Simple ways to make the most important ladies in your life feel appreciated.
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Whether family or friends, there’s a reason you choose a certain group of women to be your bridesmaids—they’re your nearest and dearest. Though it’s easy to go a little bridezilla now and then—it’s your day, after all—keeping your cool will help maintain important relationships long after your vows are exchanged. Follow these simple guidelines to ensure your bridal party gets treated with the same love and respect they’re showing you by standing by your side.

1. Choose your group wisely.

"When selecting your bridesmaids, you should select them because you want them there—not because you feel obligated to ask," says Jen Glantz, founder of Bridesmaid for Hire and author of Always a Bridesmaid (for Hire). Just because someone asks you to be a bridesmaid, does not mean you need to reciprocate when you get married, she says. "Only select people you truly feel should be there with you throughout the process and on your wedding day." Your bridesmaids won't only be standing up at the altar with you. They're your confidantes, helping hands, and lifelines through everything from wedding-planning brunches to dress fittings and flower deliveries, all the way to the reception after-party.

2. Introduce everyone early on.

If your bridesmaids don’t know each other or live across the country, eliminate any awkwardness by making sure everyone can put a name to the face, Glantz says. "Things like social media or Skype really help. You can have a group hangout where all of the women can meet and introduce themselves as if they were meeting in real life." The most important thing is not to expect everyone to meet and bond on their own. Sure, they have a responsibility to step up and connect with each other, but you're the one bringing them together—so facilitate those connections first.

3. Be thoughtful about bridesmaid dresses.

When it comes to bridesmaid dresses, one size does not fit all. If your party has a variety of body shapes or style preferences, explore the idea of doing a mix and match look, where you select a color and fabric and let them do the rest. Sites like Weddington Way streamline the shopping process by bringing the bride and her bridesmaids together in a private virtual showroom. You simply select your favorite styles, and then invite your bridesmaids to "like" and comment on the dresses you’ve chosen. Those on a budget can even opt to rent certain styles instead of purchasing to save money.

4. Remember they have lives.

"When you're a bride, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your bridesmaids and realize some of your requests are asking too much," Glantz says. "I’ve heard horror stories where bridesmaids have been asked to grow their hair out five inches." It’s perfectly acceptable to ask bridesmaids for help with DIY tasks, advice, and other planning duties (within reason), but don’t forget to take a step back: "Remember these women are your friends and family members, not your personal assistants."

5. Be mindful of their bank accounts.

Money is always a touchy subject—especially for young professionals trying to shoulder the overwhelming financial expectations of being in a wedding. The best way to ensure there are no budget surprises is to try to gauge your bridesmaids' budgets from the very beginning. "Break down each event and plan events everyone can afford to go to." If Miami is your dream bachelorette party destination, but your bridesmaids can’t afford the plane tickets on a peak weekend, a local beach may be more appropriate. Try to accommodate and plan around everyone’s financial situations and, remember, the most important thing is spending quality time together to celebrate the occasion, Glantz says.

6. Set expectations and pick your battles.

Over the course of around 14 months (the average engagement length in the United States is 13.6 months), there’s bound to be some disagreement. One of the most common, says Glantz, is when the bride thinks one or more of her bridesmaids isn’t pulling her weight. "Often bridesmaids don’t know what they need to be doing or should be doing, so it’s really important to set expectations early and be clear about what you need. Spread out duties across all of your bridesmaids so nobody feels super stressed," she says. If there’s a disagreement at a wedding-related event, the first rule of thumb, Glantz says, is to deal with any problems after it’s over: "Fake it until you make it." Then, deal with conflict in private once everyone has had time to cool down.

7. Give them a schedule.

"On the day of the wedding, bridesmaids often show up and are eager to know what to expect throughout the day, so I always tell brides to give bridesmaids a detailed itinerary of how the day is going to go, where they need to be, and who they can turn to with questions," Glantz says. (Because chances are, guests and vendors will actually be turning to your bridesmaids with questions, so make sure they know the answers and how to help out). And don’t forget to provide enough food and drink to keep everyone’s energy up: "Food is absolutely necessary to make sure everyone is well fed and hydrated."

8. Say thank you—often.

You’re probably planning to give all of your bridesmaids a gift on your wedding day, but it’s essential to make them feel appreciated throughout the entire process, says Glantz: "Writing a handwritten card or pulling them aside and saying 'Jessica, thank you so much for all you did, it truly made me feel more confident on my wedding day' can go a long way."

By Brigitt Earley and Maggie Seaver