When asked to stand as part of our friend’s big day so many of us have had the same first reaction – we run to our computer and search for tips on how to be the ‘best bridesmaid,’ reading up on hints, expectations and how we are supposed to react.
The internet is full of different sites each claiming to have all the answers. I once believed that they were on to something until I got married myself. The experience of being the bride opened my eyes to how many of these ‘tips’ and ‘secrets’ are really nothing more than a waste of our time. I mean sure, being in a wedding can get expensive, let’s not beat around the bush on that – but what the bride needs isn’t just someone who will shell out money at every turn and call her every 10 seconds asking what you need to do next.
Last weekend I stood in my bestie’s wedding, and I couldn’t have been happier for the bride and groom, and for the opportunity to stand by her side and celebrate their union. She was radiant, as was her adorable daughter who played an important part in the big day.
I have always taken pride in writing on here from experience, sharing the things that I have loved with the rest of you. Following the wedding, I sat down in my hotel room and started putting this post together, a chance to share what I have learned both from standing in weddings as well as being married myself.
- Remember who this is all about…
I have called this ‘tips for being the bridesmaid every bride needs’ as opposed to ‘being the best bridesmaid’ because, at the root of all this, it’s important to remember who this day is for. Sure, it’s a great honour to stand up in someone’s wedding party, but this is THEIR wedding and everything that you say and do should be to ensure that the bride and groom have the best experience possible. Don’t like the dress? Suck it up – it’s one day. Don’t like the order you have to walk in with, or who is escorting you down the aisle? It’s their choice, roll with it. Everything you do, as far as the wedding is concerned, should ultimately be to ensure that their day goes down as close to what they have dreamed of as you are able to. This is your chance to give them what they have wanted, that’s a great feeling!
- Do your best to help – But remember that they get final say
There are many different areas of wedding planning, and the long to-do list can quickly become overwhelming. Unless the bride is a complete control freak and unable to let go of their hold on any of these smaller details, they will happily accept assistance from their wedding party. This may mean going along as she searches for the perfect dress for her and her wedding party, creating/printing/assembling invitations and programs, designing the perfect bouquets or making plans for the rehearsal. If you have a strength, there is nothing wrong with stepping up and using it to help the bride. There is also nothing wrong with understanding your limitations. Maybe you are tight on cash, but that doesn’t mean you can’t show up to spend a couple hours of your day helping the bride assemble all the pieces of her invitations. Maybe you’re super busy and can’t invest as much time as you like, but you’re able to take on a role the day of to help her, such as being the contact person for vendors who may have questions, giving your cell phone number instead of the brides so that she doesn’t have to worry about fielding calls on her big day. Be prepared, however, to put your ego aside. If you are helping with the flowers and the bride says she’d prefer something different than your personal style, put your ego aside and remember who is getting married.
- Stand up and advocate for the bride when needed
There may come a time that something is going down leading up to the wedding or on the big day. Maybe there is drama among the family, or a vendor has complaints that weren’t previously spoken and they have now decided to voice their opinions. The last thing that the bride and groom need at this time is to have added stress from outside parties like this. This is your chance to step up and take care of things. Solve the problem with the vendor, provide a solution for family drama, put your foot down where it’s needed and lay ground rules to ensure that everything is going to go perfectly. Bonus points if you can handle a problem that leaves everyone happy and healthy without the bride and groom ever needing to find out.
- Pamper her a little… or a lot
Now, this point has many different interpretations, and it’s important to remember who you are talking about when you decide how to run with it. This is the bride’s big day, a day that, once gone, we hope that she will not be experiencing again anytime soon. You want her to walk away from it feeling loved and feeling special. As her bridal party, it’s your job to make that happen. The how comes back to the bride herself. Is she an overly social person who takes her joy on being out and about in the world? Maybe a shopping excursion the day before the wedding will give her the boost that she needs. Is she a quieter individual that needs some ‘me’ time from time to time? Arrange for her to have some extra time alone in her bridal suite the night before the wedding with a bubble bath and a glass of wine. Take steps to make sure that this time isn’t going to be interrupted by anyone – including you! Does she have a ‘girly’ streak to her and loves the traditional pampering of a spa day or a mani/pedi? Sounds like a girls’ spa day is in order. Remember, the goal is to make her feel special so make sure she’s having a good time, dote on her, and if you can foot the bill for some part of it, treat her a little. This could be as simple as picking up her favourite snack to enjoy while her toes are being painted, or paying a little extra to the spa so she gets the upgraded experience. The level of pampering or the type of pampering that will ring true for her is something that is very individual. She chose you because you’re important to her, you know her so trust your gut.
Remember that there is nothing more rewarding than watching your friend stand up at the altar with a huge smile on her face – knowing that she feels beautiful, loved and special as she creates memories that will stay with her for years to come!
Have you ever stood in a wedding? Do you have tips that you learned from experience? What did you do for your friend to make their day that much more special?