Being engaged is truly one of the most exciting times of your life. But as well as bringing you closer to your friends, it can also create complicated social dynamics and difficulties that you might not have anticipated.
A bride-to-be recently came to me with a dilemma. Having been engaged for just a week, she already found herself at the centre of a tug of war over who would be in her bridal party. While she knew who she wanted to choose as her bridesmaids, she hated the idea of hurting anybody and found herself isolated from her friends. So I decided to write this piece on how to dish out roles in the wedding in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings.
Before you approach anyone or make any decisions, you need to make sure you have your head straight and have made clear choices in your own mind without any external pressure. Ignore what other people want and just think about what you want for a minute. In an ideal world, who would you have in your wedding party? As for the others, would you have them in your wedding party if you had room or are you baffled that they want to be involved in the first place? Who are you really worried about upsetting and why? Don’t just go out of your way to please people if they’ve gone out of their way to be offended.
Make three lists: one of the people you definitely want in your wedding party, a second of people you want but don’t have space for and a third of people who want to be in your wedding party but who you wouldn’t have otherwise considered.
My beautiful bridesmaids. All images © Satureyes
Think outside the box
Once you have your lists in front of you, focus on the second list. The bridal party is not the be all and end all of wedding roles. For example, I wanted traditional bridesmaids, but I also have lots of male friends and it felt wrong not to include them. I gave friends I really wanted to include other roles, like MC, or I asked them to do a reading during the ceremony or speeches. Just because you can’t fit everyone into your immediate bridal party doesn’t mean they can’t play a special part in your big day. I don’t mean that you should just find something for people to do to avoid hurting their feelings, but really think about how you want them to contribute – my friend Tom is a fantastic public speaker and also one of my closest friends on this planet. Seeing as he was too male to be a bridesmaid, he did a reading during the ceremony. My friend Alfie is also one of my best friends in the world but same problem – he is a wonderful organiser and is fantastic at keeping me sane. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind coordinating proceedings on the day, and he and his girlfriend Catriona did the most incredible job.
Break the news properly
Meet up with the people you’ve chosen for other roles face to face and make a big deal of asking them to do their specific duties. Don’t make it sound like you’re just trying to find something for them to do, but rather find something perfect for them and make it sound as special as it really is. Put as much effort into asking your friends to take on other roles as you would into asking your bridesmaids to be in your wedding party.
Don’t feel you have to explain yourself to the whole world though. I have a friend who put a lot of time and effort into appeasing somebody she hadn’t spoken to in three years and hadn’t even planned to invite to the wedding. This girl saw that she was engaged on Facebook and, for reasons unbeknownst to the rest of the world, assumed she would be a bridesmaid. Instead of shrugging it off, my poor friend, being a nice person, spent an hour on the phone to this girl she barely knew trying to explain to her why she wasn’t a bridesmaid. In the end, it didn’t make a difference, the girl unfriended her on Facebook (the ultimate slight) and didn’t even receive a wedding invite!
At the end of the day, you can’t please everybody – you can, however, let the people you love know how special they are to you by finding them a perfect role within your wedding, even if you can’t have them as a bridesmaid or groomsman. Good luck!
If you have a wedding dilemma, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll publish an answer.