August 24th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
Mike Plunkett Photography
They’re your go-to girls, your support squad, a crack team of commandos who pop up like a flash mob to help you shop, craft and uncork the wine when it’s most needed – but how to go about actually choosing your #bridesquad? Here at Brides Up North we’ve mulled over one of Weddingland’s biggest dilemmas – who makes the bridesmaid cut? – so you don’t have to. We’re nice like that…
take time out
Chances are, the minute you got engaged you were tempted to shout the news from the rooftops – or at the very least, your Facebook page. And that’s all part of the fun but, be aware: as soon as you do, expectations and questions begin to build. Don’t succumb to the pressure: choosing the team that will surround you and support on one of the most important days of your life is a humongous decision – not one that should be rushed.
where loyalties lie
Do you choose your official bestie who dates all the way back to Brownie camp but lives 200 miles away, or your new partner in cocktails and crime who’s only been your sidekick for the last couple of years? Your sister, even though you usually brawl like Noel and Liam Gallagher on a night out? Your boyfriend’s cousin – even though she’s a bit wild and unpredictable and, err, odd – because you know it’ll delight your MIL-to-be? What counts for more – 20+ years of friendship, blood ties or an Excel spreadsheet competency that means your hen do will go without a hitch?
There are no easy decisions here, ladies. Often brides have to consider family loyalties, how futureproof their friendships might be and what their potential bridesmaids can bring to the metaphorical planning table. It’s a tough one – hence, take a deep breath, make a list and get thinking.
the line of duty
One way of clarifying these questions could be to look at the expectations you have of your bridesquad. Will you be bitterly disappointed if they don’t come to every bridal boutique, every fitting and organise a raucous girlie weekend in Ibiza? Perhaps your cousin who lives on the Isle of Man with three kids isn’t the best choice, then – or maybe she is, but you need to scale down your expectations of her.
A good rule of thumb if you’re choosing a team of girls is to look for balance. Someone might live a long way away from you, but you know you can’t live without her support on the big day. Your little sis might be a bit scatty on the organisational front but will be on-call day and night and knows all the uber-cool gin bars in your hen do destination city. Yin plus yang = happy bride.
the money question
Many brides choose and pay for their bridesmaids’ dresses, while others ask them to choose something they feel comfortable in and foot the bill, but the uncomfortable truth is that being a bridesmaid can often cost – whether it’s the flights to Ibiza, a night in an expensive hotel before the wedding so that you can all wake up in the same place or forking out the petrol for several trips to your hometown for venue-scouting. Of course, many of your best girls will be more than happy to do this – but it’s something you might need to be sensitive about if one of your chosen maids is struggling for cash.
There’s also the question of cost for you, too: while it might be The Dream to have your whole secondary school hockey team to back you up on your big day – yup, all ten of them – those dresses (and shoes and gifts and personalised morning robes for the wedding photos of your girlhood imaginings) aren’t going to pay for themselves. Make sure your planning is within your budget – so keep the numbers and head for the sales, or cut the numbers and go designer.
the bottom line
And lastly, don’t confuse any of the the following for valid reasons why someone should be part of – or out of – your Big Day Girl Gang:
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Laura is a true Northophile: she married Adam in Durham in 2011 accompanied by 200 Northumbrian lamb shanks and a Mackem 1950s tribute band who did a rockabilly cover version of Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On. They honeymooned in Northumberland in a 1972 MG convertible, went surfing in Alnmouth and made it to the Edinburgh Fringe (let's ignore the fact that it rained all week). Her big mantra is 'no regrets'...but if she could travel back in time and wear a wedding dress with a Peter Pan collar and pockets, she'd pretty much die happy.
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