Saturday, April 21, 2018

Our Wedding, Part Four || How I Chose My Bridesmaids

Today I'm here to share about how I chose my fourteen bridesmaids! I'm sure everyone is partial to their bride tribe, but I have to say that I am quite sure that I had the sweetest fourteen ladies that ever did stand beside a bride. I hope that you'll finish reading this post and have a new perspective on friendships and possibility a different viewpoint of how you might want to pick your bridesmaids, if you are a gal planning a wedding or hoping to be married someday.

I chose my bridesmaids literally the night we got engaged. John + I discussed our bridal party at our fancy dinner overlooking the river in Iowa City. I remember twirling my new ring on my ring finger and thinking "I AM PICKING MY BRIDESMAIDS, WHAAAT?!?!" We both knew basically right away who we wanted. (him with the guys and me with the girls) We also knew that our bridal party lineup wasn't going to be very normal in any way, and we couldn't have cared less!
(we have a lot of freedom in our non-traditional-ness, haha!) 

So read on if you want to hear how about the process!

I went about choosing my bridesmaids in a rather unconventional way. I am very social and have friends all over the place, but I've also watched tons of friends get married before me (pros of getting married older =)) and have observed a lot about the process of picking bridesmaids!

And my group of ladies ended up being very unique, in a number of ways!
The age range of my bridesmaids from the youngest to the eldest was over thirty years.
Some of the girls  I'd known forever.
Some I'd just met not that long ago. 
Some I'd known for 5-6 years.
Some of them were single, some of them were married, some of them were expecting!
They were all different personalities, had different backgrounds, and they were all sweet as can be!

With all that diversity in mind, here are four of the common ground factors that helped me in selecting the girls I wanted to stand up with me on my wedding day.

First of all, I chose to have women who I knew were kindred spirits. All of my bridesmaids were girls with whom I could laugh, chat, and simply enjoy life. I had various similarities and connections with each of them, and I loved that. They were diverse, energetic, and joyful ladies who were honestly just a very positive influence + blessing in my life!

Secondly, I chose to have women who followed Jesus and sought to make Him number one in their lives. I wanted to have girls that had and would build me up in the Lord and have a positive impact on my life.

Thirdly, I chose to include family. Family is so important to me! My sisters + sisters-in-law are going to be just that---sisters and sisters-in-law----til basically the end of time! There's a whole lot of family reunions + holidays + birthday parties + a multitude of other events that are gonna go down over a lifetime of Bontragers + Maxwells! =)  Even though I didn't know all of my bridesmaids very well (specifically some of my sisters-in-law whom I hadn't spent much time with) still I knew that they would be a very big + active part of my future life, and choosing them as my bridesmaids was to me one of the biggest ways to communicate to them that I fully intended to become close friends + invest much time into our relationships. I knew we'd be spending lots of time together over the coming years. And I firmly believe that just as love is a choice, so also friendships + growing/maintaining them is a choice as well, and I knew that I would become close with each of my new sisters-in-law as I lived near them + intentionally invested in our relationships, after I was married.

Finally, I've seen, with observing others, how friendships often change and shift with marriage/moves/etc. As much as possible, I wanted the women in my bridal party to be women who are still in my life in fifty years. I chose girls who I knew I would stick with me through anything, and who I knew had been and would be, loyal and true-hearted friends.

sisters-in-love Anna Marie, Melanie, + Elissa
 sisters-in-love Carolina, Bryn, + Cassidy
friend Charity + cousin Marissa
 sisters-in-love Anna, Sarah, + Mary
 sisters Allison, Rebecca, + Elizabeth
(In case you missed the last post, you can order the bridesmaid dresses here!)

I am SO THANKFUL for these girls and all of the spice + color they add to my life! I wouldn't be the person I am without their investment + friendship, and I am so honored to have such incredible sisters + friends. (for more about each of my bridesmaids, you can read these bios I wrote for them)

Today I encourage YOU, friend, whether you are planning your bridal party or simply seeking to build friendships, to never forget that the best friendships + relationships don't just happen, but rather, they are fostered, built, + grown!

