Advice on key aspects of selecting your wedding attendants

A quick guide to how many 'maids and 'men are appropriate, who you should choose, the lead attendants' responsibilities, and how to say thank you.

The Numbers

The number in your wedding party is usually based on the number of guests, says Nancy Mattia, features editor for Brides magazine. "For example, it will look unbalanced if 20 of your pals are trooping down the aisle and there are only 30 other people at the ceremony!"

It's fine if you don't have an equal number of girls and guys, Mattia adds, but keep in mind that big differences (e.g. 10 groomsmen and two bridesmaids) might get more attention than your "I Do's."

The Cast

There aren't any set rules about who should stand up with you, but use common sense, Mattia says. "Choose friends and family who you are closest to right now and those who you feel will still be in your life years later, such as his sister. You don't have to ask the girl whose wedding you were in a few years ago but who you're not close to anymore."

It's also perfectly fine to have close friends of the opposite gender stand on your side.

The Duties

Although an attendant's job description can vary widely, in general, the Maid (Matron) of Honor hosts a bridal shower and bachelorette party, assists the bride in dressing, and arranges the bride's veil and train throughout the ceremony, says Jessica Pennington, owner and lead planner for Stella Event Design, St. Joseph Mich. The Best Man hosts the bachelor party, holds the bride's wedding ring and makes the first toast.

The Gift

Always provide bridal party members with a token to show your appreciation for their participation, says Pennington. This can include anything from helping offset costs by gifting their wedding day jewelry, shoes, purse, tie, cufflinks, etc., to gifting monogrammed mugs or flasks, iPods, bath-and-body kits or spa certificates. But, says Pennington, no matter what you buy, don't forget to include a heartfelt thank you note!

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