I confess, I’ve been planning my wedding since middle school. I remember sitting on my friend’s bed and listing off the girls I would ask to be my bridesmaids. Having my best friends beside me to celebrate my marriage to the man of my dreams is something I’ve always looked forward to.

While I still don’t have a ring on my finger, I’ve attended and participated in many friends’ weddings. And I’ve considered who I would choose as my bridesmaids when my day comes.

I’ve seen wedding photos with 15 attendants on each side, and I wonder how close they really are to their wedding party. Were they intentional in their choosing, or just unable to narrow it down?

Maybe you have seven sisters. Maybe your mother-in-law-to-be expects the groom’s third cousin to be in the mix. Sometimes for the sake of the family there’s no getting around it. But for those you can invite to stand beside you on your wedding day, what’s a helpful filter as you cherry pick your bridesmaids?

As I dream of my wedding day, I think about more than which friends can plan a smashing bridal shower and handle wedding details. Don’t get me wrong, you should care about that, too. But more importantly, I want women who’ll stick with me for life and help me be the wife I long to be.

To help narrow down who I’d ask to be my bridesmaid, I’ve asked myself these questions:

1. Will my bridesmaid defend my marriage, not just me?

I’m thankful for loyal friends.  Knowing they’ve got my back is comforting.

However, some women let loyalty trump their efforts in helping her pursue a godly marriage. For instance, when marriage conflicts arise, they always take their friend’s side. They bend over backwards to help their friend feel justified. They think they’re loving their friend best by appeasing them.

When a couple gets married, the minister often says, “Let no man put asunder” or “let no man separate.” Actually, Jesus said it first (Mark 10:9). Jesus’s words establish that marriage is designed to last a lifetime, never to be severed by the husband or wife. However, it also warns others from finagling a way to pull the spouses apart.

The friends I invite to be my bridesmaids must be committed to helping me love and respect my spouse, not just defending me.

2. Will she redirect my eyes to Jesus?

Have you noticed how your friends’ relationships with Jesus not only change their lives, but yours as well? You become the happy recipient of the fresh truths Jesus shows them. What a wonderful gift!

As I enter into the unknown adventure of marriage, I’ll need friends who love me enough to stick my nose up against the truth when my vision gets foggy.

Like when I’m worried about insignificant details. Or when I’m swallowed by fear and need to remember God is “my hiding place” (Psalm 32:7). I need a friend who has the wisdom to recognize my straying thoughts and know Whose character I need to focus on instead.

Of course I enjoy the friends I discuss movies and clothes with, but I’m blessed most by the women who’s love for Jesus spills out when you bump into them. Because of their track record, I can count on them helping me foster a godly marriage.

Which of your friends do this already? Do you know people like this who you should invite into your life?

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3. Will my bridesmaid be truthful with me?

In addition to helping my thought life stay on track, I pray my bridesmaids will call me out when I’ve spoken or acted out of turn. As much as I want friends who are big Lauren fans, I need more than cheerleaders. I’m going to need some tough love if they see me speak disrespectfully to my future spouse.

Do you have friends who aren’t afraid to say it like it is? If you’ve hurt them, do they tell you in grace and truth?

I’m likely to be a better wife if I have other people calling me up to love my neighbor always, not just when it’s convenient. If a friend does this already, I want them invested in my future marriage as well.

4. Will she be excited for me or weep with me when I need it?

It’s defeating when you can’t depend on someone to share in your highs and lows.

Hopefully my fiance will do this already, but having friends to rejoice about your acceptance to grad school or cry with you about a recent diagnosis lifts your soul. I want to know these friends care enough about my well-being to obey Romans 12:15’s call to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

My lasting friendships have been with those who check in and care about the details of my life. Most of my best friends live out of state, but this hasn’t stopped us. My future spouse will have the greatest responsibility in this department, but having others in our lives caring for us will make a huge difference.

So as I fiddle with my hypothetical bridesmaid list, I’m already thinking, “Who will help me be a godly wife?” and “Are they committed to God’s Word and loving me in all seasons?” If “yes” resounds, I can’t wait to invite them to stand beside me on that special day!

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Lauren Miller is  a writer for FamilyLife .  She’s a California girl who graduated from Biola University and the Torrey Honors Institute where the Lord first planted in her a love for family and marriage ministry. As a single, she loves serving the youth at her church, watching British dramas, and reading a good book in her free time.