Unlike your wedding vendors and even your future in-laws, your bridesmaids aren't new to the scene -- they've always been there for you. As you're planning your wedding, you'll likely need their help more than ever. But remember: They're your friends first and foremost, which means it's a priority to make sure your relationships stay strong throughout all the wedding drama. Here's how to make it happen.
Respect Their Responsibilities
Planning a wedding can be a full-time job, but that doesn't mean being a bridesmaid should be too. As you're allocating responsibilities, be respectful of each maid's life outside the wedding -- your friend who's trying to make partner at her law firm or who's dealing with a new baby may not have time to assist you with every little task. At the same time, you don't want to cause discord within the wedding party if some maids feel the others aren't pulling their weight. Try to keep a good balance, and remember, your bridesmaids don't have to do everything: You've got your parents, other family members, and your fiance. Plenty of people are willing to pitch in, so take advantage of it as you need to.
Dress Them Well
If you want your maids to match, don't just think about your dream wedding -- you also have to consider their figures. If you know one of them would be uncomfortable in the dresses you envision, come up with a compromise. Not sure one dress will work for all your girls? Come up with guidelines (say, a color and length you like) and then let them choose the exact style. Trust us, even with different necklines or sashes, they'll still look fantastic. Remember, you want each and every one of your maids to feel beautiful (and comfortable!), so your efforts in the dress department are well worth it.
Keep Them in the Black
Bridesmaids have to shell out for quite a bit over the course of the wedding: dresses, hair, shower and wedding gifts, the bachelorette party, and travel expenses. These add up and can put a pinch on even the most financially flush of maids. Take this into consideration and offer help when you can. For example, you can let them know that they shouldn't feel pressured to give you an extravagant shower gift, or if you're having more than one shower, tell them that you don't expect multiple shower gifts. You can also help them track down inexpensive flights or hotel rooms.
Make Their To-Do List Manageable
Yes, part of the bridal party's job is to be your go-to gals when you need something done. But no, that doesn't mean you should be cracking the whip nonstop. Whenever you're asking one of your maids to do something -- whether it's attending your gown fitting or tying a hundred miniature bows around a hundred favor boxes -- stop and think: Would I do this for her? It's a good reality check to keep your requests reasonable. The same goes on the day of the wedding: Try to come up with a game plan beforehand of who you need to do what. Then make a second mental list of who else can help -- aunts, cousins, ushers, and so on. When little things do come up (which they will), you'll be able to rely on that latter team to help you take care of details as needed rather than overextending your bridesmaids.
Give (and Receive) Graciously
You imagined a gracious afternoon tea; instead, there's bridal shower bingo. It might be tough, but you've got to smile and say thank you. While you can give your bridesmaids suggestions as to what you want for the prewedding parties, you don't get to actually plan them yourself. Whatever your bridesmaids come up with, they want to do their jobs and make you happy, so be appreciative. No matter what happens, always remember to thank them. This goes for your gifts to them too. While it makes sense to get your girls the same thing so there isn't a feeling of favoritism, they might not all have the same taste. A better idea is to pick a category or something that comes in lots of styles and colors. That way, you can show that you love them all but still acknowledge each as an individual.
Be a Good Friend
Really obvious, right? But sometimes when you're caught up in wedding-related drama, it can be hard to remember that's there's a world outside your wedding. You lean on your bridesmaids to make it through, but don't forget that they've got their own lives too. When you meet up with one of your girls, make a point to talk about things that are not related to the wedding. Whether it's the project she's working on at work or the blind date she went on last weekend, she'll appreciate the opportunity to tell you all about it, the same way she always has. Similarly, when you're really upset -- whether about the wedding or anything else -- you'll know she'll be there for you, right now and long after the wedding's over.
Your Bridal Party