“She’s sponsoring our honeymoon suite! Should we make her a bridesmaid?”
You sure feel grateful. This friend has saved you hundreds of dollars on wedding expenses. You’re writing her a note now. You’re thinking, “My best friends haven’t given me any congratulations card since my engagement. But this lady is already making our honeymoon happen!
So you end your note for her with, “PS: Can you be my bridesmaid?”
Don’t send that note yet.
One thing I sense here is you’re probably feeling indebted.
It’s probably like how you’re feeling about this other friend. She was on a friendship hiatus for two years. Then suddenly she invited you for coffee upon hearing about your engagement. You love talking about your sweet proposal story. And she was all ears. Now, you also want to make her a bridesmaid.
Shall we step back a bit and invite you and your fiancé to hear a bit about how you can select your bridal party? It needs discernment. After all, these people will be closest to you during your wedding preparations, on your wedding day, and, more importantly, through your marriage journey.
So, let’s talk about what you can ask each other when selecting your bridal party. To come up with a strong and well-accepted list that both you and your fiancé agree on, it’s best that every person you choose qualifies for a “Yes” to all these questions:
1. “Does he/she support our relationship and our vision for our marriage?”
Support for your relationship comes in the form of prayers, encouragement, inspiration, service, material support in some cases, or camaraderie.
Is the person praying or hoping for you both to have a life-long marriage? Or does the person half jokes something like “I’ll help you find another spouse if this doesn’t work out!”
Your bridal party is your inner circle. They have huge access to your vision and dreams. They also have a huge impact on your life and, soon, on your marriage.
You’d like for these closest people to be your cheerleaders for your marriage, not your wingman/lady in entertaining anything that will damage it. There may be fun friends in our life. But if there’s any slight negative input they bring into your relationship, you might have to take a step back on that friendship to protect your marriage.
2. “Are we BOTH comfortable having him/her in our inner circle?”
You probably grew up having male friends. I did too. You probably still have them now. Maybe, they’re even the closest friendships you’ve got. And they are genuinely supportive of your relationship with your fiancé.
Somehow though, your fiancé isn’t comfortable about some of these friends. He may be feeling insecure about you having them. Or it may be the other way around.
Here’s the thing: As you enter into marriage, you now have to consider your soon-to-be spouse’s feelings about your friendships.
What might even be more daunting for your partner is the friendship with an ex.
If you’re the one with an ex-boyfriend as a close friend, you will have to pray for wisdom. Likewise, if it’s your partner whose ex-turned-friend makes your heart palpitate a bit, you will have to talk to him about it. Prepare and pray for a loving conversation with your fiancé.
There are no rules here, just wisdom from the Bible.
“We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized.” – Hebrews 6:11.
Diligence means “careful or persistent work or effort”. We can apply this verse in our marriage, and your engaged relationship now in preparation for marriage.
The apostle Paul was talking to people with faith in God to keep persevering in that faith. He’s encouraging us to labour in love. And in marriage, which God created, we have to do the same. We have to labour in love. Work hard on it.
And working hard may mean sacrificing some friendships to make our spouse’s feel prioritised. It’s our act of diligence towards our marriage.
3. “Is it honouring to God to have him/her be part of our marriage journey?”
You and your fiancé may have no issues with certain friendships, but God might be.
“What? How can that be?” you might ask objectionably.
Some friendships we have, without our knowledge, can be toxic for marriage. We may be blindsided by it either because we benefit in one or many ways from the friendship, or because there’s pressure to keep it.
Let’s call him Ben. He’s a good friend of engaged couple Tim and Debbie. He’s always been very supportive of their relationship from day one. He even helped Tim organise his proposal. He’s a generous guy and would always send Tim and Debbie gifts on special occasions.
Tim and Debbie feels that this guy has invested so much in them. So they feel they need to nurture the friendship. Because of the history they have, they feel they need to make Ben one of their groomsmen.
There’s one thing though that makes the couple unsure about Ben: his chronic philandering.
They want to help Ben in this area of his life, so they feel they need to keep him close. How can this be dishonouring to God? God loves Ben, that’s the truth.
