There are few absolutes in life. Outside of death and taxes, it is practically a given that at some point during a woman’s adult life she will have put on a sorbet colored dress and be a bridesmaid (or gold lame, if this were the 80s). For some, this will happen over a dozen times. For all, it can make them feel like Rodney Dangerfield, getting no respect, no matter how prompt or attentive they may be.
Given that the bridal party is made up of close family and friends, keeping relationships intact should be a priority. Abusing these people is not in your best interest, no matter how much bride entitlement may have taken over your brain. Sometimes what seems perfectly logical to a bride is, in reality, quite ludicrous. (Come to all four of my bridal showers! Or else!)
The biggest gripe anyone has about being in a wedding is the cost. Keep in mind that yours is likely not the only wedding your bridal party has to plan for. This is especially true if you are in your mid to late twenties and everyone you know is in a race to the altar. The fewer monetary obligations you put on your bridal party, the more genuine those smiles will be in your wedding album.
Remember: Crazy bride behavior gets exaggerated by an exponent of 100 every time the story is retold over brunch and mimosas. Don’t become a cautionary tale.
Ask Them Not To Get You A Gift: Sometimes bridesmaids feel obligated to go in for something big for a bride, since by definition they are your nearest dearest. Their presence, though, should be a present enough. You’re going to get plenty of gifts from everyone else, people who haven’t already dished out hundreds of dollars on dresses and shoes and travel. Request no gifts from your bridal party and watch how compliant they become. Bustle your dress? Oh course, m’lady!
Pay For Their Hotel (at least for the night of the rehearsal dinner): If your bridesmaids have taken at least half a day off from work to get to your festivities, it would be a terrific gesture to pay for their hotel room the night of the rehearsal dinner, if you can afford it. This is especially helpful if you have single friends and you can double them up in the rooms for the night. Hanging out together is a lot of fun for everyone involved before the stress of the actual wedding day arrives. I’ve had hotel rooms comped by brides and was wildly impressed both times.
Cover The Cost Of Hair And Make up: While hotel rooms can get pricey, paying for a couple of up dos and professional make up applications won’t put you in the red. A lot of former bridesmaids that I spoke to mentioned that it annoyed them when they had to pay for their own hair, especially after buying the dress, traveling to the wedding, etc. The obvious perk is that it will keep them smiling – and professionally coiffed — for all your photos. If you put the expense on a credit card with rewards, their hairdos can go towards points for a romantic getaway with your new husband.
Don’t Micromanage: You may love a French twist, but it may make another gal look as if her head has been put in a vice. Same goes with shoes. You may love a narrow, strappy sandal, but your friend with the giant, boat feet is going to be hating life in them. I’m all for uniformity, but it’s a fine line between bride and over bearing pageant mother.
Let Them Bring A Guest: This is especially true if the wedding is out of town. No one wants to sit alone in a hotel room in a town where they don’t know anyone. It’s a few more plates you’ll have to pay for, but it’ll make them feel valued. Some of them won’t even use it. So many wedding horror stories begin with the phrase, First of all, she didn’t let me bring a guest….
When The Wedding Is over, Stop Keeping Track: True story: A woman I know was in a bunch of weddings one summer. All the brides were close friends and all the weddings were out of town. She was single and paid for all the travel and hotel expenses herself. It was a financial stretch, but she did it. In the end, though, she genuinely enjoyed going to all the weddings.
A week or so after the last wedding, one of the brides sent her an e-mail. It read, “I was going over my list and I noticed that you didn’t give me a gift. When do you plan on sending it?”
Beyond the obvious tackiness of asking for a gift, when the last of the champagne is poured, you need to turn off the wedding brain. No more checklists, no more binders, no more Excel spreadsheets. Guests have a year to send a gift, and if someone doesn’t, forget about it. They may have forgotten or their situations may have changed. Repeat after me: A wedding is a party, not a fund raiser. Your focus should be on your new life with your amazing husband and not who sent you a gift.
Write A Thank You Note: Once you’re back from your honeymoon, you will fall into married life and realize how much down time you have now that you’re not planning a wedding. This is the time to sit down and write hand-written thank you notes to everyone who was in your bridal party. It doesn’t have to be a sonnet, but a nice card and a pleasant sentiment about the big day goes a long way with people. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition, or a note of gratitude post-wedding from a bride.
Don’t Have Any Bridesmaids At All: Generally speaking, the older people get, the less jazzed they become about being in someone’s wedding. Why inflict torture? Pick one maid of honor and be done with it. Let the focus be on you and not on a circus of other women in taffeta dresses.