Being a bridesmaid can be a rewarding and memorable experience. You are supporting a friend or loved one as they enter into a marriage. There are pretty pictures, touching moments, and many opportunities to bond with her as she goes on this important journey. On the other hand, as too many people know, it can also be stressful, filled with conflict or disappointment, and sometimes even end a friendship for good. Most of us have heard such horror stories.

Few brides or bridesmaids start with the idea of destroying their friendship in a whirlwind of chaos and hostility. We all want the fairy tale-like wedding and not a nightmare scenario. The good news is that there are several steps that can be taken to minimize the risks and maximize the rewards that come with accepting the role of bridesmaid.

Here’s how you can fulfill this duty with grace and generosity to keep your sanity and your relationship with the bride:

Understand your role.

It is extremely important to have a good understanding of those involved, what the bride is looking for in terms of her shower and bachelorette party, and with what duties she wants your support. Ask a lot of questions about her vision and get a clear sense as to what she hopes will happen.

Every bridesmaid has limited time and money. This conversation is a good time to very politely express any concerns you have with either of these potential limitations. Once you have a better idea of what is being asked of you, you can express what areas you can give and also be clear if you feel there is something you might not be able to do. Talk about your interest in supporting her vision but also be sure not to make promises that you cannot keep; contributing to an expensive shower or traveling for a bachelorette party might not be possible or might put you in a bad financial situation. Being upfront helps avoid surprises and gives ample time for sorting out the options.

Be a team player.

It is likely that there are relatives and members of the bridal party that will also be intimately involved in the wedding process. This means that you have to collaborate with others, some of whom you do not know and some of whom you may not like. This is normal, but can be tricky to navigate. Remember that being a bridesmaid means that you are part of the team, even if you are the one technically in charge of a particular event. Your job is to execute each event as best you can given the bride’s interests and preferences.

Others may have different ideas on how to do this. Often you will need to compromise. A bit of diplomacy may be needed; for example, saying, “I understand that you are really interested in inviting a lot of people to the party but the bride expressed to me a desire for something smaller and more intimate. I’m wondering if it’s worth talking with her again so that we can give her the opportunity for input?”

If there is a disagreement that is not easily resolved, consider how to move on in the least stressful way possible. Often, giving in to a persistent teammate may be ultimately easier and less stressful than continuing to argue. You did not choose the team and you can only do so much to advocate for the bride in these situations. Move on and try not to sweat these bumps in the road.

Keep perspective.

It is essential to remember that the wedding is for the couple. Your role as a bridesmaid is one of helping and supporting. You do not get to be in control. While you have limits that need to be respected, try to be peaceful and accepting of the fact that things won’t go according to your vision. If you tend to get stuck on details, try to keep in mind that the connection you have with the bride is the most important aspect of the role of bridesmaid. Keeping your priorities straight will help you get through the wedding with a level-head and enjoy a drama-free experience!

© Hannah Curtis

About the Author:
Hannah Curtis, LCSW owns and operates New Approaches, a private psychotherapy practice in Portland, Maine. Hannah writes on a number of topics related to relationships and emotional wellness on her blog.  She’s been both a bride and a bridesmaid and tries to practice drama-free living as much as possible.

all photos from unless otherwise noted.