I'd love to hear your thoughts! If you're married, how did YOU chose your bridesmaids?
Chels

29 comments:

  1. This is exactly the same process my husband and I used to pick our bridal party. Family was essential - and while I don't have sisters, I had three sisters-in-law stand up for me, including my SIL to be, who I also didn't know well, but for he same reasons you mentioned. I did include some friends as well, but in choosing the friends it was essential to us that we chose individuals who we knew would be part of our lives forever and with whom we held the kind of intimate relationships that would continuously challenge and encourage us in our marriage, I think our age span was only 20 years though!

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    1. I LOVE how you did the same thing with choosing your bridesmaids! That's so great!
      Really hoping we can meet one of these days..=)

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  2. These pictures are beautiful. It's hard to believe that these two families I've become friends with and watched through their blogs over the years are joined together now! You all look so happy.

    Thanks for the tips, Chels. Hopefully it will help me someday-Lord willing-. It's true that friendships and relationships change, they sure have A LOT with us! Maintaining solid, meaningful relationships is deep.

    Thinking of you often, and pray that life is going well for both you and John. God bless. Love, Rebecca

    P.S.
    So glad we got to come and be part of your special day!

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    1. Thanks, Rebecca! I remember years ago when you told us about the Maxwells and they were total strangers to me at that time! Small world how everything connected. =)
      So thankful you were able to be at our wedding too!

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  3. How I chose mine:
    Me to him: how many guys do you have in mind for groomsmen? I don't want you to have to scratch up extras you wouldn't otherwise include just to match my number.
    Him: let's see...My brother,my best friend from growing up, and your four oldest brothers. Unless that's too many for you.
    Me: that's literally perfect. I've got my two sisters, my two closest girl cousins, and my two best friends. Let's get married. :)
    Haha...loving this series, Chels!! So, so happy for you and John!! Come see us sometime :)

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    1. That's awesome, girl. Love it. =)
      Miss youuuuu!!!

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  4. Chelz are you going to write about how John picked his on the next part? I hope so. It will be interesting to know and glad I had chance to talk to him even though it was very short.

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    1. No, I'm just writing this series more from my perspective. =)

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  5. Love this, Chelsy! I'd always known I'd have my three sisters and four of my best, closest friends (two from childhood, one from camp, and one from college). One of those friends ended up being very close to her due date at the time of my wedding, so she opted to be my personal attendant instead- which I completely understood, and it was still so special to have her (+ her cute baby bump) close by on the day! Also, my husband is in between two sisters: the younger one was one of my bridesmaids and we asked the oldest one (married with young kids) and her husband to sing during our ceremony. That was so special, too. And their son was our adorable ring-bearer.
    As for the guys, my husband's dad was his best man! And he specifically chose close friends who had impacted his life and played a huge part in his spiritual growth and encouragement to be his groomsmen. Two of them couldn't make it to the wedding, so we had "mismatched" numbers, but we didn't mind! It balanced out in photos with the ushers anyway. :)

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    1. Loved hearing about your bridal party, Annie! It is so special that we share the same wedding day with y'all! =)

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  6. I’m curious, why didn’t you think your bridal party wasn’t going to be normal in any way? It was your sisters, sisters in law, cousin and best friend. That’s a pretty standard and usual party lineup.

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    1. LOL!! I completely agree!!

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    2. It actually isn't very standard. I've been to literally dozens and dozens of weddings and it is very unusual to have ones sisters-in-law AND sisters-in-law-to-be, in ones wedding. (this is from both the weddings I've been to, and weddings I've heard about/weddings in general)
      I've also never heard of a wedding with 14 bridesmaids; that is a very unusual number. =)
      And it also isn't super common to have mismatched numbers with bridesmaids + groomsmen. (although it is becoming more common)
      So those are a few of the ways my group was different. I loved it! =)

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  7. Hi Chels,
    Thank-you so much for encouraging us in living good christian life's! I've so enjoyed following your wedding posts with my sister and mum ! You like me love going around barefoot, but I,m not sure I could do it in snow!!! The week before you got married was sooooo cute!!!

