How to choose your Bride squad

All the funny movies and jokes about bridesmaids offer just enough truth to see what it’s actually like to have a Bridesquad.   You’ve heard the saying; “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” which describes someone who never quite fulfils his or her potential, a person who makes it to the finals but never wins the contest.  They are notoriously known as the second string, but the reality actually is they have such an important role to play in the wedding.

There are so many questions and decisions to make surrounding bridesmaids.  Who should I have?  How many?  What do they do?   What type of dress should I buy for them?  What gifts to buy for them?  I could go on and on.  We are going to hit on all the hot topics in this blog, but the questions that seems to get asked the most are:

Q 1: How do I choose who will be bridesmaids?

Bridesmaids are the ones who will stand next to you on your big day.  They are the ones who have been there for you on the hard days and the exciting days.  They have known you through your school days, your awkward teenage years, maybe even your rebellious phases… they were interesting.  Sometimes they are the ones who you have known since birth because they are your family.

You have a wide pool of people to choose from:

Family: It’s true when they say we can’t pick our family, but the loyalty we have to them because we hope they have our back runs deep.  Not all families are going to have a deep sense of relationship with each other, but it’s worth noting, if you don’t want to hurt your friends’ feelings you can keep your bridal party to just family.  Sisters, future sister-in-laws, nieces and cousins are in the running depending on the number of people you want in your bridal party.

Life-long friends: These are the friends that you may not have seen in a while, but if you showed up at their front door it would be as if no time had passed at all.  They are the ones who will most likely stand the test of time when life’s roads get rocky.

Your everyday besties: These are the friends you hang out with day to day; they might be your current crew, but they might not be the ones who will stand by you your entire life.  Work and going out friends are fun to hang out with, but can you see them in your life when you have children, your marriage is difficult or you need a shoulder to cry on? Maybe they will be life long friends, maybe not, but thinking about the future of your friendship with help narrow down the list if you need to.

  

What to remember when choosing your Bridesquad;

  • Family is going to be at every holiday party until you die.
  • Choose friends who will stick by you when life is difficult.
  • Women with helpful personalities make great bridesmaids.
  • Being a bridesmaid can be costly, so make sure you outline expectations and costs before you get your answer. You don’t want to have details planned out and then have someone back out last minute.
  • Don’t be offended if someone says, “no.”
  • If you are a social butterfly and have SO many friends you can’t choose, it’s completely acceptable to just have the family as your Bridesquad.

Q 2: How many is too many?

You know the criteria now.  Don’t worry about how many, but choose the women that are supposed to stand up with you. If it’s a large crew, then that’s just how you roll.  If it’s just one best friend or sister, that is special too.  Don’t get caught up in what other people think the perfect number is. Know who you are and who you want at your side.  Everyone loves the intimacy of just a bridesmaid or two, but there is something special about the bride who has a large squad at her side on her special day too. Your personality will shine through is so many details of the day. The kind and quantity of friends you have by your side on your special day will be another sweet addition. You do you!

Q 3: How much should I budget for, for my Bridesquad?

This answer really depends on your wedding budget. Generally in a Jewish wedding the Bride will take care of the cost of the dresses, shoes, make-up, hair.  However if budget is maybe a little tight it’s worth exploring less expensive options and maybe contribute to their shoes instead of paying for the whole cost.

A sentimental, thank you gift is always nice to receive from the bride.  It shows your gratitude for not just being a sounding board or taking over the hen do planning but mainly being a friend on your special day.  Check out my gifting blog for your bridal party here.  Remember, these women will be there forever, and your wedding day is just one day out of your entire life so its a great way to show how much you appreciate them.

Here are my personal top 5 which can be personalised or left in original state.

