6 Reality Checks For Every Bride Who Wants To Keep Her Bridesmaids Happy And Drama-Free

Everyone always says that your wedding is going to be the happiest day of your life, and yet inevitably, weddings tend to find a way to bring on more stress than any other life event. Among the innumerable sources of Big Day stress, conflicts and tension between brides and bridesmaids are a notorious source of wedding angst — but they really don’t have to be. Yes, bridesmaids can bring on the drama, but they can also be a wonderful source of support and love during a crazy, transitional time. There really is nothing better than having the people you care about the most stand next to you in support as you enter a new phase of your life.

As much as your marriage is a mega huge event, it’s important to remember that your wedding is essentially just a party. And what’s better than having a party with your closest friends? If you’re thoughtful about the way you set up your wedding party, you can avoid all the stereotypical bridesmaid drama and, instead, simply get to enjoy being with people you love. Here’s how to do it:

1. Keep it small

All group events work according to a simple equation: More People = More Drama. Keep the size of your wedding party limited to only a few. If your other friends are mature, cool people, they’ll understand that your bridesmaid selections are not a reflection of how much you value their friendships. If they freak out and cause major drama, then — well, you clearly don’t want that in your wedding anyway, right?

2. Think about whether certain friends actually wants to be in the wedding

Some people are really excited to be in weddings, and others hate it. If you’re good enough friends with someone to consider asking that person to be part of your wedding party, then you should be close enough to him or her to have an idea of how he or she truly feels about weddings. If you think that, for whatever reason, your friend would rather not be in the wedding, then be sure to emphasize that he or she can say “no” — and that you’ll still be thrilled simply to have him or her there as a regular guest.

3. Let your bridesmaids participate in picking what they’re going to wear

Get input from your 'maids about what they want to wear and what styles they feel comfortable in. Let’s say one of your bridesmaids is, shall we say, amply endowed. If you make her wear a strapless dress that doesn’t allow for proper bra support, she’s not going to be comfortable, and you’re not going to seem like a very good friend. These are your closest friends and/or relatives, not accessories to you and your dress. Go shopping as a group, or do some online shopping together. It’ll be fun, and it will give you an idea of what your bridesmaids usually look for in their own clothes.

4. You need to make the dress decision

It’s important to get input from your bridesmaids about what they want to wear, but at the end of the day, you need to make a decision about what people are wearing. A lot of brides these days are trying to avoid “Bridezilla” stereotypes, so they tell their bridesmaids something like, “Pick your own dress! Wear whatever you want! Except, make sure it’s knee-length and in this specific range of colors.” Letting your bridesmaids shop for their own dresses might seem like a nice thing to do on the surface, but in practice it can actually mean that your friends have to put in a lot of time and effort to find a dress that coordinates with what you want. If you choose the dress — or give your bridesmaids a selection of dresses from which to choose — you’ll be saving them a potential headache.

5. Do not make your wedding a financial burden

A 2010 study found that the average cost of being a bridesmaid is almost $1,700. That’s SEVENTEEN HUNDRED actual, non-Monopoly money, U.S. dollars. Do not — do not — make your best friends live on Ramen for months just so they can stand next to you in a sea foam dress while you get married. With the costs of traveling to the wedding, the dress, the shoes, and everything else, it’s shockingly easy for the price of being in a wedding party to build and build. So be sensitive to the fact that your bridesmaids are not made of gold: Don’t expect them to travel across the country for a bachelorette party. Don’t make them buy $500 dresses. Encourage them to wear shoes that they already own. In short, BE NICE.

6. Bridesmaids are there to help you, but they are not your employees

Your bridesmaids are at your wedding to support you, but they are not working for you. Their only real responsibilities are to show up and stand next to you and give a kick-ass toast. If they volunteer to help with other aspects of the wedding, by all means let them, but don’t treat your bridesmaids like they owe you something. If you need a monstrous amount of help with the wedding, hire a wedding coordinator. If you can’t afford a wedding coordinator, then you need to rethink the scale of your wedding. You don’t get to save money by using friends as free labor.

Most of these points boil down to the same simple message: Be a good friend. Being a bride can be stressful, but that doesn’t mean you get to be a jerk for the duration of your engagement. Whatever wedding craziness is happening (and believe me, there will be craziness), it’s not more important than taking care of your relationships.

Now, go out and enjoy your wedding. It’s supposed to be fun, remember?

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