Tim and Debbie later on realised that it’s not Ben who is the problem. It’s their fear of what Ben would say if they don’t make him part of their bridal party. They feel indebted. Another issue is the priority they’re giving their friendship with Ben over their future marriage.
A wise advice they’ve received from someone was “Since you want your bridal party to be the group of people who can speak into your lives, it may not be the best way to honour your friendship with Ben. Because surely, you won’t be listening to his relationship advice anyway given how conflicted he is right now. But you both can be his supporters when he seeks for people who will speak into his life.”
4. “Will he/she be comfortable being at the kind of ceremony we’re having?”
We have some friends who respect our faith but wouldn’t want to have anything to do with the practice of it. We also respect that.
It becomes conflicting though if you have to put those people in a situation, like a wedding ceremony, where they will have to listen through teachings they disagree with.
And you would want your bridal party to be present at every part of the wedding programme, right? So it might not be a good idea to put the pressure on people who certainly wouldn’t want to be a part of certain traditions or proceedings.
It’s risky, of course, to make assumptions about other people’s belief systems and how they would respond to yours. So don’t just guess this part about your friends. It’s better to still ask them out to be part of your bridal party if you feel all other factors are a right. You’ll just have to present the caveat about the wedding activities you’ll have. Then they can say “Yes” or “No” on their own accord.
If they refuse to be part of your bridal party, that’s ok! They for sure will still feel honoured to be guests. Then they can opt in or out of certain parts of the wedding programme.
5. “Are we willing to receive help from him/her?”
Being part of a bridal party is a huge honour! Similarly, it’s a privilege to have reliable friends as part of your roster.
Expect that they will be offering their service to you as you prepare for your wedding. And you should be open to receiving them!
You may be the most experienced planner in your generation. And that’s commendable! You may really not need any help at all. Think of receiving help from others as an opportunity for them to experience the joy of helping you. That might make you more willing to be supported.
You will just have to agree with your fiancé what parts of the wedding you’re willing to delegate. Disappointments may arise if your friends work hard on a task you give them, yet still not meeting your high standards. I wrote a blog post about “Wedding Tasks to Delegate For a Less-Stressful Wedding Day” to help you with a delegation strategy!
On the Bible in Exodus 18:14-15 it says, “When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, ‘What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?’” This verse shows us that no matter how able we are, we need help from other people.
Your married friends would have great insights into planning a wedding, and more importantly on preparing for marriage. Likewise, your single friends may have lots of experience organising weddings for other friends.
6. “Can he/she carry on a simple responsibility during our wedding preparation and wedding day?”
The flipside of being able to receive help from these friends is being able to ask them for help.
And as you get busy planning your wedding, these are the people who can help you with plenty of things that your wedding suppliers won’t provide as a service. Or maybe, because you’re doing things DIY, you’ll need manpower to labour on designing your wedding.
You are acknowledging their strengths and skills, but you wouldn’t want to select them just because of what they can give. It helps then to be able to answer “Yes” to the other questions here.
The tasks to delegate are plenty. You may feel like wanting to do everything and not “trouble” your friends and family with tasks. Think hard about it. If you and your fiancé will really enjoy doing everything for the wedding, so be it. Just remember, your friends and family would love to be of help. You just have to ask.
It’s a good idea then to communicate to your prospective bridal party members that you will be reasonably asking help from them. A heads-up is good.
Now you might ask, “How big should my bridal party be?”
It really depends on you.
One thing I noticed in some weddings I’ve attended: the size of the bridal party matters if the overall guest number is very small.
I was part of a very intimate wedding with a bridal party that’s almost 80% of the total guest list. I wondered how the other guests who weren’t part of the bridal party felt. During the activities between the ceremony and the reception where the bridal party congregates with the newlyweds, there were very few guests left out of the inner circle. That might not be an issue for those guests, sure. Just pointing out one possible area you can be sensitive about. While your bridal party are obviously the closest people to you, the rest of the guests should still feel special.
So, are you ready to talk about this with your groom? Share this blog post with your fiancée! Then let me know how it goes. The comment box below is waiting for your feedback!
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