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A Guides for Brides Publication


The Ultimate Bridesmaid Survival Guide

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Introduction

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Welcome to The Bridesmaid Survival Guide - and congratulations on being asked to be a bridesmaid! Now the fun begins… We’ve put together a handy bridesmaid lifeline to help guide you through the ups and downs of being part of the bridal party, all the way from the hen do to ‘I do’. We’ve answered burning questions like ‘who pays for the bridesmaid dresses?’ and ‘what exactly is the difference between a maid of honour and a chief bridesmaid?’, as well as giving you plenty of inspiration and advice that you’ll need for every stage of supporting your bride through wedding planning. From shopping for dresses to planning the world’s best hen do, we have everything you need, including tips for if things aren’t going exactly to plan, or your bride is going a little bridezilla on you. Created by the expert team behind Guides for Brides, the original online wedding website since 1995, The Bridesmaid Survival Guide makes the perfect bridesmaid companion for every stage of planning. For even more advice and inspiration, visit guidesforbrides.co.uk or follow us on social media. We hope you find this Survival Guide useful! Good luck, bridesmaids!

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Contents

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Friendship First

Page 3

What’s Your Role?

Page 4

How To Be The Best Bridesmaid Ever!

Page 7

Hen Party Ideas

Page 8

Accommodation and Budget

Page 11

*“Drink If...”Games

Page 12

*Hen Party Scavenger Game

Page 13

*How Well Do You Know The Bride Game

Page 14

*Mr and Mrs Game

Page 15

Top Tips For Planning The Hen Party

Page 16

What’s Acceptable? Tick List For Your Bride

Page 18

Hen Party SOS

Page 19

Quiz: What Sort of Bridesmaid Are You?

Page 20

Bridesmaids Dress Shopping

Page 22

Guide To Bridal Boutique Appointments

Page 23

5 Tips For Dealing With A Bridezilla

Page 25

How To Write A Maid Of Honour Speech

Page 26

*Tear to share pages

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The Ultimate Bridesmaid Survival Guide

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Friendship First

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ongratulations - you’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid! Far from just standing up in a pretty dress, being asked to be a bridesmaid is a sign that your bride trusts you, cherishes your relationship, and wants to be able to share one of the most important moments of her life with you. However, it can also be a true test of your friendship! Whether you’re a family member or close friends with the bride, this is likely the first time that your relationship has had certain assigned roles, so being a bridesmaid is a job that’s loaded with both emotion and expectation. Planning a wedding can be fraught for your bride, so supporting her throughout, knowing where to compromise and always putting your friendship first is key to being a brilliant bridesmaid.

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Time Management How busy you’ll be as a bridesmaid depends partly on your bride, and partly on the other bridesmaids. You’ll be expected to communicate with the other bridesmaids during hen party planning (expect lots of group messages!) and in the run up to the day, as well as attending meetings, appointments and any crafting days with your bride. If you genuinely feel that you won’t be able to dedicate as much time as your bride expects, then bringing this up sooner rather than later is better for both you and your bride.

Delegating Responsibilities If there’s more than one chief bridesmaid, or there are multiple bridesmaid with strong personalities, then there can be clashes as everyone tries to do things their way. Try not to involve the bride in any spats, but do get her to delegate tasks as she sees fit to avoid too many cooks spoiling the broth.

Knowing the danger zones is the best way to avoid any drama. Get these awkward conversations with your bride out of the way early to make the wedding planning go as smoothly as possible…

The Wedding’s Plus One Policy

The Cost It’s well documented that the cost of being a bridesmaid is rising, so it’s important that you know what’s expected of you sooner rather than later. Even if the bride is buying your dress (as is traditional in the UK), are you expected to pay for accessories? Hair and makeup? Your accommodation at the wedding? It can be awkward to ask, but it can save you a painful conversation in the long run.

There’s no hard and fast rule when to comes to assigning bridesmaids plus ones for the wedding - some brides will give bridesmaids plus ones regardless of their relationship status, while others will only extend the invitation to long term or married partners. Some brides feel that the bridesmaid bringing an otherwise unknown guest will distract her from her bridesmaid duties and be unfair to the guest, so don’t assume you’ll automatically be given one just because you’re a bridesmaid.

