When it comes to wedding planning, good things come to those who communicate. Consider this your art-of-conversation cheat sheet.
“This is what I’ll need from you.”
Why it’s important: Your bridal party is likely juggling similar balls to you: work commitments, relationships and financial responsibilities, perhaps with a few kids in tow. Being mindful of these responsibilities and clear about what you hope they’ll help with – whether it’s paying off their attire or attending planning meetings every Sunday afternoon – will reduce the likelihood of conflict or resentment further down the track.
ideal time to talk: As soon as you ask them to be part of your bridal party.
What to do first: Come up with a realistic figure of how much money they’ll need to spend and time they’ll need to commit. This will mean your expectations are as clear and honest as possible.
How to bring it up: Frankness is an acceptable approach, says Emma. “We’re in a generation where people are used to being upfront and honest with each other. Keep the atmosphere casual – perhaps meet for a post-work drink – and simply say, ‘I’d love for you to be in my bridal party, but I know you are busy so I wanted to check the time and cost involved won’t be a strain.’”
Possible roadblock: Your careful offer of an ‘out’ is taken up. If the commitment is genuinely too far beyond your prospective bridal party member’s means, then gauge whether your expectations are reasonable. If reconsidering isn’t possible, offer the friend another less costly role in your day, such as delivering a reading or a speech.
“I have a specific idea in mind for my hen’s party.”
Why it’s important: While hen’s parties are meant to be fun, they can be anything but (for you as well as your entourage) if you spend the entire party feeling immensely uncomfortable with the situation.
ideal time to talk: Before the organiser has time to make concrete plans.
What to do first: Research ideas for a hen’s party you would enjoy, so if asked, you can steer the situation in your favour.
How to bring it up: Use friends as examples: “Being pulled up on stage like Katie was in front of 100 people at that strip show is genuinely my worst nightmare.” Follow up by mentioning some of your alternative, more preferred options.
Possible roadblock: Your hen’s party organisers have already made plans and are refusing to let you in on them. In this situation, honesty is the best policy, advises Mary. “Tell them that having a surprise element to your hen’s party is causing you stress, and you’d prefer to know what’s going on.” Your friends’ main goal is to ensure you have a great time – knowing your wishes from the outset means they can make it happen.
“If something goes wrong on the big day, here’s what to do.”
Why it’s important: If your nerves are already running high come W-Day then a collapsed cake or a broken-down bridal car will do nothing to calm you down. Having a bridal party that is well-versed on the contingency plan will mean any sticky situations are resolved smoothly.
Ideal time to talk: In the week leading up to the wedding.
What to do first: Create a contact list of all on-the-day vendors and key players – from members of the bridal party to your photographer.
How to bring it up: Circulate the contact list via email, then print out extra copies to distribute to your bridal party on the day of your wedding.
Possible roadblock: You’re concerned your bridal party won’t handle mishaps well. If the ‘what-ifs’ are causing you headaches, consider hiring an on-the-day wedding co-ordinator, says Emma. “As a wedding planner there is very little I haven’t seen or dealt with before. If recruiting an experienced head will make your day that bit more pleasant, it might be a worthy spend.”
“This is what I’d like you to wear.”
Why it’s important: Appropriately dressed attendants will help strengthen your wedding’s theme and tone – but it’s equally important that they feel comfortable with their ensembles.
Ideal time to talk: At least three months out from the big day to allow enough time for bespoke orders if necessary.
What to do first: Establish your colour theme, wedding style and what both you and your groom will wear.
How to bring it up: Swap attire ideas with your bridesmaids first, using visual references to ensure you’re all on the same page.
Possible roadblocks: Your bridesmaids can’t agree on a single style. Compromise is key in this situation, says Diane. “Ultimately, you want your bridesmaids to look happy and feel comfortable. Consider choosing a consistent hue and fabric, but letting each bridesmaid dictate the length, fit or sleeve style of their dress according to what will make
them feel their very best.”