B is for (being a good) Bridesmaid

The AOW A-Z of Getting Married is a resource for brides (and grooms) to be.  It’s a welcome piece of sanity in an industry-saturated world where people are bombarded with what weddings they should have, what they should act like, and how a bride should feel.  Created by the team behind Any Other Woman, this A-Z is the first collaboration of its kind, bringing together posts from readers across the AOW community filled with advice, wisdom and experience from sane, smart, real women, many of whom have been there.  From wedding planning to family trials to breaking taboos, no topic is out of bounds.  We are honoured and excited to run each and every post, and we learn from each and every one of our readers.


To help the A-Z become an even better resource, please leave your tips, advice and comments below. 


B is for (being a good) Bridesmaid by Zan 

I’ve been a bridesmaid twice. Chief bridesmaid to be exact – I think it’s my mad organisational skills that make me a prime candidate!  I’ve been lucky, both times they’ve been good experiences and it’s been an honour to be a bridesmaid for the two brides in question.  I know this isn’t the case for everyone and I’ve had enough conversations with friends who haven’t been quite so lucky to know that there are some brides-to-be out there who could do with the odd pointer or two.  That certain things are not really acceptable and yes, it is possible to make unreasonable demands of your bridesmaids. There are so many guides and lists out in t’internet world on how to be a great bridesmaid…but what about how to treat your bridesmaids?  These are my top four tips:

Pick those you want not who you feel obliged to

I know this is harder said that done. That you may have sisters/cousins who you have to have despite not having such a great relationship with them for the sake of family relations.  What if you have a parade of exceptionally cute nieces who are all vying for the opportunity to wear a pretty dress for a day?  Maybe you once promised your best school friend that you’d be each other’s bridesmaids when you were 7 and now you really don’t like her much.  But you know what? Your bridesmaids will be your biggest support and strength through the stresses of wedding planning (along with your fiancé hopefully!).  It’s most definitely worth having people you can rely on. Your best girl may not be particularly girly, may know nothing about flowers or stationary, may balk slightly at having to wear a dress full stop. But if she’s the one who you’d call at 3 in the morning if you had an emergency…then she’s the right one to have.  And even if you’re pressured into having random relatives/little ones, then make sure you have at least one bridesmaid who is stellar gold. Someone who can whip others into shape if they’re being difficult and will be excited both for you and with you. She will get you through, because she loves you and wants you to have not just a fantastic wedding, but a fantastic time on the way.

Be kind

Having the bridemaids you want will in a sense make it easy to be kind to them. But I think this is an important one to keep in mind.  Even if you have a real hankering for peach as a colour scheme and a very specific style of bridesmaid dress in mind, think of your bridesmaids. Not just ‘will they like it?’, but ‘will they feel comfortable in it?’ and ‘will they be able to do all the normal wedding day running around type-things in it’?  It can be very easy to get carried away with the vision of what your wedding day will be like. But a wedding day is only day and I’m sure you still want your bridesmaids to speak to you afterwards!  To a certain extent they will go along with what you say on the basis that it’s ‘your day’. Don’t take advantage of that as if they’re massively uncomfortable it will show. Maybe not to you on the day but think of photos. It’s really really hard to smile and look happy when you know the colour of your dress makes you look ill and you’re too busy keeping your arms clamped by your side to stop your boobs falling out of the dress to think of anything else.

Know where the line is

It’s easy to think your bridesmaids will do anything they can to help you right? They’ll be there at all times of the day and night for every minor crisis and question and will be always constantly excited for you and it’ll be brilliant?  See there is that and then there’s life. And life does not play ball, least of all when you want it too. Bridesmaids are people too. They will have their own busy lives, concerns, problems, stresses and joys. This does not get put on hold because you’re getting married.  There is a difference between not be involved because they can’t be bothered and not being involved because they’re dealing with something in their own lives. One of the best things you can do for yourself is learn to recognise the difference between the two and offer them some support. Remember, your wedding is very rarely the most important thing in her life.  This applies to other things too – if one of your bridesmaids is a particularly busy mum of two then account for that. It’s not fair to make unreasonable demands on her time – no, not even for your ‘very important wedding discussion that you must have right now’.  Money is often a contentious issue, not just who pays for what, but the cost of hen do’s for example.  If you want to go all out and splurge on your hen do then that is your prerogative. But be mindful, would you be just as happy if your bridesmaids couldn’t afford to do the same?

