Bridal Code of Conduct…do you need one?

by Aleisha

By Bridechilla Allison
There’s been a lot of discussion on the podcast recently about bridesmaids, and I know that many bridechillas are having difficulty choosing their bridal parties or have horror stories about their bridesmaids being really terrible.
Any time relationships and communication come into play, there’s a potential for drama. Weddings are rife with stress, and any time emotions come out the claws can too. But I wanted to share my bridal party story with you because I think that some careful planning and consideration (and avoiding obligations at all costs!) can help make sure that on your wedding day you’re surrounded by people who really want to be there and who really support you.

A lot of us have a friend we’ve known since childhood who we’ve thought about having in our wedding since before that wedding was on the horizon. For me that’s my best friend. We’ve been friends since 4th grade, and we’re extremely close. I couldn’t imagine choosing anyone else as my lady of honor. But I’ve also been a bridesmaid a couple of times. And in both of those weddings, the maid of honor was the bride’s oldest friend, but not necessarily her best friend anymore. I think it’s totally natural to get swept up in the happiness and nostalgia that accompanies a wedding, but when you’re oldest friend lives far away (out of state in the case of my friend’s friends) and is totally consumed in her own life—there’s a big chance that it’s going to be hard for her to step up as maid of honor.
One of the maids of honor really ended up hurting my friend’s feelings and made her wedding just a little less happy and special than it could have been. Sometimes you choose this person anyway—if she’s really your best friend there’s no problem with that—but I think you have to be really open about your expectations. For instance, my bridesmaid (she hates this title and she’s choosing her own) lives all the way across the country in Washington DC. I knew that she probably wouldn’t be able to fly back for every party/event. But I did know that she was invested in being a part of celebrations and that she wanted to be involved in whatever way she could be. I knew when I asked her there was a chance she wasn’t going to be able to participate, and I had to be okay with that and give her the choice. However, she’s amazing and she told me in no uncertain terms that of course she was going to be involved.

I think that people will tend to step up and do what you need from them if you
a) make sure that they’re normally people who have your back,
b) you tell them what exactly it is you need from them.
A lot of bridesmaid drama comes from lack of communication—it’s a tough role to be at someone’s beck and call and not know what you need to do.
Your bridesmaids can’t read your mind, and it can’t just be your lady of honor who does all the communicating with the group. Not that you want to make demands—you want to have an open conversation.
When I asked everyone in the bridal party to stand up with me, I wrote each of them a letter talking about how important they are to me, and some of my favorite memories. I also included a Bridal Code of Conduct I wanted to be held to and wrote what I knew I needed from each of them: crafting help from the crafty lady of honor, someone to vent to from my bridesmaid who is the best listener, and someone in my corner from my bridesman (bridesdude?).
I talked about what kinds of parties there were going to be, what their individual duties might be, and I asked them to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Choosing my third attendant was definitely the toughest part of the process. I really didn’t want to have more than three people standing up with me (just too many people to organize), so I had a dilemma on my hands. I could choose one of my fiancé’s sisters, but he has four of them, and I didn’t want to alienate any of them by making a choice between them. I could choose from one of my close group of friends, but there are three of them, and again I didn’t want there to be hurt feelings. So I decided to have my brother stand up with me. Originally the plan was for him to be a part of my fiancé’s side of things, but having my brother with me allowed my fiancé to have all four of his brothers stand up with him (uneven bridal parties really don’t bother us).
Having my brother as a bridesguy was an awesome decision. Yes, it makes some things more difficult, but I like being challenged to think about the “normal” way things are done and to question tradition.
We have to rethink the procession situation, but my bridesmaid doesn’t think she should have to be supported by one of the guys anyway, and I think she’s right.If you do have a bridesman, I think it’s really important to tend to their feelings. If anyone made my brother upset or uncomfortable there would be one angry sister up in someone’s business! My brother is going to participate in my shower, but he’s going to the bachelor party instead of the bachelorette party (whatever that ends up being. No one will tell me anything…).

I think it’s just all about having open lines of communication and respecting everyone’s feelings. As far as clothes go, since there are only two ladies in dresses (my brother is wearing a black suit like the rest of the guys), I asked them both to pick a knee-length black dress. I know they’ll both look great, and they’ll get to pick a dress that they can work into their budding professional wardrobes—everyone needs a little black dress. Not worrying about what they’re going to wear takes so much stress out of my life, and I know they’ll feel and look best in something that looks like them. I trust their taste and know they’ll pick something beautiful. They can wear any shoe they please and do their hair any way they like—I just want them to feel like themselves.I love my untraditional bridal party, and I’m really happy that they’re the ones that will be standing up with me. I think that challenging the standard way of doing things is great. When it comes to bridal parties, I’m all for throwing “have to” out the window and choosing the people you want.

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