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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.
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Links To the Past


If you go wandering on Etsy, it’s easy to find a lot of great ideas for gifts to give attendants, your intended, or even yourself for your wedding day.

For instance, check out these gorgeous cufflinks. They feature a fragment of an antique map (in this case, Italy in 1899) encased under jewelry grade magnifying resin and set in a combination of sterling silver and stainless steel. I can imagine many a groom, groomsman, best man, or bridesman who would be delighted to wear these links on the big day… and use them again afterward. At just $26.00 a pair, they’re also very affordable.

Oh, and don’t worry if you’re not excited about Italy. There are plenty of other places represented in the shop, as well as similarly themed bracelets, pendants, and earrings.

In fact, these attendant gifts might just put your wedding on the map.

(ducks hurled tomatoes)

Quickie Question: What Do/Did You Expect of Your Attendants?


When this photograph was taken somewhere around WWI, the duties of everyone in the picture were pretty clearly known and generally not too onerous. They had to show up on time looking clean, wear what they were told, do a little hand-holding if necessary, and deport themselves with reasonable dignity. The MOH would – funds, time, and first-time bridal status permitting – be responsible for any bridal shower that might be held. The best man would hold some sort of stag party for the groom, which usually consisted in those days of giving him a nice dinner, providing some cigars and decent whiskey, and kidding him about his soon-to-begin sex life. Oh, and those flower girls? had to look cute and strew rose petals.

These days the rules aren’t quite so cut and dried. The duties of bridesmaids and groomsmen now range anywhere from ‘show up on this day and wear something in this general color range’ to spending a year being the bride’s personal slave and whipping girl. You may be told to wear whatever you like within a color/style range, or you may be informed that you’re getting matching shoes, jewelry, mani pedis, updos, make up, and Botox injections… at your own expense, natch.

What did I expect of my attendants? Well, I expected they would all show up on the big day wearing the skirts and blouses I gave them patterns and fabric for. I told them to trim the outfits any way they liked and to wear whatever flat shoes they preferred. I expected them to keep their naughty bits covered and have as good a time as they could at a party. One of the bridesmaids did sew my gown, and I expected she would get it done in time for me to wear it down the aisle… but when it nearly didn’t happen, I considered the friendship a lot more important than my wedding gown. My MOH held a lovely shower for me, helped address envelopes, and drove me on a couple errands, but these were voluntary things I appreciated, not orders from me.

As for the men, they were entirely Mr. Twistie’s bailiwick. I think all he expected was that they would show up on the day wearing what he wanted having read his mind. One of my brothers called me three weeks before the wedding asking what he was supposed to wear as a groomsman. He threatened that if he didn’t hear from Mr. Twistie soon, he was going to show up in a kimono and top hat. I told him that was more than fine by me, but I would have Mr. Twistie call him with any instructions he might have. It seems he just assumed that all his guys had some form of formalwear in their closets and would simply wear that. I told him to let them know that for certain. Drat. I kind of wanted to see the kimono and top hat combo.

So while the women all wore the same basic pattern in the same basic fabric with wildly divergent accessories, trims, and hairstyles, the men wore everything from kilts to tail coats.

Other than that… we really didn’t expect much.

But I’m curious. What did/do you expect? How much do you care about matching outfits, parties in your honor, and help with DIY projects?

Siblings As Wedding Attendants: A Must or Optional?

Reader K., who wishes to remain anon for obvious reasons, wrote to me to ask about siblings in the wedding party – specifically inviting other people’s siblings into your own.

I’m getting married to a great guy at the end of this year and neither of us has chosen our attendants yet. I was talking about the whole thing with one of my friends who said right out that she’d rather not be included as a bridesmaid so I’m safe there, but she did mention that I probably ought to invite my fiance’s younger sister to be in the bridal party because not doing so would be offensive to my fiance’s family. What? I’ve never heard anything like that and my fiance has never brought it up, but it’s so easy to hurt people’s feelings and I don’t want to offend anyone. Do I really need to invite my fiance’s sister to be a bridesmaid? She’s nice and all, and we get along, but it’s not like we’re close.

Let me tell you a story: Once upon a time, an ex boyfriend told me that if we ever got married – thank goodness that train never left the station – he’d expect me to invite his sister to be a member of my half of the wedding party and that if I didn’t, he’d and his entire family would be sorely offended. It would literally be an insult to not invite her to be a bridesmaid. I was all, wait, that’s a thing? Turns out that in some families, it IS a thing. As in a thing you better do if you want to have at least a passing relationship with your in-laws. But from what I gather, my ex’s family’s attitude is thankfully not the norm.

Sometimes, of course, a bride and groom (or bride and bride or groom and groom) will come to some agreement regarding swapping or including siblings to keep the halves of the wedding party even or segregated by gender. Now that it’s becoming increasingly acceptable to have bridesmen and groomsmaids, however, fewer couples feel compelled to hand off sisters and brothers to their future spouses. There’s no one wrong way to build a wedding party, so siblings can be included however you want them to be included. That is, IF you want to include them.

