The struggle of the modern bridesmaid

TheGrio breaks down the key areas where bridesmaids can run into challenges and how the bride can help.

You’ve doled out the “proposal” gifts, you have hosted the dinner so they could all meet, and now it’s official: Your bride squad is assembled. 

How do you proceed, maintaining the same level of enthusiasm throughout the entire process of planning and pulling off your wedding? How do you end up with the wedding of your dreams and all your bridesmaids genuinely excited to be at the finish line? If you’re even asking those questions, you’re on the right track. 

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Matching bridesmaid dresses are falling out of favor, so they need not be a source of conflict. (Photo credit: Adobe Stock/digitalskillet1)

From overspending to organizing to being a sounding board for the bride, the struggle of being a bridesmaid can be real. It’s such a big honor to be included in someone’s wedding in that way, but it can quickly snowball into a heavy lift. One of the biggest ways that bridesmaids can run into trouble is not fully understanding what a bridesmaid is and the expected duties. 

Bridesmaids aren’t just there for the bachelorette party and the fancy dress on the big day; they are there long before to help you get down the aisle. They are there to help with planning, be a sounding board for your ideas, provide a safe space to vent and help with pre-wedding events. However, they are not there to spend outside of their budget, be forced to wear a dress that isn’t flattering and deal with unnecessary drama. You can avoid the struggle for your bridesmaids by considering these seven key areas where they could run into challenges.  


Between pulling off destination bachelorette parties to shelling out big bucks for a bridesmaid dress, spending can add up. A way to avoid the financial struggle for your bridesmaids is to ask up front what their budget is and let that guide you. It’s also best to set your expectations clearly at the start for your bridal shower, bachelorette party, and dress and accommodations for the wedding so they know what they’re getting into. Offer them the opportunity to discuss any budget constraints. In some situations, it may even be appropriate to extend a helping hand.  


Bridesmaids used to struggle with style so much that matching bridesmaids’ dresses (that they didn’t pick themselves) are going out of fashion. More and more bridesmaids are being given the option to either come up with something they all like or come up with their own dresses, which not only gives them control over the style but also the cost. This trend is the result of a generational shift in shopping and technology. With Google Docs, shared Pinterest boards and collaborative Instagram folders, a bride can easily coordinate looks in real time with her bridesmaids. We say embrace modernity and give in to the changing times.  


If you have more than one bridesmaid, they will be coordinating a lot together. You can make it easier by introducing everyone either in person or over a group chat. Create a central place everyone can refer to for information surrounding major events and for updates. Even still, hiccups along the way are to be expected. Should anything arise, be compassionate, be a listening ear and, if necessary, step in and stick up for all parties involved. 


Capacity is another area many bridesmaids struggle with because, as we all know, it can vary. You may have a bridesmaid who lives close, can attend all your pre-wedding events and answers every text within the hour they receive it. You may also have a bridesmaid who can’t get to personal texts until 4 p.m. at the earliest, can’t attend the bachelorette party and the bridal shower, and will be there just in time for the wedding to start on the big day. And then there’s everything in between. Try not to take any of it personally and maintain the right expectations for the right people.


Communication is something many people struggle with, whether they’re getting married or not. However, it can be a serious source of struggle for bridesmaids. Communicating with your bridesmaids will be vital to the operation. Take the time to etch out your expectations and what each bridesmaid will be responsible for and communicate it clearly. Keep the line of communication open throughout your wedding planning process. Should any issues occur, keep your words kind and helpful when working things out. 


From sobriety to religion, bridesmaids can sometimes run into lifestyle clashes with brides and other bridesmaids. You can avoid this struggle for your bridesmaids by keeping everyone’s lifestyle in mind when planning get-togethers and events. This doesn’t mean water down or amp up your fun depending; it means be flexible. For the bachelorette party, for instance, you could plan a weekend with a mix of activities to suit everyone or find a lounge that has spaces for mingling and places for throwing down on the dance floor. 


Bridesmaids are often chosen because of their relationship with the bride, whether they’re cousins, sisters or friends. Planning a wedding demands a lot of attention from a bride, and sometimes other areas of her life are placed on the back burner. Don’t let nurturing the relationships most important to you be one of them. While your bridesmaids are obligated to be on call for your wedding needs, they still have lives of their own. Show up to their functions, acknowledge their celebrations and birthdays, and be their friend, favorite cousin, sister, or what have you first and foremost. 

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