While you are unquestionably the most important gal walking down the aisle on your wedding day, there are still some pretty special ladies who you are going to want to lead your way. Yup, we’re talking about your bridal party – and from selecting your bridesmaids to wondering why you even need them in the first place – there are definitely some things you will want to keep in mind before assembling the folks to stand beside you on your wedding day. This is your complete guide to bridesmaids.

Why Do We Have Them?

The short answer: to keep you sane throughout the wedding planning process and to do your (nicely requested) bidding on the Big Day. The long answer: to keep you sane throughout the wedding planning process and to do your (nicely requested) bidding on the Big Day, while also reminding some of the most important women in your life how important they really are to you. As well as perhaps, trying to set your single BFF up with your soon-to-be brother-in-law. Because honestly, besties marring brothers sounds like an awesome vacation/reality television show waiting to happen.

How Do You Go About Selecting Your Bridesmaids?

If you’ve had the same best friends since your elementary school days, this question pretty much answers itself. But if you are a social butterfly whose life is filled with lovely ladies who all mean a lot to you, feel free to think about this like a business decision. Who is really going to be able to help you out with everything you need, from the months of planning to partying on the Big Day? Who has already had your back 24/7? Are there one or two girlfriends who anticipate your needs (before you even ask) better than anyone else? Who has an awesome sense of humor and is great in a last-minute, unexpected crisis? These are the ladies you want to surround yourself with as you wade into the wedding planning and wedding day waters.

What Are Some Cute Ways to Ask Them?

As it turns out, the question popping doesn’t end with: “Will you marry me?”. You still have an entire bridal party to woo! These are a few of our favorite ways to ask the ladies in your life to stand beside you on your big day:

  1. Literally “pop” the question – fill a balloon with confetti flowers and a note asking them to be your bridesmaid. Hand them a pin and let the wedding planning begin.
  2. Plan a girl’s day – complete with pampering (courtesy of you) and plenty of wine. Cap off the evening by asking them if they’ll join you down the aisle.
  3. Have custom fortune cookies made with “Will you be my bridesmaid?”.
  4. Gift them with their wedding day jewelry – maybe you’re planning to give each bestie a necklace or bracelet that expresses your unending love and gratitude for the role they play in your life. Consider gifting them the goodies before the big day by using that personalized locket or charm bracelet to celebrate the fact that they are about to be your bridesmaid.
  5. Keep it simple and write a sweet note – sometimes the best way to ask a gal to be your bridesmaid is by writing down all the reasons you love her and want her there on one of the biggest days of your life.
What if Someone Says No? (Eeek!)

This almost never happens. However, if someone does happen to say no, for whatever reason, our best advice is to be quick about just letting it go. Sometimes people can’t stomach standing up in weddings that are not their own for a whole variety of reasons, from actual scheduling conflicts to the secret crush they’ve had on your fiancé since college. The last person you want supporting you as you walk down the aisle is someone who doesn’t want to be there in the first place. Pro tip: have a backup or two in mind before you go about asking anyone to be your bridesmaid – that way, when you ask your backup, they won’t feel like the backup that they are.

Top Tips for Bridesmaids’ Dress Shopping

If you thought shopping for your bridal gown was going to be the biggest fashion challenge of your big day, think again. Shopping for bridesmaids’ dresses is hands-down the more difficult of the two. After all, you’re trying to please a whole dressing room full of bodies and styles, as opposed to just your own.

The good news is, you have a few options:

  1. The Totally Hands-Off Bride

This is the bride who is all: color, style, length, price point? – it’s totally up to you ladies. Wear what you want and enjoy what you pick. Maybe you’re planning an informal wedding and allowing everyone to express their own style is what works for you. Maybe the rest of your wedding is a black-and-white color palette, and you want your bridesmaids to add their own pops of color. Maybe you’re exhausted from wedding planning at this point and don’t actually care. Just remember to be open to guiding any bridesmaid who might find herself lost in the bridal fashion woods. While it might seem like the totally hands-off bride is the easiest one to work with, some bridesmaids genuinely just want to please you and do what you ask.

  1. The Totally Hands-On Bride

This bride is a gal who knows exactly what she wants and is determined to get it. There’s nothing wrong with that. Again, it’s your wedding. Be mindful that while everyone might not love your color or style choices, they’re there to support you. If someone seems overly concerned about how they look or the way a style vibes with their body type, be sure to listen to their concerns, stay open-minded, and if all else fails drench them in a stream of compliments that will ensure they end up loving whatever it is you selected.

  1. The Bride Who Falls Somewhere in the Middle

The middle-of-the-road bride is becoming more and more common these days: someone who has a few elements of her bridesmaids’ dresses selected (color, cut, or length) but not all. Maybe you want all your ladies adorned in the same color, but don’t care as much about the style of dress they select. Maybe you want everyone in the same cut of dress but are okay inviting your gals to select their own color from a particular color family. While this bride is generally the one who will walk away with the highest number of happy bridesmaids, remember that you are not obligated to sacrifice something you really want for someone else’s picky tastes.

There is really no right or wrong option here. It’s your wedding, after all, and these ladies agreed to be your pillars of support knowing full well you could decide to dress them in tulle-covered potato sacks. That’s just what besties do. However, if nothing else, remember that you will be looking at photographs of this day for the rest of your life, and the last thing you want to think later is: what was I thinking, or why does my sister look like she’s about to suffocate in a tulle-covered potato sack?

And, Finally, What if Someone Turns Out to be a Disappointing Bridesmaid?

This is something that can definitely happen, the appropriate response to this will depend on the degree of disappointment. Your bridesmaid running away with the groom the morning before your wedding deserves a whole different caliber of reaction then, say, one of your bridesmaids simply not doing every single thing you ask of them because they’re having a bad day, or fighting a cold, or are still hungover from the rehearsal dinner, or just don’t feel like being your minion at the moment. Again, if you are dealing with the latter, my advice to you would be to just let that drama go. Weddings bring up all sorts of unexpected emotions in people – even the most loyal of besties could totally lose it on your Big Day. It’s not ideal, but it happens. Remind yourself of all the reasons you love this person enough to have asked them to be your bridesmaid in the first place, and be sure to return the favor by being a disappointing bridesmaid to them in return. (Totally kidding, don’t do that.)