Being surrounded by your best gals on your wedding day is usually full of giggles, girl talk, bubbles, and (most likely) some happy tears. But bridesmaids often harbor some—gasp!—bitter emotions amidst it all. They may be all smiles, but they might not be telling you how they really feel. While it’s your wedding day, it’s critical to be considerate to your VIP ladies who have only been supportive and helpful throughout the months planning. Unfortunately, many bridesmaids have stories to share that demonstrate otherwise.
To help you avoid any pre-wedding pitfalls, here are the stickiest issues that can seriously annoy bridesmaids throughout the wedding journey. Consider this how to not frustrate your friends, 101.
This may be the most contentious aspect to the wedding party: the inevitable bridesmaid dress. Brides, obviously, want the dresses to match the look and feel of the wedding. Bridesmaids, however, are most concerned with making sure they still look good. The clash? When brides don’t appear to take into account their bridesmaids’ body types, comfort, and financial standings. And it can lead to some pretty bitter feelings. As real bridesmaid Lisa says, “She purposely made us wear ugly dresses so there wouldn't be any competition for belle of the ball."
Bridesmaids know that when they sign on to be in the wedding party, there will likely be the cost of a dress involved. They also often feel that the chance of them ever wearing that dress again is basically slim to none. So bridesmaids find it obnoxious when the bride tries to convince them otherwise. To keep the peace, it’s best when bridesmaids have some flexibility in style and price points of the outfit. Brides, if you can swing it, they also really appreciate when you can cover or contribute to the cost of their dress.
Is there any girl who is not picky about her shoes? Specific brands, heel heights, and styles make up the average shoe closet, so it’s no surprise that bridesmaids want some flexibility around the wedding day footwear. Assuming that your bridesmaids will all be comfortable in matching shoes might not be the way to go. Instead, give them guidelines. Ask your bridesmaids to look for shoes in a specific color spectrum, such as gold or nude, and let them decide if they want flats or stilettos, pumps or wedges.
The Beauty Demands
Bridesmaids admit that beauty demands—requesting that they wear their hair, makeup, or nails in specific ways—can often times be inconsiderate. Not everyone’s hair looks good in an elaborate updo nor does every gal want to wear false lashes. Just like you want to feel gorgeous and comfortable, so do your VIP friends and family. Letting your favorite gals show personality makes them even more beautiful. If you must provide guidelines, like shoes, give your girls a range of options. Maybe you veto the bold blue nail polish, but that’s far from requiring they to all wear the same shade of ballerina pink.
The Physical Distance
Living in a global world means our friends and family are sometimes scattered across the country or around the world. While you may want your bridesmaids to be present for all your big moments, like picking out the dress and toasting at your bridal shower, be conscious of those who may have to travel far to be there—and don’t be upset if they cannot make it. Bridesmaids living in different cities than the bride often complain about the added cost and guilt trips they get for not being a part of the bride’s every event.
For them, it feels like the bride doesn’t care that it amounts to even more money, time, and effort for them to be there.
The other huge issue is when the bride works with local vendors, making the experience harder for the faraway bridesmaid. For instance, when a bride orders bridesmaid dresses from a local shop, it’s more challenging for the bridesmaid who isn’t local. She has to send in her measurements and hope it works out. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go smoothly. “The store mixed up my bust measurement with another skinnier, bustier bridesmaid and nobody noticed the mistake because I wasn't there to try mine on,” says real bridesmaid McLean.
“A week before the wedding when I tried on my dress, it was huge in the bust and didn't fit at all in the waist. They hastily hacked it together, cutting out fabric from the bust and putting it in the waist. It was the most unflattering dress I have ever worn.”
The Bachelorette Prices
Most bachelorette parties will end up costing bridesmaids something, but that doesn’t mean that a bride can’t settle on a reasonable budget for her last fling before the ring. Unfortunately, though, bridesmaids often grumble about the cash expenditure of the bachelorette party combined with the scheduling of the night out or weekend getaway. "She changed the date of the bachelorette party three times, including two days before it was to happen,” says real bridesmaid Ivy. “There was no regard for the schedules or needs of her bridesmaids." Bridesmaids also feel like they’ll disappoint the bride if they opt out of the trip, making the cost even more of a touchy subject.
They want to be there, but can’t afford it. When they go anyway, it creates tension between her and the bride.
Not Offering Hair & Makeup
This is always a sticky subject between brides and bridesmaids. If it’s in your budget, it’s a thoughtful gesture to offer your bridesmaids hair and makeup services. After all, you do want them to feel their best standing next to you! Plus, they’ve sunk a fair amount of cash into the day already, purchasing a dress, shoes, and accessories as well as hosting your shower and bachelorette party. You can even consider it their “thank you” gift. If it really doesn’t fit in your budget, then don’t require it.
Asking your bridesmaids to fork over more cash can lead to resentful feelings. As real bridesmaid Carol says: “[The bride] didn't even offer to spring for makeup and hair. My outfit and getting ready totaled more than $1,000. That felt like a high price to pay, especially when we weren't that close.”
The Physical Work
Setting up a dessert bar for the bridal shower is one thing. Helping the bride put together a DIY wedding is another. Asking your gals to unload boxes, move tables, and arrangement centerpieces can be a lot, say bridesmaids, so consider how much you’re leaning on them for DIY projects. They are there for assistance, but they do not take the place of paid labor. “She turned her bridesmaids into slave labor,” says real bridesmaid Ann. “She discovered the dainty wooden fans she wanted placed on the chairs of the 260 guests had 'Made in China' stickers.
Guess who had to go down on her knees, going chair to chair, scraping off stickers?!"
The Plus Ones
This subject isn’t new—it comes up with guests, too: To offer or not offer a plus one. For your bridesmaids, it is a nice gesture to allow them to bring along a date, especially if they are in a serious relationship. Just be sure to give them all the same options, so there won’t be gossip and hurt feelings if someone can bring along a friend and someone else cannot. The same goes for the opposite, if you are requiring them to all bring a date. Be understanding if a bridesmaid doesn’t want a partner for the night and let her sit alone.
“Despite knowing I had recently been heartlessly dumped, she demanded all the bridesmaids, including me, bring a plus one,” real bridesmaid Tami says. “I had to take my brother. I spent the whole night crying and not tears of happiness for my friend."
Not Getting a Thank You
The wedding party does a lot for the bride: hosts pre-wedding parties, organizes bachelorette shenanigans, offers a shoulder to cry on when planning becomes overwhelming... Most bridesmaids want to stand next to their good friend or family member on her big day, but they also want to know that the time, effort, and money did not go unnoticed. Say thank you to your guys and gals who stood by you, especially during the more difficult moments. If you have the budget, a thoughtful gift is a nice gesture, but even a thoughtful card would be appreciated.
"I don't expect much if you've asked me to be in your wedding,” says real bridesmaid Sheila. “There was no gift, which was okay. But my friend didn't even say 'thank you' at the end of the reception. I felt like a minion. A phone call after she got back from the honeymoon would have been nice. Didn't get that either."