So, you are engaged! Now, it's time to start thinking about which of your friends and relatives will be standing with you when you and your significant other take the proverbial plunge. For many people, this is a subject to which they have already dedicated some thought, and there may be a tendency to rush to the phone and start inviting people into the wedding party. Before doing so, however, there are some important factors to consider. A little restraint initially can prevent a lot of headaches and hurt feelings in the long run.
First, as crass as it may seem, you should consider your potential bridesmaids' (or groomsmen's) incomes, as well as all the expenses that being a member of the wedding party entails. Being a bridesmaid can be expensive. Between the dress, shoes, hair, makeup, and contributions towards the bridal shower and bachelorette party, the expenses can really add up fast. Thinking about this ahead of time can save embarrassment or resentment down the road. If you think that someone cannot afford the expenses, perhaps you should not include them or, if it is a very close friend, think of ways to alleviate the expense. If you are financially able, pick up the tab for the dress or hair. It's up to you how much you want to try to keep expenses low, but just keep it in mind as you plan. The last thing you want is to cause stress for one of your closest friends.
Next, before putting the groom's four sisters into the wedding party, make sure that is what you really want. You should never have obligatory wedding party members, and neither should your soon-to-be spouse. Remember that whoever is in your wedding party will also be a major part of planning the shower and bachelorette party and will be there for all of those special moments as you get ready to march down the aisle. Do not try to push your mate into including anyone that he or she does not want to include.
Finally, make sure that the people you include are all capable of getting along with others. Chances are that your wedding party will be made up of people you know from different times in your life, which means they may not all know each other. Be aware of personalities, especially those who tend to be combative, and try to keep potential flare-ups to a minimum.
It's really sad to have to give this last piece of advice, but a visit to any message board on wedding party disasters will quickly show that friends do not always remember to put the couple first. And unfortunately, some people just really enjoy conflict and have a hard time resisting a good opportunity to start one, no matter whom they leave in their wake.