Photo: Photo: Universal Pictures/Courtesy of Neal Peters Collection
You may want your bridesmaids to love one another as much as you love them. But the reality is when you group together women of different backgrounds, ages, and personalities — women who may not otherwise hang out — you're almost bound to find two who don't get along.
"There's enough tension and stress on the big day and the time leading up to it that personality conflicts can be very unsettling," says Irene S. Levine, psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the New York University Langone School of Medicine, and author of Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend. Bickering between bridesmaids "can take the joy out of what should be a happy time for everyone and divert attention from the bride." So if you need to set two 'maids straight, here's your expert-approved action plan.
Don't add fuel to the fire.
When one bridesmaid comes to you to gossip about how her least favorite 'maid dropped the ball, "listen but don't contribute to the venting," advises Chandra Keel, owner of Chandra Keel Events in Phoenix. "Acknowledge her feelings and her frustrations even if they seem silly and inconsequential, but keep your own feelings at bay, especially if you're finding yourself annoyed that you're being pulled in the middle. Be about love — it's infectious."
Let your maid of honor take charge.
Rather than step in between two feuding friends, ask your maid of honor or another neutral bridesmaid to take the reins. "They can gently remind the each of the other bridesmaids that this isn't about them," says Levine. "The day is about the bride. The other bridesmaids may not even be aware that the tension is obvious to the bride and the rest of the wedding party."
Speak positively of all your bridesmaids at all times.
It may be tempting, but "don't take the role of referee," advises Keel. Instead, give glowing reviews of your 'maids at all times, and ask they do the same when they come to you with complaints. "For example, you can say, 'I know that Suzy can be a bit outspoken. That's part of what I love about her. I do understand that sometimes her outspokenness can rub people the wrong way. But I love her like I love you, and I would be really happy to know that all my closest friends are getting to know one another and are learning why I love every one of you so much,'" Keel suggests.
Reassure the women how much they mean to you.
You need their support now more than ever. So "tell them both how meaningful their friendship and support has been to you," says Levine. Then, in private, explain why their bickering and back-talking doesn't exactly scream support. "You can explain that they needn't be friends, but they do need to be respectful to each other."