Say thank you

It’s such a simple one, but can often be forgotten. And I don’t just mean at the end of it all on the wedding day, but along the way. Often your bridesmaids will give a lot of their time to help you with things, the volume of phone calls may well increase exponentially between you both and they may have spent hours crafting a very complicated spreadsheet for your fabulous hen do to keep track of everything  (….yeap, that was me!).  Say thank you. That’s all you need to do, let them know how much they’ve helped you out, how much you appreciate them and that you would totally do the same for them when the time comes (if it hasn’t already).

Categories: A-Z of Getting Married, Wedding Planning
14 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted August 30, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Zan? I think this should be required reading for every bride, ever. And they should be made to SIGN, and the bottom, when they’ve read it, and only then should they be allowed to pick bridesmaids. It’s brilliant.

  2. Posted August 30, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Zan I love this! You’re going to be such an ace bride. I was a pretty low maintenance bride with my bridesmaids but the thing I wish is that I’d bought them a personalised gift after the wedding to say thanks. Instead we paid for things to make their (and the best men’s) trip to our wedding less expensive – but had I had more time I would have thanked them better.

  3. Posted August 30, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Great post, Zan, thank you!

    I’m from the school of thought that if you’re dictating an element of your bridemaids’ look or time, it comes out of your own pocket, but even then you have a duty to be nice. My girls were fantastic, we really couldn’t have done it without them. It sounds like you’re cut from the same cloth as them and so I know your bride friends were lucky to have you.

    (I did make my sister try on a tangerine monstrosity just for a giggle though. Think ‘Strictly Come Bridesmaid’. Props to her, she did it with a smile but the smile of relief when she realised I was joking was even better!)

    • Mahj
      Posted August 30, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      Oh my god Sarah, do you know what you’ve done?! You’ve planted the tangerine seed in Zainab and now that’s what she’ll make me try on! If this happens, I will tweet proof!


      • Zan
        Posted August 30, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

        Am googling “tangerine bridesmaid dresses” as we speak! ;)

        • Posted August 30, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

          Sorry, Mahj, take it for the AOW Team! He he!

      • Posted August 30, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

        Mahj, bet you’d look foxy in tangerine….

      • Posted August 30, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

        Annoyingly, I think you’d probably carry it off Mahj!

      • Katielase
        Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

        Hang on, tweet proof?! Can you not let us all know in advance when you’re trying on this Tangerine Dress of Joy so we can come see?!

        K x

  4. Carly
    Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    I made Camilla try on a lime green ruffle skirted number. just for a laugh. The owner of the shop was not impressed at our bent-double cackling!


  5. Katielase
    Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    This is so ace. I’ve been SO incredibly lucky both as a bride and a bridesmaid, but it turns out that’s because I had done everything you recommend!

    K xx

  6. Posted August 30, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Great advice and great post, your bridesmaids will be lucky to have you Zan!


  7. Katy
    Posted August 31, 2012 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    The thank you thing is such a good point! I’m really trying to think of something beyond the piece of jewellery to wear on the day that seems to be the standard gift.. Thanks for reminding me to get back on that! xx
    P.S. tangerine is, like, totally fashionable now right? Go for it.

  8. Lara Blue
    Posted September 4, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Excellent advice for any bride. I would also add that remember that even if you haven’t chosen your best friends for some reason (for example, I have 2 sisters and my fiance has 2 sisters whom I adore and that’s already 4 bridesmaids), doesn’t mean that they aren’t going to care or want to be involved (even as a listening ear on the other end of the phone). Obviously it depends on the situation- if you have chosen other friends over a friend and they are upset over it, it might not be sensitive to ask them to do something or complain but you’ll know whether or not this is the case. I sat down with my friends and told them that I would love to have them but explained why I couldn’t. They have to keep reminding me when I’m getting stressed about doing certain things that they want to help and are happy to do so and I need to remember to let them :)

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

More here.

image by Lucy Stendall Photography

Find me a random post