He asked. She said yes. And then? She asked you. Minutes after he was no longer just her boyfriend, you were no longer just her friend. You were someone she’d want up there helping her seal the deal. It’s an honor! It’s also not about you. And sometimes that’s the hardest part.
Over the past year I’ve gotten married and stood up in four other weddings. Having done the preparations numerous times, I thought I’d share some tips I’ve learned for bridesmaid-ing well. Brides aren’t the only ones who can earn the “zilla” added to their name. We’ve all gotta do our part not to lose our cool on the big day. Here are eight things that have helped me!
1. Celebrate; don’t control.
We can all agree that weddings are some of the BEST events of the year. And yet, there is a tendency in all of us to try to run the show.
“No, Carrie! It’d be so much better if you play the music like this.” “Gosh it’s cold. Why don’t we just forget about pictures altogether?!”
I’ve said stuff like this, and honestly it’s embarrassing! I think in all of us there is some deep-rooted desire to be in control. We can become jealous and crave attention, causing us to be controlling. But it’s not our day, and we can most enjoy it when we remember that.
2. Go last.
Photo ops with the bride and preparing for the send off can be some of the most tense moments for bridesmaids. I think they present another tendency for us to try and creep into the spotlight.
That moment where the girls all circle around the bride for a photo – do you run to her side? Sure to get the supposed, “She’s truly a better friend of mine than yours” position in the shot? I HAVE DONE THIS. It is dumb! Be willing to go last – to stand back – to let the order of things fall as they may. You’ll save yourself some angst at the prideful sting of those motives, and love the others well by choosing to not care about the pecking order – just feeling grateful that you’re a part of it at all.
3. But also, go first.
“OH NO. I forgot to write out a check for the DJ, but my checkbook is at home. Who can run and do that for me?!”
Great bridesmaids are the first to volunteer for the stuff no one wants to do. Because truly, more than standing next to the Bride during the less than 30 minute message before the “I Do”, it’s about the behind the scenes. It’s about serving selflessly. And when this is kept in mind, it truly brings about joy.
4. Build up! Avoid gossip.
“Why isn’t that other bridesmaid here as early as me? Does she even CARE?!”
“This wedding would be a lot more fun if we were allowed to bring plus ones…”
This is probably one of the hardest pieces of advice. Sometimes things like these have slipped out of my mouth before I could even think about who’d hear them, or why I’d even need to say them at all. Avoid saying anything negative. What has helped me is speaking slower (my weakness) – really considering my words before they come out. It only takes one inappropriate comment to shift the mood of the room. Make it a priority to avoid gossip and you’ll leave the wedding day without regrets.
5. Leave your expectations at home.
Here’s the truth: you may not look as good as you’d hoped in that David’s Bridal dress. Your hair might not match the photo you provide the stylist. You may get gassy from the pre-ceremony lunch. Things may run behind, and you’ll miss the one-hour of free drinks. There may not BE free drinks. That stuff? It’s not ideal, but real. It’s better to go in not holding tightly to an unspoken expectation. I’ve been the complainer, and I’ve been annoyed when someone else was. You’ll thank yourself later if you’re intentional to leave your expectations at home.
6. Come in RESTED.
THIS IS GOING TO BE THE LONGEST WEEKEND EVER. Rehearsal at 4 p.m. Hair the next morning at 8 a.m. You get drinks and stay up reminiscing on the Bride’s pre-marriage memories. You are going to need as much pre-planned rest as possible. I went to a wedding recently, with minimal sleep the night before. I said a bunch of things I regretted at the reception. Why? I was stinkin’ tired, cranky and mad at myself for not turning off the TV earlier the night before.
Rest up. Your friends/date will thank you later. Promise!
7. Feel free to say no.
It’s such a gift to bridesmaid, but it’s not for everyone, all the time. I’ve watched wise women say “no” for countless reasons like time, parenting or finances. This “yes” is an investment in many ways. Sometimes loving the Bride well is letting her pick someone else for the job. You’ll maintain a great relationship if you handle that conversation with care, and if you have a mature Bride-friend. Saying no doesn’t mean you’re not close. It means you’re healthy enough to know your limits! If you’re reading this and you’ve said “no” before: GO YOU.
8. Let her go.
Lastly, your Bride-friend is about to be more “the groom’s” than she is yours. Her time will lessen. Her decisions will consider him more than you in every way. And that is a good, good thing! We often say, “Take your time reaching out after your honeymoon. You’ll be so busy!” But then we get upset when we’re not invited over for dinner within the first month.
Let her go in every way, and believe your friendship is about to enter a beautifully different season. She’ll thank you for the space, and enjoy having chosen YOU to play such an important role on the biggest day of her life.
Author: Courtney McLean
Author Bio: Courtney McLean is a 20-something post-grad working corporate marketing by day + freelance writing by night in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Her writing has been featured on Dear Mushka + The Influence Network. Courtney is passionate about leaving women empowered + loved through words on the internet! Learn more about her on Instagram, @courtymclean.
Link to social media or website: Instagram @courtymclean