I have been a bridesmaid before – when I was 17 and thought it was just a big party in a pretty dress. But it wasn’t until I was a bridesmaid again recently that I wished I had done things differently when I was the bride. So in this article I hope to provide some helpful advice to both the bride and the bridesmaid.
For the bridesmaids
- From the bride’s perspective, bridesmaids are a group of women who are chosen because they are important and special to you. So as a bridesmaid it’s important that you maintain this relationship of positivity, trust and love throughout the wedding process. Even when the bride gets stressed or seems to go a bit crazy! It’s not about you, your financial situation or your impression of the groom – you need to be a pillar of strength and support for your friend. So, for just this one day (as well as the hen’s party), put all other issues aside and get involved as much as you’re needed. For example, saying “some people have their own wedding to pay for” when asked to pay or help with certain things is not a good look!
- If you don’t know the other people in the bridal party, the only thing you can do is be sociable, polite and inclusive. You might not like everyone, but avoid stepping on other people’s toes or leaving people out. In addition, regardless of how close you are to the couple, complaining about the others is not ok and makes for very awkward company. It also adds stress to the couple as they will feel as if you have to be policed to ensure all gatherings run smoothly.
- There also appears to be some confusion around gift giving – particularly if you have purchased your dress and/or accessories. In my opinion, you can’t give a special friend enough gifts, so a wedding present (or money) in addition to a special present from bridesmaid to bride, is the best way to go. Your private present doesn’t have to be expensive – a framed photo, album or a gratitude journal for example. It will give you a special moment to share with the bride before her big day, which is especially important if the bride has unsupportive family or no family at all.
- Lastly for the bridesmaids, chances are that if your friend is getting married, you may be close to or getting married yourself. If this is the case I would recommend being mindful of not “borrowing” ideas from your friend. Every bride believes their wedding is special and unique, and seeing things replicated (however good they were) doesn’t always go down well. Be sure to chat about it first to gauge how they are feeling about it – they might think it’s a great idea and encourage you to go for it! Also be mindful of using the same suppliers, particularly if they are friends of your friend. If it doesn’t work out it can spell disaster and be very awkward for all concerned.
For the brides
- From the bridesmaid’s perspective, the bride must get right the balance of asking for help and enslaving her friends. If the bridesmaids are organising the hen’s party, when making requests or giving them ideas, the bride should keep in mind that they too have lives, jobs, maybe kids and other commitments going on as well – so try to keep their stress and expenses to a minimum, so they get to enjoy the process and everyone has a good time. It is important to note here that yes it is extremely helpful if you give some guidelines as to what you want for your hen’s night! This will avoid disappointment and embarrassing situations like Grandma playing a potentially embarrassing game!
- Don’t feel you have to keep all your wedding plans a secret so everyone is surprised – it’s a nice gesture to include your bridesmaids at dress fittings and other wedding details. So asking for other people’s help and input (or even just showing them your ideas) will make them feel special that they have been involved or contributed in some way. More importantly, it ensures your bridesmaids don’t turn up at the wedding ceremony and reception with absolutely no idea of what is going on or what is going to happen. Make sure you walk through the entire day with everyone involved (and even more helpful – write up a run sheet of what is happening at what time, and where they have to be, and give them a copy so they feel prepared and informed). This may sound like overkill, but it also helps them keep you on track!
- If your bridal party don’t know each other very well, try and get them all together a few times before the wedding to break the ice. A simple dinner at your house will help reduce the awkwardness on the day and give people a chance to get to know each other. Also, as a bride you should be mindful of ensuring they, along with your guests, have a good night too. For example, if you’re having a traditional rectangular bridal table, the people sitting on the ends are easily excluded and can end up looking and feeling awkward as the rest of the table chats away (and you steal many-a-kisses from your new husband!). So be sure to try and grab a few moments with your girls to chat in private. Better yet, mix the bridal party table in with everyone’s partners.
And at the end of the day, remember that weddings aren’t a competition. Don’t judge or compare a wedding to yours or what you would have for your own wedding. As bride or bridesmaid, your job is to relax, be happy for one another, create some beautiful memories and have a good time! Good luck!
Photography from Catherine and Ben
Ms Gingham says: I think this advice is spot on. In the excitement, many a bride and bridesmaid have managed to alienate dear friends. It’s a real shame and should be avoided at all costs.
About Katie: Katie is a 24 year old ”wifey” currently working in public relations for the Queensland Government. She has (not so) secret ambitions to be a writer. Katie currently resides in Brisbane with her hubby, two dogs, two chickens and now, for some ungodly reason, a kitty cat. Her favourite cocktail is a genuine Pina Colada.