What does being a bridesmaid mean to you? For me, it’s having your closest girl friends with you and part of one of the most important and exciting things you’ll do. Over the years we’re there to dry each other’s tears, be each other’s cheerleaders, celebrate each other’s successes. We’re sisters, whether by birth or by design. So there’s something very special about including those same women who have been with you through it all in the mechanics of your special day. Just like the heart of a wedding is the commitment between two people, the heart of having a wedding party is that they are your witnesses, and that makes them part of your marriage as well as your wedding. I’ve done my fair share of bridesmaiding over the years and loved every minute of it, but I’ve also learned some big lessons about what can make the experience wonderful and what can make it a chore on both sides. So here are my top tips for brides and bridesmaids!
DO let your BMs get involved – they’re not just there to look pretty in the photos! I’ve done everything from packing a honeymoon suitcase to helping write the vows, and it made me feel like I was part of the team. Try to use everyone’s special talents – one of your BMs may be the queen of organisation, while another may have a great fashion sense, and yet another may be a party girl with no interest in dress or décor, who’s the perfect person to come up with a super fun hen night.
But DON’T overdo it. Your bridesmaids are not your actual maids. Respect their limitations in terms of time, and show gratitude for the things they do!
DO talk to BMs ahead of time about your expectations. If you want them to fork out for a designer dress with matching Louboutins along with a fancy hotel room, or if you expect them to give up their foreseeable Saturdays to address invitations and trawl antique shops for mismatched crockery, or if you’re envisioning them whisking you off for a long bachelorette’s weekend and then taking the week off before the wedding, you need to let them know. And you need to give them the opportunity to tell you if there’s any part of that they can’t go along with.
DON’T be unreasonable when it comes to money. Base your expectations on realistic ideas about what your wedding party can afford and competing priorities. Trust me, it will make you all a LOT happier. Nothing causes upset like money squabbles, and ‘aint nobody needs drama leading up to their big day.
DO let them wear something they feel comfortable in. That could mean letting them choose mismatched dresses in your colour palette or wearing dresses that suit their shape in the same material, or just taking them into account when you decide on your dresses and colours. But I promise you that a BM who feels at her best will be that much happier and more supportive. And besides, one day she may just return the favour!
DON’T lose sight of what actually looks good on your girls, just because you fall in love with a look on Pinterest. Oh, and forget the whole idea of finding something they can wear again. They won’t. Don’t worry about it.
DO offer your help before it’s requested. Planning a wedding can be a really stressful time with a lot of people to please, and having helpful, sympathetic friends means a lot to a couple. There’s always at least one thing you can do to make life easier for them and it also helps for you to check in with the bride regularly instead of waiting for her to make contact.
DON’T be impatient. Yes, every time you see each other, she’s going to talk about weddings endlessly. And yes, your formerly sane friend is going to suddenly really, really care about the colours of napkins and the difference between peonies and roses. It doesn’t make her a bridezilla, so cut some slack.
DO make the effort to bond with the other bridesmaids, especially if you don’t know each other well. What bride doesn’t want all her friends to get on? This will make everything run more smoothly, and be so much more fun for everyone involved. And who knows, you may make some new close friendships!
DON’T compete for the bride’s attention. We all saw Bridesmaids, right?
DO give your opinion when appropriate but DON’T complain or try to impose your opinion on the bride. It’s her day, and she gets to choose exactly what she wants. Once a decision’s been made, shut up and pretend you love it.
Bear these in mind when planning or helping to plan a wedding, and you should be rewarded with a day that you’ll remember fondly for many years of friendship to come. Enjoy!
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