A great deal has been written about the duties and obligations of members of the bridal party. Less, however, seems to have been written about handling them so they are still your friends once the birdseed and rose petals have been swept up and life returns to normal. Here are a few tips to help you be remembered as the best bride ever by your nearest and dearest.
1: Consider your attendants’ pocketbooks in choosing the wedding party look. If your attendants have large bank accounts, high-paying jobs or trust funds, you can choose those $500 meringue gowns and the designer tuxes without a blink. But the rest of us do need to consider how to get the look we’d like without breaking anyone else’s budget. Remember, you’re within your rights as the bride to demand elaborate updos and matching makeup…but unless you’re willing to pay for it be prepared either for mass mutiny or someone dropping out because the price of being honored as one of your closest friends has gotten too high.
2: Be clear about what you expect of your wedding party. If you are planning on getting a lot of practical help, let them know. If all you expect is that they’ll show up at the wedding venue on time in the outfit you have chosen, let them know. Remember, if they are going to be helping ferry you to appointments or making decorations, they need to budget the time to do so. And if you expect nothing beyond them standing at your side, they need to know that so they aren’t panicking that they aren’t doing enough.
3: These are your nearest and dearest, not your galley slaves. Even if you’re having a completely DIY wedding, don’t simply expect your bridal party to spend their every free hour doing projects for your wedding. Ask for their help, certainly, but make sure they know it’s okay to say no. Nothing loses a friend more quickly than a long list of requirements delivered in a demanding tone. Chances are if you ask them, they’ll be happy to help out, anyway. After all, these people love you.
4: Be flexible where you can. If all the bridesmaids detest the dress you’ve chosen, consider an alternative. If you’ve got a vegetarian Best Man, think about not holding the rehearsal dinner at your favorite steak house where the only thing on the menu he can eat is a small green salad. If the ring bearer or flower girl gets the jitters at the last minute, have a plan b in place to cope. Yes, it’s your wedding, but others still have feelings, beliefs, and nerves.
5: Have some topic of conversation other than the wedding. Please. Yes, it’s your wedding and it’s all-consuming to you right now. But when it’s over, you have to come back to the workaday world. It’s easier to do that if you haven’t lost either perspective or all your friends while you’ve been wandering around in a wedding miasma. A lot of brides speak of feeling as though they’ve fallen off the edge of the world once the wedding is over. This happens a lot less to women who’ve talked to their friends about work, politics, favorite TV shows, and a host of things that have nothing whatsoever to do with centerpieces and orders of service.
6: Remember that extra parties are extras. Don’t complain because your MOH didn’t throw you a huge shower and an elaborate bachelorette party. These are optional extras that come out of her pocket. If she keeps them low-key or chooses to forego one or both, that is her choice based on her financial situation. You don’t get to plan these parties; they are thrown for you or not at the discretion of the potential hostess. Also, you may request that the bachelor party not be about strippers…but you don’t get to plan that one, either.
7: Thank your bridal party often. People are willing to put up with a lot more if they feel valued for it. Two little words aren’t difficult to say, and yet we all too often forget to make the effort. So when your bridesmaid with the perfect handwriting helps you address invitations or a groomsman goes out of his way to help you find the perfect flower girl’s basket, or the ring bearer makes it through the whole rehearsal without playing catch with the pillow, thank them. And when it’s all over but the honeymoon, take a moment to thank each member of your wedding party for their help and support.
That way you’ll come home to find your closest friends are still your closest friends.