The Guilty Girl's Guide to Choosing Bridesmaids

Illustration by Edwin Fotheringham/BRIDESIllustration by Edwin Fotheringham/BRIDESBy Lexi Dwyer, BRIDES magazine

Picking your bridal party can stir up more emotion than picking a groom. But don't worry-BRIDES magazine has got your back. Here are six common guilt-inducing scenarios and what to do about them:

DO YOU HAVE TO ASK
... a friend whose wedding you were in two years ago, even though you don't hang out anymore? You can't shake feeling like you "owe her."
WHAT'S A GIRL TO DO? No need to sweat it-there's no quid-pro-quo contract you have to fulfill. Relationships change, and chances are she'd feel uncomfortable anyway.

Related: 10 Shocking Secrets of the First Year of Marriage

DO YOU HAVE TO ASK
... your superclose bud who's due to give birth two weeks before your wedding?
WHAT'S A GIRL TO DO?
You should ask her, but also reassure her that you'll understand if she can't come to all or part of the wedding. You don't want to make her feel guilty if she's got to leave early or bow out of walking down the aisle.

DO YOU HAVE TO ASK... your fiance's sister, whom you've only met a couple of times?
WHAT'S A GIRL TO DO? If your man had three sisters, you could probably skip asking them, but since there's only one, you really should include her. After all, this is one relationship that isn't going anywhere-call the move an investment in holiday harmony for decades to come.

DO YOU HAVE TO ASK... all four of your Thursday-girls'-night buddies, when you're tight with only two of them?
WHAT'S A GIRL TO DO? You don't need to ask all of them, but use tact and make a point of limiting any bridesmaid-related chitchat when you're all out together.

See Also: 5 Rules Not to Break at Your Wedding

DO YOU HAVE TO ASK
... your best guy friend? You're afraid he's going to look like an idiot holding your bouquet.
WHAT'S A GIRL TO DO?
Go for it! Nowadays it's perfectly okay to have girls on the groom's side and guys on the bride's. Call him an "honor attendant," have him dress like the groomsmen, and let him participate in as much of the pre-wedding stuff as he's comfortable with. Unless he's the GOH (guy of honor), he doesn't have to go anywhere near your bouquet. And if the girls decide on a group gift from Thongs R Us, all he has to contribute is his share of cash.

DO YOU HAVE TO ASK... your best bud from high school, who's turned into a crazy party girl? You're worried she'll jump the bartender and turn into a walking bridesmaid cliche.
WHAT'S A GIRL TO DO? As long as she doesn't spend most Friday nights in county lockup, go ahead and include her. Just give the bar staff a heads-up.

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