How to choose your bridesmaids

10 Jul 2014

How to choose your bridesmaids

Question: what is very small, utterly adorable, effortlessly pretty and deeply unpredictable?

Answer: the five-year old you are considering taking down the aisle with you on the big day as a bridesmaid. Indi Debah looks at the difficult decision of choosing your bridesmaids.

Choosing the bridesmaids who will help you prepare for the big day and smooth your journey to the altar is either a flower-strewn path through the sunny uplands of familial and social harmony (rare), or a carefully plotted course through a minefield of potential hurt feelings and wounded egos (possible). Your job is to find a way through the middle.

A bridal entourage averages between four and six, but there the averages end: some brides choose exclusively adult bridesmaids, some choose a mixture of grown-ups and one or two children, and some throw caution to the wind with a mix of grown-ups, child bridesmaids and page-boys.

We’ve all seen the winsome, wide-eyed moppet holding the bridal train, just about balancing the excitement of the occasion and the boredom of keeping still while the grown-ups become inexplicably solemn – before the equally inexplicable burst of music and the peal of bells. If you are intending to include children in your bridal party, it’s worth making sure of a few things first.

Try to remember what it’s like to be six/eight/ten. A quick route back to this is simply to see the world from the child’s height; not quite a sense-memory, but it can be a very effective imaginative prompt. Start from there.

Choose a maid-of-honour or adult bridesmaid who is good with children – even better if she already knows them.

If you have two or three child bridesmaids, try to include one who is a little older; the younger ones will be keen to impress her and follow her example.

A child with a script to follow is a child on a see-saw, wanting to please and act her part to the letter, but liable to improvise on a whim with sometimes spectacular results. Rehearse, but make sure she knows the difference between practice and the real thing.

Remember that children are fantastically ego-centric. They’ll happily accept that it’s your day, and that you’re the star of the show, but might forget all of that if they’re bored or excited or suddenly overwhelmed by the occasion; the rehearsals won’t have included a hundred people gazing fondly at them, and even the most spirited of children might quail at that.

Make sure they know there’s a hand they can hold if it all gets too much.

Some children thrive on having responsibility and a sense of importance. If you have two or three child attendants, tell them they’re a team; as well as being brilliant improvisers, children can be quite conformist among their peers.

Last but not least, make sure everyone remembers that it’s a celebration and that they are an important part of it.


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