bride and groom laughing during confetti throw at dove barn

Assemble Your Tribe: Choosing Your Bridal Party Without Falling Out

bride walking with lilac bridesmaids in the rain in norfolk countryside

Assemble Your Tribe: Choosing Your Bridal Party Without Falling Out

Once your engagement has been announced, it makes sense that most brides and grooms are quick to think about those initial planning stages. After all, this is a pretty exciting step and whether you’re planning a three month or five-year engagement, it’s lovely to make a few decisions to make the whole thing feel a tad more real; venues, first dance, the date and, of course, the bridal party.

But before you jump into asking your nearest and dearest to fulfil bridesmaid, best man or flower girl duties, it’s good to take a deep breath and to talk about the realities with your spouse-to-be. Don’t think that you need to rush to ask anyone – even if people start hinting!

bride and groom laughing during confetti throw at dove barn

Choosing the Right People

You’re likely to fall in to two camps; either your instincts will directly tell you who you’d like to ask, or you’ll be overwhelmed at the choices and terrified of making the wrong one. So, put the brakes on for a second, grab a cup of tea, your partner and sit down for a chat. There are a few things to consider before you start asking everyone you love to be part of the bridal party.

Outline your basic wedding plan, including budget. Even the space you’ve chosen for your ceremony may contribute to the realistic number that you can have. Now, both write down a list of the loved ones that you have immediately assumed you would have in the bridal party, including your choices and who you think your spouse will choose too.

There are five questions you can discuss together to really hone that list down:

  1. How many bridesmaids/groomsmen/young attendants/best men can we afford?
  2. Will they still be in our lives in ten-year’s time?
  3. Are we considering them because I know they (or someone else) expects us to?
  4. What do we want (insert role here) to do?
  5. Can they afford what we’ll ask of them?

After all, there’s no right or wrong answer to how many of your tribe you choose to assemble as the inner circle of your wedding. But they do have to be the right person. Just because when the groom was 17 he promised a friend that he now only sees once a year that they’d definitely be each other’s best men, doesn’t mean he can’t actually choose his brother.

bridesmaids at a relaxed village hall in binham, norfolk

Think outside the box

It’s also okay to think outside of the box. Want both your parents to walk you down the aisle? How bloody lovely. Would love for your seven-year-old nephew to be the best man? Go for it! Think it might be too much for your sister to be a bridesmaid? Why not ask her to be a witness instead?

Putting together the bridal party should be a joyful celebration of the people that are important to you. The way that you choose to honour your relationships with them don’t have to be through the expected roles. If politics are involved, maybe consider whether just friends or just family might make things simpler.

Choose carefully together. Don’t try to veto each other’s decisions and be honest with those that you ask from the outset. This will stop crossed wires on both sides!

black and white photo of groomsmen holding groom in a suffolk field


Weddings cost a lot in both time and money. Be clear from the off if you’re hoping that your bridesmaids will be helping you handcraft wedding favours every Thursday night for three months, or if you’re hoping the parents will share the bill for the Groom-to-be at the Stag. Because however much you all love each other, it can be easy to veer into cheeky so-and-so territory.

Always ask nicely and offer them the chance to say ‘No’. Although it’s your special day and they will obviously be thrilled to be part of it; realistically they may not have the budget to go on a hen do abroad/buy their own bridesmaid attire if you need them to/insert another cost/time heavy thing here. When you ask them to be part of your day – let them know what you need from them and what costs might be. They will really appreciate it and the last thing you want is to find out your best friend has been crying because they can’t afford to fly to Spain AND stay in the posh hotel the night before but are too afraid to tell you, y’know?

laughing bride and bridesmaids together at marquee wedding in woodbridge, suffolk

Team Wedding

Remind them that although they are part of Team Wedding, it’s not okay for any of them to start piling on pressure to the others either – even if they think it’s on your behalf. This is the start of your marriage, it’s not time to be starting family or friend wars. 

Likewise, if all you truly want on the day is for them to turn up happy and ready to celebrate, let them know that. Be clear about the way you are doing things, only delegate if you truly want to and don’t let your decisions be swayed. If a member of the tribe, from Bride’s Mother to page boy starts getting stroppy, deal with the problem straight away. There really isn’t much that is non-negotiable. Be open to their ideas, respectful of their feelings, and ultimately ask that they also be respectful of yours.

Say Thank You

Little gestures are what counts here. And it’s not just on the day itself, either. Invite the bridal party for coffee and cake to say ‘thanks’ for coming to look at dresses with you. Send a text message because the best man has got you a good deal on the champagne. Always make it clear that you’re honoured they said yes to you!

When it comes to the ‘thank you’ gifts, there’s not really a traditional right or wrong answer. Gifts are of course a nice touch, but they also add to your wedding budget so consider that. You nearest and dearest will totally appreciate a heartfelt thank you card – it doesn’t have to be something flashy.

If you want to give gifts, feel free to do it your own way. The mums don’t have to receive a bouquet if you think of something much more personal to both. Gifts for bridesmaids and groomsmen should truly reflect your love towards them. Maybe you have a group ‘thing’ that could be celebrated with your token of thanks. What about tickets to a favourite comedian, or a copy of a favourite film? Even something simple like an invite over for dinner and drinks after the wedding. Whether you say thanks with a card or gift, it will show them that you feel truly lucky that they’ve stood by you on your wedding day!

Confetti throw at the boat house norfolk bride grinning

If you’re looking for a relaxed wedding photographer, I’d love to hear from you – click here to find out more. Want to see more of my wedding planning tips? Head here to read them.