Chances are you dream of a tightly bonded group of bridesmaids who work closely to make your wedding live up to your dreams. Unfortunately, sometimes reality doesn't mirror that picture-perfect fantasy. "When you're trying to bring together all these different friends from your life, there can be some tension," says Natasha Burton, co-founder of Swoon California, a wedding and event planning company based in Santa Barbara. Here, Burton explains what to do if your bridesmaids are more cats and dogs than BFFs.
Know Your Friends
Bridesmaid tiffs don't often come out of the blue. "You probably already know if anything is brewing," says Burton. As soon as your friends accept their bridesmaids invitations, Burton suggests having a quick chat with the 'maids you think may clash. "You can explain to each woman that you know she's not a huge fan of the other, but you hope they can get to know each other better and come together throughout the process," says Burton. Being upfront about it will give them some perspective about what really matters.
Recruit an Uninvolved Bridesmaid
If some of your bridesmaids still can't keep it civil, it's time to loop in an uninvolved member of the bridal party. It can be your maid of honor, or anyone who will act as neutral as Switzerland, says Burton. "You can tell her that you need help defusing the tension and ask if she'll act as peacekeeper," she says. The woman you choose will be able to tell them to cool it, and you get to steer clear of a strained situation.
Make the Most of Bonding Activities
Don't rely on the bachelorette party and bridal shower to bring everyone together! Ideally your bridesmaids will be thick as thieves before the pressure of planning can create any problems. "A lot of money talks come into the shower, and that's a major way people can be put off each other," says Burton. You also already want them to be close by the time the bachelorette party happens, because that's supposed to be the ultimate celebration of your friendship—and you, of course. "If you can get all of them together early on with some Champagne, everyone will either fight, cry, and make up, or have a good time," says Burton. That's the definition of a win-win.
Say Something to Her
If you've tried all of the above and one bridesmaid is still being negative, it's time to have a talk. Whatever the issue is, say it in a non-accusatory way and lead with "I" statements, like "I've noticed you seem a little uncomfortable during group events." This can open up a new line of conversation about whether she's the right fit as a bridesmaid. "Sometimes this behavior is almost a cry for help that she doesn't want to be in the situation but doesn't know how to get out of it," says Burton. If you have a hunch she's just not into being a bridesmaid, period, Burton suggests saying something like, "I want you to be there for me, but it doesn't seem like this is the best way to facilitate that. Is there another role you'd prefer to do?" Getting her out of that prescribed bridesmaid box may be what it takes to keep your friendship intact and your wedding planning free of any drama.