Planning a wedding involves making a huge amount of decisions. For many brides, the hardest choices to make when planning a wedding revolve around the bridesmaids – how many to have, who to have and what colour should they wear? Get this wrong and not only could you end up with unhappy friends and female relatives, but it could also impact considerably on the overall theme and look of your wedding.

The tradition of bridesmaids dates back to a time when ten witnesses were required at weddings to outsmart evil spirits. By dressing in similar clothes to the bride and groom, bridesmaids and ushers would confuse any evil spirits as they wouldn’t know who was getting married. This belief existed right up until Victorian times, and if you look at any 19th century wedding photo it can be quite difficult to tell the bride apart from the bridesmaids.

Today the role of bridesmaids is to provide support to the bride in both the lead up to the wedding and also on the day. This can involve everything from helping the bride to choose her wedding dress right through to helping her get dressed on the big day.

So who to choose, and how many bridesmaids to have? The majority of modern day brides choose a combination of close friends and sisters, although increasingly brides are choosing their mum or sister-in-laws to join them in the wedding party. There’s no hard and fast rule to choosing the right bridesmaid but they should be engaging, helpful and supportive – it should mean more to them than an opportunity to wear a nice dress!

When it comes to choosing the number of bridesmaids, brides should first consider the wedding venue. If you are getting married in a small location it is impractical to have a huge wedding party. The bride should also consider if the wedding is a big formal occasion or a smaller, less formal affair. Again, one bridesmaid might look out of place in a big church while eight would look silly in a registry office.

The most popular number of bridesmaids chosen by many brides today is three or four, although some older brides choose to go it alone and some have anything up to 11 bridesmaids.

After the bride has chosen how many bridesmaids to have and who to ask, she then needs to decide the colour and style of the dress. Many brides are now choosing the colour of the dresses they want their bridesmaids to wear but leaving it up to the bridesmaids to pick their own individual dress. This can work really well if you have a range of sizes and shapes among your bridal party, but brides should be sure they give the OK on every dress – you will have to live with those wedding photos forever and this could be tricky if you don’t like what the bridesmaids are wearing.

Vintage colours are definitely in for 2012 /2013, and champagnes, creams and mink are all popular amongst brides this season. But pinks, purples and greens are riding high as the most popular choices for bridesmaids in 2012 /2013.

Whatever choices brides make regarding bridesmaids, they should be choices they feel completely comfortable with. Ultimately it is the bride’s big day and all good bridesmaids will want to work with the bride, whatever decisions they make.

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