How to Choose Your Bridesmaids
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How to Choose Your Bridesmaids

Congratulations! You're taking one of the biggest steps of your life: getting married. There's so much to do, so much to plan for and decide on in the next few months. Choosing who will be in your bridal party is one of those decisions. Bridesmaids can either be a pleasure or a pain, or both. These are the women (or girls) who will be your support system as you plan your wedding. However, making the choice of who to include (or exclude) can be a frustrating process. You don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but you can't afford to pick just anyone, either. Here are some tips to help you make choosing your bridesmaids an easier process.

First, who are you closest to? This is a bigger factor than any other. You want the people around you on your joyous day to be positive, supportive people who will help you with anything from a stuck zipper to a case of cold feet. It doesn't do anyone any favors if you include your sister with whom you have a difficult relationship, and leave out your closest friend, because you feel you have to. Yes, family is very important, but they will be related to you all your life, and will be there through most (if not all) of the happy days coming to you in the future. Friends are the family you choose. Select most of your bridesmaids from the group of women YOU want to be there, and if you have room, of course ask whichever family members you feel comfortable including. Remember, this is your wedding, not theirs.

Expertise. It helps to have women in your bridal party that are either married themselves, or have knowledge of some aspect of the wedding planning process. That way, when you are at the florist (or caterer, or hairdresser), feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available to you, you will have someone to help you calm down and  make an informed choice. Having a knowledgeable bridesmaid with you when planning your wedding also is greatly helpful in keeping your costs down. Places that deal in weddings tend to enjoy overcharging the unwary and naive, they count on you being too excited about your wedding to notice that things shouldn't cost quite THAT much. They also enjoy telling you that, "NO expense is too great for your special day." I'm sorry, but I prefer to have some money left for the HONEYMOON (something else your bridesmaids can help you with planning).

Patience. It is a REQUIREMENT for a bridemaid. Brides, even the most calm and laid-back ones, can turn into monsters when faced with the stress of planning a wedding. Bridesmaids need to be able to understand that when you snap at them for picking out the wrong color fabric, for example, that you are not lashing out at them as a person - it is just the situation. If you love your college friend and want her to be a bridesmaid, but know she is high-strung and prone to anxiety over small things, it might be best to either invite her only as a guest or give her a relatively simple, low-stress task to help you with as a bridesmaid.

Selectively fashion-blind. No matter how ugly the dress is, if they can't put up with it for a few hours, they probably shouldn't be in a position to wear it. I sympathize with bridesmaids everywhere, though - I will never forget the vivid purple and teal ruffled monster I had to wear to a whole day wedding/reception/hike (yes, hike)/ceremony which I still don't understand. But they are your bridesmaid because you want them involved, they need to be able to sacrifice a little bit of pride to show their support for you. Plus, if the dress is REALLY ugly, you can have a dress-burning party afterward. (That was the best part for me.)

Above all, remember that the relationships and feelings you have towards all the women in your bridal party developed before your engagement, and will endure long afterward. Include the people YOU want to, but don't alienate anyone. If someone is left out and feels hurt by it, explain the rationale for your decision kindly, and if they are very close to you, offer to seat them in a place of honor at your wedding (if possible). I hope this small guide helps you better decide who in your life will be the best choices as bridesmaids. Happy planning!

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