When it comes to organizing your wedding party, we can't all have the refinement of Grace Kelly. More often than not, it's like herding cats just to make a decision or complete a simple task.
But acting like a panicky supervisor is a sure-fire way to tick off your wedding party. There are better and easier ways to tactfully manage your bridal party without triggering tempers. From dealing with unruliness to maintaining a strict schedule, these former brides, bridesmaids, and wedding experts share real-life examples of what not to do, as well as offer advice for managing your wedding party, well, like a boss.
1. Don't Overbook the Wedding Party
Don't expect the bridal party to be available for every second leading up to the wedding. This inevitably leads to burnout, and won't get your bridal party geared to go.
"I was a bridesmaid in one wedding where we were told to arrive at the bride's house at 9 a.m. The bride didn't show until 10:30 a.m., and the wedding didn't start until the late afternoon. We were exhausted from a long night before and could have used the extra sleep. I understand the maid of honor, or some family members being there all day, but the enthusiasm of the bridesmaids starts to wane after a few hours." — Sara Kirsner Stith, 12-time bridesmaid, a recent bride, and owner/design of Doie Lounge, luxe robes for brides and bridesmaids
"Make a realistic timeline for everyone so that people are not hanging around unnecessarily. If the bride would like to have company all day, perhaps have people come in shifts and then all together, closer to the time of the wedding, or have people arrive 3-4 hours before the wedding starts. Yes, it's all about the bride that day, but sometimes it feels unnecessary for the bridal party to be trapped in a room all day (6-7 hours) just watching the bride get ready. You want your bridal party to be full of excitement and not resentment." — Sara Kirsner Stith
2. Dress Without Stress
When choosing outfits and attire, experts say taking a collaborative approach to finding the right look will be easier for everyone—especially you.
"Don't set unrealistic expectations for everyone's appearance. I once had a bride that wanted everyone to get a spray tan before the wedding. Needless to say, everyone was still sugar scrubbing their arms the day of when the color wasn't what they had hoped!" — Tiffany Hayden, owner of detailed. Weddings Los Angeles
"Every one of your bridesmaids has a different personality that makes them unique and special. That's why you love them, right? Don't force them to all wear the same hairstyle (yes, I've seen this done!) or makeup for your big day. Instead, embrace those different personalities and talk through what they have in mind. Have them show you pictures and gently provide your opinion. That way, it's a win-win for everyone."*— Pnina Tornai, fashion and wedding dress designer
3. No Surprises, Please
Don't spring for last-minute surprises or decisions on the bridal party. Understandably, you're juggling a lot, but nothing irritates a wedding party more than being uninformed. Instead, make it easy for your gang to meet your expectations.
"Don't leave everything until the last minute and expect bridesmaids to pick up the slack. For example, if your bridesmaids all need to have silver shoes, don't tell the bridal party a week or two before. If you have specific needs, the bridal party needs to have ample time to prepare. This will make for a happier bridal party and a less stressed bride." —Sara Kirsner Stith
"Provide a bridesmaids' schedule. They don't need to know every detail or have access to your master timeline, but provide an advance schedule outlining things like transportation, where to store purses during the ceremony, photo times, and so forth. Then they won't bombard you with stressful questions on the wedding day, like 'Where do we need to be and what time?' or 'Can I wear these earrings?' Answer all of their potential questions in advance by sending them their own special bridesmaid schedule." —Jennifer Lindberg, photographer and owner of Jennifer Lindberg Weddings
4. Enlist Help
Don't be afraid to delegate. Appointing a trusted friend to act as "manager," or hiring a wedding planner takes a load off before, during, and after your big day. But carefully choose your wing-man or woman, and discuss what's involved with each task.
"I once had a bride who left her brother in charge of gifts and leftover items at the end of the night. When the wedding was over, they had endless 2-liters of mixers, cases of beer and wine, and boxes of cups that wouldn't fit in his sedan, along with the chair covers and leftover cake. We ended up begging other people to take things home with them—not fun when everyone is trying to keep the party going!" —Tiffany Hayden
"When all else fails, leave it to your wedding planner. My job is to take the stress away from the bride—give that stress to me to worry about, so you can enjoy the ride before it's over." —Jennifer Oz LeRoy, event planner for hundreds of weddings whom currently owns LeRoy Redux and formerly owned Tavern on the Green and The Russian Tea Room
5. Keep Communication Short and Sweet
Emailing a 13-page instructional manual the night before the wedding? Just don't. Instead, keep written notes short and simple to prevent confusion and ensure everyone is on the same page.
"Sending a long-winded email—no matter how many cute emojis you use—is generally not well received. I've had brides sending emails with incorrect information and having to send follow-up emails, only to stress and aggravate the bridal party even more—not to mention confuse them."—Jennifer Oz LeRoy
"Provide a map of where all events will take place during the weekend. This always makes it easier to know where the wedding party needs to be and what time. As a wedding planner, I make it like a fun adult treasure hunt map!" —Jennifer Oz LeRoy
6. Feed and Pamper the Gang
The last thing you want is a hangry wedding party. Tossing them some treats, as well as a little luxe pampering, will keep the wedding party cooperative throughout the big day.
"I always suggest a welcome party for your bridal party. Host some sort of gathering that includes light bites, cocktails, and plenty of water. At my farm, I have had a local spa set up a tent overlooking the mountains, so the girls can get nails done and enjoy a massage."—Jennifer Oz LeRoy