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The Guilty Girl's Guide to Choosing Bridesmaids


Illustration by Edwin Fotheringham/BRIDES

Picking your bridal party can stir up more emotion than picking a groom. But don't worry—BRIDES magazine has got your back. Here are six common guilt-inducing scenarios and what to do about them:

DO YOU HAVE TO ASK... a friend whose wedding you were in two years ago, even though you don't hang out anymore? You can't shake feeling like you "owe her."

WHAT'S A GIRL TO DO? No need to sweat it—there's no quid-pro-quo contract you have to fulfill. Relationships change, and chances are she'd feel uncomfortable anyway.

DO YOU HAVE TO ASK... your superclose bud who's due to give birth two weeks before your wedding?

WHAT'S A GIRL TO DO? You should ask her, but also reassure her that you'll understand if she can't come to all or part of the wedding. You don't want to make her feel guilty if she's got to leave early or bow out of walking down the aisle.

DO YOU HAVE TO ASK... your fiance's sister, whom you've only met a couple of times?

WHAT'S A GIRL TO DO? If your man had three sisters, you could probably skip asking them, but since there's only one, you really should include her. After all, this is one relationship that isn't going anywhere—call the move an investment in holiday harmony for decades to come.

DO YOU HAVE TO ASK... all four of your Thursday-girls'-night buddies, when you're tight with only two of them?

WHAT'S A GIRL TO DO? You don't need to ask all of them, but use tact and make a point of limiting any bridesmaid-related chitchat when you're all out together.

DO YOU HAVE TO ASK... your best guy friend? You're afraid he's going to look like an idiot holding your bouquet.

WHAT'S A GIRL TO DO? Go for it! Nowadays it's perfectly okay to have girls on the groom's side and guys on the bride's. Call him an "honor attendant," have him dress like the groomsmen, and let him participate in as much of the pre-wedding stuff as he's comfortable with. Unless he's the GOH (guy of honor), he doesn't have to go anywhere near your bouquet. And if the girls decide on a group gift from Thongs R Us, all he has to contribute is his share of cash.

DO YOU HAVE TO ASK... your best bud from high school, who's turned into a crazy party girl? You're worried she'll jump the bartender and turn into a walking bridesmaid cliche.

WHAT'S A GIRL TO DO? As long as she doesn't spend most Friday nights in county lockup, go ahead and include her. Just give the bar staff a heads-up.

—Lexi Dwyer, BRIDES magazine

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The Best Bridesmaids' Gifts for $50 and Under

  • Scoring the perfect present for your bridesmaids doesn't have to cost a fortune. Here, 15 fab finds for every budget.

    Rainy-Day Plan
    Boldly patterned umbrellas will bring sunshine to their blah days; $20 each, Use the code brides15 to receive a 15 percent discount!

  • Put a Ring on It
    A funky-yet-sophisticated sparkler adds just a touch of sass to a work outfit; $38,

  • Secret Sauce
    These vintage-image flasks with tongue-in-cheek quotes (there are 12 to choose from) will be a hit with tailgaters; $22 each, Anne Taintor;

  • Wrap Artist
    Bare shoulders deserve a supersoft (and superstylish!) cover-up; $48, Kiran Rai;

  • Darling Drops
    Pearl earrings: a preppy pal's go-to. These cuties will become an everyday fave. Twenty-four-karat-gold over sterling-silver hoops, $48,

  • Mood Lighting
    Colorful mini candles sex up the bath and the bedrooms; $14 each,

  • Golden Goddess
    This attention-grabbing bracelet embodies runway glamour. You won't stop blinking at the real-life price!; $39,

  • Beauty Booty
    A must for makeup junkies, this kit's got every shade of shadow, gloss, and blush under the sun. Complete Color Portfolio, $50,

  • The Bold and the Beautiful
    Scoop up a statement necklace to go with their strapless dresses; $48, Aqua; Bloomingdale's, 800-232-1854.

  • Model Citizen
    Buy this boho-chic tote and three Guatemalan children receive nutritional supplements for one year. "Feed 3" Guatemala bag, $39,

  • All That Glitters
    Present your peeps with their own rock star-worthy ring tones. "Ibiza Sunset" crystal-and-enamel dome rings, $50 each, Akkad;

  • Photo Finish
    You'll both look like a million bucks in this eye-catching four-by-six-inch ikat-print frame; $41, Two's Company;

  • Please Don't Stop the Music
    This yoga mat sports an MP3-player dock, so they can listen to tunes while saluting the sun; $40, Gaiam;

  • Sugar Rush
    Chocolate addicts will devour this 40-piece set in a flash. Bonus: They can save the cool tins for stashing (future) treats; $39,

  • Full Bloom
    These petite planters will pop no matter where they're placed. "Camelia Avenue" bud vases, $25 each,

    BRIDES magazine

    All Photos by Halley Ganges/BRIDES

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Revenge of the Bridesmaids


Photo by Jen Siska/BRIDES

Just in time for Halloween, traumatized bridesmaids tell all! BRIDES magazine spills the beans on 16 brides and their outrageous demands, worthy of a horror film.

