My daughter is going to be a bridesmaid next year – she will be 2 1/2 ! Whilst on one hand I am dying with anticipation for how unbearably cute she is going to look in her little outfit trotting behind the bride, on the other I am full of fear and trepidation as to how she might behave.
I have been a bridesmaid thirteen (yup, thirteen!) times, ten as a child and three as an adult – so here are my top three thoughts and tips for a trouble free day
1.Think before you ask !!!
Firstly pick how many bridesmaids etc you want and who you might like to do it – expect some pressure from family to choose various cousins etc but politely and firmly stick to your guns, they are YOUR attendants (the clue is in the name).
Little ones – Yup, your best friends bump is so exciting but will they (and I mean mum and kid) really be able to handle a full day at your wedding before they are a year old. Having a small child front and center on the day will really change the experience for both parents , they will be “on duty” and wont be able to let their hair down unless the little ones can be spirited away by a grandparent or child minder after the reception – its great honour, but maybe one they would rather not have. Ditto siblings, think before you ask one and not the other, will it create horrible jealousy especially between sisters?
Grown ups – being a bridesmaid is sometimes a tricky one when you are a bit older, particularly if you are single and not feeling at your best, so again, think before you ask your friend who has just split up with her boyfriend of 8 years. She is obviously delighted for you,but maybe not quite ready to face the task yet and she may not feel that she can honestly tell you that. Equally time is a great healer, she may feel rubbish now but will be back on top form by your wedding in 18 months time, so give her time to think about it and decide
Teenagers – difficult bunch this lot! Many might feel they are too old and sophisticated to do it and either flatly refuse or and throw a monster strop as a result. I know one who initially resisted and then came back to the bride said “I’ll do it, but it will cost you $100”! Teenagers are often horribly shy, and the thought of being in front of a crowd of people and having tons of photos taken can horrify them, especially if they are at that slightly awkward stage looks wise. Its all about the delivery with this one, ask their opinion and be prepared to be turned down – sell it to them as being with the adult part of the bridal party and that its a big responsibility etc. If you really want them to do it, bribery has also been known to work!
2. Dress for success !
Again this is one worth some thought – I have always been lucky, but have lost count of the amount of friends who have had a surreptitious moan about their bridesmaids dresses, including one who was told by the bride’s mother at a fitting “oh no, you look far too attractive in that one, lets try something else” . Nobody wants to be outshone by their bridesmaids, but equally don’t let your best friends look horrid on the day, they will be miserable and its not fair.
With kids – always remember, they grow – like mushrooms in my daughter’s case! It’s important to leave buying outfits for little ones to as near to the wedding as possible. We would suggest no more than three months before the wedding and make sure the children try them on before the big day in case alterations are needed. The most important thing about your young attendants’ outfits is that they are comfortable in them. If the children are wearing something scratchy and uncomfortable all day they’ll be miserable! Make sure you buy something lined and the best quality you can afford.
Paying for dresses / shoes/ jewellery/ hair and makeup is always a tricky one as well – I know girls who have been landed with a bill for hundreds of pounds for an outfit they know they will never wear again. I don’t have an opinion on whether you ask them to pay or pay yourself, but make a budget including everything, get agreement on who is paying and then stick to it
3. Here comes the Bride
So, you’ve chosen your bridesmaids and pages, the outfits have been chosen and everyone is as happy as can be, you’ve had the Hen Night to end all nights out and its time to get hitched. What to expect
If you have little ones in your bridal party, expect anything ! In my 10 outings as a junior we had: one little girl be sick in the vestry, one wet her pants in the aisle on the way in, one boy refused to enter the church, one very little one escaped her minder and showed her frilly pants to the vicar, one went on strike half way through and refused to move (embarrassed to admit that was me!) and one said loudly “I hate my dress” during a particularly solemn moment of the prayers! If that happens, don’t be upset that things haven’t gone 100% ,just relax, laugh it off and carry on.
You should be able to rely on the grown ups a bit more so: give your girls jobs to do – they can be your reminder service, make up ladies, family calmers and personal assistants: in one case we had to hold the brides dress whilst she went to the loo (you try using a Portaloo with 10 layers of tulle!), we were still laughing hours later ! Rely on them and let them help you.
Its definitely worth a practice run as well for adult and youngsters – so everyone knows the layout of the venue, where to go and where to stand etc. Its especially helpful to have had a pre-wedding visit if the room is quite large and “strange” looking to small children.
Lastly – its not obligatory but traditional to give a small gift to the bridemaids to show your appreciation for all they have done in the run up and on the big day and if you are having speeches, to compliment and toast them. They have frequently listened to you worry for 11 months, helped you choose a dress, a venue, cake, flowers, organised your hen and been your wing women on the day.
You don’t need to go mad but a token gesture to say that you are grateful goes along way and I always remember being thrilled as a child when my name was called out and I got to go up and receive my little gift from the best man whilst everyone clapped.
So – there we are – a few (hopefully helpful) thoughts from a veteran bridesmaid who has, at last, hung up her posy