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dusty blue bridesmaid dresses with white and sage bouquets. How to choose your bridesmaids and how to choose your maid of honor. Virginia wedding photographer Emily Nicole Photography

How to Choose Your Bridesmaids

Wedding Tips

How to choose your bridesmaids without hurting anyone's feelings. A bride has a First Look with her bridesmaids. Taken in black and white by a Virginia wedding photographer.

Often the first sign of wedding day drama comes when you find yourself googling, “how to choose your bridesmaids…” This should be simple and easy — until you have to do it. Maybe you have a lot of girl friends who hold the same level of closeness and friendship to you. Or maybe you have old High School / College besties that you always envisioned in your bridal party, but you grew distant.

I’ve compiled a few standards that bridesmaids should meet, minimizing hurt feelings or stress.

How to Choose Your Maid of Honor

How to choose your maid of honor. How to choose your matron of honor.
Three bridesmaids in burgundy red dresses standing at the alter at a ceremony, holding wood flower bouquets. Taken by Virginia wedding photographer Emily Nicole Photography.


This one is extremely personal to each bride. Some brides are best friends with their sister(s) and others are very different from their sister(s). Sisters make a really easy choice for maid of honor because no best friend can fault you for choosing over them. If you have multiple sisters and can’t choose between them, it is perfectly acceptable to have two maids of honor!

Oldest friend

If you choose a friend to be your maid of honor, one person to consider is the friend that’s been by your side the longest. Whether that is a college friend or even a high school friend, it also makes it hard for other friends to argue when you choose this lifelong bestie as MOH. They may also know you the best after having spent multiple seasons of life with you.

Closest friend

Not to be confused with the above, unless your oldest friend is also your closest. But sometimes seasons of life bring along new friends that just make you think, “Where have you been my whole life?” I call them soul sisters 😉 If you have a fairly new friend that is just your ride or die, what a great way to honor them by asking her to be your maid of honor!


Ok, now for my FAVORITE new trend. I’ve seen this at multiple weddings lately. Making Mom your matron of honor is a really sweet way to honor your matriarch for all the ways she’s shaped you. You can also put her in a much more detailed or luxurious dress or give her a bigger bouquet. Or do something simple to set her apart like adding a sparkly belt to her dress or gifting her by paying for her hair and makeup to make her feel extra pampered.

Other Family Members

I grew up in a family where my cousins were all a bit older than me. But as I got older, the closer I got with some of my cousins. But some brides grew up with their cousins almost like sisters. If this is the case, consider making your best girl cousin your maid of honor!


Maid of Honor means single/unmarried. Matron of Honor means married. If you have two women in your life that deserve the spot, and one is married one not, this is an easy way to make a distinction and make both feel special!

How to Choose Your Bridesmaids

Spoiler alert — I weigh bridesmaids differently than I weigh maid/matron of honor. I certainly take into account the relationships above, which could apply for bridesmaids as well as maids of honor. But in addition to that, consider the women in your life who match the following criteria (again, this can be personal from bride to bride):

When is the last time you spoke/hung out?

If it’s been over a year since you’ve been in touch, maybe you’re not as close as you used to be. Or maybe they’re not great communicators, which will cause issues when you need them to respond throughout your engagement for important bridesmaid duties.

Are you asking them to join your bridal party for any reason other than returning the favor?

Just because you were a bridesmaid in her wedding doesn’t mean you HAVE to ask her to be one in yours. Don’t let obligation be your number one reason. You may regret it later on.

Is this friend reliable?

Look — as much as we may love them, I think we all have that one flaky friend. You know the one. She’s the girl who cancels plans with you, reschedules 3 times before you finally get together for coffee. If you notice these behaviors, just know that there is a high likelihood it is only amplified as a bridesmaid. The last thing you want is a friend to be late in getting her dress, drop out of paying for hair and makeup (wasting your HMUA artist’s time) or worse — become a no-show altogether. It happens, believe me.

How much would this person do for you to make your day extra special?

Is this friend not only reliable, but also proactively helpful? Does she volunteer to help plan your bachelorette party? Is she the first to volunteer to run errands for you the morning of your wedding? Does she stay after the bridal shower to help your mom clean up? You want girls that are there for YOU, not for themselves or for a shot at the most eligible groomsman.

Is it an easy choice?

If you find yourself going back and forth internally, trying to figure out if they’d be a good fit for bridesmaid, then the answer is no. Knowing how to choose your bridesmaids should be easy. If your gut isn’t settled with it, don’t do it. Your gut is usually right.

If you take nothing else from this post, please take this. Your wedding should feel like an encapsulation of your relationship with your future spouse. If figuring out how to choose your bridesmaids feels daunting, take a step back. Breathe. Recenter on planning for your marriage. Then try to envision the women standing next to you when you say “I do”. Do those women support your union? Do you trust them? And how happy are you to have them there? Don’t stress, my dears!

If you are looking for more wedding planning tips from a Northern Virginia wedding photographer who has seen it all, check out some of the posts below!

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