1. How many bridesmaids should I have?The traditional formula is one bridesmaid for every 35 to 50 guests, but this is not set in stone. So if you have a lot of sisters, a bunch of close cousins, or a tight group of friends, feel free to include them all. Once you’ve pulled your crew together, take them to lunch so you can explain what you’ll want them to do―host a shower, for instance―and why it’s important to you.
2. How do I choose dresses for my bridesmaids?Employ the guidelines you used in picking your dress―formality, time of year, and so on. Say you’re wearing a ball gown; your bridesmaids should be in something equally formal. Or if you’ve chosen an eyelet dress for a garden setting, your crew should wear something relaxed.
Concentrating on wearable colors (black, navy, brown) and flattering shapes (A-line, scoop neck), especially if your heart is set on identical outfits.
2 of 5Debra McClinton
Other Members of the Wedding Party
3. Is a maid of honor necessary? What about two maids of honor?Since your MOH will basically serve as your chief of staff for the next few months, not having one will add a considerable amount of work to your already crowded plate. But if one is good, having two isn’t necessarily better―it can cause confusion. You can have both a maid of honor and a matron of honor, but that’s usually only if one of the two people you want to pick―your sister and your closest friend, for example―is married and the other is not.
4. I’m terrified that my flower girl will have a temper tantrum mid-ceremony. Is there any way to avoid this?Any parent who has stepped onto an airplane with a little one knows that some meltdowns are inevitable. That said, you can be prepared.
If she’s on the younger side (around three years old), have a friend greet the pint-size petal dropper at the altar with a small gift, then whisk her back to her parents for the duration of the ceremony.
Older flower girls will usually cooperate at the altar, but storing a few just-in-case toys under the front pew is never a bad idea. Give fussy flower girls their very own Little Flower Girls Sticker Paper Dolls ($1.50 each, amazon.com) to get them excited about the job at hand.
3 of 5Anita Calero
Choosing Gifts and a Male Maid of Honor
5. Can I have a guy as a maid of honor?
Breaking with tradition because you didn’t know any better and potentially hurting feelings is one thing; changing things up to honor a good friend or a family member is another. If the people who mean the most to you don’t happen to be the “right” sex, don’t hesitate to include them in any way that you and your fiancé deem appropriate.
6. Do I have to buy gifts for my bridesmaids?
Technically, no, but it’s a lovely way to thank your friends for giving up a weekend, buying a dress and shoes, organizing your shower...you get the picture. If you plan to host a lunch for the bridesmaids, that’s the perfect time to distribute gifts. Or hand them out at the rehearsal dinner.
Not sure what to get? Try these ideas:
If you’ve planned a bachelorette weekend, treat them to a day at a spa or spring for the hotel rooms.
Help your out-of-town bridesmaids with the cost of transportation to the wedding.
7. What if my bridesmaids haven’t gotten measured or ordered their dresses?
Everybody gets busy. But if you find yourself stressing about a slacker, enlist your MOH to see if she can motivate your friend to action. If that doesn’t work, plan lunch with her at a restaurant that just happens to be a few blocks from the dress salon, then suggest you both stop in after you’ve eaten. Even if she has to run right after the lunch bill arrives, you’ve made your point in a nonthreatening way.
8. How do I deal with out-of-town bridesmaids?
If you want your out-of-town bridesmaids to travel for a shower, a bachelorette weekend, or any other event, give them the whole scoop when you ask them to stand up for you. Once they’ve accepted, use e-mail or a letter to make them feel as if they’re part of the group, and give them duties, such as:
Locating sheet music for obscure songs you want the band to play.
Creating a backup, “just in case” iPod mix.
If a faraway chum can’t tackle these tasks, give her an important job on the wedding day, such as serving as a reader at the church, distributing corsages to mothers and grandmothers, or lighting candles on the altar.
5 of 5Debra McClinton
9. What should I do about uneven numbers of attendants on each side?Some people have to have everything perfectly balanced, but it’s your wedding...and you don’t. For the sake of symmetry, though, give your photographer a heads-up well before the wedding, so that he or she can come up with a few creative ways to shoot the group―perhaps in a semicircle behind you―that won’t end up looking awkward. Handle the recessional by letting the wedding party leave in trios instead of pairs.
10. Can I include my dog in my wedding party?If the ceremony site is OK with dogs, there’s no reason why Rover shouldn’t be a part of your wedding. In fact, including dogs has become so popular that doggie bow ties, wreaths, leashes, and even ring pillows that attach to the dog’s back are available. To make sure you’re not being tugged toward the door as you’re saying your vows, have an attendant hold the leash―and don’t forget food, paper towels, a water bowl, and, if necessary, an exit strategy if things get to be too much.