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The Ultimate Bridesmaid Survival Guide

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Bridesmaids

Confused by your new title? We’ve put together a handy glossary of the different types of bridesmaid and who’s expected to do what...

The bridesmaids are the bride’s support system, and there to support her on the day and help everything run smoothly in the preceding months. Although traditionally bridesmaids were young, eligible women of marrying age, these days there are no rules when it comes to the age, marital status or even gender of the bridesmaids (more on that later!).

Chief Bridesmaid or Maid/Matron of Honour These titles may sound confusing, but they’re actually one and the same thing! Chief Bridesmaids are sometimes referred to as the maid of honour (if they’re unmarried) or the matron of honour (if she’s married). The Chief Bridesmaid is the bride’s right hand lady and confidante, and so she’s usually a close friend or family member. She takes on a higher level of responsibility than the other bridesmaids, and her tasks generally involve supervising events on the run-up to the wedding, and on the big day itself, as well as planning that all-important hen party. E ULTIMATE TH

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What’s Your Role?

No matter your title, here are the tasks you might be asked to help with as part of the bridal party:

Before the wedding • • • • • • •

Flower Girl Flower girls are young bridesmaids, usually around 3-8 years old, and aren’t expected to perform any role on the day other than looking adorable. They sometimes may be asked to scatter petals down the aisle in front of the bride, but these days some brides do away with the petal-scattering and just ask their flower girls to carry a pomander or flower wand down the aisle instead. Once the ceremony and group photographs are done, the flower girl’s ‘job’ is complete, and she can be handed back to her parents to enjoy the rest of the day.

Help with any wedding planning or DIY if the bride asks Help the bride to shop for her wedding dress Organise the hen party Attend bridesmaid dress shopping appointments and fittings Help to organise family members and friends for pre-wedding events Attend ceremony rehearsal the day before Be with the bride the night before and on the morning of the wedding

On the day • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Man of Honour/Bridesman Who says bridesmaids have to be female? More and more brides are turning the tradition on their head and having their best male friends stand beside them on the day. You’re likely to be wearing a suit that co-ordinates with the groomsmen, but entering with the bridesmaids and sitting on their side of the ceremony. Being the only man in a bridal party often means that you’ll be bringing a different skillset to the group and may be considered a balancing influence, so if you’re working with a chief bridesmaid during the planning process, be sure to delegate according to both your strengths.

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Make sure that the bride has breakfast! Keep the bride calm and happy Supervise the flower girls Carry a clutch bag with emergency supplies for the bride Adjust the bride’s train and veil at the end of the aisle Take the bride’s bouquet to hold during the ceremony Help ensure that the bride’s hair and makeup looks good for photographs Perform a reading or be the witness at the ceremony Accompany the groomsmen back down the aisle at the end of the ceremony Bring the bride and groom drinks and canapés during the drinks reception Perform a speech at the wedding Join the bride and groom on the dancefloor after the first dance Help the bride negotiate the bathroom in her dress!


The Ultimate Bridesmaid Survival Guide

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How To Be The Best Bridesmaid Ever!

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Be Engaged

Plan an Amazing Hen

The main way that you can help support your bride is simply to take an interest in wedding planning! Ask her how she’s doing, be a shoulder to cry on if she’s frustrated, and make as many appointments and DIY days as you can. Even if the bride gets a little wedding obsessed, remember that the planning is temporary, and important to her right now, but your friendship is permanent.

Planning the hen party is one of the biggest responsibilities for the bridesmaids, so it’s important to get it right! Make sure you know roughly what she wants before starting to plan (UK or abroad, parents or no, boozy or relaxing), and think about her every step of the way, even if it’s not to your own taste. Check out our hen planning tips on page 12 for even more advice on the hen!

Spoil the Bride Offer to Help

One thing that takes a bridesmaid from good to great is the little touches to really spoil the bride. Buying her a meaningful gift before the wedding day, offering to fill the fridge while she’s away on her honeymoon, taking her out for pre-wedding pampering sessions and making the hen party as personal as possible are all great ways to show your bride you really care.

