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Can’t decide who should be your maid of honour? Or best man? The people you choose to surround you on your wedding day can have a significant impact on your anxiety level leading up to the main event, your enjoyment of the day and the memories you’ll take with you when it’s all over. If you choose your wedding party wisely and communicate effectively, you can reduce your stress load, and keep all your valued relationships intact.  

Choices, Choices

When you select your attendants, opt for individuals who know you well, who are current and active participants in your lives, and whom you truly care about, says Genève McNally, principal wedding planner with Vancouver based DreamGroup Productions. “Stay true to yourself and involve those people that you know are going to support you, not just on your wedding day, but in your marriage and life journey. It makes for a far more authentic and loving wedding experience from start to end.”

Brides are often concerned that those who aren’t asked to participate in the wedding party will be offended, but that’s not necessarily true, says McNally. “Many times friends are relieved not to be asked. Often women in their mid to late 20s are less concerned about being in a wedding party and more concerned about having a good time at the wedding and ensuring their friend, the bride, is happy,” she notes. And any potential conflict can easily be resolved with an honest, one-on-one discussion.

It’s  also prudent to get your partner involved in wedding party decision making, says Alicia Keats of Alicia Keats Weddings + Events in Vancouver. “Find out if it’s important to him that you both have the same number of attendants, discuss who you were thinking of asking, and ask if there is someone they want to stand on your side that you may have not included.”

Plus, it’s not a bad idea to discuss your decisions with your family, she adds, particularly if the families are involved in the planning or contributing financially. “By sharing your ideas you can prevent any unanticipated disappointments,” says Keats. “Some parents may have strong feelings about having your sibling(s) in the wedding party and what role they should have.”

Whomever you end up selecting, remember that these individuals will charge the atmosphere as you prepare for your wedding day. Keats cautions couples to think about how their wedding-party members will affect that atmosphere. “Are they calm and peaceful, or loud and energized?”

Money Matters

While being a wedding attendant may not always be intensely time consuming, it can be expensive. Be considerate and always inform potential participants about the costs upfront.

“Brides need to be open and honest about why they are asking a particular person to be involved and what they are expected to do over the course of the coming months,” McNally explains. “In the same conversation, openly offer the invited person an opportunity to opt out should they feel they don’t have the time or money to properly commit. Tell them it’s fine if they prefer to support the team from the sidelines instead. Sometimes bridesmaids and groomsmen agree to participate simply because they didn’t know how to say no, thank you.”

Sometimes the expenses involved with the wedding party are borne by the couple, which will naturally affect your budget, notes Keats. “Are you going to be paying for their outfits, hair and makeup, shoes, spa treatments or golf the morning of the wedding? Be sure to account for the cost of thank-you gifts for your bridal party in your wedding budget as well. These costs may end up impacting the size of the wedding party you choose.”

Keep it Kind

McNally says she’s been shocked by complaints from many frustrated, disappointed bridesmaids over the years, women who were unimpressed with how cavalier and demanding their bride had been. “Remember that bridesmaids and groomsmen are not a right, but a privilege,” she cautions. “Don’t take them for granted. People are busy and, for some, money can be tight. A bride should always be wary of how much she is asking of her wedding posse and be respectful and accommodating of schedules.”

It’s also smart to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your bridesmaids and groomsmen during the wedding-planning process, says Keats. “If your wedding party is made up of busy professionals, consider dividing up the planning of the shower and the bachelorette party among the bridesmaids instead of delegating it to the maid of honour alone.”

Finally, remember that those who stand beside you on your wedding day are doing so because they love and care about you. Show them you appreciate that, and keep it front of mind. Says Keats: “I like to think that the group of people standing beside my couples on their wedding day are the people that have supported them throughout their lives, have supported their relationship and will continue to support them in their married life for many years to come.”