    God Bless,
    Your sister in Christ, Grace

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  8. Good thinking! I just had my sister, as friends were so conflicting; like if you choose one you gotta choose all of that group and so on. My hubby chose his best friend, and he visited us often, and was with us when he died. Our other siblings had other roles; usher, music, and taking turns with the little ones. We had his two nephews be ring-bearers. I always wanted a flower girl, but neither of us had nieces at the time and I didn't want to scrounge up a little girl that I didn't have regular in my life just for that. Looking forward to more posts

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    1. Enjoyed hearing about how you chose your bridal party!

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  9. I'm not married but my sister just recently got married this is how we picked our (the bridesmaid) dresses:
    We had a color we looked around for somewhere cheap like you we looked on Amazon looked up the color and length and *POOF* there it was beautiful as ever and we wanted something we could wear again and since October I have worn the dress +3 times!!
    So advice to EVERYONE if your picking a bridesmaid dress make sure you will be able to wear it again!

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    1. It is so true! I loved the idea of slightly less formal dresses because then they were cheaper AND could be worn again + again for more occasions!

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    2. Yes me to! But you also don't want it to informal

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  10. I agree with what you said about having people whom you can see having a relationship with a long time! I chose my best friend and then my sisters. :) I can’t imagine having 14! I think the way you pulled off such a large wedding party and all the details is amazing!!

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  11. I loved reading about how you chose your bridesmaids. So sweet that you included all the sisters!:)

    I love, love the dresses, and those pictures are gorgeous!

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  12. good morning. I've been going through your blog and I want to thank you for being a witness, especially to young women. There are so many ways for us to go wrong but you are showing the Jesus us the ONLY way. I so wish I could go back in time and do things differently. So many decisions would have been different. I am now in my mid 50's and see just how wrong I was but I am now in a personal relationship with the Lord and hang on to the word that Jesus has forgiven me and my past and does not hold it against me. I wish I had friends like you when I was in my 20's. Young women who had a desire to be Godly women, Godly wives etc.............I hope the young women who read your blog are blessed by what they see here and read. God bless you and your husband and your families as ya'll live for the Lord and witness through ministries like this blog and music and such.

    Thank you again, Lee Ann

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    1. You are so sweet. Thankyou for sharing + for your encouragement!

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  13. I knew right away I wanted all 5 sisters.. and while I have alot of friends I decided everyone would understand if I chose my sister in law who'd I'd been close friends with since I was 11.. :) ��

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  14. Hello! I enjoy your perspective and blog, as a married mom of 5 little ones. Something I'd love for you to write on someday, is how sibling relationships change/stay the same after marriage. It's something I've thought of often. Is there a point where siblings of opposite gender back off as their spouse takes the number one place in their life? Or do sister/brother relationships stay the same + the added spouse? I'd love to hear your perspective on this! :)

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    1. That is a great idea, Brianne! I am definitely still learning but would love to share my journey in the process! Thanks for the suggestion; I'll keep it in mind.

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  15. I love this blog series. Bride Tribes are often less half that size in the UK, and mostly made up of single gals; there would usually be only one married/mother among them (if at all) who would be known as the Matron of Honour. I love to hear others' traditions and your ladies make a very beautiful crowd!

    Looking forward to hearing more about your big day, and your honeymoon!

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  16. Chelz. I just got thinking. I know you said you were helping remodeling the house you both were to live in before the wedding. Then you had wedding and honeymoon. Now it has been about half a year since wedding so, I would love to here what has been happening since you have got home. Thanks

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