Hello! Congratulations on your engagement! You have the guy and the ring, now to plan the most amazing party! You know first thing you have to do is call your girls because you have been dreaming of this party together forever. WAIT 1 MINUTE!
I want to give you some advice that will help your wedding be more enjoyable and probably strengthen your relationships with your bridesmaids! Believe it! Why am I an expert? I have been a bridesmaid more times than I can count, I stopped counting after 14 times. The family joke was that I was always a bridesmaid and never a bride. Remember that movie 27 Dresses? Yeah, that was me. Now I have just celebrated my first wedding anniversary (Thankfully, the family joke stopped!). I understand what it is like to be the single bridesmaid more than most, so when I got married I had a whole arsenal of ideas of the kind of bride I wanted to be. Here are some ideas to help you be the best bride and friend possible!
1. CHOOSE NOT TO BE A BRIDEZILLA
What this means is before starting your wedding planning that you sit down with yourself and have a very real conversation. Your wedding day is very important: it is a celebration of your love and commitment to your best friend; it is your one shot to throw the event you’ve been planning since you were 4 (at least if you are like me!), it is important to your family, it is the one day that is all about you, and did I mention you have only one shot at it (NO PRESSURE, RIGHT!?). With all that being said, it is one day. Make a list of your top 4-6 priorities and then be flexible with the rest. No matter how much you do, at the end of the day the party will end and you will be married to the love of your life. You will have to give yourself pep talks on stressful days and walk off some disappointments (unless you are a millionaire), which is absolutely normal. How you behave in the planning of your big day will impact the enjoyment of the day for you and others. Just remember, people trump parties.
2. BE A GOOD FRIEND FIRST
This one doesn’t cost a thing but will HUGELY impact the bridal experience and prove you are an amazing friend. Talk with each one privately about your wedding and let them know what you hope and expect. These are the ladies who you love the most and they are super excited for you. I loved long conversations with my friends that were getting married about the details. I wanted to know everything, genuinely! Your friends will be excited for you. Let them know that you understand that being a bridesmaid is a big undertaking and you want them to have a great experience as well. Find out if they have any concerns. Do they live far away and are afraid of the travel time? Is money and tight right now and they are afraid of how much it will cost? ABC News reports that the average cost of being a bridesmaid is upwards of $1,500!!! Are they nervous about not knowing anyone else in the bridal party? Is work really crazy and they won’t be able to help very much? Remember these ladies are your friends and family first and bridesmaids second. Talk with them about their lives and not spend the entire year talking only about your wedding. Bottom line; listen to your ladies before you make plans that will impact them. This will go a LONG WAY in avoiding resentment and also makes your friends feel SPECIAL!
3. GIVE OPTIONS
Now that you have had the conversation with your bridesmaids about their concerns and needs, you can plan accordingly! Some options that are really thoughtful are by providingaccommodation options. Unless you are all from the same town (rarely happens these days) then it is kind to give options of hotels at different price points. You may have some bridesmaids that splurge, but then others may want to share a room with another bridesmaid at a lower price point to save some money. I have had multiple friends that rented entire beach houses for their bridal party. Or if you are on a tight budget, arrange for your bridal party to stay with friends or family members that live in town. Another way of giving options is not requiring your bridesmaids to be at every shower, party, and dress fitting. Some of your bridesmaids may have school, demanding jobs, children, or live far away. Being understanding when a bridesmaid cannot attend a function is a great way to be a good friend. Also, always give them a plus one even if they are not in a serious relationship. They don’t have to bring anyone, but if they want to bring company always give the option.
4. PLAN ATTIRE WITH THOUGHTFULNESS
Although travel and accommodations is normally the most expensive part of being a bridesmaid, the other big-ticket item is the dress! If you have had a specific dress that you want everyone to have, then allow them to have options with their shoes, hairstyle, and accessories. These items can easily cost as much as the dress. I told my bridesmaids 9 months before my wedding that I wanted them to have navy blue shoes. I did not care the style, but I wanted navy blue. They had tons of time and multiple seasons to find a shoe they liked, and it worked great! Another option is to rent dresses. This has become a trend that is picking up popularity because let’s be honest –very very rarely do women rewear bridesmaids dresses. If you rent, you still get an amazing dress but your bridesmaids pay a good bit less! Here are some options for renting: Rent the Runway, Weddington Way, Vow to be Chic. Also if you have ladies of different shapes and sizes, providing multiple styles is a thoughtful thing to do. Another way to be flexible is if you are not paying then give them the option of having professional makeup and hair done or not. That could also save $80-$350 bucks a piece.
4. GIVE USEFUL AND GENEROUS GIFTS
This is the fun part! You want your bridesmaids to feel like VIP’s! I gave gifts when I asked them to be bridesmaids that were super fun and sparkly! I had these amazing pink boxes with a movie, specialty dress shape cookies, candy, and a note. On my wedding day, I gave them shawls so they would not be cold and could be used again as well as adorable wire hangers with their names in them. When planning your wedding day bridesmaids’ gift, give them gifts that will 1. Eliminate them having to spend more money on your day such as lodging, meals or accessories. 2. That is very personal to them or like a monogramed bathrobe, hanger, or stationary OR 3. Is super fun that you know they would like but not buy for themselves. Here is a link to a Pinterest board with a million ideas!
A really nice thing to do for your bridal party is to allow time for them to have headshots. I normally ask my second shooter to do this while I am doing portraits with the bride and groom if time allows. It takes only 15 minutes! Your bridal party spent money dressing up for you and it is thoughtful to plan for them to have a couple of professional photos they can use on their social and dating profiles.
And lastly, ALWAYS write them a handwritten thank you note. They have gone all out for you and are super supportive, so letting them know how much that means to you is a total must. I wrote mine over the course of my engagement so I had time to really focus on each one to let them know how much I loved and appreciated them. Now go, plan your wedding and enjoy every minute! Congratulations!