Your wedding day is all about you, you, you. But if you want to remain friends with your bridesmaids after the big day, then you'd better start considering them. We're not saying you have to serve turducken at the reception because it's the maid of honor's favorite, but a little thoughtfulness would be nice. Peep these tips from Jennifer Fitzsimmons, owner of A Friend of the Bride wedding planning service in North Tampa.
Less is more. "The smaller the bridal party, the less stress," Fitzsimmons says. Fewer bridesmaids mean fewer arguments over who stands where, whose bouquet is the biggest and whose menu will be served at your shower. Choose six maids max, and invite other friends to read scripture, sing or participate in the ceremony in some other way. And don't feel obligated to have six bridesmaids just because there are six groomsmen. According to Fitzsimmons, people have uneven numbers "all the time." Just get a groomsman to walk with a bridesmaid on each arm, or vice versa.
Think thrifty. Besides buying their dresses, your bridesmaids must pay for their shoes and undergarments, shower and wedding gifts for you, and maybe even a plane ticket. So resist the urge to outfit your crew in Oscar de la Renta. Ask your maids what their spending limit is, and look for dresses in that price range. If you insist on having them wear $800 designer duds, then have them each contribute $200 and you pitch in the $600 difference.
Help them look their best. Of course you'll be getting your shine on, but that doesn't mean your entourage has to look frumpy. Forget about choosing a dress they'll wear again. "It never happens," Fitzsimmons says. Just pick the gown collection and the color, and let each lady choose a style that flatters her figure. Your pear-shaped cousin will likely want an A-line gown, while your prego sorority sister will appreciate an empire-waisted option. Or let them wear a black dress from their closet; that way, they really will wear it again. Same goes for hairstyles — not everyone looks good with an updo, so give your girlfriends some leeway.
Be considerate. You're not the only one facing major life changes. If your bridesmaids are in school, starting a new job or buying a house, they may have less time and money to devote to your wedding. Keep this in mind when choosing a date and location, and give them as much notice as possible so they can save up for the dress and airfare.
Give useful gifts. Picture frames and personalized tote bags are nice, but your maids will really cherish something that helps defray the cost of being in your wedding. "There's trinkets and stuff you can get them, but are they really useful? Probably not," Fitzsimmons says. Instead cover their wedding day jewelry, buy flip-flops to keep them comfy at the reception or pay for their hair and nail appointments on the big day. "Just be as courteous as you can to these girls so that you can remain friends with them after the wedding."