The Right Bride(smaid) for the Job

I’m going to try to sum up wedding planning in one word. Okay, here goes….

“Overwhelming.”

By the end of my wedding, I was in old flip flops and totally exhausted. But the real fatigue came before the wedding even started. Photo by Tiffany Deegan.

No matter how organized, meticulous, and laid-back you might be about the whole process, there will come a moment when it all just feels like so much work. (That moment will probably arrive for your fiance a lot sooner than it will for you. Consider yourself warned.)

So the important thing is not only to be organized, but to have friends and family there to actually help you — people who can assist you with some tasks, and completely take over others. Here’s a breakdown of what qualities to look for in the people you ask for help with each item on your to-do list.

WEDDING DRESS SHOPPING
Ever watched Say Yes to the Dress? Then you know an entourage of opinionated galpals isn’t going to make your selection process any easier. Don’t feel obligated to take anyone based on their relationship to you.
The Right Stuff: Take only (a few!) people whose judgment you trust to help you figure out which dress flatters you most, suits your style, and will make you feel exactly the way you want to feel on your wedding day.

GUEST LIST PLANNING
For this one, you’re going to need input from your family — and his. But when it comes to narrowing down the list, you can turn to a close friend for support and guidance.
The Right Stuff: Pick someone you’re very close to, who truly understands the details of your wedding (space and budget limitations; overall feel you’re going for) and who knows a lot of the friends and family on your list. She or he will then be able help you make those sometimes painful decisions of which people really don’t need to be on your guest list.

Your beloved might not really want to help you tie ribbons on to a couple hundred bubble wands . . . but your bridesmaids might! Photo by Tiffany Deegan.

CHOOSING DECOR
Your intended may or may not want to wrangle just the right linens, candles, flowers and aisle runners. But you might have friends — or a mom — who are all pressing for you to choose what they like best.
The Right Stuff: Solicit the guidance and assistance of a fashion-forward friend or family member whose taste is similar to yours. Make sure s/he is someone who can keep the big picture in mind and understands how all the pieces need to work together to create just the right feel.

SENDING INVITATIONS
If you’re not hiring a calligrapher but you’re having a formal wedding, hand addressing your invitations is the way to go. And if, like me, you have over 100 invitations to send . . . that’s going to lead to a lot of hand cramps — unless you get some help!
The Right Stuff: Ask for help from a close friend who has the patience for slow, repetitive tasks; s/he also needs to have a good attention to detail (one wrong number or letter and the invitation won’t make it to your guest!) — and of course, legible, attractive handwriting.

PLANNING THE BRIDAL SHOWER & BACHELORETTE PARTY
Traditionally, this is the one part of the wedding where the bride is supposed to butt out! But if you’ve got several people clamoring to handle these duties, it’s up to you to help make sure they end up in capable hands.
The Right Stuff: Shower hosts should be social, outgoing people who know how to make sure everyone feels included and has a good time, who can plan a relaxed but structured event, and who won’t be calling you at the last minute to say they just found ten invitations they forgot to mail! Bachelorette party planners ought to be bridesmaids or close relatives who understand your personality and know how to plan a party you — as well as all the other ladies — will enjoy.

Putting one bridesmaid -- likely your MOH -- in charge of the wedding party will help ensure everyone knows where they're supposed to be and what they're supposed to do. Photo by Laura Yang.

OVERSEEING THE WEDDING PARTY
Although you probably would like to think you can handle this yourself, as the time of your wedding draws near, the truth is you’re going to get a bit a.) frazzled; b.) distracted; and c.) busy.
The Right Stuff: Even if you have a wedding planner, it’s a good idea if one of your bridesmaids can be appointed a sort of ringleader. Choose a well-organized, detail-oriented friend to make sure all the other members of the wedding party know where they need to be and when, what they need to bring, and what they’re expected to do at any given time.

This barely scratches the surfaces of the ways your friends and family can help you. Some personal examples from my wedding: one bridesmaid picked up my gown after my final fitting; a friend from church crafted lovely wreaths for ceremony; my aunt transported table linens; several other bridesmaids decided to beautify the church entrance . . . by buying and spreading entirely new mulch in the plant beds the day before the wedding. . . .

So keep in mind that whenever a new task arises, you don’t have to panic — and you don’t have to do it all yourself! Yes, you don’t want to overwhelm your friends and family, but they don’t want you to get overwhelmed, either. Don’t hesitate to ask for help — and don’t be surprised when help is offered before you’ve even asked!

(Just be sure to write so really nice thank you notes after the honeymoon!)

~ Laura

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