Photo: Julia Wade
One of the most significant choices you'll make when planning your wedding is selecting the family and/or friends who will stand by your side on the big day. Inviting someone to be a part of your wedding party can be a really meaningful gesture!
That said, it’s crucial that you’re also preparing your loved ones with expectations of what it means to be in your wedding party. It’s a commitment first and foremost, and there shouldn’t be any surprises along the way. We polled some industry experts to help guide you before you pop the question to your loved ones.
"First, explain the type of commitment you want, including what you expect them to attend, such as your shower, bach party, and any other events leading up to the wedding. Or if you are planning a DIY wedding and need help making flower arrangements or decorating the venue." —Joan Wyndrum, Blooms By The Box
"If you are going to ask someone to be in your wedding party, do your homework first. It’s assumed that you probably know this person relatively well. Be sensitive to their financial situation, travel needs, and timing. If someone has just graduated from college that they paid their own way through, then just got married, and now has a baby on the way, it may not be the right time in their life, both timing and financially. You want them to freely join in the celebration, not be guilted into it." —Keith Willard, Keith Willard Events
"Couples also should be prepared to share any expected monetary obligations for the wedding party. Will they have to buy dresses, suits, shoes, or pay for travel? Also, consider any contributions they make have to make to showers and bach parties. This will help the wedding party set aside money well in advance (if needed) or make the decision not to participate if they do not have the budget." —Anna Kimbro, Twickenham House and Hall
"With destination weddings on the rise, the location of the wedding or possible locations should be shared, so the wedding party can decide if the travel is feasible. Especially if the couple is planning to select a location that requires significant travel, some of the bridal party might not be able to swing the costs or be able to take the time away from their daily responsibilities to get away for a week of wedding events." —Kelley Nudo, Momental Designs
"Know that life and schedules change, so ask them at an appropriate time from the wedding date to allow for scheduling and blocking off time to be a part! Give them (if you have it) the dates, times, and locations of your celebration so everyone can be in line calendar-wise. They will need to know what is expected of them both in attire and support in the ceremony." —Jen Sulak, Weirdo Weddings
"Ask your wedding party to keep the roster quiet if you haven't personally asked your wedding party yet. You want them to hear from you rather than another excited bridesmaid or groomsman!" —Nora Sheils, Bridal Bliss, Rock Paper Coin
"Your friends and family should feel comfortable having attention paid to them. They’ll be part of your ceremony, head table (if you go with that seating option), and even giving toasts. Make sure they don’t mind a little time in the spotlight." —Greg Carlyle, The Millennium Event Center
"This is an exciting time in your life, but be sure to express your gratitude to these close friends of yours when you ask them to join your wedding party. Include a heartfelt message or personalized gifts to express your appreciation for their friendship." —Julianne Smith, The Garter Girl
By providing your family and friends with all the information upfront, you're not only showing your appreciation for their presence but also ensuring that they can easily step into their roles. Being transparent and communicative is the best way to make sure your day goes off without a hitch!
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.