Some brides only pay lip service to the bridal party at the early stages of the planning process, however you should do this at your peril.
Not only will they affect how your pictures look, but they also play a key role in keeping you sane during the lead-up to the big day and during your wedding day itself. They help the day run smoothly by taking on many of the major jobs, none more so than the best man and maid/matron of honour.
Although originally the bridesmaids were there to divert evil spirits away from the bride by dressing like her, today it's a chance for you to share the biggest day of your life with some of your closest friends and family.
Your first step should be to choose who you want to fill each role.
I'm guessing you'll already have a good idea of who you want for each job. You might, at this initial stage, even want to consider how your bridesmaids will look together for the photographs, but friendships should take priority.
The same is true for your other half when choosing the best man. Ideally he would be able to consider those friends who are comfortable making speeches. But in my experience the speech in only a small part of the day and it's often more successful when it's delivered by someone who is a close friend or family member who knows the groom (and lots of stories about him) very well.
The most important thing is that you have your nearest and dearest there with you on your big day.
Finally you'll also need to decide on whether or not you're going to give bridal party gifts which can be a bit of a minefield in itself.