Happy Bridesmaid + Happy Bride

February 1, 2010  |  Wedding Tips

My duties as a wedding planner also include being a friend. I love being the person a bride calls when she is trying to figure out who to include in her wedding party or which shoes will go best with her dress. Inevitably, there comes a few bummed out conversations about bridesmaids. After talking with a few brides this past week, I decided to send a bit of advice to the bridesmaids.

It’s pretty simple. Your brides need you! This is the happiest time in their lives and too many are left with unreturned phone calls, absent-minded conversations and overall lack of excitement. I’ve heard on several occasions that bridesmaids are “past that.” Maybe they’ve been married for years and are starting to have babies. Remember how much it meant to you to have your entire bridal party hit every dress store in town.

Photo by Michael Jordan Photography

And believe me, your brides aren’t about to tell you all this because they don’t want to look like a “bridezilla” when really, they should be able to ask for friends support. So bridesmaids, what should you do?? Here are two of my best tips:

1. Be the bridesmaid you would want to have. Did you have all your bridesmaids help address and stamp wedding invitation envelopes? Then be sure to offer to help with hers. Would you have loved if someone would have calmed you down on the wedding day? Then be prepared and know what will help ease the bride.

2. Tell the bride to let you know what you can do to help. It sounds silly, but brides want to know you want to help before they ask too much. They will assume your too busy or wouldn’t want to help, even though you may just be waiting for her to let you know what’s going on.

Photo by MQ Photography

I dug up an old article about the subject I wrote for a local magazine in North Louisiana last year with tips for bridesmaids as well as brides, because let’s face it, brides aren’t perfect either. Luckily I think I get to work with the cream of the crop!

“Years ago I remember hearing about all the stigmas that came with being a bridesmaid: the dresses were hideous, the prices were outrageous and the brides were dubbed as bridezillas. I always thought I would be so honored to be a bridesmaid and I would wear the title with pride. It’s one dress. Who cares if it’s a little expensive or not my favorite color?
That was until they come in 3’s. This summer I will be the proud bridesmaid in three of my closest friend’s weddings. Don’t get me wrong, if they asked me again today to be a bridesmaid I would still accept the honor with joy. But I am realizing now that it’s a little tougher to be a bridesmaid than I thought. And I have yet to be a bride but I hear that’s pretty tough, too.

Luckily, there is a way to avoid the drama of impossible schedules and complaining.
I asked a group of friends also knee deep in chiffon dresses and invitations about what should be expected in both roles. Here’s what they had to say:

Brides: Give your bridesmaids a break especially if they don’t know what they are doing or have never been in a wedding. It’s not their wedding so they don’t place the same importance as you do on the event
Bridesmaids: Don’t play dumb. There are a ton of sites that explain what the bridesmaid duties are. Read them and pass them on.

Bride: Get input from your bridesmaids on style and cost for dresses. Your friends will be more OK with spending more if they like the dress and know they can wear it again. But don’t assume that just because it’s a tea-length dress they we will able to wear it again. Also, be ready to spend the same amount when your bridesmaid gets married.
Bridesmaid: Love the dress, adore the dress, say you’ll marry the dress even if you don’t like it. It’s just a part of the bride’s vision for the overall event. If there are serious concerns speak before purchase or forever hold you peace.

Bride: Don’t expect every bridesmaid to come to every shower. Her vacation days were not intended for your wedding.
Bridesmaid: Ask her what she wants off her registry the most and get the word around. You might not be able to make a shower or buy it for her, but as a bridesmaid people may ask you what the bride needs or wants. Be sure to have an answer ready.

Bride: Enlist your bridesmaid services especially in the beginning to help you find venues, flower ideas, color schemes, etc. Why stress out when you could have everyone looking and researching?
Bridesmaid: Be proactive! Help the bride even when she doesn’t ask. Send her ideas of table decorations, song ideas, floral arrangements, color schemes. If anything she won’t use them but at least she’ll have a lot of options AND she’ll know you care about her wedding.

Bride: Calm down! Your bridesmaids are your friends who are giving up their time to help you for your big day. Realize that just that is a great gift.
Bridesmaid: Be excited! Don’t just show up and ask where to stand. Your enthusiasm helps calm any insecurity the bride may have during the planning process

Bride: The biggest thing to keep in mind is a bridesmaid’s budget. If they’re your bridesmaid, you are probably close enough to have some sense of their financial situation. Take note and choose dresses accordingly. Plus, it’s a lot easier for bridesmaids to be excited and happy for you if they don’t have to get a second job to pay for your wedding.
Bridesmaids: Above all, your job is to encourage and celebrate this time. Remember that it truly is an honor to be named a bridesmaid. Don’t complain and make your own demands. It’s not about you.”

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