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What's Up Weddings

’Maids and Men: Casting the Supporting Roles for your Big Day

Oct 26, 2012 04:57PM ● By Anonymous

 Despite the beautiful payoff and the end result of being happily married to the person you love, planning a wedding requires a lot of work, so it's important to make sure you have people around to assist you during the process.

The general rule of thumb is one bridesmaid and groomsman for every 50 guest, but like everything else these days, couples are choosing to buck tradition and select the people closest to them, whether it's one or 10 each. Larger bridal parties tend to correspond to more formal weddings, but it's important to remember that it's your day and you should have the bridal party that works best for you, regardless of the numbers.

Now, the real question: What do these support characters do, exactly?


Photography by Susie Stone

The Maid of Honor and Best Man

Choose wisely—these VIPs are the ones to lean on throughout the entire wedding, from planning every detail to executing the big day. The most popular choices for this role would be your sibling or very best friend, but cousins or even parents have sometimes filled these roles. It's vital that this person is someone you know will be willing and able to take on specific tasks through the entire planning process.

Start by discussing with your fiancé about what each of you want and expect from the maid of honor and best man. Your soon-to-be husband might not have thought about the responsibilities that a best man has. It's important to remember that loving someone and wanting them to be involved in your wedding is different than wanting them to be your maid of honor or best man. Having people read at the wedding or maybe making them an usher is a great way to involve people that are important to you but may not be ready for the task of being so involved in the wedding party.

Qualities to look for in a maid of honor:

Responsible: She will be in charge of a lot of little things that are often last-minute, and is expected to be a strong base of moral support for the bride.
Organization: Considering they are responsible for planning the bachelorette party, organization is also key, in addition to being able to work well with your other bridesmaids, groomsmen, and families, regardless of how she feels about them personally.
Leadership: This is vital, because she needs to be able to command the rest of the bridesmaids through various wedding related activities.
Financially stable: Getting married is expensive, not only for the bride and groom, but also for the bridesmaid, who are typically responsible for the bachelorette party expenses, as well as their dresses and accessories and any travel expenses.
Emotional and physical availability: Planning a wedding is extremely stressful and sometimes emotionally draining, so your maid of honor should be able to be there for you emotionally. She also has to be there physically to understand what your vision is for the wedding and what she needs to be doing to help you achieve that dream.

Traditionally, men have less of a say in the planning, and therefore the requirements for a best man are slightly more relaxed. If the typical choice of a brother or best friend is unavailable, look for someone who knows you well enough to make a great speech at the wedding and is responsible enough to make sure your bachelor party doesn't get too out of hand. Above all, reliability will really come in handy when choosing a best man, since he is responsible for key wedding-related activities, such as holding onto the rings and making final payments to vendors on the day of.

The Bridesmaids

Perhaps the most important advice we can give about choosing a bridesmaid is to wait a little while before asking anyone to commit. Bridesmaids need to be dedicated, excited, and emotionally and financially supportive. Waiting for about a month before deciding on who you will ask to be a part of the wedding helps you gauge your friends' interest, and might help you avoid any disappointment in your decisions.

When it comes to your bridesmaids, it is sometimes true that less is more. Since everyone needs to agree on a dress, decide on a shower and bachelorette party date, and work together during the wedding to achieve your dream day. Including family is a good way to avoid unnecessary conflict, even if you're not particularly close with your sister or future sister-in-law. Weddings are a time of families coming together, so it may be more hurtful than you would think to make someone feel left out on such a momentous occasion.

If you have a friend you would love to be part of your bridal party, but just don't think she would be able to make the financial commitment, you don't have to write her off completely. Tell her you would love for her to be a bridesmaid but that you understand the financial difficulties and then let her decide whether or not she can swing it. If she has to decline, try to include her in another part of the wedding.

Sarah Harper Photography

 Don't be afraid to break tradition! Remember that this is your day; if you want your closest guy friend to be a bridesmaid, or if you want two maids of honor, or an uneven number of bridesmaids to groomsmen, go for it! Those are not laws set in stone, and you should make the necessary adjustments to make day to be perfect for you and your partner.

Remember that a wedding party is not the same as a dinner party— you don't have to return the invitation. Just because you were in someone else's wedding party before doesn't mean that you need to include them in yours. Your friends and family should respect your decisions to make this day special for you and your partner, and any true friend will understand what decision you ultimately make.

Your wedding is a big, important, beautiful, and stressful day. Picking people who will be with you through it all and ready for anything is essential and takes a lot of thought, so don't rush the decision making process. With the right people around you, your wedding day can be stress-free and fun, what every bride hopes for!