  • Weekender bag: They will use it forever and always think of you.
  • Crystal Stud earrings: You could even ask them all to wear them for the ceremony if you are a continuity sort of bride.
  • Glassware: You have boozy crew, wine freeze cooling cups, shot glass, flasks or champagne flutes are always a fun way to make sure they are thinking for you while at home in their kitchen long after you have said, “I do.”
  • A bangle: Personalised bangles that can go with most outfits or even ones with elegantly tied wire knots because you are tying the knot!
  • Fujifilm Instax Mini: This is the gift that keeps instantly giving and when I saw a bride give her crew these, I practically swooned! 

Q 4: How do I know which type of dress to give them?:

Traditionally the bride chooses a dress and hopes that the same dress, in the same style will suit all her bridesmaids, oh and all in the same size.  This can be disastrous.  It’s not a great look to watch the fuller figure, busty beauties squeeze into a dress clearly designed for someone with a long and lengthy figure, and watching those that cannot seem to fill out a dress made for a woman who is more curvaceous and shorter figure can be a bit uncomfortable too.

Thankfully years ago, a trend started where brides picked a shop, a colour to match their theme and then let the bridesmaids pick their own style depending on their body type.  This is a smart move for brides because your gorgeous bride squad can pick a dress that flatters their figure and are happy.  They won’t feel totally self conscious in their own skin and bearly able to look at their own reflection.  BUT if you know your crew and you know they can get crazy or all have very different styles, and you know that would drive you, crazy than you can set parameters.  Nothing strapless or only short or long or other criteria.  Your bridesmaids will all be beautiful and will compliment you greatly on your special day.  Just be sure to remember to ask yourself a few key questions:

  1. What will look best on everyone?
  2. Do you want them all matching?
  3. Will their hair be the same.?
  4. Do you want them to all have matching accessories?

Q 5: What exactly am I allowed to ask my bridesmaids to do?

It’s your wedding, you can do what you want, but there is a some etiquette you might want to, at least, consider before you start hounding your besties to be your go to’s.

Be upfront with what you need from your bride squad. When expectations are laid out up front to your lovely ladies it makes for a much smoother process.  These are some of the main aspects of the bridesmaid’s role, which are, like the rest of your wedding, customisable!

  • To wear the dress you buy for her.
  • Help plan your hen.
  • Go to you hen party.
  • Help plan the festivities
  • Collect any wedding items you may need to be delivered to the Synagogue and venue and delivered back.
  • Be encouraging

Q 6: What about the Maid of Honour?  How is she different than the rest of my bride squad?

Your maid of honour is like the manager of the details.  She doesn’t necessarily do everything herself, but she delegates, manages the bridesmaids and keeps you in check throughout the day, making sure you are always ok.  Hopefully, she is organised and loves you to death. You want her to have a good relationship with your bridesquad and to have  the willingness to ask when she needs help from them.  Apart from initially setting up the Whatsapp group or the group email to coordinate the bridesquad and organising your hen, attending your dress fittings and maybe even helping you select your bride squad, her duties on the wedding day include; helping you get dressed, making sure your make up is on point and your hair is immaculate throughout the day, all the while smiling through her own pain she is suffering from her extremely high heels she HAD to have!

The maid of honour should also carry around an emergency kit just for you, which can safely live in her handbag for the day and evening.  This should include, tissues, your eye liner, lipstick/gloss, pressed powder, cotton buds, small packet of hand wipes or chalk(!)  Apparently it’s a miracle worker for wedding dress stains, the variety selection of Compeed and maybe a small snack/mint if you can squeeze that all in her bag, you know you have chosen wisely!  She will also stand next to you on the big day and hold your bouquet.

As a woman who has been a Maid of Honour, it’s by far the strangest part holding 2 bouquets of flowers with no way to scratch your nose or move those wispy strands of hair out of your lipglossed lips, so be extra nice to your Maid of Honour!

Having your bride squad is a wonderful tradition.. With a little thoughtfulness, those closest to you can not only enjoy the events that lead up to your wedding, they can be a pivotal role in you all enjoying a memory you will share for a lifetime.

For more tips, advice and inspiration check out my Instagram @eventsbynatashaweddings or my Pinterest, click here.

