It’s not always fun and games and flower crowns. The wedding process can (obviously) elicit some serious stress, even among the best friends you want standing up with you on your big day. Just think back to all the comically tense scenes in Bridesmaids. If you find yourself dealing with similar bridesmaid drama in the events leading up to your wedding, keep scrolling. Here, experts weigh in on how best to handle five of the most common dilemmas.
The selection process
The drama can start from the outset, especially if you’re choosing bridesmaids from a larger group of friends. One easy way to nix that in the bud is to simply have one attendant, says etiquette expert and owner of Gourmet Invitations, Tifany Wunschl. When it’s a small wedding party, no one can get mad about not being included. But if that’s just not doable, keep in mind that whom you pick to have in your bridal party isn’t a friend competition, nor something to be decided based on obligation. “If your bridal party vision doesn’t include family members or the friend that had you as a bridesmaid at her wedding, that’s okay!” assures Kylie Carlson, Director of the International Academy of Weddings and Events. “At the end of the day, the choice is entirely up to you.” Easier said than done, we know, but just keep repeating that mantra to yourself.
The bridesmaids dress
Your safest bet is to choose a color palette, rather than one uniform style or color, notes Carlson. “It will save you much more stress in the long run, since your bridal party will be much more likely to find something they feel is flattering for them.” (Though, let’s be real, no one is ever going to wear it again, so don’t even bother with that charade.) If you still sense that someone is unhappy, don’t ignore it; it’s worth asking what she is so unhappy about, whether it’s the style or the cost, adds Carlson. To that point, if you do have your heart set on choosing the dresses, it’s a good move to choose options among two or three different price points so that your bridesmaids have some financial flexibility, advises celebrity wedding planner and lifestyle expert Samantha Goldberg.
Speaking of money, the costs associated with wedding festivities can add up fast, especially when bachelorette parties are more and more often a weekend away and not just a night out. Added spending equals stress equals drama. One easy way to try and get everyone on the same page is to have bridesmaids fill out an anonymous Survey Monkey questionnaire, suggests RetailMeNot Shopping and Trends expert Sara Skirboll. “Let each bridesmaid fill in how much they’re willing to spend on travel for the bachelorette party, matching shirts and other expenses so that everyone feels comfortable and ready to celebrate.” Once that’s all decided, be upfront with the costs and make it clear that you totally understand if someone can’t make it, adds Carlson. Now is also a good time to extend an invite to a larger group of friends, so if some of the bridesmaids can’t make it, you’ll still have plenty of guests, she says.
Someone dropping out
If a bridesmaid bails, the most important thing is to not take it personally, advises Goldberg. “This day is about you, your life, and the people whom you love and care for around you. If that is her decision, keep in mind that it has nothing to do with your special day, but more likely is over an issue or circumstance that she can’t control,” she says. Life issues and unexpected situations happen, so be as accommodating as you can be, advises Wunschl, and remember that having an uneven number of bridesmaids and groomsmen isn’t the end of the world.
Kicking someone out
“Emotions are never higher than they are before a wedding and sometimes that can result in drama and arguments even amongst the closest people,” says Carlson. How to move forward depends on who you had the falling out with; if it’s with a family member who will always be in your life, it’s best to make amends and move forward as planned, she says. But if it’s with a friend over an argument so major that you feel the friendship is irreparable, keep the conversation simple and straight forward, Carlson advises. She suggests something along the lines of: “You have always been one of my dearest friends. After our recent argument, I think it is best if you no longer stand up in the wedding party. I will reimburse you for the expenses of your outfit. I hope you will still attend the wedding and after we return from the honeymoon, I’d love to try and reconcile.” Short and to the point; save any longer conversations or accusations for post-wedding, if you do in fact want to reconcile with her.