How to Choose Your Wedding Party

It sounds simple but is choosing the people who will stand by your side on one of the most incredible and special days of your life, really that straight forward?

(for video version, skip straight to bottom)

For some couples, this can be the single most stressful element of the entire wedding planning process, for others, it’s as easy as counting to three. In this post I’ll be taking a look at exactly why that is and offering some tips on how to make the process that little bit easier.

The format of this post is a little different to usual. To start with, I’ve broken it down into three separate groups. Gender Split, Number and People – using the descriptions below I’d like you to rank these in order of importance. Don’t dwell on it too long – trust your gut on this one and remember that what’s most important to you is not necessarily what’s most important to someone else – and that’s a good thing!! There is no right or wrong answer and it’s certainly not something that you have to over analyse and argue with yourself over. What it is however, is an excellent tool for helping you to narrow down exactly who you should invite to be a part of your crew.

  • Gender Split – Do you like the traditional ‘ladies support the bride’ ‘guys support the groom’ or would you rather mix it up?
  • Number – How many people do you want in your wedding party? Do you want the same number of people standing on your side and your partners?
  • People – Do you want to choose the people who mean the most to you? The people who you spend the most time with? Or the people you think will be the most helpful come crunch time?

So now that you’ve got them ranked, I’m going to make things a little more complicated. Ignore the order I’ve written this blog in – I want you to read this blog in the order of importance to you. There’s one section for each of the above titles – start with the one you ranked as most important and work your way down your rankings. By the time you get to the lowest ranked section I’m quite sure you’ll be full of ideas for how you might best assemble your dream wedding crew.

Wedding Party
Photo credit: Abi Hackling Photography

Gender Split

We all grew up with the traditional ideal that the ladies support the bride and the guys support the groom. But of course, this was before we entered the 21st century and realised that actually people can support whomever they wish. For all I know, you’re a bride marrying a bride or a groom marrying a groom (or any number of other options) and hell, these traditions don’t make any sense anyway so why shouldn’t you break this one?!  Personally I’m vibing the mixed gender option, friends are friends no matter their gender (she says, with five beautifully traditional matching bridesmaids of her own).
You know, there’s also no reason that your wedding party have to be aligned with either of you,  chances are if you’ve already been friends a while, all your friends are the same people anyway, so why make them take sides?

The real question here is actually rather straight forward. It’s less about gender split and more about who your friends are. Are all your close friends the same gender? Or are they all different genders? Are your friends and your partners friends the same people? Do you think you’ll be fighting over who you get on ‘your’ team? Or do you have quite separate friends and will have no trouble making that division? Try not to get too caught up on tradition, challenge exactly why you’re leaning the way you are (whether that’s towards a single gender crew or a mixed gender crew) and make sure you’re choosing not because tradition (or your parents) tell you to, but instead because it’s who you really feel you want by your side.


As much as I hate to start with it, that awful budget word may just be the decider for you on this one… Even with it becoming more and more popular for wedding crew members to purchase their own attire, there are still tonnes of hidden costs with having more people in your party. Bouquets and boutonnieres, gifts, hair and makeup just to name a few. And while there are always ways you can cut costs and I’d never advise that you make the decision entirely based on budget, it does still pay to check the bank account first.

Asides from the total number of people in your wedding party, there is also the decision of how many will stand on either side. If you like the balanced look in photos, having the same number of people in your crew and your partners crew may be important, or alternatively, perhaps you prefer the mismatched look of having three on one side and only two on the other, or maybe it doesn’t bother you at all.

Choosing your wedding crew based on size is relatively common but before you commit please beware that it can make things complicated and you will need to be ready to make some compromises. It’s not often that both you and your partner just happen to have the exact same number of close friends. If you really are dead set on having a certain number on either side then be prepared to have a few friends up there with you that you may not have chosen otherwise. You and your partner will have to work through this one together, set the number and have some really robust discussions about who to include, you’ll want to make sure you’re on the same page and that having a set number of people isn’t going to mean that one of you misses out on including someone truly special.


Choosing the people can go one of two ways. For some, it’s blatantly clear to them exactly who should be in their wedding party. For others, choosing between friends is intimidating, overwhelming and downright scary. Just because you know who your closest friends are doesn’t mean that they know it too and there’s always a chance that someone who misses out could get offended, particularly if you have a big group of friends, or you’re closer to one sibling than the others.

Another way to consider the selection of the people is how they will add value. I know, that sounds a little like you’re using them rather than honouring them, but truth be told, you will need the help! Consider what you may need most on your day- are you someone who gets stressed easily and wants a close friend that knows how to keep you cool, calm and collected? Are you someone who loses track of time and need someone there on the day to hold you to your schedule? Are you likely to get flustered, lose all of your things and need someone who payed attention to where you left your wedding shoes yesterday? Or do you simply need a group of friends who’ll have a drink with you over breakfast, turn the music up loud and really get this party started?

There will be some seriously stressful moments and some seriously busy moments and your wedding party need to be people you can rely on. If they are, those tough, scary and stressful moments will be easy to maneuver and they’ll make the day that much more rewarding and memorable.

Wedding Party
Photo credit: Abi Hackling Photography

If it’s all just sounding like a bit too much remember that there are always other options. Think outside the square and let yourself get creative with it. Perhaps you can honour someone another way by asking them to be your witness, or to hand out confetti (the biodegradable kind, of course!) while you sign the registry. There’s a fine line between asking someone to help as an honour and asking them to work – make sure they’ll still have more than enough time to enjoy the wedding too, but if you line up skills with tasks chances are people will feel incredibly special to have been asked.

And if choosing your wedding crew just really isn’t falling into place, there’s always the option of not having one! (No rules right?)

My best advice? Choose the people who make you feel like you. The people you relax around. The people who bring out the very best you that there is. If you choose those people, how could you possibly go wrong?

Got any tips you’d like to add? Or did I open more questions than I closed…
Let me hear ’em in the comments!

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