Bridal Parties: Keeping the Peace
May 19, 2017
The sheer number of horror stories regarding bridal party controversies that I have been privy to in the last few months is nothing short of astounding. It has become clear that the source of most conflicts is derived from issues that far surpass the initial “who do I pick” dilemma that all brides-to-be encounter. Not to mention that there is an obvious disconnect between the parties and the brides themselves concerning whether or not there truly was an issue through the eyes of one or the other. After hearing story after story from angry-women-of-bridesmaids-past, it dawned on me that the main issue is as simple as a lack of communication between the bride and her special maidens. To all the new brides-to-be out there, please do not take lightly your decisions surrounding your bridal party as it is amazing how easy the happiest day of your life could end up stamping an expiration date on some of your longest and dearest friendships.
Here are three simple steps to help ensure that you and your team of bridesmaids arrive to the cake cutting stronger in bond than ever before.
Step One: Outlining your own expectations
Yes, step one does involve a bit of homework on your end and no, it does not involve a pros and cons list of all your friends that you in-turn use to narrow down the chosen ones. Step one speaks to taking the time to fully acknowledge all of the expectations you will have for those you pick to be in your bridal party.
When drafting your expectations, it is important to include anything you see potentially impacting the lives of your bridesmaids as well as the planning and execution of your big day. A comprehensive list of expectations should include the following:
- What events do you expect your party to attend?
- What events do you expect your party to be involved in planning?
- What aspects of the wedding will you be fronting the cost for and what do you expect the party to pay for? These items could include:
- Bridesmaid Dresses
- Hair & Make-up
- Bachelorette Party
- Wedding Shower
- Transportation to and from the venue(s) on the big day
- If your bridesmaids are from out-of-town or you choose to wed far from home, who is paying for their accommodations?
This list of expectations needs to span the entire gamut, of big and small, of anything and everything you will be asking of your party. The smallest assumption on behalf of the bride could potentially explode into a contentious issue in the future. After looking through the above list and all of the extras you have added of your own, it will become evident what the overarching theme is: who is paying for what. At the end of the day, as flattering and exciting as it is to be asked to join the team of friends and family who get to stand beside the bride on her big day, accepting the invitation to join a bridal party is always a financial commitment. Although this is expected on both sides, it is rarely, if ever, discussed to what extent that commitment will be. Once you have exhausted your list of “bridesmaids to-do’s”, it is time for step two.
Step Two: Reality Check time
So you want an engagement party, wedding shower AND bachelorette party. Of course, all planned by your superhero team of besties. Oh, also, your bachelorette party must be a two-nighter (minimum) and you’re the bride, of course you’re drinking for free. Bridesmaid dresses: you want to pick them and yes you want the party to pay. You will cover the hair but the girls will have to figure out makeup on their own. You have always loved that loft venue in the city for your reception but you promised mom and dad you would have the ceremony in your family church on the other side of town. Transportation? They can carpool. A wedding gift as well? Um, duh.
This may seem like an over-the-top, ridiculous scenario but I kid you not, this exact list of events happened to a friend of mine just this summer. Her good friend’s wedding ended up costing her over $2,000 in the matter of 6 months. And no, the bachelorette party did not involve a flight, or even an exotic destination. Yes this is a lot of money to some and not a lot to others. But I can promise you that either way, your closest friends and family would much rather be aware of these costs and time commitments upfront rather than be surprised by them multiple times leading up to the wedding and ending in shock when reading credit card statements after the big day.
Take some time to examine all that you expect your team of gal pals to do and spend and ask yourself if it is reasonable. Would you be able to afford it? Do you feel comfortable asking others to do so? How much time do they have to start saving up if need be? Are you asking too much of your party’s time?
If you find your list is overreaching and you need to tone it down, there are a few ways in which you can do so:
- Prioritize your current list. What can you live with and what can you live without. Start scratching off some expectations that do not seem as important after balancing the time and associated costs. Cultures, personal preferences and budgets of all shapes and sizes will without-a-doubt lay heavier priorities on certain aspects of a wedding. These can help you narrow down what matters most.
- Start saving. Your list of expectations also becomes a great starting point for budgeting your wedding costs. Maybe you can take some things off of the plates of your party by fronting the cost yourself. Put aside part of your budget to cover transportation costs or the dresses, hair and make-up, or maybe renting dresses is cheaper or pick a colour and let the girls by a dress they love that still suits your theme.
- Take a poll. Maybe everyone is ok with your list of expectations, but you will never know until you talk it out
Step Three: Talk it out
Once you have that vital list of the special group of friends and family you would like to have in your bridal party, it is important, whether in a group or one-on-one, to talk out all of your expectations. Lay everything out on the line.
Starting a clear line of communication between bride and bridal party not only allows for everyone to get on the same page of expectations but will also allow for the party to throw in some of their own ideas and maybe help lessen some of the initial time or financial burdens the bride had initially forecasted.
This discussion will not be all work and no play, it is also exciting as your party gets to start planning ahead for all of the exciting events and shopping trips along the way. This talk may also lead to some friends coming forward and letting the bride know that they do not think they will be able to make all of the commitments necessary to fulfill the current list of expectations. If this is the case, there opens the opportunity to discuss what options are available to make both parties happy or could be the moment necessary for a friend or family member to politely decline the offer of joining the bridal party. This definitely is not the outcome that any bride or bridesmaid would want but it is a million times better than a fallout that could ensue if a potential bridesmaid was not made aware of everything they were signing up for.
Thx for reading!