Bridesmaids: Duty Calls

Bridesmaids are more than just a group of color-coordinated accessories to fill out your wedding photos. The ladies you choose to stand beside you on your special day are, in a way, your support team for the big event. Here are a few ways to utilize (without abusing) your bridesmaids:

Dress Duty: When it comes to selecting your wedding dress, never underestimate the importance of having a second (and third and fourth) opinion. Inviting your pals to tag along with you for bridal gown shopping is not only a fun way to spend time together, it’s a great way to ensure that you pick the absolute perfect dress. Your gown isn’t the only one that should receive their input. Ask your bridesmaids to help you pick out the dresses they’ll be wearing on the big day as well. By having their help, you’ll not only guarantee to find a dress that looks great on your girls, you’ll make them incredibly happy in the process by letting them don a gown that they actually like.

Invitation Addressing: If you’re opting out of hiring a calligrapher, but still prefer that invitations be addressed by hand, you’re definitely going to need some assistance, particularly if you have a lengthy guest list. Recruit some of your bridesmaids (the ones with the best penmanship, naturally) to join you for an afternoon or evening of invitation addressing. Make it a fun gathering by providing a champagne brunch or desserts and coffee. Also, don’t forget the thank you cards.

Bridal Shower: There’s no hard and fast rule that states your bridesmaids have to throw your bridal shower (a close friend or relative is an acceptable substitute), but chances are the ladies you choose to be your wedding attendants will also participate in the festivities. You shouldn’t ask (and definitely don’t demand) that your bridesmaids throw you a shower, but if/when they decide to, simply be grateful and show up!

Out-of-Town Guest Hosting: Regardless of how organized you are, there are always going to be last-minute tasks demanding your attention in the days leading up to the wedding, limiting your time. Rely on your bridesmaids, if needed, to help welcome or host out-of-town guests. These tasks can range from hosting guests in their home for the wedding weekend to simply transporting them to/from the airport.

Pre-Wedding Particulars: Feel free to recruit individual ladies to assist on tasks they’d be particularly good at. If you’ve got a friend who is a floral whiz, invite her to tag along during your meeting with the florist. If another pal is art savvy, ask for her help with the invitations. There are tons of small tasks that need your time and attention, so why not have a trusty friend to help you navigate through them?

Wedding Planning Conflicts – Handling Touchy Subjects

In a dream world, your wedding will be perfect, flawless, and free of conflict or drama. In the real world, issues and confrontation are bound to happen. As much as you love them, your friends and family might be the cause of some of these disputes. Nip conflict in the bud with these helpful tips.

How to deal with…

A friend who is determined to be a bridesmaid: Choosing your maid of honor and bridesmaids is a challenging task, often made more difficult by friends or relatives who have false hopes of being asked. You should never include someone in the bridal party because you feel guilty or bullied into it. If you have a woman in your life with her heart set on being a bridesmaid, kindly explain to her why she didn’t make the cut. Maybe you’ve decided to only include relatives or you want a small bridal party. If it’s possible, find another role for her to fill in the wedding party, like a program attendant, honorary bridesmaid, or scripture reader, so she feels included in the festivities.

An overbearing mom or mother-in-law: The wedding day is a special moment for the parents of the bride and groom so keep that in mind when dealing with your mom and mother-in-law. With that said, if you feel like they’re encroaching on your territory or being way too controlling, have an honest heart-to-heart about your feelings. Be polite, but direct, gracious, but honest. Keep them involved by finding specific tasks where you could really use their help or input.

Parents who want to invite too many guests: It’s easy for the guest list to balloon to epic proportions but it’s imperative that you keep the invitees to a reasonable amount. The easiest way to deal with parents or in-laws who are being pushy or demanding about guests is to be firm. When you start planning your wedding, determine exactly how many guests each family will be allowed to invite (preferably an equal number on both sides) and make them stick to it. If a parent is absolutely unwilling to budge on their invitees, explain the added cost and expense to them for each additional person who attends the wedding. If it’s that important to them, they may want to foot the bill for the extra cost.

Unhelpful bridesmaids: It’s important you remember that your bridesmaids are, first and foremost, your friends. They’re not hired help or indentured servants. With that said, there’s a certain amount of responsibility that comes with the title. If you feel like your bridal party is being unhelpful, uninterested, or uncaring, address the issue. Instead of demanding their assistance, let them know how stressed you are and how much you could really use their help. That alone should be enough to get your friends to rally in your time of need.