Ryan Smith Photography shows us what a sibling-heavy wedding can look like

I’m guessing from the tone of your email that you’re not exactly thrilled with the idea of having to give up one of your bridesmaid spots to someone you’re not particularly close to. My take on the matter is this: If you haven’t felt any particular pressure to include your fiance’s female siblings in your side of the wedding party and the idea never occurred to you on your own, I’d say don’t worry about it. It’s highly unlikely that your fiance’s family is gunning for your FSIL to be a bridesmaid and if she or your fiance hasn’t even hinted at the matter, you’re probably in the clear.

And let’s say the worst happens and someone does get offended… they’ll get over it. That’s a heck of a lot better than planning a wedding all on your lonesome because there’s no one among your bridal party that you’re close to at all, which really sucks.

The Uncanny Ability of (Some) Bridesmaids to Keep Chaos Quiet

One of the things that seldom comes up on lists of bridesmaids’ duties is “Keeping one’s mouth shut.” And yet I’d suggest that it wouldn’t exactly be far fetched to tack it on to the end of one of those lists. For as much as the bride-to-be worries incessantly that she will notice every little thing that goes wrong before, during, and after the wedding, a great bridesmaid will do the noticing for the bride and then gently steer the bride away from whatever is wrong so that someone else can handle it.

Or in other less common cases, that same great bridesmaid will find herself smack in the middle of what’s wrong and not go blabbing to the bride until at least after the ceremony.

Recently, that’s just what five Boston bridesmaids did when their wedding limo carjacked before the ceremony by a man fleeing the scene of a crime he’d allegedly just committed. According to a charter bus driver delivering guests to the wedding, the suspect started fighting with the driver, smashed the passenger side window with a hammer, the bridesmaids got out and ran, the driver bailed, and the suspect took off. To their credit, none of the bridesmaids left a bouquet behind, and they all stayed mum about the incident until after the bride had tied the knot.

This particular item on the list of bridesmaids’ duties won’t always be exciting, of course. In some cases, it’s tragic. At my own wedding, for example, I wasn’t told that the reason one of my aunts wasn’t in attendance was that she was terminally ill. And in other cases, the no-no topic is fairly mundane. Maybe the bridesmaids have found out that the ceremony seating arrangements are all wrong and send some of the groomsmen to rearrange everything before go time.

What the conscientious bridesmaid may have to keep to herself on the bride’s big day might be anything, but I can almost guarantee that the wedding will be all the better for her keeping her mouth shut. Yes, in a few cases the bride will wish that someone had spoken up and told her just what was going on. But a bridesmaid’s silence – sometime paired with a little sneaky initiative – can sometimes be all that it takes to keep the bride from realizing that anything is amiss.

LOVE/HATE: The ‘Badassery’ Edition

We all like to poke a bit of fun here at the bridal models who glare into the camera, sniff their pits, contort themselves into positions you need a chiro to get out of, and wait around hotel lobbies. But what about the real couples and attendants who do similarly strange things in actual wedding photos? I thought it would be fun in upcoming editions of LOVE/HATE to take a look at some popular poses struck and facial expressions adopted by bridesmaids, groomsmen, bridesmen, groomsmaids, brides, and grooms.

The inspiration for this little series was the hugely popular badassery snapshot where everyone looks angrily into the camera with expressions that say “Why the #$%@ are you taking my picture?” and “You want a piece of me? Do ya?”

Or even “You’ve trapped me in this dungeon and I am very angry at you.”

So what you think of all the camera glaring, angry mug making, PO’ed looking brides, grooms, and attendants appearing in wedding albums these days? I kind of hate it, but I’m also one of those folks who has a big grin in my passport photo and on my license. I like a big goofy grin more than I do a pout. How about you?

(Images via: ? and Ed Pingol)

Groomsmen: Fit to Be Tied

Since Bridesmaids’ Week has come and gone, I thought it might be nice to throw all the groomsmen a bone, since if we don’t talk about bridesmaids nearly enough, we hardly talk about their male counterparts at all! Now the groom can dress his groomsmen (or the bride can dress her bridesmen) in anything he pleases, but the fact is that groomsmen in the wild are often seen sporting neck ties.

Plain black or some other coordinating color will always be a popular choice, but I thought I’d gently suggest that grooms and brides consider ties with patterns for the men of the wedding party. Why? First, because we spend so much time obsessing over the bridesmaids’ dresses and usually don’t give nearly as much thought to the attire worn by the dudes. Second, because there aren’t a lot of ways for grooms and groomsmen to have fun with fashion while staying in formal suite territory. And third, because there are some truly awesome ties for groomsmen out there! Check it:

The Pi tie is from Wild Ties while all the rest are from Cyberoptix Tie Lab, maker of fine ties featuring bombs, exhaust systems, engines, and other awesome patterns. For real, you can have a lot of fun with groomsmen’s ties.

And shoes, for that matter! I’m loving this shot from A Bryan Photo of groomsmen wearing sneakers that were painted by the groom.

What are your groomsmen wearing? Anything out of the ordinary?

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