Flip through any bridal magazine and you will find pages upon pages of stunning photos and advice for brides. Now, if you really want to know the dos and don’ts of how to pick your bridal party and keeping them happy on your big day, look no further than this article! In addition to some handy lists and tips, we recently caught up with Angela Urquhart Osborne of Elev8 Events, who has provided some insight on how brides and grooms can make interactions with their bridal party run like a well-oiled machine.

Today Magazine: What should a bride consider when selecting her wedding party?

Elev8 Events: “Firstly, the couple needs to establish the tone of the wedding – casual? Big party? Elegant? Destination wedding? If there are a lot of ancillary events attached to the wedding, you’d of course like to have people who are committed and feel comfortable being involved. Think about the costs involved for the wedding party, and consider if this would feel like a burden to your potential bridesmaid? Don’t forget big wedding parties can be expensive for the bride and groom too, when you consider things like gifts and rehearsal dinners. When selecting your wedding party, you not only want to think about people that have been in your life to date, but also who you know will be in your life 10 years from now. Take obligations out of the mix, and always choose based on your heart.”

How can the bride accommodate her bridal party?

“Allowing the bridesmaids to pick their own dresses is a nice way to ease the financial stress, while letting them select something that they feel comfortable in and that reflects their personal style. When I’m in a wedding party, I like when there is a clear outline of what needs to be done and key dates for events and activities given in advance. If you don’t spring things on your family and friends at the last minute, they’ll appreciate that.”

How can brides manage wedding stress that can lead to awkward misunderstandings?

“There is a lot on a bride’s mind and the stress leading up to the day is really compounding. You are hosting the biggest part of your life and at times there are overwhelming expectations. If you are feeling stressed and think you might lash out at someone, take a moment and remind yourself that these are your friends. Those who help the most sometimes end up getting the brunt of it.”

How can brides resolve conflicts that arise with the individuals in her bridal party?

“I tell brides not to react right away, and instead take time to reflect. I also think honesty goes a long way and having an open conversation, rather than ignoring it and having it be the elephant in the room. And always remind yourself, and them, why they are in the wedding party in the first place and focus on the positive.”

How can the groom take an active role in the wedding planning?

“In my experience some of the grooms, but not all, don’t have an interest in details like décor and flowers, so perhaps they can take the lead on the stag and doe, wedding music, and menu.”

How can you keep the little ones happy?

“Let’s be honest, no kid loves listening to speeches or sitting at a table for three hours. At the wedding, have simple activities for kids like colouring books and have their place setting adorned with funky straws and small toys.”

What are your top three pieces of advice for brides?

“First, choose music carefully.  Music is the heart and soul of every event – it establishes tone, creates ambience, and lifts the energy! Take time to submit a list to your DJ of your key “throwback” tunes that will get everyone on the dance floor and keep them there. Omit the overplayed wedding songs that really no one ever gets excited for.  Have fun in making a thoughtful list.

Second, add an element of surprise and delight for your guests.  This could be sharing something funny and personal during a speech, having unique mid-dinner entertainment, or even have an alpaca, goat, or horse photo station.

Finally, be present and enjoy each moment throughout the day.  Your wedding day goes by so fast, but being present is an easy tool to help slow down the speed of the day and allow enjoyment to take place.”

Tips For Choosing Your Wedding Party

When it comes to choosing those who will stand up with you on your big day, here’s some tips on how to make the process a little bit smoother to ensure that you end up with the best group of people surrounding you at the altar.

Take your time choosing who will be in the wedding party. Give yourself at least a month to mull over your list. Will you still be close to all the people on your list in a couple of years?

Be honest (and upfront) with the expectations you have of your bridal party. Do you want your wedding party to help you with the planning and parties and everything in between, or are you okay with some of them having minimal involvement? If you are thinking about asking people who live far away or have hectic schedules, but you are still going to expect your wedding party to be very involved, you are just setting yourself up for disappointment, and them for annoyance.

Don’t feel like you are obligated to ask someone to be in your wedding, just because you were in his or hers.

There are other roles for people you care about that don’t involve being in the wedding party. For example: ushers, program distributors, musicians to play a song at the ceremony, someone to help write speeches…there really is not shortage of areas you could use assistance in.

Keeping Your Bridesmaids Happy

A little goes a long way when it comes to making sure you remain friends with everybody in your bridal party long after the day is over. Keep in mind that everybody in sacrificing time and money to make sure you have the best day ever.

Be aware that everyone has his or her own things going on as well. Be mindful of everyone’s schedules, and also ask if they are able to make certain events, don’t just tell them it’s happening.

Give them input on what they will be wearing. Nobody wants to wear a style of dress they don’t feel confident in. Allow them to choose matching styles that compliment their body types. Give them as much direction as you can without being a tyrant about things.

Make them feel special on the big day too; they are after all, your nearest and dearest. Think more VIP treatment, less servant. Always give them a plus one, regardless of if they are in a relationship or not.

Do what you can to keep the costs down for them; being in a wedding party can really add up.

Lay out what your expectations are, as not everybody is going to be certain what the duties of a bridesmaid are. Divide up the duties so that one person doesn’t end up doing all the heavy lifting.

Written By: Jill Tham