Updated: Oct 5, 2020
The dynamic and attitude of your bridal party can make a huge impact on how you feel about your wedding planning process and your wedding day. Ideally, your bridal party will provide support and fun throughout your planning process and on your wedding day. But sometimes bridal parties can turn really toxic! However, there are several things you can do to prevent your bridal party from taking a negative turn and prevent bridesmaids drama.
Picking your party!
The best way to prevent your bridal party from turning negative is to be careful when selecting the people you want on your side. I often recommend brides keep their wedding party on the smaller side. Don’t feel like you need to ask every friend you’ve had since elementary school! You can always invite non-bridal party girls to participate in events like your bachelorette party or even to get ready with you on your wedding day. On that same note, don’t get too hung up on matching numbers between bridesmaids and groomsmen. We all love the symmetry of matching sides, but is it really worth inviting a girl you don’t even like that much for a couple of pictures? Probably not.
When picking the people for your bridal party, ask yourself if you see yourself still being friends with them in ten years. You shouldn’t feel obligated to invite people you just aren’t that close to. It’s okay to skip people even if you were in their wedding party! Also, consider the vibe you are wanting from your wedding party. Do you want a crew that is fun and loves a party or would you rather have people who help keep you calm and collected? Think about which people in your life would best fit that version of a wedding party.
Another thing to think about before asking anyone to be your bridesmaid is dynamics between people. If your best friend has major issues with your college roommate, maybe you don’t want both of them in your bridal party. Your bridal party will probably be coming from all different parts of your life, so many of the people might not know each other and you might not know the dynamics. That’s okay! You aren’t psychic; you won’t be able to predict every issue.
I think one of the biggest things you can do to avoid bridesmaids drama later down the road is to give people room to say “no” when you ask them to be a bridesmaid. You never want people to feel obligated to be in your bridal party. Let people know that you know their declining of your request isn’t necessarily a reflection on your friendship, but might be due to financial or time restrictions. When people are forced into a bridal party, there tends to be a lot of resentment, which is never good.
Being a bridesmaid can be expensive! One of the biggest gifts you can give to your bridesmaids is keeping their financial obligations reasonable. Don’t pick a super expensive bridesmaids dress or mandate a week-long bachelorette party in Santorini! If you do want more expensive options, consider gifting those to your bridesmaids. Just because you’re in a financial place to spend several thousand dollars for a weekend, doesn’t mean everyone in your bridal party can afford the same. It can be uncomfortable to talk about money and people might not want to admit that they can’t afford something, so be understanding if one of your party is unable to attend your bachelorette party or asks for a cheaper alternative to the shoe you’ve selected. One last thing, this is not an open invitation for you to start judging them for the way they spend their money. Even if they decline to attend your bachelorette party, saying that it’s too much money right now, but you see them buy an expensive designer bag, you still don’t get to judge! It’s their money, not yours.
Let’s talk about reasonable v. unreasonable expectations. It’s so easy to make your wedding the center of your world during your planning process. A wedding is a really big deal and planning one is a lot of work, so it’s completely understandable if you are pretty focused on it for the months leading up to your wedding. You cannot expect the same (or even a similar) level of interest in your wedding from your bridal party. It’s your wedding day, not theirs! You can totally expect your bridesmaids to respond to text messages in a timely manner, meet ordering deadlines, and provide feedback and support when asked, but you can’t expect them to put their lives on hold or prioritizing planning your wedding over living their life.
The best way to get what you want from your bridal party is to tell people what you want from them. You can’t expect your party to be mind readers! You’d love for them to give you feedback on wedding dresses, tell them. You want them to plan a bachelorette party with a spa day, tell them. You want some help assembling favors, ask them! Your communication should all be clear (this isn’t a scavenger hunt, it isn’t the time for hints) and kind. These girls are some of your best friends and you’d probably like them to stay that way, so don’t be mean to them. Treat them with kindness and respect. Don’t take your frustrations out on them.
Let’s talk about how to communicate what you want on three of the larger bridesmaids areas of focus. First the dresses (or wedding day outfits). I have a full blog post on this, but the main thing here is to give as much information (in writing!) to your party as possible. I don’t mean getting super picky on details, but rather giving the specifics on the details you care about ahead of time. It’s so much easier to pick out something when you know the rules, rather than just guessing and getting approval later.
The next thing that you need to clearly communicate to your bridal party is about the events you’d like for them to attend and plan. Once again, the best thing comes from giving clear expectations and wants. Would you like them to plan a bachelorette party for you? Great. Tell them exactly what you are looking for. You don’t need to plan everything, but if you want a low key night or matching t-shirts, let them know. This isn’t supposed to be a test for how well they know you, it’s supposed to be a party. If you would like their attendance at an event, like a bridal shower, try to give them as much warning as possible and try to be understanding if they can’t make it.
The last major thing you’ll need to communicate is what you expect from them on your wedding day. I’m the biggest fan of passing out schedules during your rehearsal dinner, so they know what’s expected of them, where they need to be, and at what time. Make sure to include things like arrival time, when do they need to be fully ready (hair and make-up), when do they need to be dressed, when are they going to cocktail hour, and when they can expect to leave. Also, I always appreciate when there are clear expectations on hair and make-up (if you aren’t having professionals do their hair and make-up). You don’t need to pick out their lipstick color, but let them know that you’d like them to have a nude lip or an updo (if you truly don’t care, that’s fine too)!
Hopefully, these tips can help you navigate your bridal party and make sure your friends only add good things to your wedding day and planning process. Let me know if you have any other questions in the comments below!