Problem Bridesmaids

Every bride needs help on how to deal with disgruntled bridesmaids. Here’s our advice for keeping things on the up and up.

They’re supposed to be there for you through gown fittings, crazy in-laws, and crazier grooms to be. But sometimes, even your best support systems can buckle under the strain. From bridesmaid dress distress to gripes about expenses, keeping a bridal party happy can be as demanding as the wedding planning itself. Every bride needs to know how to manage blasts from her bemoaning bridesmaids. Here are our top bridesmaid troubles and tips for avoiding bridal party beefs.

There is no rule that the dresses need to be the same. That said, keep in mind that these things are ultimately your decision.

Problem: A bridesmaid says “heck no!” to a dress you love

Solution: You love your girls partly because they’re honest. Now it’s all backfiring. According to them, the “perfect” bridesmaid dress is not-so-perfect — in fact, they hate it. Our advice? If it’s not to late, work out a compromise. Sure it’s your wedding, but it’s their self-esteem (and probably their cash, too), and you need these ladies to love you long after you become Mrs. Married. Tell them you’ll pick the color and then let them choose the style. Have them all go through the same gown manufacturer so that the fabric is identical. There is no rule that the dresses need to be the same. That said, keep in mind that these things are ultimately your decision. If a bridesmaid is being unreasonable (make sure it’s not you being too demanding), let her know how important your vision is and that you will work together to find a dress that will make you both happy.

Problem: You hear grumbles about expenses

Solution: Be considerate. It’s likely that your maids will only wear this dress for a few hours, so don’t make them hock their car to be a part of your wedding. Choose a dress that is reasonably priced — have them tell you what reasonable is — or work together with your party to find a dress that’s both within their style and budget. Brides are not required to pay for the dresses, but if you want to spring for something pricey, consider adding it on to your own budget or paying for half. Try to mitigate expenses elsewhere too — if they’re buying the dresses, don’t make them buy jewelry and shoes too.

Problem: Not all your bridesmaids are “maids”

Solution: If you have a best guy friend or male family member whom you wish to include as one of your attendants (instead of as one of his), go right ahead. The days of the all-female bridal party are over. Your guy can either match the groomsmen, or he can match your girls by wearing a tie or other accessory that incorporates the color of their dresses.

Problem: Your white wedding is turning green with envy

Solution: With all your gorgeous friends in attendance and done up to the nines, it’s only natural to have fleeting feelings of insecurity wondering how you’ll stack up. This is an easy one. We promise you this: There has never, in the history of all weddings, been a bridesmaid who outshines the bride. It’s the nature of the white dress and the glow of a woman in love. With all eyes on you as you glide down the aisle, you’re sure to be the only one in the spotlight.

Problem: Not quite measuring up

Solution: The job of a good bridesmaid is identical to that of a good friend. She should be there with encouragement, comfort, emotional support, and, at this stage of your life, a willingness to tie ribbons and help with seating charts. If one of your bridesmaids is not doing her part, it’s important that you be honest (not blame) with her and clearly communicate your needs. She may have issues too that this wedding has brought to the surface, or may think that your expectations are unreasonable. Once you’ve both cleared the air you should be able to move ahead. And follow the golden rule of bridesmaid management: Be sure to thank them openly and often throughout the process.

Problem: Which one of these is not like the other?

Solution: Sometimes there are pressures to ask people to be in your party who you would just rather not ask — a family member from his side, or a college roommate who had you in her wedding. No one can force you to include these people in your party, but be aware of the hurt feelings that may result if you decide against it, and be prepared to deal with them — especially if the person excluded is family. Mitigate hurt feelings by coming up with ways to keep people involved without asking them to be in the bridal party. For members of his family (yes, even female ones) ask them to be part of the groom’s party; for old friends who just don’t make the cut, have them do a ceremony reading or get them involved by asking them to help you into your dress.

Problem: Last-ditch effort

Solution: It’s never easy, but sometimes when all else fails or when something explosive has happened, the only alternative is to ask a bummer bridesmaid to step down. There really is no right way to do this. Good friends will understand the decisions you have to make. People who’ve turned out not to be such good friends are better weeded out, anyway. Just remember the most important thing is to be honest, no matter what.

— Erin Hill

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