Misbehaving flower girls/ring bearers: Having young children in your bridal party adds fun and charm to your wedding festivities, but kids are kids and their behavior can be unexpected. Even the most well-behaving children can resort to tantrums, waterworks, or stage fright when shoved into a fancy outfit and put on display for a crowd of hundreds. You should always keep that in mind before asking a child to be a part of your day. With that said, if you’ve chosen pint-sized attendants, the wedding has arrived, and their behavior is out of control, have a chat with their parents. Find out if there’s an easy way to get the child to cooperate. If not, consider asking a parent or trusted adult to walk the children down the aisle, or skip the procession altogether and simply include them in the pictures. It’s also a great idea to have parents seated up close so that, assuming their children do make it down the aisle, they’re not expected to stand for the duration of the ceremony. Keeping Kids Entertained At Your Wedding

Inappropriate bachelor/ette party plans: One of the many responsibilities of the bridesmaids and groomsmen (and the one they’re probably looking forward to the most) is planning the bachelor and bachelorette parties. These can be as wild and crazy or laid-back and low-key as they prefer, but the important thing is that everyone is on the same page. If you or your husband-to-be are hoping for a calm, classy affair but you’re nervous that your pals have a stripper on speed-dial, the best way to avoid an awkward or upsetting evening is to have an open discussion ahead of time. While it’s not your place to plan your bachelor/ette party by yourself, it’s completely reasonable for you to share your expectations with your friends. While they get to be the ones to plan it, ultimately the party is supposed to be about you, so you should never have to take part in something that makes you feel uncomfortable, unhappy, or overly embarrassed (although some amount of embarrassment is to be expected).

Bridesmaid Dresses

We’ve all seen the movie 27 Dresses.  Katherine Heigl’s portrayal of a professional bridesmaid was too funny not to love, as was the closet jam packed of not-so-lovely looking bridesmaids dresses.  So to offer our support to bridesmaids around the world, we’re highlighting a few of our favorite not-so-typical places to get bridesmaids dresses.  Because who says bridesmaids dresses need to come from bridal boutiques?

Nordstrom: Though this big retailer is no secret, it is somewhat of a secret in the bridesmaid world.  Nordstrom has one of the biggest and best selections of dresses out there, and they have even separated dresses that may be great contenders for your attendants.  Now these aren’t exclusive bridal collections, but they are dresses in beautiful colors, flattering shapes, and varying price points, perfect for outfitting a group of girls.  An added bonus is Nordstrom’s incredible customer service that will likely be a big help as your bridesmaids find just the right size, color, and Nordstrom store.

J.Crew: First lady, Michelle Obama, isn’t the only one loving J.Crew these days, so are bridesmaids!  J.Crew has grown their bridal line in recent years, and bridesmaids everywhere are rejoicing.  Many of their dresses allow girls to pick the style of their dress, keeping the same color and fabric as the other bridesmaids.  And what bridesmaid doesn’t love the freedom to choose something flattering?  And for the bride wanting one-stop shopping for her bridesmaids’ shoes and jewelry, J.Crew has you covered.

Modcloth: This online-only retailer is perfect for the bride having a garden-party wedding, an afternoon ceremony, or a less formal affair.  Modcloth carries retro and indie clothing and has a dress selection that covers anything your vintage inspired heart could desire.  Dreamy fabrics, pretty florals, and fluttering shapes fill their store and make definite bridesmaid dress potential, especially for the bride who wants a bit more a less-traditional approach.  Another bonus is the price.  Modcloth’s dresses start at $20.  And what bridesmaid doesn’t love that?

See below for some great selections from Modcloth.










Wedding Day Peace with Bridesmaids

How to Keep the Peace
You’ve all seen it: The drama that unfolds when brides select their bridesmaids and someone feels left out. In some cases, this kills lifelong friendships. In others, all it takes is a small explanation. I think most people are upset because picking bridesmaids says something about the quality of your relationship with that person. Since the wedding is such an important day, the people you pick understand how much you mean to them. Friends often feel that if they are asked to be in someone’s wedding, they must return the favor and extend the invitation. This may not always be the case. So here are a few tips for helping you keep the peace with bridesmaids and friends.

