Treat Your Bridesmaids Well


(Image via WedLoft where you can see some great photos of and thoughtful advice for dressing pregnant bridesmaids)

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past couple weeks catching up with a bridal reality show I’d managed to miss for a long, long time. Say Yes to the Dress Bridesmaids is yet another spinoff of the original Say Yes about shopping for wedding gowns at Kleinfeld in New York City. This one, though, is a spinoff of a spinoff and takes place at Bridals By Lori, featured in Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta.

The series is on par both in production values and general sorts of message offered with the other shows in the franchise. The search for a dress is presented as a power struggle with a villain, a damsel in distress, and the heroic members of Lori’s team arriving to save the day… or at least the appointment. And most often, in the episodes I’ve seen, at least, one or more bridesmaids take on the role of villain.

This can happen. I have actually been in a wedding where one bridesmaid ran amok and tried to change the entire wedding to suit her rather than the bride.

But my experience has been that the vast majority of bridesmaids, like the vast majority of brides, mean well and honestly want everyone to be happy. It’s just that not everyone may have precisely the same priorities and needs. Taking a moment to really think about your bridesmaids’ needs and priorities might just avoid some awkward situations along the way.

You’re not the only one with a budget. You may have a lavish budget for your wedding (it happens!), but one or more of your closest friends may be seriously sweating paying for that dress… and shoes… and jewelry… and transportation… and two shower gifts… and a wedding gift… and anything else coming along. Every extra expense may actually make the difference between having your friend stand with you at the alter with her rent paid and a decent meal to eat the next day or not. So if you want something extra like matching manicures or updos, consider paying for it yourself. And do be sure to let any strapped bridesmaids know (privately, of course!) that their presence is present enough.

The cost of being a bridesmaid can add up quickly. Do your best not to add to any potential debt disaster for your friends. Lori may have been scandalized by two bridesmaids worrying about an extra six dollars for the dress, but she doesn’t know how high their student loan payments are or what kind of rent they’re paying. It really could be that an extra six dollars on an evening gown they would never wear again meant an extra three days of living on beans and rice.

Comfort does matter. If you’ve got bridesmaids who have never worn high heels, this might not be the time to go with five inch stilettos. If you have a maid of honor who last wore a dress to her first high school formal, try to take a moment to talk with her about how she would feel wearing an evening gown. If you have someone in your wedding party who has difficulty standing for long periods, make sure you arrange for ways for her to sit down during the ceremony, especially if you’re having a long one.

Taking a few minutes to think about someone else’s comfort will not only be of practical use to your bridesmaids, but it also takes some of the focus off yourself, which can reduce bridal stress, oddly enough.

Don’t ask for opinions or ideas if you aren’t going to listen to them. I’m not saying turn the wedding planning into a free-for-all. In fact, you’re perfectly free not to ask any opinions of your bridesmaids at all… though I wouldn’t personally recommend it. All I’m saying is that if you ask for opinions, be prepared to really listen and consider what’s being suggested. Think about their ideas before simply rejecting them.

You never know. Your junior bridesmaid might just come up with a fantastic idea that really makes the reception.

Please and thank you are your friends. Most people who care about you truly do want to help out, but a little consideration keeps them feeling that way.

If your bridesmaids are getting stroppy, ask yourself when you last said thanks for the things they’re doing for you. It may be time to let them know how much you appreciate them wearing a color they hate or running bridal errands for you… though it could also be you’ve got a generally annoyed bridesmaid just acting out. Speaking of which:

Communication is important. Sometimes it’s not something specific you’ve done that is making someone act out. Sometimes it’s a general sense of not being taken seriously, or fear that your marriage will change your relationship with your friend, or jealousy… or goodness alone knows what.

If that’s the case, take that woman aside for a heart-to-heart and see if you can get to the root of the problem.

Then again, there’s communication and there’s not knowing when to stop beating a dead horse. Which leads me to:

Remember the buck stops with you. There are times when a really strong-minded person – even with the best possible motives – becomes a pain by trying to take over. Make it clear that you appreciate input and intend to do your best to find solutions to issues, but that you are the one getting married and that means you get the final say. If you’ve got five women on the same page with you and one fighting, it’s time to put your foot down. Not only will the question be done with, five other innocent bystanders won’t wind up wasting time waiting for the argument to be over.

Make time to just be friends. Planning a wedding has a way of taking over lives. Remember to take time to do the sorts of things you’ve always done with your sister, your friend, your niece, your brother, or whomever is attending you. It makes the transition time easier emotionally for everyone, including you.

Ideally, the people standing next to you at the altar ought to be the people who will support you and your new marriage over time. With a little consideration and a little thought, you can make sure they’ll still be there when you get back from the honeymoon.

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