With a bride-to-be’s busy schedule, being a supportive bridesmaid to your BFF is crucial to the big day. Has one of your engaged friends suddenly turned into bridezilla? Worried your friendship will suffer from all the extra stress? Anxious about allotting extra dough? Don’t stress– we’ve got tips from Andrea Bonior, Special Advisor to top wedding planning firms like Sarah Haywood, on hand to show you how you–and the bride–can survive the wedding planning process with your friendship intact. “For the bride, a wedding is one of the major life changes that affects them in a big way emotionally,” says Bonior. “The bride goes through a whirlwind of emotions, from excitement and happiness to stress. And that sort of storm can be very easily be taken out negatively on the person’s friend or bridesmaid. When you’re a bridesmaid you can’t turn it off. You can’t just decide to get some space from the bride, because you have to respect the bride. You have to be there. You have to kind of do what she says, whereas normally, if someone was going through a crazy time, you can get a little space. As a bridesmaid it’s very hard to get space.” Bonior’s suggestions will help you avoid letting wedding planning stress come at the expense of your friendship–and her advice will even help you strengthen your bond with the bride. Cheers to a silver lining!
Patience Is A Virtue
Perhaps the bride isn’t asking you how you’re doing or she keeps forgetting about that hot date you had to remind her about three times. It’s natural for the bride to get consumed in everything wedding, so Bonior advises to stay compassionate. “Try to let some things roll off your back“, says Bonior. “Be patient by reminding yourself that this is just a phase and that you’d want her to do the same for you.”
Keep It Real
With patience being tested, Bonior says she sees a bridesmaid’s endurance being stretched to the limit and then blowing up in an unconstructive way far too often. From taking on too much responsibility to overpaying on bridal shower favours, resentment can be difficult to overcome. “Try to be honest with the bride”, insists Bonior. “You don’t want things to simmer and blow up at the bachelorette party or on the actual wedding day.” Don’t just be honest with the bride, be honest with yourself, Bonior emphasizes. “You owe it to your friend not to let it get out of hand.” So how do you bring up a tough topic with a bride-to-be? In a quiet setting without ambushing the bride. Even if you don’t live in the same city, schedule a phone call, Skype session or write a note. “Emphasize how much she means to you, but that you’re feeling a little stressed about things,” says Bonior. “You’ve got to clear the air earlier in the process to avoid a hurricane of bad feelings later.”
Brides get this feeling that they’re somehow not doing their own relationship justice if they don’t have everything look a certain way and be perfect. In the midst of strenuous planning, your friend may get away from the true meaning of what she’s planning for–celebrating her marriage.
Being a bridesmaid brings big responsibility in terms of scheduling. If you’re chosen to be in your friend’s bridal party, take on the accountability of your position in a productive way (read: don’t be lazy!) “I see the most stressful bridesmaid situations come up when someone is just procrastinating,” says Bonior. “Even if you’re not generally an organised person, you owe it to your friend to at least try and stay on top of things. Try your best and don’t let things drag on.” Does your penciled in planner get you down? Spice up your to-do list with coloured markers that separate the must-get-dones from the this-will-be-funs! Too many dress fittings and cake tastings in a row? Make time-even a half hour-to grab a cup of coffee with a fellow bridesmaid or a friend outside the bridal party to bring you back to reality.
Don’t Regress to High School
Bonior’s number one ‘no-no’ for bridesmaids? Don’t make teams! If there’s something bothering the group of bridesmaids or if someone is being snarky toward somebody, don’t talk behind people’s back. “This should be as democratic of a process as possible,” says Bonior. “Don’t create any vendettas. It’s very tempting because it’s an understandable stress relief, but I think it just sets you up for a disaster. It’s going to come back and bite you!”
Eyes on the Prize
With the wedding industry fueling pressure on brides these days, there’s no wonder that the focus on happier times can sometimes fall by the wayside. “Brides get this feeling that they’re somehow not doing their own relationship justice if they don’t have everything look a certain way and be perfect,” says Bonior. “Focusing on the big picture is key“, says Bonior. “In the midst of strenuous planning, your friend may get away from the true meaning of what she’s planning for–celebrating her marriage. As a bridesmaid, you should try and get her to come back to reality,” says Bonior. “When she becomes really stressed about wedding planning, remind your friend that she is marrying the man of her dreams and to take a step back. Try to get her to come back to that. Sometimes that’s exactly what the bride needs.”
Aside from helping your friend stay focused on the deeper meaning of her wedding, you’ll be solidifying your bond with her in the process. “When you can be supportive of the bride, you can grow a lot closer, because you’re there for her at a very important part of her life,” says Bonior. “When you think back, you’re truly in her inner circle. Not to mention, there’s the emotional intimacy to being there for her when she’s stressed. If she feels like she could come to you, that’s a very strengthening experience. In a good relationship, the brides come out of [the wedding planning process] with a real amazing feeling, like, ‘I’ve gotten these incredible women in my life–how lucky am I?’”