Remember: It’s YOUR Day
Sounds silly, I know, but at the end of the day this is YOUR wedding. It’s not your parents’. It’s not your best friend’s. It’s not your sister’s. It’s yours. So with that comes some responsibilities, but also an enormous amount of privilege. This is your day and you make the rules. You only want two bridesmaids? Then do it. You can’t build your wedding based on what everyone else expects or wants.

Be honest
Simple concept, but you would be surprised how many people struggle with it. Most of the time the dishonesty comes about from fear of hurting someone’s feelings. More ugliness typically results from people failing to just be honest. Let’s say you have a friend who asked you to be in her wedding and you obliged. Now it’s your turn, but you don’t want that friend in your wedding, because you’d like to keep your party small. Rather than doing something silly like trying to “include them without including them,” speak to them in person and explain yourself clearly. A good friend will usually understand.

Include Others
Just because you didn’t invite the person to be in your wedding party, doesn’t mean you can’t involve them in all the other activities. You could even let them plan or host a  bridal shower or party. This is a much better alternative than giving them the title of “House Party” or “Honorary Attendant” when they don’t actually do anything. If you keep constant contact with the person and continue to let them know they are important to you, the fact that they aren’t in your wedding will be easily forgotten.

Filling Wedding Roles

Ultimately, your wedding day is about you and your fiancé, but there are several other people who are a part of the big day. The list of wedding positions extends far beyond the bride and groom, giving you plenty of opportunities to incorporate dear friends and special loved ones into your nuptials. Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine how large and involved your wedding will be, but here are a few ideas of positions that may need to be filled:

Bridesmaids: These are the women who will stand beside the bride on the big day and lend their support throughout the wedding process, led by the fearless leader, the maid/matron of honor. The number of bridesmaids (or whether you’ll have any at all) is your call, but they should all be women that either the bride or the groom have a close relationship with. Female tweens and teens can join in the festivities, as well, as junior bridesmaids.

Groomsmen: These are essentially the male version of the bridesmaids, led by the best man. Ideally, the number of groomsmen will be the same as the number of bridesmaids so that everyone is partnered up for the wedding and reception.

Flower Girl(s): This is typically a young girl, usually between the ages of 4 and 8 (although slightly younger or older girls are fine), that walks down the aisle prior to the bride to sprinkle rose petals. Having multiple flower girls is totally acceptable, especially if you have several nieces, cousins, or children of your own.

Ring Bearer: This little guy is also between the ages of four and eight and walks down the aisle either beside the flower girl or just before her, carrying a pillow with two rings attached. Since most five-year-old boys aren’t the most reliable, the rings attached to the pillow are usually fakes.

Ushers: One step down from the groomsmen, these guys still don tuxes (or nice suits if you prefer) and assist with pre-wedding festivities. Their main job includes seating guests at the wedding and possibly pulling a runner down the aisle before the bride makes her entrance. Usually two to four guys are needed as ushers, but groomsmen can certainly fill this role if you don’t have extra men to use. Beyond Bridesmaids and Groomsmen.

Guestbook/Program Attendants: Anywhere from one to three individuals can fill these roles, regardless of their gender. Essentially, these attendants are stationed near the main entrance of the ceremony site to greet guests, pass out programs, and motivate individuals to sign the guestbook.

Reader/Singer/Musician: A great way to incorporate friends or family into the ceremony is by asking them to do a reading of a Bible passage, poem, or quote during the wedding. If you’ve got talented friends that you’d like to get involved, ask them to sing or play a song during the ceremony or the reception. Be sure to ask your wedding DJ to provide the proper audio equipment to accommodate your choices.

Officiant: One of the most surefire ways to personalize your ceremony is to hire an officiant who is close to both the bride and the groom. If you’re actively involved in a house of faith, ask the minister to oversee the nuptials, or if you have a close family member who is in a religious vocation, or works as a judge or ship captain, hire them. Otherwise, approach a trusted friend or family member about the possibility. If they’re interested, they can easily be ordained online, for 100 bucks or less, to legally officiate the wedding.

Keeping The Peace With Bridesmaids

Everyone’s heard stories about awful bridezillas and miserable bridesmaids. How can you ensure that your bridal party stays happy in the months leading up to your nuptials? Follow these simple steps:

Be Considerate About Time: For the next several months, planning your wedding will be your top priority, but for your bridesmaids, it just isn’t. Hard as it may be to swallow, your bridesmaids have lives and other things to focus their time and energy on. And while it’s certainly acceptable to ask for their help, be respectful of their careers, relationships, and families. It’s not their job to be on call 24 hours a day until your wedding.

