The wedding date is set and you know you’ll want to celebrate your big day with your close friends and relatives at hand, as your very lovely bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Unsure about how and when do you start asking for help with wedding preparations? From deciding who gets picked, to choosing dresses, we solve some of your common bridesmaid woes.

Wedding advice: Solve your bridesmaids woes, Singapore
Let your bridesmaids make your big day a less fretful and more enjoyable affair. Image: Corbis

1. When should I ask my friends to be my bridesmaids, and is there a formal way to do so?
Any time is good. But if you want to set the timing, wait until a few of the big wedding details have been decided, such as when and where it will take place. Don’t wait too long either – you’ll appreciate having their help and support early on, and they should also have enough time for dress fittings and other arrangements without feeling rushed.

While there is no formal or traditional way of asking, the moment should be personal and meaningful. Send each of your bridesmaids-to-be a bouquet with a card or invite the group for a meal. Being a bridesmaid is a big commitment. So give her time to think about it – and a way to graciously decline if she must.

2. Does my chief bridesmaid have to be unmarried?
Not really. It’s just a question of what you call her. In theory, bridesmaids are unmarried, hence the term “maids”. If the bride picks a married friend, that friend performs the same role but, traditionally, she would be called matron of honour. She would also wear something more mature than the typical bridesmaid’s dress. Ultimately, you should always choose someone who makes you feel confident and happy, and more importantly, someone you can trust to help you out on your big day.

3. I don’t want to start a battle by asking some, but not all of my close friends, to be bridesmaids. Is it a must to have one?
It’s not a must, but doing the planning and execution all by yourself can get a little lonely, not to mention stressful. If you’d like only one good pal to be your bridesmaid, discuss it with your friends tactfully. Some of them may be happy just to share your day but would prefer not to have attention drawn to them. Another option: Choose unofficial wedding “helpers” or “sisters”, as we tend to call them here.

4. What’s the protocol for who buys the stuff that our bridesmaids and groomsmen may need?
The bride pays for the bridesmaids’ dresses while the groom bears the brunt of the suits (or rental if available) for the groomsmen. Similarly for posies and boutonnieres, as well as transport to and from their homes to the wedding venues. But since your bridal party is mostly made up of your closest pals, they may not mind picking up the tab for the transport, or may even drive themselves.

Just make sure their looks and floral arrangements are taken care of. Some pals may offer to chip in for their hair, makeup and grooming. If there are certain accessories you’d like your bridesmaids to wear, it’s a nice gesture to pay, then give to them as gifts.

5. Do my bridesmaids have to wear matching dresses?
Some modern brides would say no. You need to consider the feelings of your bridesmaids; besides, matching styles may not work since your bridesmaids aren’t identical to begin with. While styles need not match, you should work with one common element so the whole look of your bridal party gels. For instance, you could choose the colour and fabric that suit all your bridesmaids, and they pick the style of the dress.

6. Is it necessary to hire wedding-day transportation for my bridesmaids?
It depends on your budget. If you’ve got girlfriends flying in from all over the world, it may be a good idea. And your pals will appreciate the gesture. You can enlist the help of friends or relatives to ferry your bridesmaids around or consider renting a minivan. Booking the transportation also ensures no one gets lost, so you won’t have to worry about it. Moreover, your friends can entertain themselves and get to know each other. If you’re thinking of booking a limo for yourself and hubby-to-be, consider getting a bigger car so your girlfriends ride with you too. It’s unlikely your groom will object – he’ll be riding in a car with a posse of beautiful women.

This article was originally published in Her World Brides June-August 2010.