Alternatively, if you would just like to have a chat you can email me info@eventsbynatasha.co.uk

Natasha x

Top 10 Tips for planning a Jewish wedding 

Planning a wedding has details.  Planning a Jewish wedding has a million details.  The process of planning your wedding can be fun and exciting and doesn’t at all have to be gruelling or stressful.   Here are a few tips and some direction to keep you on track.  If you have any further questions along the way feel free to ask away contact me.

Between the pressures of family, the vendors and all the traditions, you want to make sure you are at the top of your game for your special day.  Combining all the tradition of your Jewish wedding while still holding on to who you are as a person takes grace and preparation.

Just like you, I want your day to be unforgettable.  You should enjoy every moment of preparation and time with family and friends as you celebrate the life-long commitment you will make to your partner.

But since you do have some planning to do and wedding to enjoy, here you go:

Top 10 Tips for planning a Jewish wedding

  1. Before anything happens take a breath and start by writing a list of everything you think you need for your wedding.  Trust me, this list will be amended throughout this process of new things you will think about.  Maybe even add it to an excel spreadsheet.  I love a list, I always feel better once I write one, it makes things clearer and you aren’t relying on your memory in every wedding conversation you have with your suppliers and family.

2. Next, I would highly recommend booking your wedding insurance.  Weddings cost a lot of money and anything can happen at any point, you need to be covered as soon possible for peace of mind.  There are plenty out there, John Lewis is a great option.  They have various levels of cover to suit your budget.

3.  Ask your Rabbi or wedding officiant to officiate.  Even though this seems obvious, make sure the person you want to officiate your wedding is available for the date you would like.   Some say you need to ask at least 6 months in advance to ensure a clear schedule, but even asking a year in advance can be recommended particularly if you have a very emotional/spiritual bond with your Rabbi.  You want to make sure he has your wedding in his calendar. The officiant really sets the tone for the ceremony so if you aren’t close to anyone, be sure to ask questions about how they facilitate the ceremony.

4. Once you have booked your Rabbi, you need to start viewing venues and meeting with caterers.  I’d say these three are the most important areas of your wedding and should be at the top of your list to be booked with immediate effect. Simply for the reason that if they are booked up they won’t be available again for your chosen date.  It’s a bit logistical to match up the Rabbi, Venue and Caterer but once its done and confirmed you can relax somewhat.  Once they are booked you can take more time to think about wedding photographers/videographers, florists and wedding bands.  Do your homework: find the best vendors for every aspect of your wedding.   There are so many vendors who are going to help you make your your wedding the most special day.  Think of weddings you have been to where you loved the bride’s hair or couldn’t stop looking at the wedding photos after.  Ask your friends and family who they used and loved for their weddings and special functions.   Test a couple of different make-up and hairstylists.  Search for recommendations for the best wedding bands.  Where possible view the bands whilst they are live at their clients weddings, make sure the band invites you and clears it with their clients first…we don’t want any wedding crashers. Wedding preparation is not a time to skip on your research.  Scour the internet, get on social media, ask everyone you know their experiences good and bad with every business you are considering using.  Someone sharing their bad or good experience can help you make educated choices that will impact your wedding day. You want to have the best day possible and we live in a world where reviews are easily accessible, so save yourself the disappointment of a bad experience and go with the vendors who have the best customer experiences.

5. Pick your chuppah decorations: since your chuppah symbolises the home you will build with your each other, the way you build and decorate it can be really as significant as you would like it to be.  What kind of couple are you and what kind of home are you going to build for your family. Are you glamorous or maybe more classic and elegant?   You can make it fun and modern,  decorate as a way to express yourselves or you can use lights, greenery and flowers to make your chuppah the perfect fairytale dream come true. Even with flowers and greenery you can be as simple or as extravagant as you want. Most chuppahs are square, but I’ve also created circular ones that are spectacular. They can be wooden, clear, metal, colourful, columned to fit in with your theme.   Take a little look at my Pinterest and Instagram for some inspiration.

