A note from the bridesmaid…
When I came across this picture on 100 Layer Cake this week, I immediately loved it. For me, it shows the ideal of what bridesmaids should be about: having your closest girl friends with you and part of one of the most important and exciting things you’ll do. Over the years we’re there to dry each other’s tears, be each other’s cheerleaders, celebrate each other’s successes. We’re sisters, whether by birth or by design. So there’s something very special about including those same women who have been with you through it all in the mechanics of your special day. Just like the heart of a wedding is the commitment between two people, the heart of having a wedding party is that they are your witnesses, and that makes them part of your marriage as well as your wedding.
Well, that’s the ideal anyway. I’ve done my fair share of bridesmaiding (and will be doing it again in December) and I’ve loved every minute of it, but over the years I’ve learnt some big lessons about what can make the experience wonderful and what can make it a chore on both sides. So here are my top three tips for brides and bridesmaids.
DO let your BMs contribute – they’re not just there to look pretty in the photos! I’ve done everything from packing a honeymoon suitcase to helping write the vows, and it made me feel like I was part of the team. Try to use everyone’s special talents – one of your BMs may be the queen of organisation, while another may have a great fashion sense, and yet another may be a party girl with no interest in dress or décor who’s the perfect person to come up with a super fun hen night.
DO talk to BMs ahead of time about your expectations. If you want them to fork out for a designer dress with matching Louboutins along with a fancy hotel room, or if you expect them to give up their foreseeable Saturdays to address invitations and trawl antique shops for mismatched crockery, or if you’re envisioning them whisking you off for a long bachelorette’s weekend and then taking the week off before the wedding, you need to let them know. And you need to give them the opportunity to tell you if there’s any part of that they can’t go along with.
DO let them wear something they feel comfortable in. That could mean letting them choose mismatched dresses in your colour palette or wear dresses that suit their shape in the same material, or just taking them into account when you decide on your dresses and colours. But I promise you that a BM who feels at her best will be that much happier and more supportive. And besides, one day she may just return the favour!
DO offer your help before it’s requested. Planning a wedding can be a really stressful time with a lot of people to please, and having helpful, sympathetic friends means a lot to a couple. There’s always at least one thing you can do to make life easier for them and it also helps for you to check in with the bride regularly instead of waiting for her to make contact.
DO make the effort to bond with the other bridesmaids, especially if you don’t know each other well. What bride doesn’t want all her friends to get on? This will make everything run more smoothly, and be so much more fun for everyone involved. And who knows, you may make some new close friendships!
DO give your opinion when appropriate but DON’T complain or try to impose your opinion on the bride. It’s her day, and she gets to choose exactly what she wants. Once a decision’s been made, shut up.
Bear these in mind when planning or helping to plan a wedding, and you should be rewarded with a day that you’ll remember fondly for many years of friendship to come. Good luck, and enjoy!