Be Considerate About Finances: If you’ve ever been a bridesmaid, you know that between dresses, showers, gifts, bachelorette parties, and traveling, the expenses can add up. Unless your budget allows you to cover all of their expenses, be considerate about your bridesmaids’ finances when selecting a dress, shoes, and accessories for them or when planning pre-wedding festivities or beauty routines. Whenever possible, think of ways you can help your bridesmaids save money. If they’re traveling in from out of town, find them a free or inexpensive place to stay. If they’re trustworthy with their own hair and makeup, don’t insist that they drop a bundle of cash at an expensive salon on the wedding day.

Be Considerate About Appearances: One of the most surefire ways to upset a bridesmaid is to put her in a horrific ensemble. Obviously, this is your wedding and the color scheme and theme is up to you. However, it will go a long way with your attendants if you consider their body and skin types when selecting a bridesmaids dress. If your bridesmaids represent a wide range of shapes and sizes, consider ordering multiple dress styles in the same color or designating a specific color and letting each lady pick out her own gown. Everyone will look great and feel fabulous making for a happy wedding day and great photographs.

Be Considerate About Requests: Part of the bridesmaids’ responsibilities is to be there for you, as the bride, but be careful not to take advantage of them. Although there are a slew of tasks that you’ll need assistance on, be sure that your requests are reasonable. And remember, it’s not just what you ask, it’s how you ask it. Keep your bridesmaids happy by being pleasant, respectful, and gracious instead of demanding, curt, or rude.

Wedding Planning Conflict

More on keeping the peace

Beyond Bridesmaids and Groomsmen

One of the most challenging aspects of planning your wedding is deciding on the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Narrowing down the list of your friends and family members is no small feat and before you know it, your dream of a small, intimate wedding has turned into a major production. Fear not. There are a lot of creative and meaningful ways to involve your loved ones in your wedding without making them all attendants.

1. Ushers: If there are extra men that you’d like to incorporate into the wedding in addition to the groomsmen, consider asking them to be ushers. Ushers are responsible for seating guests at the wedding ceremony. This is a task that can be handled by the groomsmen, but if you want to involve an additional 2-4 men in your wedding, this is a great way to do it. Ushers can opt to wear the same tuxes as the bridal party or wear their own suits.

2. Guestbook Attendant: Station 1-2 individuals at the guestbook table before the wedding ceremony and reception to encourage guests to sign. These individuals typically dress in their own attire but usually try to coordinate with the wedding colors and are distinguished with a corsage or boutonniere.

3. Program Attendants: Assign 2-3 people the task of passing out programs before the wedding ceremony. These individuals should greet guests as they arrive to the ceremony site and give them a program as they enter. They also typically wear their own attire, but try to coordinate with the wedding colors or wear an outfit that you suggest (i.e. little black dress).

4. Reader: A great way to involve loved ones in the actual wedding ceremony is to ask them to read a meaningful Biblical verse or favorite poem during the nuptials.

5. Musical Number: If you have a friend or family member who is a great singer or musician, invite them to perform a special song during the wedding or reception. Some great moments to consider including a special musical number include your walk down the aisle, lighting of the unity candle, communion/prayer, exiting the church, or first dance.

6. Candle Lighters: In Christian ceremonies, it’s customary to have children (typically between the ages of 10-13) light the candles on the altar immediately before the ceremony begins. Reception Lighting Ideas

7. Junior Bridesmaids/Groomsmen: If you have a loved one between the ages of 9-16 that you’d like to participate in the wedding, you can consider asking them to be a junior bridesmaid or groomsmen. These individuals are typically a part of all the wedding festivities and wear a more youthful version of the bridesmaid/groomsmen attire. You can opt to have them walk down the aisle along with your other attendants and either stand beside you or be seated in the first couple of rows. Great Groomsmen Video by REM

8. Officiant: You may want to make the wedding ceremony incredibly personal by asking a friend or family member to officiate the nuptials. If you have a loved one who is an ordained minister, judge, or captain, they would make a great choice. Although these days, for under $100, anyone can be ordained online and legally oversee a wedding.

Gifts For Your Attendants