Young Bridesmaids. They’re too young to wear the sexier dress styles of the older bridesmaids, and too old to be flowergirls. And that ‘but I’m not a little girl!’ complaint is coming from girls as young as 8 and into the 12-15 year-olds. Tweens and teens caught in that age range of not wanting to be lumped in with the 2 year-olds and not anywhere near appropriate for attending a bachelorette party are now given their own designation: Junior Bridesmaid. Many brides are sticking with this title, after deciding that ‘Senior Flowergirl’ is just too odd, and ‘Mini Bridesmaid’ is what some brides are calling their pet dogs included in the bridal party. Tweens and teens are very sensitive about what they’ll be called, so the traditional title will most likely work best.
Here are some additional wisdom notes to keep in mind when it comes to your Junior Bridesmaids:
1. Do NOT choose a strapless dress for a tween or young teen. They don’t have to match the bridesmaids’ strapless dresses, and can in fact have lovely, strapped dresses of their own style. I had to run to a 12 year-old junior bridesmaid’s rescue when her strapless top fell down as she was dancing, covering her up with my husband’s suit jacket (which I practically tore off of him.) Make it a rule, no matter how much the tween or teen wants to go strapless — there’s just too much movement during a wedding day, and developing girls may not have enough on top to hold up a strapless dress.
2. Give the Junior Bridesmaid a say in what she will wear. She can browse online dress galleries like any other bridesmaid, and she’ll appreciate being entrusted with the task of choosing her own dress style. Again, tweens don’t want anyone picking out what they will wear, and when the girl gets to pick out her own dress, she’ll glow with a sense of pride on the big day, rather than shrinking in awkward embarrassment if the dress you choose for her is not of her liking.
3. Plan for special wedding morning time with the Junior Bridesmaid. During your getting-ready hours, plan out time for you to paint her nails, or invite her to have the honored seat next to yours at the beauty salon.
4. ASK her how she feels about walking with a junior usher or a groomsman during the processional, recessional and when she’s introduced into the reception. Some girls look mortified when they discover at the last minute that they have to take the arm of a boy or man, and it’s a terribly uncomfortable moment. There’s no rule saying she has to be paired up with anyone at any time, so if it’s her personal comfort level to walk unescorted, that may be wisest.
5. For any group toast, such as the champagne toast you and your bridesmaids will share during the getting-ready hours before the wedding, make sure there is a non-alcoholic version of the drink for your Junior Bridesmaid. Girls are very sensitive to being left out of the group, even if the group is ‘older ladies’ (as they may call them.) So pre-plan a drink that shows your Junior Bridesmaid she’s important to you.
6. Expect a little bit of moodiness, if not brattiness. Tweens and teens may be going through body changes, hormonal changes, and pressures of growing up, and those factors can lead to some pouting, meltdowns and shyness. So don’t expect your Junior Bridesmaid to be smiling and joyful at all times (bridesmaids might not be, either, for their own reasons.) And don’t make the big mistake of pressuring a Junior Bridesmaid to snap out of her discomfort and smile. Kids’ moods change like the wind, so just be supportive and accept that the girl is on something of a wild ride right now. She’s doing the best she can.
7. Talk to the parents first. Before you promise the Junior Bridesmaid anything, like the dress she emails you a photo of, always get parental permission first. This is a top mistake that causes family drama.
8. Plan a 2-part bachelorette party. Start off with an at-home gathering or dinner for all ages (the Junior Bridesmaid attends this with her mother) and then the ‘older ladies’ can continue on to a bar or club that’s inappropriate for a tween or teen girl.
9. For the bridal shower, tell your bridesmaid-hosts to include the Junior Bridesmaid in several small tasks, such as picking an invitation style, making favors or choosing the games that will be played. The Junior Bridesmaid might not be overly-enthusiastic about joining in, or she might. Either way, it’s important to try to include her.
10. Give her a +1. If she doesn’t have siblings or cousins attending the wedding, it can be a very unpleasant event for her to be at. So if your guest list opens up a few spots as regrets come in, let your Junior Bridesmaid bring a friend to your wedding so that she has someone to talk and dance with, someone that will have her smiling during the celebration, not brooding and cranky from intense loneliness and boredom. That per-guest cost for the Junior Bridesmaid’s friend can be very, very worth it.
Ms Gingham says: Such fabulous tips here Sharon! I love tip number 7 about gaining parental permission first. A small gesture like that can pave the way for a much more pleasant experience for all.
About Sharon: Sharon Naylor is the author of over 35 wedding books, including her newest: “The Bride’s Guide to Freebies” and “Bridesmaid on a Budget.” Her two books for the mothers of the bride and groom are bestsellers, and she has appeared on such top shows as Good Morning America, ABC News, Lifetime, Inside Edition and more – sharing tips and insider secrets to help you plan your dream wedding on a budget, personalized to your love story. Visit her site Sharon Naylor for more on her books, free worksheets and appearances. She lives in Morristown, NJ with her husband Joe and is at work on her next two wedding books.