Treating Your Bridesmaids Right

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Yes, the bride is traditionally the star of the show. But that ring on your finger doesn’t give you license to treat your wedding party like your personal minions.

Many women in their twenties and thirties have a “bridesmaid horror story” to share. Here’s how to avoid becoming the next one.

Pick the right people.

The ladies standing by you at the altar should be your nearest and dearest, so choose them wisely.

Depending on the length of your engagement, a bridesmaid commitment could be a year or longer. Lots of life changes can happen in a short amount of time. If a potential bridesmaid is planning a wedding herself, lives far away, hopes to have a baby or struggles with finances, don’t pressure her.  Give them the option to say no to your offer, or bow out gracefully if need be.

If a would-be bridesmaid opts out, consider asking her to play another important role in the wedding – maybe she can do a reading, or give a special toast at the reception.

Consider a small, manageable number of bridesmaids. Don’t feel the need to pick extra girls just to even out “numbers.” We all know how much easier it is to be a groomsman – attend the bachelor party, rent a tux and show up with a gift.

Your bridesmaids are not Barbie dolls.

We’ve all heard those famous last words, “You can totally wear this dress again!” If it’s long, neon-hued, seasonal, ruffled, hideous or even looks remotely “bridesmaid,” no, you will not. With that in mind, please consider the following:

Your bridesmaids are likely all different shapes, sizes and heights, so why do they all have to match? If you must stick with a certain palette, head to a shop like David’s Bridal, which carries a large variety of dresses in plenty of colors. That way, the girls can each choose a style that fits their tastes: strapless, halter, sheath, A-line.  David’s Bridal has three Connecticut stores in Danbury, Manchester and Orange.

If you’re going with a more modern feel, consider having the girls pick their own cocktail dresses. Black frocks can be dressed up with eye-popping colorful bouquets, unique jewelry and fun shoes.

Several stores carry well-cut cocktail dresses that don’t instantly scream “bridesmaid.” Check out:

  • White House Black Market (stores in South Windsor, West Hartford, Glastonbury, Canton, Milford and Danbury)
  • Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft  (Blue Back Square, Westfarms Mall, Glastonbury, New Haven, Trumbull, Danbury, Westport, New Canaan)

  • Macy’s (Enfield, Westfarms Mall, Buckland Hills, Meriden, Waterbury, Waterford)

  • Nordstrom (Westfarms Mall)

  • J. Crew (Wedding collection online at


Keep costs reasonable.

The financial responsibilities of a bridesmaid don’t exactly stop once the dresses are ordered. Don’t forget shoes and accessories, hair and makeup, travel and lodging and wedding gifts. And then: the pre-wedding events. Bridesmaids are expected to chip in for the bridal shower and the bachelorette party, which could amount to hundreds of dollars per person.

What you can do as the bride: Your girls may have the plans under control. But if you get the sense that anyone might be strapped for cash, please don’t lobby for an expensive getaway, especially one that might require plane tickets. Let your girls know you’re up for whatever, as long as you get to spend quality time with them.

If you can swing it, pick up some of the tabs – dress alterations, jewelry, hotel room for an out-of-town bridesmaid. If you want your girls to sport specific hairdos or makeup, then you should be financing that.

Be a friend.

This should be a no-brainer, but too many brides get so wrapped up in their plans that they neglect to keep up with their friends. Do not call, text or email your bridesmaids only when you need something, or to remind them of a deadline. We know you’re busy, but don’t forget about their everyday lives. They will notice.

Give thanks.

Be sure to appropriately thank your girls for their love and support. Think about presents specific to each girl: a gift certificate to her favorite restaurant or clothing store; a bottle (or case, depending on the price) of her favorite wine or anything heartfelt that proves you know her taste. If you can, gather them together for a luncheon, dinner or cocktail hour before the wedding to give them their gifts.

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