Brides and Their Maids: How to Navigate This Tricky Relationship

There are approximately two million weddings in the United States each year.  According to a survey conducted by and, a typical wedding party boasts four bridesmaids.  That’s eight million lovely ladies per year who suit up in matching dresses, throw pricey bridal showers, and plan bachelorette extravaganzas.  It takes a lot of work (and costs a decent chunk of money) to stand by your girl as she says her “I do.”  Sometimes brides forget this fact, especially when they become overwhelmed with the immense task of planning a wedding.  Sometimes bridesmaids forget that the reason they are a maid in the first place is because they want to love and support their dear friend on the most important day of her life.  In other words, when it comes to brides and bridesmaids, the situation can be tricky to say the least.  How can you make the experience a fun one instead of a relationship-ruining one?  Here are some tips for both sides from someone who has been both a bride and a maid.

As a bride:
©       The number one concern of most bridesmaids is the budget.  If you want to have a smooth ride with your maids, you have to keep in mind how much they are being asked to spend to be a part of your wedding.  Choose an affordable dress.  Don’t ask them to pay for things like hotel rooms or make-up appointments.  Let them wear their own jewelry and pick out their own shoes.  If you have maids who live out of town, don’t expect them to attend both the bridal shower and the bachelorette party.  Be understanding and supportive when it comes to budget constraints.
©       Be patient.  We know this is your day and we want to be there to support you.  But please realize that outside of your wedding we have our own busy lives to contend with.  We may not be able to return your phone calls/texts/emails/Facebook messages right away.  It doesn’t mean we don’t care, it just means we haven’t had time to get to it yet.
©       It is one hundred percent okay to expect your bridesmaids (especially your MOH) to help out with projects for the big day.  Your maids should be there to help you put together favors and hot glue ribbon onto your centerpiece vases.  That is part of the responsibility of being a bridesmaid.  What it is not okay is to demand we be there to help you.  It is also not okay to expect us to spend more time DIYing than we do at our full time jobs.  Be polite, be realistic, and be able to provide your maids with wine during arts and crafts time.
©       Be honest.  If one of your bridesmaids says or does something to hurt your feelings, calmly let her know that.  Don’t let your anger and/or resentment fester or it is only going to get worse.  Try to talk things out like adults so you don’t risk permanent friendship damage.
©       Time for some tough love! Please, pretty pretty please, try to be rational.  As a bride, things upset us that wouldn’t bother us at all in the “real” world.  If one of your bridesmaids gets pregnant, be happy for her—don’t worry about whether or not she will fit into her dress or how your pictures are going to look.  If one of your maids calls to say she lost her job, the first words out of your mouth should not be “You can still come to Vegas for the bachelorette right?”  Remember that while your wedding might be the center of your world, it is not the center of everyone else’s.

As a bridesmaid:
©       Let your bride know if you are on a tight budget (if she isn’t already aware).  You don’t want to get into a sticky situation down the road when she asks you to buy a $300 dress and it is totally not doable for you.  Contrary to popular belief, it is okay to say no when asked to be a bridesmaid.  If you can’t handle the expenses, let the bride know that before you say yes so you can both be on the same page going in.  If it doesn’t work out and you aren’t able to be in the wedding party, take the bride out for a coffee date or mani/pedi day so you can catch up on wedding details and help your buddy relax before the big day.
©       Understand that for your bride, this is the most important day of her life and she is going to talk about it.  A lot.  Try to listen attentively, even if she is telling you about her flower arrangements for the fiftieth time.
©       Be willing to step up and help out.  Part of your role as a bridesmaid is to assist the bride in her planning.  If she asks you to help assemble invitations, you kinda have to suck it up and do it.  But don’t go into it with a bad attitude.  Bring some wine and some Sex and the City DVD’s—you might find you actually have fun.
©       Put on a happy face.  Chances are, at some point in the bridesmaid line of duty, you are going to have to do something you don’t particularly want to do.  Whether that is buy an unflattering dress, dance with an annoying groomsman, or chat with old Aunt Ethel for an hour at the bridal shower—things are going to come up that are not exactly your cup of tea.  Keep in mind that you are doing this for the bride.  And if that doesn’t work, keep in mind that someday she will (or already has) done the same for you.
©       Be calm and patient, but don’t be afraid to be honest.  Sometimes a bride just needs to hear “You’re getting a little bridezilla.  Stop.”  Usually a gentle reality check will do the trick. 

The most famous of all troubled bridesmaids.  Photo courtesy of Universal.

The keys to a successful bride/maid relationship: honesty and patience.  Kind of like the keys to a successful friendship.  And that’s why we have bridesmaids in the first place, because who would want to have such a special day without the support of our very best friends?