If you can offer your help, then do! This is especially useful if you can offer a specific skill, such as baking cakes, helping to create favours or flower arranging, but if you just want to help out whenever you can, let the bride know! She’ll love you for it.

Accept the Bridesmaid Dresses

Don’t Switch Off On The Day You may think that after the hen, your main job is simply to stand up at the ceremony, but don’t forget that you have duties on the day too! From keeping the bride calm (and fed!) in the morning to dancing with her on the dancefloor and making sure everyone is in the right place for photos, you’ll be one busy bridesmaid at the wedding (so whatever you do, don’t overindulge on the bubbles!). E ULTIMATE TH

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The big one. This is one area that causes the most strife between the bride and her bridesmaids, so be prepared for it. It may be that the bride is set on choosing a colour you’re not a fan of, or the silhouette isn’t a style you usually wear, but remember that being a bridesmaid is often about compromising - especially if she’s paying for the gown. If you really feel you can’t wear the dress, then try to be diplomatic when explaining your reasons, and remember that the focus isn’t on you on the day.

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These days hen parties are a lot more involved than a drink down the pub in L-plates! No matter what your bride is like, there are plenty of activities to choose from, so we guarantee there’s something your bride will love...

Foodie Hen • Cooking Class - From chocolate-making to sushi-rolling, there are cookery classes for every type of food imaginable. • Wine tasting - Whether you’re connoisseurs or total amateurs, wine-tasting is a sophisticated choice for a foodie hen. • Afternoon Tea - Everyone loves an afternoon tea, and they can easily be personalised to accommodate dietary requirements.

Glamorous Hen • Spa - The UK has so many luxurious spas to choose from that your bride is sure to enjoy a pampering weekend away. • The Races or Regatta - Get your fascinators and fancy frocks ready and head out to a sporting event. • Boat Party - Whether you’re at home or abroad, hiring a yacht or boat for a cocktail party is a great option if your budget can stretch to it.

Active Hen • Paintballing - This classic activity isn’t just for stags - just avoid bruises too close to the day! • Disco Yoga - A fun twist on regular yoga, disco yoga involves spandex, disco balls and glitter. • Surfing - If your hen weekend is by the sea, treat your bride to surfing or watersports.

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Hen Party Ideas

Music Hen • Festival - What better way to spend a hen weekend than at a festival? Pack your glow sticks and fancy dress and get ready to dance! • Dance Class - Learn the routine to your bride’s favourite song or artist, or try something new like belly dancing. • Karaoke - Karaoke is a great addition to a night out, and you can book private booths for those who are a little shy.

Crafty Hen • Flower-arranging - From bouquet-making to flower crown creations, this handy class can easily double up as tuition for a DIY wedding. • Perfume-making - Help to create your bride’s signature wedding scent at a perfume making class. • Jewellery-making - These crafty classes can help you make everything from earrings to tiaras, and you can even wear your creations to the wedding.

Party Hen • Cocktail-making - It’s a classic for a reason! Hire a room in a bar or have a mixologist come to your for your own private cocktail-making experience. • Pole-dancing Class - If your bride has always wanted to try pole-dancing, then this is the perfect time to try it. Just be ready with the talc... • Strip Show - Embrace your bride’s naughty side with a male strip show, or have butlers in the buff serve your drinks.

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The Ultimate Bridesmaid Survival Guide

Family-friendly Hen • Theatre - Pick a show that everyone will love and enjoy a night out at the West End, or at your local theatre. • Meal Out - Now is the perfect time for a splash-out meal. Pick the groom’s brains for restaurants the bride will love. • Garden Party - A sophisticated garden party with cocktails and nibbles is ideal for a summer hen party.

Overseas Hen • Champagne Tour - Jet off to France and have a tasting at a local vineyard - Paris is an elegant option. • Beach Party - For guaranteed party vibes, book tickets to a beach club party and get everyone to bring themed swimwear. • City Break - Europe is full of excellent short-haul locations for hen parties. Try Barcelona, Amsterdam or Budapest for culture, bars and shopping.

