How To: Manage Your Bridesmaids

Cliques, bickering, money troubles, and complaints about their dresses: Here’s how to make sure your best girls still love you—and each other—when all’s said and done

“They really were a huge part of what made the wedding so much fun,” says South Jersey bride Rachel Martz of her bridesmaids. And they should be. But sometimes those ladies-in-waiting — supposedly your allies in preparing for and celebrating the Big Day — create the most stress. It’s tricky, but definitely doable, to maintain your sanity; these are your best friends and allies, after all. To make sure they still are after your “I do’s,” we’ve talked to Philly’s experts on how to keep the peace — and all your friends.


For some brides, the stress can begin with simply choosing bridesmaids. It’s like you’re the team captain in gym class: Mustering a handful of girlfriends is easy, but then you’ve got to put together your lineup. “The choice of a bridesmaid is sensitive and long-lasting,” says planner Lynda Barness, of Philadelphia’s I Do Wedding Consulting. “Basically, you’re looking at a lifelong friend.”

What happens, for one, when the women who comprise your inner circle outnumber the altar steps? Kendall Brown, owner of NoLibs’ Eclatante Event Design, says that establishing an explicit justification makes diplomacy easier. “Sometimes you have to draw the line at some arbitrary point, like the number of years you’ve known each other,” she says. Recent Lower Merion bride Jessica Hartman did just that. “I am very lucky and have many very close friends,” she says. “If everyone was in my bridal party, it would have been too many people. What I decided was that it was important to me that the people in my wedding not only knew me, but knew my fiancé, Scott, and had been present throughout our relationship.”

If there’s no way around editing out a good friend, spotlight her in another capacity, suggests Mark Kingsdorf, owner of Philly’s The Queen of Hearts Wedding Consultants, like doing a reading at the ceremony or raising a toast at the reception. But if you’re worried about sheer numbers, don’t be, say the experts. Some brides, including a current client of Kingsdorf’s, go all out, with nine or 10 ’maids, or even 16, like one of seasoned South Philadelphia bridesmaid Robin McCann’s friends. Then again, some brides, like South Philly’s Danielle Twin-Smuckler, opt to stand alone with their grooms. “You have to have your sister, and you have to have his sister, and you have to have Cousin Whoever,” she says. “We just wanted the ceremony to be about us, and not about the drama.”

One thing to keep in mind, though, when it comes to picking girls — especially family members — who aren’t necessarily your first choice, but who play a major role in your life, is the future of your relationship. Whether you’re besties with your to-be’s sister or not, says Brown, “You have to remember who you have to live with for the rest of your life. If it’s going to keep peace in the family, then have the groom’s sister as a bridesmaid.”