How Long Before the Wedding Should You Choose the Bridal Party?

Image by Phil Hawksworth on FlickrIf you’re like most newly engaged women, your mind is off in dreamland planning the perfect wedding day. You’re thinking about what your dress will look like, where you’ll have the reception, and what’s going to be on the menu. Soon, you’ll start wondering who you should ask to be in your bridal party—and when should you ask them?

These are important details to attend to. As soon as you become engaged you’re going to want to get things started right away. Even with all the excitement, you want to take the time to plan each detail carefully.

Before you name your bridal party and tell all your friends and family, you’ll want to sit down with your fiancé and have a discussion. Who is he thinking of asking to be groomsmen? Does he have sisters that he assumes will be part of the bridal party as well? Is there a special person in the family who simply has to be included in the bridal party? If he has children from a previous marriage, do you want them to be at the altar with you? Often today one or both of the couple bring children into the new union. You’ll definitely want to consider whether they’re the right age to serve as attendants or if they even want to.

After you’ve talked and gotten your groom’s take, you can start to plan out the bridal party from your perspective. First make a list of all the women in your life who are especially important to you. Include cousins, friends, sisters, the groom’s sisters, etc. Now comes the hard part—the narrowing down.

Chances are, in a situation that involves choosing only a few people, you are bound to hurt someone’s feelings unintentionally. Be prepared for how and when you will deliver the news of who’s made the cut. This is one good reason for not rushing out and announcing who’s in the bridal party too early.

So how early is early? And how late is too late? There is no rule set in stone, but you should give yourself enough time to really consider the bridal party from every aspect. Even if you’ve dreamed about your wedding since you were ten years old and know exactly who you want to ask, you now have a groom’s side to consider as well. And remember, you can’t go switching your choices after you’ve asked people.

So follow these suggestions:

  • Plan to ask each person you want in your party at least eight months before the wedding. This will give them time to prepare for travel, costs that arise, etc. If you don’t have eight months to plan the entire wedding, ask them as soon as you possibly can.
  • Ask each person privately if they would like to be in your bridal party. Notify them of the approximate cost (wedding attire, travel, etc.) of what they’d be responsible for. Take no for an answer if it seems they can’t or don’t want to do it.
  • Don’t be upset if someone can’t be in your party. Many couples are facing job loss or have small children and are not in a position to lay out cash for wedding expenses that are required of the head party. If your feelings are hurt, try to understand it from your friend’s perspective.
  • After each person has been chosen and given a definite yes, announce your bridal party through the grapevine. In other words, don’t go onto Facebook and announce it to the world. Let your mom, sisters, and friends tell people when they ask or mention it in casual company. It’s in poor taste to hand out a list of who’s in the party. It may offend people who are not asked.
  • Prepare in advance for how much help you’ll be asking of your party. If you want little help, tell them. If you envision your girls being at your side every step of the way, let them know what you’re planning throughout the process and be prepared to have some special bridesmaid gifts ready in your appreciation.
  • Above all, let the people you haven’t asked know you care deeply about them but were limited. Invite them to participate in another way.

 

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