Just as you're not supposed to rush into marriage, neither are you supposed to rush into selecting your bridal party.
So they say, anyway. But as every woman will tell you, we've all had the "who will be my bridesmaid" chat long before you've even had your first serious relationship.
Promises are made at school discos and debs dances, and if you're lucky enough to keep those friendships when you've finally met the man you want to marry, it takes at least some of the difficulty out of choosing the most important ladies that will stand by your side, hold your lipgloss and fix the train on your dress on your big day.
As soon as the engagement ring was on my finger, I was being asked who I was going to appoint as my bridesmaids, all questions followed by the caveat "no need to rush into anything".
Of course, when it gets down to making the actual decision of who you want to be your bridesmaids, it's not quite as simple as that. Promises have been made and they should be promises that you want to keep.Trust
I'm not one of these people who has hundreds of "friends", in fact, I even have far more friends on Facebook than I would like (I feel a cull coming on soon). I'm well able to differentiate between friends and acquaintances, and the friends I have are ones that I would trust with my deepest secrets, and expect to tell me if I'm looking particularly awful, as well as boosting my ego when necessary. If I could, I would like to have had all of my best friends as bridesmaids. But then, this is not an episode of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. A degree of restraint is required when appointing your bridesmaids; too many, and you run the risk of having more in the bridal party than guests. If you have too few, you're potentially offending good friends. Then there is the other matter of budget which you really should -- but often don't -- consider. So if you want to have seven bridesmaids, then remember that means you have to buy seven dresses.
When I came to making my decision I had to be swift and I had to be brutal. I decided on two criteria -- family and friends, and thankfully, in the family category they blend into friendship too. In the family corner, just like Kate Middleton and sister Pippa, I have my sister Nikki who will be my maid of honour. Without wanting to sound twee, we are friends as well as family so there will be no aggressive throwing of bouquets or fighting over colours of nail varnish. I did the same job for her wedding a few years ago and so now is pay back.
My three-year-old niece Cara (Nikki's daughter) also falls into the family category, and I could not walk down the aisle without her. She is also a little in love with Andrew so I'm not quite sure how she is going to take it when she sees him being wed off to someone else, but she is happily taking on the duty of flower girl with great excitement. Unfortunately, she may prove to be the most difficult to dress. Nikki's family live in Liverpool, and I only realised how far her obsession with the home team went, when she asked "Can I wear my Liverpool kit for your wedding?". She took the firm "no" with good grace though. For now.
Sandra and Lisa are the two bridesmaids from my friends category. Both have been my best friends through school, college, and in the big bad grown-up world -- so we go back to two of the promises made over make-up parties and sleep overs.
With one of the most important duties of the bridesmaid being to organise the hen party, they also know to steer clear of strippers, tequila and blow-up dolls -- otherwise, their positions may be in jeopardy.
Meanwhile, Andrew's selection of groomsmen followed pretty much the same criteria as mine. In his family corner he has his brother Stephen as best man, and his lifelong friends Jamie, Neale and David as his groomsmen. Whatever they decide to do for his stag do is entirely out of my hands, and it's nothing that I want to know about.
I've made my decision based on pretty fair criteria and thankfully my friends who didn't make the cut took it without sulk or protest. They are still emailing me links of things I should be checking out for the big day, cutting out pictures in magazines, and still showing as much enthusiasm as if they were bridesmaids, too.
But with four bridesmaids and a flower girl, I'm verging into dangerous territory when it comes to numbers, but as long as I don't dress them in neon green and flashing fairy lights, and keep the boobs and legs well under wraps, we should avoid any potential interest from any documentary makers.