A bride needs her girlfriends—and not just to sob when you find the right wedding dress or to pull an all-nighter making favors with you. GFs are the glue that hold a woman together every day of her life, in good times and in bad, and that's never truer than when you're planning a once-in-a-lifetime event. So it's important to choose the right bridesmaids from among a cadre of friends and family members. We'll help you decide who should make the cut, but picking your party is just the first step. This guide spells out how far their servitude should extend (we're talking to you, 'zillas), the trick to finding a dress the girls will love, tips on mediating a spat among your 'maids (they happen!), and tons more. Follow our advice, and, months after the wedding, you'll still be meeting with your buds for mojitos. Let's hear it for the girls!
Profiles in 'Maids
Extensive research has revealed that attendants come in four distinct types. Here's how to relate.
The Control Freak
What your wedding is doing to her head: Making her anxious. If she's married, she'll offer wisdom and hindsight—your wedding is a chance for her to experience a do-over of her own less-than-perfect day. (Funny, you thought it was perfect.) If she's single, this is a chance for her dry run.
How to handle her: Listen to her suggestions, but make it clear that all final decisions are yours.
The Indifferent One
What your wedding is doing to her head: Making her feel threatened. She knows your relationship will change once that band is on your finger: no more just-the-two-of-you weekends or Gossip Girl marathons. She may have checked out of the friendship already.
How to handle her: With maturity. Resist the urge to "mean girl" her with the other bridesmaids; instead, make her feel like a vital part of the wedding by asking for her help and advice.
The Sad Singleton
What your wedding is doing to her head: Making her freak out. Like Annie in Bridesmaids, she's having a "What am I doing with my life?" meltdown.
How to handle her: When you get together, don't let your wedding monopolize the conversation; ask her about her life. Steer clear of tasks that drive home her single status, such as picking out china or a first-dance song. Ask her to come along when you shop for Spanx—always good for a few laughs.
The Best Bud
What your wedding is doing to her head: Making her really happy. When her BFF decides to make it legal with a wonderful guy, no chore is too dull—even looking at aisle runners.
How to handle her: "Handle"? No need. What you should be doing is thanking her when she tells you to stop looking at aisle runners. Only a true friend calls out an obsessed bride.
• • •
Bride vs. Bridesmaid
We play ref to settle the stickiest sitches. (Remember, this is about a major day in your life, not hers.)
You ask your 'maids to come over to bake 500 cookies for favors. One says she has to color her hair instead.
You say: "I'm upset that she doesn't want to take on this fun DIY project with the rest of us."
Your bridesmaid says: "I'm a terrible baker. I'd burn everything!"
We say: Know your audience: If your gal pal doesn't even own a measuring cup, chances are she's not going to be much help anyway. So let her off the hook. It doesn't mean she doesn't care, just that she's a big believer in store-bought.
You want to get married in May, just when your MOH will be knee-deep in finishing her thesis 3,000 miles away.
You say: "I have my heart set on the first or second weekend in May, because that's when my hometown is at its prettiest."
Your bridesmaid says: "I've spent the semester preparing my thesis, and I can't fly across the country in the middle of everything."
We say: Ask yourself which is more important: a wedding when peonies are at their peak or having your best friend by your side? If it's the former, don't blame her for not attending. But do consider a compromise: Move the wedding to the end of the month, when your friend is done with school. The flowers will still be in bloom, and so will your friendship.
A 'maid wants to buy her dress one size too small to motivate herself to lose weight.
You say: "I'm afraid she won't lose the pounds and will look like a sausage!"
Your bridesmaid says: "I promise I'll stick to my diet. I'll even do Zumba!"
We say: We admire her goal, but we're on your side. Suggest she order the dress in her current size, and offer to help pay for alterations if she loses weight.
• • •
Dresses for Every Figure
Want to know the quickest way to your girls' hearts? Put them in outfits that are complementary not cookie-cutter. You pick a designer that offers coordinated suites of dresses in the same fabric, color, and length; they pick the styles that work best for their bods. Here, three 'maids with three very different figures show off the season's hippest hues.
• • •
What Do Bridesmaids Do?
Ladies, take note: your closest friends and family don't turn into your personal servants just because they're in your bridal party.
Do ask them to...
• Help you address wedding invitations, assemble favors, pack welcome bags
• Accompany you dress-shopping
• Get an updo or blowout (if you're paying)
• Pick up guests from the airport
• Give you a hand with ceremony and/or reception setup and decorating
• Dance with the groomsmen
• Stand on the receiving line
• Help you with your dress in the bathroom
Don't ask them to...
• Be your 24/7 complaint boxes when the wedding is stressing you out
• Alter their appearance: lose weight, dye their hair, or cover tattoos
• Let out-of-towners they've never met stay at their house
• Go broke because of expenses associated with your wedding
• Sit apart from their boyfriends during the reception
• Spend the whole evening acting like wedding coordinators
• • •
8 Bridesmaids Gifts (Each $80 or Less!)
Every woman loves jewelry—and it doesn't have to cost you a month's salary. Check out these adorable and affordable 'maid-worthy finds.
• • •
Essential Websites for 'Maids
For Favors and Decorations
For Shower Invites
And of course...Brides.com