How to eliminate drama when choosing your wedding party

Face it—most of us were not blessed with one solid group of friends that stuck by our side from kindergarten through college. As much as we all loved “The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants,” that’s just not often reality. No, reality is having everything from childhood buddies that never fade, to different cliques we flitted around with in high school, and college roommates who have seen us through the good and bad. If that’s not the case, then it’s more than likely true for the groom.

The question is then: how do brides choose a wedding party without offending one of these various groups? Well, there is no easy answer—but there are some tips and tricks that can make this selection process a lot less likely to turn into The Hunger Games.

First things first: find out how many groomsmen your groom would like to choose BEFORE sending out “will you be my bridesmaid” gifts. If you want an even number on both sides of your wedding party, this is a must. Often the groom will care more about this then he initially lets on, as he doesn’t want to hurt his friends’ feelings any more than you do. Find out how many groomsmen he is comfortable with and then match that.

Once you have established a golden number, think through your different groups of friends. Although they all mean something, which ones have meant the most RECENTLY. It is much more likely that your childhood friend will understand a rejection than will your recent college roommate who feels like they’ve just conquered school (and pretty much the entire world) with you. However, if you find that you still call your childhood friend every day and your college roommate only gets a “happy birthday” Facebook message once a year… well, then you know who deserves to be a bridesmaid.

After you’re done assessing who has been the better friend most recently in your life, take a different direction and think about yourself. While weddings have a habit of evolving from the bride’s day, to the mom’s day, to the aunt’s day, to the maid of honor’s day, and maybe even to the dog’s day…. It really is about the bride.

Which girls do you want by your side the most when you know you may be a hot mess the morning of your big day? Who will be the ones who can get you out of your head and make you laugh? Which girls do you want to toast to your accomplishments and the person that you have become? These may seem like less important questions than, “Who’s feelings will be easiest to repair if they get hurt,” but they are not. These questions should be the most important factors when deciding who your bridesmaids will ultimately be.

While it comes down to what you want – there is one exception. Choosing a mishmash of bridesmaids from multiple friend groups can prove disastrous. While it may seem logical that certain friends are important from each group, putting them all together can result in an awkward affair. If your bridesmaids don’t know how to interact together, the chemistry will be off. The “getting ready” photos will consist less of the carefree candid photos we all love to see on Pinterest and more of the stiff, posed photos that occur when no one is laughing. This also means choosing groomsmen who will gel well with those bridesmaids. The bridesmaids and groomsmen can be the backbone of the party on your big day. They are the ones who often get the dancing started, create a string of funny or heartfelt speeches, and inappropriately decorate the getaway car. If they don’t get along, you could find that your special day becomes a painful one.

The last tip to keep in mind when choosing your wedding party is to set a deadline. Give yourself a hard deadline on when to have the wedding party chosen. If you do not, it can become an unneeded addition to the inevitable stressors. Put this problem to bed quickly and early on in your engagement. That way you have not only eliminated a stressor, but you’ve added on a killer team of people to help you through the rest of those wedding planning hurdles.