future husband? Unfortunately, bridesmaid selection can seal the fate of future relationships and create lifelong rifts…unless you keep the peace by managing this delicate issue with due (political) care!
DO THIS: Talk to her about a special roving role – assign her a specific task which fits her particular skills, talents, interests or expertise, for example designing your wedding invitations or sourcing bridal flowers. Sometimes termed honorary bridesmaids, these roving roles also suit those special people in your life who declined to be bridesmaids, but would still like to contribute in a smaller, meaningful way.
Bridesmaids Gone Bad?
Move over Bridezilla, bridesmaids behaving badly now have their own reality show – Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids (a spin-off of Say Yes to the Dress). Here’s what you can learn from their on-screen antics:
- Get your bridesmaids together over coffee or lunch to set out your vision for your wedding and to talk about the roles you’d like them to play in the planning and at the ceremony and reception. Clearly communicate your wishes so that there’s no doubt about what you’re looking for.
- Unsurprisingly, most bride-bridesmaid conflicts arise from what they’re expected to wear on the day. Ask your girls about any specific concerns they have about bridesmaid dresses, particularly as it relates to their own body type, and work with them from there.
- The other big bridesmaid bug-bear? Money. Talk about how activities/accessories are to be paid for and – using their input – set a reasonable, do-able budget.
- Reward their hard work – periodically hosting coffee-and-cake dates for your bridesmaids goes a long way…and gives them a chance to give you valuable feedback
- Acknowledge their efforts on your wedding day – in the programme and with a small token of appreciation.
But Don’t Micro-Manage!
- Have some faith in their abilities and trust their judgments!
- Give them the space they need to do what’s been assigned to them
- Rather than checking up on everyone, use your MoH as the contact point between you and the other bridesmaids and ask her to give you regular updates on all their activities
Let them all know that you’re only a phone call away if they wish to run anything by you.