February 21, 2018
We’ve all read those absolutely cringe-worthy emails sent by a bride to her bridal party making insane demands for her wedding. Everything from wanting extravagant parties, to making her party wear expensive designer labels, to getting angry when someone can’t be there 24/7 for her every waking need…essentially, despicable.
Your bridal party is not a group of people you can demand anything of. In fact, if you expect them to do that, then you really need to reconsider a lot. Yes, your bridal party is there to help you, of course, but to expect (or demand) them to make their world revolve around your wedding is simply out of the question. Period.
That being said, as the bride-or-groom-to-be, you do have a responsibility to those you choose to be part of your bridal party. So, what exactly is your responsibility and where is the line between needing help, wanting help and demanding help? To answer that, we need to go back a bit and actually look at the history of bridal parties.
What exactly is a bridal party?
Historically, the tradition of bridal parties started with the groom. Centuries ago, the responsibilities of the groomsmen (known then as the Groom’s Knights) were to ensure that the bride and her dowry arrived safely to the groom. As time went on, the bride enlisted a Maid of Honor, or Senior Maid, to help her in the days leading up to her wedding. Kind of like a personal assistant, the Senior Maid would help with the decorating and make sure all the bride’s needs were met.
As the tradition evolved, the bride eventually added more “maids” and both the groomsmen and bridesmaids dressed similarly to the bride and groom to both confuse evil spirits and prevent harm to either the bride or groom form a jealous past lover.
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Do you need a bridal party?
Well, the quick and easy answer is you don’t. You just need two witnesses to sign your marriage license. So, if you’re worried about who to ask or how many people to ask, you can make it really easy on yourself by just choosing two. You can choose one and your partner can choose the other.
For most couples, choosing a few people for each side is the norm. They mostly consist of closest friends or family members to help with different aspects of the wedding, be of support to both the bride and groom and yes, sign the marriage license. The key word here is support and it needs to be a very symbiotic relationship. Here are some examples of that give-and-take relationship and what your bridal party really expects of you.
They EXPECT you to reach out to them for opinions and feedback
Asking your bridal party for their input or help is encouraged. You asked them to be a very special part of your big day, so they want to feel important and feel like they contributed to your happiness.
You CAN’T expect them to…
Let them make decisions for you. You may ask your bridal party to go dress shopping with you or go to your hair and makeup trial and they are going to give their opinions, but, you need to remember they are just that. Opinions. You need to make the final decisions based on what feels right to you. You can’t let their opinions sway you because, at the end of the day, you are the one that needs to be able to live with your decisions.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by their opinions, you can just simply say “That’s a good idea. Let me think about that.” That does two things right away. It lets the other person know that they’ve been heard and that you appreciate their ideas. It also diffuses the situation so you don’t have to be put on the spot. As long as the other person feels heard, they most likely, won’t care if you follow through on that idea because you took the time to listen and appreciate them.
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They EXPECT you to keep drama at bay
The beauty of your bridal party is that you can ask whoever you like. From childhood friends to coworkers, to family members, your bridal party expects the group to be diverse, but with that, they expect you to be responsible enough to ask people who keep drama at bay. They are saying yes to be in your wedding to help you and see it as an honor. They don’t want to be involved in stress and neither do you.
You CAN’T expect drama is inevitable
There is such a thing as a drama-free bridal party, and one of the best ways to ensure that is by keeping your party small. Now, there are some who say that the size of your bridal party should match the size of your wedding, and I say “NO WAY”. No matter how large your wedding is, smaller is ALWAYS better for managing personalities and keeping stress at bay.
If you have a bridesmaid of groomsman that is causing a lot of drama and has got caught up in thinking that your wedding day is their wedding day, dismiss them immediately. Yes, you can “fire” a member of your bridal party. A wedding is stressful enough and you don’t need any added drama.
They EXPECT you to take their needs into consideration
You need to realize, and be ok with, the fact that not everyone in your party is on the same playing field. Take their budgets and time concerns into consideration. In fact, this is a must. Everyone in your bridal party is going to have different jobs, which means they all have different incomes. Everyone is going to have a different budget. Everyone is going to have different free times. Everyone is going to have their own life, with their own responsibilities.
You CAN’T expect your bridal party to neglect their own needs for yours
If you want a high fashion, glamorous wedding and you want your girls to wear expensive gowns, it may not be possible for some. If that’s not ok with you, you have a few options. One is to pay for their dress yourself or offer to chip in, and the other is to offer a range of dresses in the same color, so you have a cohesive look, but one in which they can choose which fits best into their budget.
If someone decides to do their own hair and makeup because they can’t afford to go to the salon, accept it or pay for the service for them.
You also can’t be hurt if someone can’t make every wedding-related event. It doesn’t mean that they don’t care about you, but maybe they just couldn’t rearrange a previous commitment or fly out or travel to be with you.
They EXPECT you to be transparent
Photo Credit: Kristina Walter
Transparency is absolutely essential and assuming your party knows what you want is a costly mistake. Explain your vision, and let them know your thoughts on aspects of your day. Keeping everyone on the same page reduces stress and anxiety on both ends.
You CAN’T assume they know what you want
Want a surprise shower or no shower at all? Tell them. Don’t expect them to know. Don’t want a raging stripper party for a bachelor or bachelorette party? Tell them, otherwise you are going to be devastated and embarrassed. If there’s anything you do or don’t want for your wedding, tell them. Even if you are super close siblings, assuming they can read your mind is a bad idea. Always be transparent, even if they know, so you all are on the same page and so that all expectations are met.
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They EXPECT you to accept them for who they are
I’m saving the best for last. This almost sounds like a no-brainer. “D’uh! Of course”, you might be thinking, but you’d be surprised, especially given the opening to this post, how many times members of a bridal party have been asked to change something about them for the wedding.
You CAN’T ask someone to change any part of them for your wedding
Under NO CIRCUMSTANCE can you ask your bridal party to change who they are or make them feel uncomfortable. You can’t invite someone to be in your bridal party and then ask them to lose weight, get a tan, cut or dye their hair, cover up tattoos, or change themselves in any way.
If your focus is only on how you want people to look in your photos, then you really need to take a step back and consider why you are getting married in the first place. Is it to have nice pictures or is it to formally declare your love to someone you are going to grow old with and create a new glorious life with?
Is there anything you would add? We’d love to hear from you!
Featured Photo Credit: Smile Peace Love Photography