Image by Elizabeth Messina
Bridesmaids are awesome – they stand by you while you plan your big day, give you girly support, spend hours trawling the internet with you for best ideas and bargains… or that’s what they should be doing anyway! Sometimes, they need a little careful management. See below for our list of 5 most common difficulties bridesmaids may cause, and how to deal with them directly and creatively!
Problem – not all of your bridesmaids like the dresses you have chosen for them.
There is always that one or two girls who just don’t like anything you suggest. The colour, the length, the style… and the more bridesmaids you have, the more it’s likely to happen.
Solution – always keep your budget in mind first, if you are paying for the dresses then the final decision is yours. But we understand you also want your girls to be happy with how they look. Ask for specific issues they have with the dresses. “I look like a hippo in this dress” is not a comment you can work with. However, feedback such as “I don’t like strapless dresses because I always worry my boobs will fall out” is definitely something you can find a solution to. When you have specific objections like this it’s easier to find an alternative.
Creative solution – don’t buy dresses, buy separates instead! These are tops and skits they will be able to wear again for sure, and it’s so much easier to find something they will all like as there are so many more style choices. And you can look in so many shops too, because now you’re not restricted to just the eveningwear section! Try stores that cater to teens – you’d be surprised how many amazing tops and skirts you can find there! Pull the look together with matching jewellery and you’re all set.
Problem – you have two bridesmaids who are absolutely brilliant, the third one… not so much.
This happens with unfortunate frequency, where one bridesmaid acts like she’s doing the bride a favour. At one end of the spectrum she pokes her nose into everything and criticises every decision, or on the other end she never answers the phone, email and text and gives an impression of having no interest in your wedding whatsoever. Sorry to be blunt here – this person clearly doesn’t deserve a role in your wedding. Ask yourself this question: when you look at your wedding photos in 10 years’ time, do you want to see HER next to you and remember what a total cow she was? We thought not! The only exception in this situation is if she’s going through some personal trauma that takes precedence in your life – in this case it’s understandable she would attend to this over your wedding.
Solution –The solution (with exception of the trauma scenario above) is to fire her in a way that doesn’t point a finger at her – and the sooner, the better! Say “I know a wedding is really the biggest deal for the bride and I can’t expect everyone to share my enthusiasm. I’m finding it way more stressful than I expected and I really feel sometimes that without the support I’d go crazy. I’d love to have you as part of this experience, but if you can’t give me positive feedback (or you can’t spare the time to help me with the planning) then I really won’t mind if you don’t want to be in the bridal party. Would you like to do a reading at the ceremony instead?” If she swears she’ll change, give her another chance. Or, you may be surprised to find that she’s quite relieved to be excused from the wedding!
Creative solution – replace this bridesmaid with a younger female member of your family! Could be your little niece, cousin, your fiancé’s little sister… you may not realise this, but young girls are usually thrilled to be a part of the wedding and in such an important role too! They will love pretty much any dress you choose for them, the professional hair and (touch of) makeup experience, and walking down the aisle to top it all off! We’re not talking a toddler here – more a 9 to 15 year-old, a young lady who will be thrilled to be asked!
Problem – you are really worried your hen party will be completely the opposite of what you’d like to do and you’ll hate it.
You’re so not crafty you can’t help gluing your fingers together, but you’ve heard through the grapevine that you’re going to a pottery class on your hen do. Or you hate nightclubs, but your bridesmaids love them and it’s pretty likely you’ll end up the last sober person on your hen night pub tour. Or the thought of flying makes you feel faint, but you keep hearing stuff about Prague. Sometimes it’s also the case where the chief bridesmaid organises the hen do that SHE would like to have for herself – and not for the bride.
Solution – tell your chief bridesmaid the things that you absolutely DON’T want to do – then let her organise the rest. This gives her some direction for her planning and enough room to manoeuvre around for other options.
Creative solution – have a joint hen and stag do that involves doing some really memorable stuff together! Tell your hubby-to-be what it is you wish to do, he’ll tell the best man, who will then work with the chief bridesmaid. Some of the best ideas we’ve seen online: separate boys and girls activities early in the day (boys go to paintball, girls go on a city tour or for some spa pampering), then in the afternoon they get together for a pizza party, Mr & Mrs quiz for the bride and groom, a night at the movies, bowling, or a concert? You can even make it a boys vs girls fun and games for a bit of a fun gender competition.
Problem – as soon as you announced your engagement, other people decided who your bridesmaids are going to be.
This happens quite a lot – your fiancé’s sister just assumes she’ll be a bridesmaid, your former best friend who now only keeps in touch on Facebook but you haven’t seen in person for years suddenly starts asking what she’ll be wearing, your mum’s best friend’s daughter is volunteered by your mum… and so many others!
Solution – keep the numbers low and always blame the budget, then have a list of other tasks the volunteers can do instead. Say: “I’m sorry, I’d love to have more bridesmaids, but I only get to have two on this dreaded budget and I’ve already asked my two best friends! I’d love you to be an usherette/witness/help me make something for the wedding/do a reading instead?” Then buy her a corsage or a small bouquet that matches the other bouquets to make sure she stands out as special from the rest of the guests. It’s a small additional price to pay for peace.
Creative solution – tell the person who pressures you that the top table at the venue can only accommodate 12 people and every single seat is already assigned – sorry, the furniture has spoken!
Problem – your bridesmaids just don’t get along at all, they’re one text away from Dynasty-style catfight!
This can happen whether your bridesmaids already know each other or not – in fact, if you know this is the case before you ask them, then we strongly advise you not to do it and spare yourself the future headaches! Let’s say you chose two girls who have never met, then they meet and… it’s a total failure. They just can’t stand each other. What now?
Solution – sometimes people just don’t like each other and there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t force people to be friends. Try not to arrange situations that would leave just the three of you alone – you and the two of them. You will probably feel very awkward in their company and have to work extra hard to keep the conversation flowing. Who needs that? It’s the bridesmaids that support the bride, not the other way around. Having more people around you will diffuse this situation – this includes your mum, the bridesmaids’ own boyfriends, your fiancé, and anyone else who’s involved in the wedding.
Creative solution – give the two bridesmaids specific tasks of equal importance to be in charge of, this way they won’t feel like the other one is being singled out. For example, one goes to shop for flowers with you, the other one goes to the hair and makeup trial. One helps you put together the table plan, the other one helps you address the thank-you cards. This keeps the rivalry to a minimum and you get everything accomplished in a far more organised way.
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If you think the bride should always have the last word, then Rachel is on your side! A devoted fan of everything quirky, unusual, colourful or crafty, she loves scouting WOL's real weddings for unique and fun touches. When not gazing at pictures, she's dispensing no-nonsense advice on everything from reception entrance songs to bridesmaid problems.