How To: Manage Your Bridesmaids
CAN’T WE ALL JUST PLAY NICE?
It’s one of the facts of life: When you get a group of women together and make them make plans, tensions will arise. A pack of bridesmaids is no exception — whether it’s among the group, or between you and them.
Because your ladies most likely come from different segments of your life, cliques can form — or, worse, a standoff can ensue. Kingsdorf is currently planning a wedding that has two maids of honor whose horns are locked, and the bride recently came to him wondering why they couldn’t play nice in respect for her day. The solution? “Work through it or suck it up,” he says. “We didn’t have any firings. The bride talked to them each, separately,” and it was resolved.
Besides encouraging brides to approach clashes with maturity, Brown suggests being aware from the get-go of any outlier within the bridal party who might not know anyone else, to preempt her from feeling excluded. “Give her really important, intimate roles, like helping you get dressed, so that she doesn’t feel like an outcast,” she says.
Another way Kingsdorf has seen brides quell the hormones among their ’maids is to literally reduce the estrogen. Whether your brother is your best friend or your BFF just so happens to be the guy you’ve known forever, throwing a dude in among the divas can actually help keep the peace throughout the group. And having male “honor attendants,” as Kingsdorf calls them, is something that’s been on the rise recently.
And then, of course, we come to the most common source of all bridesmaid drama: the dress. Outfitting your ’maids can be more stressful than your own dress search, given the inevitable range in body type, height and coloring. Since your ladies will feature prominently in the ceremony and your photo album, you want the overall aesthetic to be pleasing to you — but then there’s also the pressure to make each woman feel she looks her best.
Many brides today, like Christiana Frieman Voelker of Haverford, who had a wide range of body types in her wedding party, opt to select a fabric and a color, then let each ’maid choose her own style, which can nix complaints about one not liking strapless or another hating the V-neck, and drastically reduce the chances of anyone feeling uncomfortable — or, worse, downright ugly — in what she wears that day. (“We all looked like big purple dinosaurs walking down the aisle,” says bridesmaid McCann of one wedding.) To prevent dress distaste, you can also troubleshoot fit problems on an individual basis, and offer, say, a shawl to your larger-busted friend, suggests Lynda Barness, or kitten heels to your taller bridesmaids, as Voelker did. If you’re choosing to go with one style, you could go so far as to try the gown on yourself, as bride Rachel Martz did, to get a realistic feel for how comfortable or flattering the style really is.
When it comes down to it, you can’t please everybody. “Bridesmaids need to keep their mouths shut about not liking the dress,” says Brown, who has seen many brides on the verge of tears from friends’ in-person complaints. And if you can’t bank on their tact, keep a collected demeanor — as long as you’ve provided them with ample options, you can feel confident you’ve done right by them.