6.  Hire a wedding planner: I know, I know, obviously as a wedding planner I’m a bit biased here, but the benefits far outweigh the costs.  One of the primary reasons to hire a wedding planner is to help enjoy the process and your special day while alleviating family stress and feeling overwhelmed with so much to book and pleasing everyone involved.  A wedding planner more often than not can mediate too, someone with an unbiased opinion and not emotionally involved can give you the answers you need, maybe not what you want, but they will do what’s best for the wedding, also giving you realistic expectations on various aspects of your wedding; such as suppliers and timings.   The added benefit of having someone who organises everything gives you the perfect checklist and makes sure all plans are fully executed not only relieves undue anxiety, but brings enjoyment to the details that otherwise would be mundane.  You will have an insider scoop to vendors and ideas plus the advice and wisdom their experience offers can keep delicate situations calm. What many people don’t realise is that having a wedding planner also helps you stay on budget, communicate with vendors and of course they are indispensable on the big day.  You won’t miss a detail and will enjoy the process of your wedding planning and your special day so much more with a wedding planner at your side.  Check out some of my packages that might suit you…worth a look.

7. Start to think about how you want your day to run: your timings.   Let’s be honest. Jewish weddings are amazing and full of culture and reverence.  There are so many beautiful traditions and details, start early, give yourself plenty of time to think about how you want to incorporate everything – so you don’t miss out any areas, you’ll probably change your timings more than a few times, I often have timings changed on the day, so don’t worry too much about it being exact.

8.  Include an Order of Service to your Chuppah ceremony and Toast order to your menus.  Adding the symbolism and descriptions of the special traditions is a wonderful way to showcase Jewish tradition and culture to those unfamiliar with them. It’s also a special way to remind all the married couples in the room the beauty of marriage. There are adorable ways to showcase your bridal party with everything from traditional pictures to more fun characters on place cards. You can add favourite quotes, special thanks to those most involved in your life/relationship. Many couples even choose to add a memorial section to their program to remember family members they have lost they wish were there celebrating their special day.

9.  Buy your special “Glass.”  We all know when the groom breaks the glass is a favourite tradition.  The Chuppah ceremony ends with a big crash and everybody goes crazy!  Sometimes the bride and groom may even share in the pleasure of smashing the glass.  Generally, the glass would be wrapped in a couple of thin linens or napkins, but nowadays you can buy stunning glass and repurpose it after it’s broken, check out some ideas here and even buy a special bag to put the glass in before the glass is stomped.  If you are sentimental there is so much choice to be creative with your broken glass.  You can buy coloured glass and then use the tiny shattered pieces to remake the wine glass in a perspex case, Mezzuzahs and varieties of wall art.  It’s a stunning way of remembering your wedding day and that special moment of the glass being smashed.

10. Lastly and probably the most fun part…GIFT LIST TIME!  Register your wedding gift list.  Not everyone at your wedding will know you personally and something that is not so personal but more practical, is an amazing gift that you actually need to help you set up your home with your new husband.  Many large stores have gift lists such as John Lewis to make the process convenient and easy to use in store and online.  So start scanning!

Jewish weddings are so special and full of the kind of beauty that only tradition and culture can bring.  Commitment, festivities, beautiful dresses…what more can a girl ask for? Enjoy planning your Jewish wedding, do your homework and remember who you are.  Add a bit of yourself and the groom to every tradition. Hire a wedding planner who can appease all the awkward family situations that are bound to arise.

Most importantly remember your love for your future husband and are preparing to celebrate a life long partnership with the one you adore.  All the details are spectacular and important, but there is nothing more important than your future happiness. So be patient, kind and flexible with your partner as you enjoy this process. It will only happen once, so relish in every precious moment!

For any more inspiration check out my Instagram @eventsbynatashaweddings or my Pinterest, click here.

Alternatively, if you would just like to have a chat you can email me info@eventsbynatasha.co.uk

Natasha x