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Bridesmaids 101

Chances are you’ve been a bridesmaid once or twice yourself, or have at the very least known a bridesmaid or two in your day, but just in case you haven’t, here’s an overview on who the bridesmaids are, how to choose them, and what they’re responsible for.

How Many: As the bride, the number of bridesmaids at the wedding is entirely up to you. There’s no right or wrong answer for the appropriate number of attendants at the nuptials. You can have as few as just a maid of honor and no bridesmaids, if you so choose, or as many as a small army. You and your fiancé should make that decision based on the size of your wedding, your budget, and your personal preference.

Who to Ask: Again, there’s no formula or rule stating who should and should not be a bridesmaid. Feel free to ask anyone you’d like, but you may want to consider these questions before selecting bridesmaids: How close am I with this person? Will she be supportive? Do I think our relationship will stand the test of time? It’s important to select bridesmaids who you have a deep and meaningful relationship with, like a sibling, relative, future in-law, or close friend, which will hopefully last well into the future. You don’t want to look back on your wedding photos and see a virtual stranger because you prematurely asked a new friend who didn’t have staying power.

What to Expect: It’s customary for the bridesmaids to pay for their own dresses, shoes, and accessories. If you have room in your budget to accommodate some or all of these costs, it’s an amazing way to bless your attendants, but it’s not necessary. Ultimately, the selection of the bridesmaids’ dresses is up to you, but your pals will surely appreciate it if you bring them in on the decision.

The bridesmaids are definitely expected to attend pre-wedding festivities (i.e. rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, bridesmaids’ brunch, etc) and they will typically help out with some of the pre-wedding planning. That doesn’t mean, however, that they’re at your beck and call. Be respectful of their time and other commitments when asking for their assistance.

Lastly, the bridesmaids typically help organize and host your bridal shower and bachelorette party. It’s not uncommon, though, for another friend or close relative to throw the festivities instead.

Keep the peace with bridesmaids

Wedding Planning Conflict

More on keeping the peace

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

Keeping the Peace

There’s something about an engagement ring that serves as a beacon to people just dying to fill your ear with unsolicited advice. From the moment he pops the question and you accept, everyone is dying to offer their two cents on the wedding preparations and it can get more than a little annoying. Here are a few tips for keeping the peace with parents, siblings, in-laws, & relatives:

Trust Their Motives: We understand how frustrating and annoying it can be when everyone and their mother is offering suggestions on your wedding day, but realize that it’s coming from a good place.  Regardless of their methods, most people who offer you bridal advice have your best interest at heart. They’re either trying to help you make an informed decision, contributing the only way they know how, or desperately wanting to be involved in your big day. Annoying? Yes. Evil and mean? Not so much.

Get Them Involved: When those closest to you begin trying to insert themselves into the wedding planning process, it typically stems from their desire to be an active participant in your big day. Parents dream about the day their son or daughter will say ‘I do!’ and it’s important to remember this is a significant day for them as well. With that said, you can’t exactly let them run the show. Find specific tasks that you can assign to members of the family to help them feel involved. Not only will they be focused on one thing (and hopefully lighten up in other areas), it will also alleviate some of your stress as the bride.

Incorporate Their Ideas: Whenever possible, and assuming it doesn’t kill the theme or feel of your wedding, incorporate the ideas and suggestions of others. There can be great benefit in listening to the wisdom of women who have been brides before.

Be Direct: We know you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but if everyone’s unwarranted advice is pushing you full-throttle towards a nervous breakdown, you need to be honest. If a family member is overstepping their bounds in your wedding plans, you need to tell them. Be polite and courteous, thanking them for their enthusiasm and desire to help, but straightforward and firm in reminding them that this is your wedding day.

Wedding Planning Conflict – Keeping The Peace

Keeping the Peace Between Bride and Groom

Your wedding day is supposed to be about love, unity, and togetherness, but often the planning process can result in blowouts of epic proportions between the bride and groom. Here are a few practical tips to help keep the peace if…

The Groom is Uninvolved: Many feuds come as a result of a groom’s general lack of interest in all things wedding-related. If your partner is unenthusiastic about the wedding planning, try to cut him a little slack. He’s a guy. His indifference about the wedding planning doesn’t mean he isn’t thrilled to be marrying you; it means he isn’t thrilled about flowers, favors, and centerpieces. To get him more involved, try to assign him tasks that might excite him like selecting the food for the rehearsal dinner, planning the honeymoon, creating a reception playlist, or choosing the cocktails for your guests. It’ll remove some of the stress from your plate while also getting him actively involved in something of interest to him.

The Groom is Too Involved: Every now and then, a groom comes along who wants to be actively involved in every detail and decision of the wedding planning process. This can result in a number of fights and frustrations. If your guy is overly involved, try to establish some boundaries. Have a sit-down discussion about the wedding details and allow him to take responsibility for the areas that are of utmost importance to him, keeping responsibility for the details most important to you. Whenever possible, try to schedule meetings together, but discuss your ideas beforehand so you can be prepared with a general understanding about what you both want.

The Groom is Freaking Out About the Bill: Money and budgeting is one of the biggest causes of stress in the planning of any wedding, especially if you and the groom are responsible for much or all of the bill. To avoid a financial fracas, it’s imperative that you establish a wedding budget together. If you can’t afford the lavish wedding of your dreams, figure out areas where you can cut corners and save costs so that you can splurge on details that are more important. Keep detailed records of your costs as you go and set aside money ahead of time for unexpected expenses that may arise throughout the planning process. This wedding budget tracker may help.

The Groom Has Very Different Tastes: If you’re having a hard time seeing eye-to-eye with your groom on the wedding details, theme, or style, it can put a serious crimp in the planning. Although you may be tempted to scoff at his idea of a Star Wars-inspired rehearsal dinner and cut him out of the planning altogether, remember that this day is just as much about him as you. The wedding is meant to be a reflection and celebration of your relationship and unique personalities. The best way to avoid conflicts about differing tastes is to compromise. Walk through the major wedding details together and come to an agreement on ways to incorporate both of your ideas and identities.

The Groom Wants to Invite His Third Cousin’s Neighbor’s Girlfriend: Narrowing down the wedding guest list can be a daunting task for any couple and it can certainly add stress to the wedding, especially when you’re trying to stay in the confines of a predetermined budget. If the guest list is getting out of hand, talk it over with your partner and decide on a reasonable number for each of you to invite. If there are still others you’re hoping to invite, consider creating an A-list (non-negotiable guests) and a B-list (friends, colleagues, and distant relatives that you’d like to invite). As guests from the A-list start to RSVP, send out additional invitations for every person who sends their regrets. If you still can’t cut down the guest list, consider holding the wedding at a larger venue or offering hors d’oeuvres and cocktails instead of dinner to save money.

All in all, wedding planning conflicts can be avoided by open and honest communication. Planning your nuptials together can be great preparation for the challenges of marriage that lie ahead. Learn to clearly communicate your feelings, needs, and desires in a way that isn’t aggressive, confrontational, or mean-spirited. Remind yourself (over and over, if necessary) that your wedding day is about celebrating your love and relationship. If you stay focused on the true purpose of the day, you’ll be less likely to be swept into the stress of insignificant details. And if all else fails, hire a wedding planner to eliminate the stress altogether!