Wedding Etiquette For Dummies
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The average wedding in the United States has four bridesmaids in addition to a maid of honor. Choosing bridesmaids is a way to honor the people most important to you and to share your special day with them. Many people have trouble narrowing down the field, feeling that if they ask one friend, they must ask another, and so on. Don’t feel that because you were a bridesmaid at someone’s wedding ten years ago, you need to reciprocate the honor.

In a seemingly impossible dilemma, ask your mother to be your maid or matron of honor, have your wedding composed of only children or appoint only siblings as your bridal attendants.

As you decide how many bridesmaids to have in your wedding party, think through what you expect them to do. Ideally, bridesmaids perform duties to assist you and get the wedding off the ground.

Throughout the course of planning your wedding, you spend a lot of time with your maid or matron of honor. You need someone you can rely on for the organizational and emotional support, someone who will be there when you need her. For these reasons, many brides choose their sisters, mothers or best friends for the role, but if your best friend just had a baby or started medical school, she may not have the time for the commitment. As you begin to consider someone for this position, ask yourself the following questions: Will this person be able to attend the wedding? Will she be able to help pick out and prepare the site? Can I count on her to answer the phone when I call and help calm me down when things get overwhelming?

No set rules tell you how many bridesmaids you have to have. Consider your budget before making any decisions. The more attendants you have, the more flowers, gifts and meals you have to pay for. The number of attendants should be suitable for the size and style of your ceremony. A good rule of thumb is to choose one attendant (on each side) for every 50 guests.

You and your spouse-to-be should each make a list of the people you want in your party. If the number isn’t even and you want it to be, you can assign some people to other jobs, such as ushers or readers.

If you plan to have a large wedding or a destination wedding, or you can’t bear to choose between sisters or best friends, it’s perfectly acceptable to have two maids of honor or a maid of honor and a matron of honor. Keep in mind that you need to be specific about the duties of each honored attendant so you can avoid misunderstandings.

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Sue Fox is the author of Etiquette For Dummies and Business Etiquette For Dummies. She is the founder and president of The Etiquette Survival Group, a California-based professional development and publishing company.

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