Even for the most relaxo bride, weddings can be stressful. The pressure of planning an event that is attached to emotions, add some family quirks and spending a chunk of change, can unknowingly, and for some surprisingly, reveal cracks in friendships and create unnecessary dramas. To put it simply, we can go a little mental, act in ways that we probably wouldn’t in ‘real life’ especially when it comes to our nearest and dearest…. those who have been there with you through highs and lows…those who forgive you when you say something that you will later regret…I’m talking about bridesmaids. We're here to give you a little bridal party advice to keep all those friendships attached when all is said and done!
Bridesmaids lately, I think, have been given a bum rap. When did these close friends go from ladies who turns up to the church on the day in a nice dress (exactly what out mothers bridesmaids would have done) to slaves? Emotional punching bags that organize everything from strippers to destination getaways? Who will go into debt to pay for a dress and talk you off a ledge when the napkins that you ordered are delivered without the lacy imprint? Sure, you aren’t that type of bride. Of course you are not but here’s a couple of tips to maintain your wonderful friendships, to file away just in case!
No matter where you are in your getting married adventure by now you’ve probably chosen whether or not you are having a bridal party and who they are. I hope you like them because they’re your A-team. There’s a lot to say about the bridal party and depending on your level of expectations, some of it, you may not want to hear.
Firstly, I would be amiss if I didn’t mention that I have two excellent, if I do say so myself, episodes of the podcast about this very topic, one featuring an interview with Author Kate Chynoweth, who wrote The Bridesmaid Guide: Modern Advice on Etiquette, Parties, and Being Fabulous. She is ace!
Bridesmaids, Maid of Honour’s and Groomsmen are people who you both can rely on to help you out, plan a super awesome bucks and bachelorette party (if that’s your style) and placate any pre wedding insano meltdowns that you are NOT going to have. My wish for you at this stage is a drama free build up to the big event. Dramas usually happen when people don’t get what they want. The good thing about families, in particular siblings, is they generally just tell you why they are angry and then knowing that, you can go to work fixing the problem or simply just yell back. Friends can be tricky. In a bridal party situation, you are creating a new group dynamic, throwing people together that perhaps haven’t gelled before. There will probably be stupid power struggles (even if you aren’t aware), infantile tiffs around who knows you better and who is a closer friend and who knows all of your deepest darkest secrets. Don’t get involved with this. It’s trouble. Only step in if they are going to kill each other. It’s a fact that at least one bridesmaid will want the day to be about her. Fact. I don’t care how angelic that lady is…secretly deep down one of them will crack. They will. I promise. So even if they’re the best chicks in the world, there will probably be some underlying issue that you must do your best to ignore.
Groomsmen also have these problems but because they are men, they tend to just hold it in for the next 28 years, when casually at their kid’s graduation BBQ, one will say to the other 'Gee Phil, when you picked John over me as your best man … well that was kind of harsh' and then they shake or man hug and move on.
When it comes to clothing the bridal party, well get ready, it can be a hell of a ride. Firstly yes, this is your day and what you want is important but you should also be aware that when dressing your nearest and dearest friends (bridesmaids, groomsmen, maid of honour etc) for your wedding that they aren’t Barbie and Ken dolls. They are individual humans with their own free will. They come in all different shapes and sizes and not everyone is going to be happy with what you have envisaged for them to wear. Why must we dress everyone in the same clothes? It’s tradition of course (I DARE YOU TO BREAK IT!).
For our wedding I wasn’t interested in the identical formation, matchy matchy bridesmaids get up. I asked my bride’s ladies if they would wear their favourite LBD (little black dress) and I found some gorgeous patterned pashminas that I gave them as a gift and it really tied them together without putting them under any additional financial pressure and they loved what they wore because they chose it.
When it comes to your bridal party budget is also a huge factor. Being a part of a wedding is expensive and being aware of your crews individual financial situations is not only being a good friend it can also really take the pressure off potential bubbling dramaz… meaning if you know your friend doesn’t have the coin to buy a $600 dress or go to Cabo for a four day weekend to celebrate your bachelorette, don’t put her in that position. Yes your wedding is important but important enough for her to not be able to make rent? The prospect of someone going into debt, putting something on their credit card for me, makes me feel ill. When looking at outfits and combinations for the bridal party, consider all of the different body shapes and sizes. Who will be comfortable in what and is there a possibility of the attendants being able to re-wear their dress or suit in the future? (They might be a lot more obliging on paying for the outfit if they think they will re-wear it.)
The bridal party are your A Team because (we hope) they love you and you love them and they want to share the day with you (and vice versa). Your wedding day will be amazing because they are there beside you, clinking glasses, dancing like maniacs at the end of the night. Remember that your wedding preparations are really but a short moment in your life and these ladies will be there long after the confetti is swept away. Yes it’s your day but trust me, with everyone around you having a brilliant time and enjoying themselves it’s all the better.
Aleisha McCormack is a comedian, author of the Save The Date Guide to Getting Hitched and Host of the #1 Podcast about all things wedding-y, Save The Date. Two shows per week, bringing wedding experts, advice and trends straight to your ears! Visit her blog, follow her on Twitter, and subscribe and download the bi-weekly podcast for free here.