Joint Stag and Hen • Casino - Have a James Bond-style trip to the casino, with the boys in suits and the girls in long gowns. • Quad Biking - This activity is great fun for everyone, and a little competitive racing never hurt anyone! • Comedy Club - Pick up tickets to see a comedian that everyone loves, or hit a comedy festival.

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Accommodation and Budget

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Glamping £

These days plenty of hen parties take place over an entire weekend, which means you have to plan accommodation on top of activities. Your choice of accommodation is likely to have a huge effect on the hen party budget too, so choose wisely!

If you’re having a fun festival or outdoor theme to your hen party, then glamping makes for ideal accommodation, especially during the warmer months. Unlike regular camping, glamping sites often have more luxurious modcons, including actual beds (so leave the sleeping bags at home!), hot tubs and outdoor barbecues. Just be sure to confirm exactly what facilities are included so that everyone can pack accordingly.

House £££ Renting a large house is a popular choice with hens who want their own space, but it’s also one of the more expensive options when it comes to accommodation. There are companies that specialise in large house hire if you’re a bigger group of hens, or you can use a service like Air BnB for small to medium groups. It’s an ideal way to get a stylish communal space that’s exclusive to you, but be aware that you’ll have a hefty deposit to pay in case of damages.

Hostel £ Hostels are a budget-friendly option if you’re working with limited funds, but don’t have the luxurious extras that a hotel provides. If you don’t have a large enough group to fill a room, you may also end up sharing with others, so be aware of this. However, if you can fill a communal dorm, then hostels could be a great option, especially if you’re travelling abroad.

Hotel £-£££

Make sure your hen party budget also accounts for the following: • Activities • Food • Transport • Alcohol • Themed clothing and/or accessories • Entry fees for clubs and bars • Decor • Party bags • The bride’s costs

Hotels, of course, range massively in price depending on your chosen location and the star rating of the hotel, but it’s a simple way to get all your hens in one place. Hotels won’t have a minimum stay requirement (unlike rented houses), and often come with the added bonus of restaurants onsite, so you won’t have to worry about providing your own breakfast. If you’re missing the communal space of a house, consider booking a large suite with space for games. E ULTIMATE TH

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Starting with the bride, pass this card around. Take turns reading out each line. If the sentence that’s been read applies to you, take a drink.

• You’ve known the bride for more than 10 years

• You’re related to the bride

• You are wearing lipstick

• You have a tattoo

• You’re in the bridal party

• You’ve ever gone skinny dipping

• You’ve ever had sex in a public place

• You’re engaged or married

• You’ve gone on a holiday with the bride

• You’re wearing false lashes

• You’ve been to the couple’s honeymoon destination

• You’re wearing black underwear

• You’ve messaged the bride in the last 24 hours

• You have the groom’s phone number in your contact list

• You’re wearing high heels

• You’ve already done a shot this evening

• You’ve ever received a speeding ticket

• You have a sister

• You follow the bride on Instagram

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© Guides for Brides Download for more copies: www.guidesforbrides.co.uk/bridesmaid

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TEAR ME OUT TO KEEP AND PLAY

Raise your glass and take a drink if…


Hen Party Games

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Use your phone to take photos as proof! Most points at the end of the night wins!

5 Points

10 Points

• Find a guy with the same name as the groom

• Get a piggyback ride from a stranger

• Get a group selfie with three guys • Get a free drink for the bride-to-be

• Get the DJ to play ‘Single Ladies’ by Beyonce

• Swap a piece of clothing with a friend

• Use the men’s bathroom

• Make a veil out of toilet paper

• Get a guy’s phone number

15 Points

20 Points

• Fake a loud orgasm in the bar

• Get a guy to give the bride a lapdance

• Dance on a table

• Get on one knee and ask a stranger to marry you

• Get a selfie with a policeman

• Serenade someone with a cheesy love song • Find a pole and give it a whirl for at least thirty seconds

• Get a condom from a guy • Kiss a bald guy’s head and get a picture © Guides for Brides Download for more copies: www.guidesforbrides.co.uk/bridesmaid

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• Kiss the bartender

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Name: How old is the bride? Where did she meet the groom? How long has she known the groom? What colour are the groom’s eyes? What is the bride’s dream vacation? What was her first job? What is her favourite film? Is she a cat or a dog person? What’s her favourite thing about the groom? Where did the proposal happen? What date is the wedding? What does the bride say is her worst habit? Who is her celebrity crush? How many children does she want? Where was the bride born?

