1. Show genuine excitement.
"This is not a time to bemoan the fact that you're still single or your boyfriend hasn't proposed," say Jennifer Arreguin and Natasha Burton, co-owners of Swoon California in Santa Barbara. Focus your attention on your friend and her joy, they say, and you'll earn major points. "Don't let jealousy or similarly unsavory emotions get in the way of being there for the bride."
2. Create breaks from planning.
Even the most gung-ho bride could go berserk if the only thing she does is plan her wedding. So schedule "girlfriend nights at the movies, spa days, or evenings in with a bottle of wine or ice cream," says Rayna Wallen, owner of Always Planned in Lexington, Kentucky. "Make it mandatory that the wedding can only be brought up for 10 minutes and then it's off limits. This will help the bride — and bridesmaids! — keep their sanity."
3. Offer to listen.
Brides are balancing a lot — and often, they need to purge over a glass of wine to an especially good listener "about their issues with deciding who to invite or which china pattern to select, and even the drama they're having with their florist," Arreguin and Burton say. "Ask about how wedding planning is going and show a genuine interest in aspects the bride is dealing with along the way."
__4. Send her countdown text messages. __
"Every bride loves a countdown to her big day, and typically she is the only one keeping track," points our Wallen. You don't have to send her a daily count, but consider shooting her a message on milestones such as the 90, 60, and 30-day marks, Keel says.
5. Be the bride's advocate.
"If the maid of honor wants to hire a stripper for the bachelorette party and you know the bride will absolutely hate that, say something!" say Arreguin and Burton. Now's not the time to stand idly by, but rather fight for what the bride needs and wants.
6. Send her notes.
You don't have to be a poet. A simple "thinking of you" sent on special stationery will truly stand out. "Sending regular notes is a great way to show the bride that you love her and you are excited for her big day," says Wallen.
7. Pack an emergency kit for the day-of.
"Don't assume that the maid of honor or mother of the bride has this covered," warns Arreguin and Burton. In a pouch, place tissues, Q-tips, a nail file, facial wipes, lotion, pain killers, mints, extra nail polish, tweezers, a copy of the couple's vows, and a needle and thread, the planners say. "Your fellow bridesmaids night need some of these things too!"
8. Be the bride's cell phone and wallet Sherpa.
The bride may not be carrying a purse, so "offer to carry her cell phone — if she wants to take selfies or fun snaps of the day, or if she needs to be reached for some reason! — and her wallet, because if there's an after party, she may actually need her ID," say Arreguin and Burton.