"It's your special day."
"It's the most important day of your life!"
"It's the happiest day of your life!!!"
As brides, we hear those phrases repeatedly throughout the wedding planning process. It's hard to understand when our wedding day isn't the most important day of everyone's life. Why aren't your ladies not dropping everything to be at every celebratory party or excited about buying bridesmaid's dresses? Why can't they understand that they need to be HAPPY FOR YOU BECAUSE IT IS YOUR DAY?! Why are they not planning your bachelorette extravaganza party???
It can be frustrating and it can hurt.
I happen to see a lot of weddings. and our AWGW brides have had the best of the best Bride Tribes. Here's what I've noticed over the years:
Make a list and check it twice. Remember that this day and these events that are all about you and your love and your happily ever after take time and money, something that might be in short supply for others. When you are setting a budget for your wedding, maybe set an additional budget for bridesmaids dresses, shoes, beauty, wedding accommodations and the like. Think about all of the things that your bridesmaids might be expected to pay when it comes to you and include that. Just like wedding budgets, that adds up. If you know your friend is struggling financially, defray the cost privately if you can.
Pick your ride or die team. Choose the people who are with you in sickness and in health, in richer and poorer and until death do you part. I've been in a lot of weddings and I'm still in touch with the brides for whom I was an attendant. While our friendships have changed through the years, I would drop anything to support them. You know who was not my Maid of Honor at my wedding? My childhood best friend with whom I made a pact in grade eight that we would be MoH at each others' weddings. Husband and I chose friends who knew us before we knew each other and who will be there through our years together. My Boof of Honor Katie and my Bridesgal Jess are the real deal and I love them. I also love my childhood best friend, but friendships change.
You're not playing rugby, you're getting married. This doesn't need to be about having equal bridesmaids and groomsmen. If someone drops out or you need to fire a member of the wedding party, there's no need to replace them. Don't ask your second cousin twice removed to step in. Your photos will be beautiful. You will remember that you were surrounded by people who truly, really love you and your spouse. Also, have a Bridesguy or Man of Honor on your side. Yes, he can actually stand on your side. I loved watching one of my beloved brides hand her bouquet off to her Man of Honor, who was her only brother. Ladies, he held that giant bouquet for her so proudly and would have have throat punched anyone who dared to question the bride's vision for her wedding day.
Your personal attendant is part of the wedding party. I've heard stories of other weddings where the personal attendant was chosen because there was no other place for this friend or family member in the wedding lineup. That leads to disaster on the wedding day. As a wedding officiant and coordinator, I've had to pick up and find solutions for many a lost personal attendant. I'm cool with that, but fill this role wisely and make it known that you specifically selected your personal attendant because she is awesome, organized, flexible, funny, resourceful and fun. Give her a binder of expectations, a timeline, a list of vendors with contact information. Ask her input on the details before the day. Let them pick a dress in one of the wedding colors, invite them to the pre-parties and treat them as one of your team. Add their name and title to the program. My favorite title for a personal attendant was the bride's "Wingwoman". Let her pick her title, walk with the ushers during the Grand March and sit at the head table if you have the space.
Have an attitude of gratitude. I've been fortunate to work with the kindest, most gracious brides. They show love and are loved and they are grateful. Beyond the monogrammed champagne glasses and matching beach totes and pearl bracelets that we buy our friends in appreciation for their participation in our weddings, a simple phone call to thank them for being part of it all goes a long way, too.
Talk it out. If the friends or family you've chosen to be in your wedding lineup are just not working out and you can't handle the added stress, talk it out. Not by text or e-mail, but by phone or in person if you can. Find out what's going on with their lives. Maybe they can't afford to throw a bachelorette party and they are embarrassed. Perhaps they are scared of how your friendship will change following marriage and they are distancing themselves. Maybe they don't like your future spouse and they are too afraid to say anything, or they are jealous of this season for you. No matter what, communicate. If it cannot be resolved, maybe they need to be asked to step down and be a guest at your wedding. Communication is a key predictor of success in a marriage and if talking about wedding party woes is a struggle, life with a spouse is a different level of communication and potential conflict.
I hope that you choose your wedding squad well and are surrounded by the love and joy of friends and family standing next to you. It's your special day, it's one of the most important days of your life, and you want the right people at your side for the happily ever after.