What is her pet name for the groom? What is the bride’s favourite drink? What is her middle name? What is her shoe size? Total points: E ULTIMATE TH

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© Guides for Brides Download for more copies: www.guidesforbrides.co.uk/bridesmaid

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What is her karaoke song?


Hen Party Games

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This quiz is a must-do for every hen party! Give a copy of these questions to the groom before the party, then on the day, get the bride to answer the same questions and see if the answers match! For every question she gets wrong, the bride must do a forfeit. Where did you first meet? Where was your first date? Who said ‘I love you first’? Who is the best cook? Who is the best dancer? Who is tidiest? What is their worst habit? What is their pet name for you? What is their favourite meal? What are you most likely to argue about? Who would play you both in a movie? What’s the last movie you watched together? Who gets the last word in an argument?

Who is the most competitive? Who looks the best naked? What does your partner say is your most annoying habit? Where was your first kiss? © Guides for Brides Download for more copies: www.guidesforbrides.co.uk/bridesmaid

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Who has the most annoying friends?

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Planning the hen do is an important responsibility for the bridesmaids, so the pressure’s on to throw the best party ever. Here are some of our top tips for stress-free planning and creating the perfect day for your bride…

Speak to the Bride This is the best possible starting point. While hen parties should remain somewhat a surprise for the bride, it’s so important to have an initial conversation with the bride-to-be to get some ideas on what she wants. You’ll also quickly learn from her what she doesn’t want, which is equally as important! Use our handy checklist on page 16 to ask her what is and isn’t acceptable on her day. Speaking to the bride should hopefully get some creative ideas flowing, so that you can tie in some surprises for her along the way. For example, you could incorporate the wedding colour theme into certain parts of the hen party, or plan a meal around her favourite type of food.

Split the jobs between all the bridesmaids – it’s not as effective for one person to be doing everything, and this helps to build team spirit. If you’re looking at a hen do abroad, split the jobs into transport, accommodation, and activities. Partner up if need be to have a couple of bridesmaids working on one area. As great as it is to ask the rest of the hens for their feedback, keep all major decision making between the bridesmaids, as too many opinions never ends well. E ULTIMATE TH

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Delegate


Top Tips For Planning The Hen

Party Bags Who said party bags have to stop when you’re an adult?! Account for some extra funds in the budget to create a party bag. It’s such a lovely touch and allows you to add some sentimental value too – it’s the little things like including the bride’s favourite sweeties in the bag that people remember! If the hen party is going to involve a couple (or several) bottles of prosecco, then include a ‘morning after the night before’ pack, which could include supplies like painkillers, chocolate, and water. This one is always a winner. We usually estimate around £10 for a very impressive party bag. Bulk buying really helps to bring the cost down, and you could even have personalised tote bags if you want to go all out!

Always Be Prepared The hen party has arrived, and everyone has paid up and is raring to go… and they’re expecting you to lead the way! Now we don’t mean to bring you back to your school days, but do some homework a week before. Print out all of your booking confirmations/email threads/ directions etc., as it’s better to have too much info to hand, than not enough! Make things a little easier on the day too by having taxi numbers saved on your phone – it really does save a fair amount of time by doing this work beforehand.

