If you’ve ever been a bridesmaid in a wedding, chances are pretty good that you’ve had a bad experience with the whole thing. Brides do crazy, stupid things, despite their best intentions. No one is safe from the horror stories of the time they wore the super-expensive bridesmaid dress that they wouldn’t ever be able to wear again – not to a formal event, not even to a costume party. Let’s face it, you might have been honored to be asked to be in the wedding, but that doesn’t mean you wanted to put up with all the crap. Or that your pocket book was bottomless. The same goes for the bridesmaids you chose. And you want to make sure that they don’t harbor any resentment over the way you treated them.

Choosing the Dress

As far as your bridesmaids go, this is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. No, not your dress. The dress THEY are going to wear. Everyone has had to wear a bad dress sometime, but don’t make your wedding the occasion where they have to wear the lime green dress with pink polka dots. There’s a good chance you won’t have any friends left, especially if it’s expensive and they can’t wear it again.

There are actually some really easy ways to make sure you choose the right dress:

  1. Keep their shapes in mind. Tall, short, skinny, chubby, busty or leggy, they’re all going to look different in the dress you pick, so find something that they’ll still look good in and try to bring as many of them as possible with you. If you’re not picky, let your girls choose.
  2. Choose colors they look pretty in. Very few people look good in yellow, for instance.
  3. Discuss with them what they’re willing to spend. Their budgets might be different than you’d expect and they might be very different between the girls. Find out what they can afford and look for something that falls in that price range.
  4. Don’t forget they also have to buy shoes, jewelry unless you make it the bridesmaids’ gift and they’ll have to pay to get their hair done.

Don’t Overload Them with Responsibilities

They want to help. That’s why they agreed to be your bridesmaid. But don’t call them up every single time you can’t make a decision. And don’t expect them to organize and pay for all of your bridal showers, your bachelorette party, your bridesmaid’s luncheon and everything else that comes up. You can’t do everything, and neither can they.

Your bridesmaids still have day jobs or school or families or all of those things and they’re not going to be able to drop everything for you just because you say go. This is especially true if you have bridesmaids who are out of the country or don’t live in the same city or state as you. Yes, they want to attend the showers and the bachelorette party and do everything possible to support you. But they can’t do everything. And you can’t expect them to.

Instead, talk to your bridesmaids about what they can handle and what they can afford. Be reasonable and break the responsibilities. Your friends most likely all have different strengths. Maybe the creative ones can come up with decorations. The organized ones can help you keep track of who sent gifts and help you come up with a way to tackle things as they come along.

Include Them

Your bridesmaids should be your good friends. Friends you love and trust and want to spend time with. After all, they’re going to support you on one of the most important days of your life! Make sure that you include them as you make decisions that will affect them and ask them for their opinion if and when you need it. That doesn’t mean that you should go to them with everything or that you should always take their advice, but make it clear you want and appreciate their help. After all, you never know what brilliant idea one of your friends might make that never would have occurred to you.

Be Willing to Compromise

Many brides, bridezillas or not, get this idea of a dream wedding in their heads and they won’t settle for anything less. It’s one of the most important days of your life, but it’s not their big day. Balance is important. Remember, these girls are your friends now and you want them to still be your friends later. Don’t make unreasonable demands. For instance, if you’re thinking of a bachelorette party where you get smashed – all expenses paid, be willing to accept something less, say a night of drinks at a friend’s. Similarly, your shower might not be everything you imagined, but they planned it, so be grateful and tell them thank you.

Be Generous

Keep in mind everything your bridesmaids are doing for you and have already done for you. Not only are they standing by you as you pledge your life to your groom’s, but in the meantime, they’re going out of their ways to make sure that you have a wedding that makes you happy. The least you can do is let them know you appreciate the effort. And remember, too, they’ve spent a lot of money on your wedding, including on the dress, the shoes, the accessories, your parties and a number of other things. Find ways to thank them, including with a generous bridesmaid gift that is something reasonably special that they will actually like and can realistically use again.

Bridesmaids have a big responsibility. Make sure you treat them well. It’s really easy to lose friends while you’re planning your wedding because you slighted someone or made her feel bad. It’s also easy to lose friends because you micro-managed everything. And remember: they want you to talk to them, even after you’re old and married, so don’t drop them.