For her wedding, which had a Midsummer Night's Dream theme, the bride hired a costume designer to outfit us. We had to wear wired mesh wings, satin corsets, and fluttery skirts. The final touch: spray glitter all over our bodies.
—Tania S., 31, Boston

A week before the wedding, I was asked to be a bridesmaid. Turned out one of the groomsmen was considered too short to be paired with the girl the bride had originally asked, and they wanted someone his height. I had to pay last-minute prices to fly to California, book a room, rent a car, and buy a dress.
—Camille F., 26, Philadelphia

I had to pay a stylist two hundred dollars to make my stick-straight hair match a photo of Jessica Alba's beachy waves.
—Lauren G., 25, Stockbridge, MA

My friend was so worried that I'd break my leg a few weeks before her wedding, she demanded that I not ski during a trip I'd planned to Colorado. Even though I was miserable and bored, I felt guilty and stayed off the slopes.
—Cheryl K., 32, Miami

Possibly thinking she was doing us a favor, the bride bought lavender fabric, lace, and a pattern and told us to sew our own skirts—with elastic waistbands, no less. Since nobody had a sewing machine, we had to make them by hand. Straight to the rag pile.
—Susan Y., 27, Springfield, OH

I offered to throw the couple a small engagement party, and I was up-front about my budget. The bride disregarded that and invited double the people I could afford. I relented but told her the party would be my wedding present. As she was opening presents in front of the bridal party on the wedding night, she turned to me and asked, 'Where's your gift?' I almost slapped her.
—Stephanie T., 25, San Francisco

The bride sent out engagement-party invites that asked for cash gifts. When people said that was tacky, she said it was my idea!
—Heather F., 29, Aspen, CO

The bride micromanaged every aspect of our outfits, from huge, ugly earrings to hair combs with giant fake flowers. She even insisted on buying us ivory panty hose—control-top!
—Molly B., 33, Carlsbad, CA

My sister told all the bridesmaids that we had to wear our hair in French braids. When I got my hair cut two weeks before the wedding, she burst into tears and told me I'd ruined her big day!
—Jeannie V., 32, Burlington, VT

The bride confused me with Cinderella. After offering to help with last details, I ended up packaging all the favors (while she got her beauty rest) and spending the morning of the wedding at Copy Shack making table numbers and place cards. Then I ironed seven bridesmaids' dresses. I must be the only MOH ever to walk down the aisle with no makeup and her hair in a wet ponytail because she ran out of time!
—Wendy R., 28, Santa Fe, NM

The bride let us choose the color of our dresses. When the consensus was black, she flipped out and said we were trying to upstage her. We ended up wearing a color that I can only describe as 'pickle green.'
—Vicky C., 27, Tampa

My sister made me tell another bridesmaid to change her underwear because she had visible panty lines. The girl got mad and didn't talk to me for the entire wedding.
—Lucy F., 24, Buffalo

She decided to take her wedding pictures outside—during a freezing midwestern winter. We were on street corners in short, strapless dresses and open-toe shoes, posing without coats. In the photos, we've all got red noses and are standing a little too close together.
—Jennifer M., 28, Detroit

The bride gave all her bridesmaids little jobs to do on her wedding day to make them feel important. I was stuck handing out programs in front of the church, in sweltering heat and wearing four-inch heels. Who knew hair gel could melt?
—Jasmine R., 29, Brooklyn

One bride kicked me out of her wedding because I refused to do weekly weigh-ins.
—Crystal B., 31, San Antonio, TX

My friend threw a very lavish backyard wedding in which I was the sole bridesmaid. I lived out of town, so the first time I laid eyes on my dress—handmade by her aunt—was at my fitting a week before the wedding. I am conservative, so when I saw the low-cut floral taffeta dress with a massive crinoline, I almost died. But I wore it without complaint. Midway through the reception, I stepped into the luxurious portable lavatory and, to my horror, discovered that the bride had decorated it with the exact same fabric my dress was made of.
—Emily F., 33, Chattanooga, TN

—Marina Khidekel, BRIDES magazine

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15 Things a Great Bridesmaid Will Do


Photo by Jen Siska

While every bride would love to have her bridesmaid take away all the stress of the wedding, that isn't always reality. But here are some ideas on how she can make the process a bit easier.

1. GIVE YOU HONEST (but gentle) opinions as you try on dresses.

2. WEEP (along with your mom) when you finally emerge from the dressing room wearing The One.

3. CREATE a "tasteful" bachelorette-party wardrobe for you—diamond tiara, fluffy pink boa.

4. OFFER to do your hair and makeup on the wedding day.

5. STUFF 167 candy-favor bags without complaining or eating one single jellybean.

6. RECORD GIFTS at your bridal shower (in legible handwriting).

7. RUN OUT to pick up last-minute items on the wedding day.

8. CALL YOU OUT for bad behavior (i.e., making the matron of honor promise not to get pregnant before the wedding).

9. LEND YOU a shoulder to cry on when the stress gets to be too much.

10. SPEND THE NIGHT before the wedding at your place to talk, laugh, and calm your nerves.

11. DECORATE the outdoor-reception venue in scorching afternoon heat, minus any whining.

12. START DANCING to get the reception crowd up.

13. GIVE YOUR MOM special attention at the wedding—it's her day, too.

14. DEAL WITH THE DJ the second he starts spinning "Who Let the Dogs Out?"

which she knows is song number one on your "don't play—ever!" list.

15. TEXT YOU post-honeymoon for drinks on Thursday always.

BRIDES magazine

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