Remember to enjoy yourselves! Hen planning can often start a year before the big event, and we know it can sometimes take over. So, when the time comes to finally get together and you’re all making the best memories, just take it all in and enjoy it. Your hard work always does pay off so don’t stress too much! Take plenty of pictures and choose a hen party hashtag so you can easily track all the Instagram-worthy snaps from the bride tribe. E ULTIMATE TH

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Have Fun

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If you’re planning the all-important hen do, then it’s vital to know what the bride deems acceptable on her night! Here’s a handy checklist to give your bride to see what she’s up for, and what she’s not… Strip shows Bare-bum butlers Nude life drawing Fancy dress Going abroad Willy straws and other penisrelated paraphernalia Matching t-shirts L-plates Mums attending Children attending Public dares Karaoke

Pole-dancing Clubbing Adrenaline activities, e.g. high ropes, abseiling, sky-diving

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TEAR ME OUT AND GIVE TO BRIDE

Paintballing


Hen Party SOS

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Although hen parties are plenty of fun, as with any party or weekend away, there are dangers and pitfalls that you should avoid! Here are some things you should definitely take into consideration when planning the hen party…

with large group holidays, hen party groups are often targeted by thieves. They know it’s likely that cash and valuables will be left in hotel rooms or villas while everyone is drinking, so robberies can be unfortunately commonplace.

SOS: Someone’s dropped out at the last minute!

How to avoid: Use common sense when travelling abroad in groups. Don’t take large amounts of cash, leave valuables back in the UK or in a room safe, and keep your passport and cards on you at all times.

This is a classic hen do dilemma. For whatever reason, people may drop out of the party at the 11th hour, meaning that you’re suddenly trying to cover the cost of another person. It’s not fair to suddenly put the price up for everyone else, but equally, it’s not okay to put the cost on the maid of honour or the bride. How to avoid: This is a tricky one to avoid, but the easiest way is to prepare for it. Make it clear in the early stages that once the deposit is down, the hens are committed to paying the balance. This should weed out any flakier members of the party. If it is a genuine emergency, then work with the other hens to help cover the cost where possible.

SOS: The bride’s injured herself! Whether it’s the result of a few too many cocktails, or an activity gone wrong, the last thing you want is the bride coming home in an ambulance. Even superficial cuts and bruises can wreak havoc with wedding photos, and in a worst case scenario, the bride may end up unable to travel home from a hen do abroad due to casts or surgeries. How to avoid: Of course, accidents happen, but the easiest way to avoid total disaster is to make sure the hen do is far enough in advance that everyone has sufficient time to recover before the wedding. If the date is set in stone, make sure that drinking is done as responsibly as possible, and that any activities include plenty of safety checks.

SOS: We’ve been robbed! If you’re planning a hen do abroad, it’s worth bearing in mind that, in many areas popular

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There are different kinds of bridesmaid in every bridal party - take this quiz to find out what kind you are! Your best friend just got engaged! How do you react?

You’re in charge of planning the hen party - what’s on the itinerary?

A) Immediately start a Pinterest board for ideas and give her the pre-wrapped engagement present you’ve had ready for months. B) Crack open the champagne and start discussing the engagement party! C) Instantly burst into tears and start reminiscing with her about all your good times together. D) Celebrate with her, but secretly hope that the next 18 months isn’t all wedding chat…

A) A city break filled with plenty of activities and sightseeing. B) A girls’ beach party weekend away in Ibiza. C) A weekend in the bride’s hometown with loads of fun games and old photos. D) A nice meal out followed by a few drinks.

Which part of the wedding are you looking forward to the most? A) Getting ready in the morning - the anticipation is so exciting. B) The evening party - you’re ready to dance the night away. C) The vows - it’s the most meaningful part of the entire day. D) The food - it’s the best part of any wedding.

It’s time to go wedding dress shopping! What will you be doing? A) Packing snacks and bottled water to stop everyone flagging. B) Enjoying the free champagne and hyping the bride up. C) Crying at every dress that comes out - she just looks so beautiful! D) Turning up - that’s pretty much all that needs to be done, right?

Your bride is getting a little bridezilla and has upset some of the bridesmaids. How do you deal with the situation? A) Sit down with everyone for a group catch-up and address any issues up-front. B) Organise a girls’ night out to blow off some steam - no wedding talk allowed! C) Write her a long, heartfelt message about how she’s made you feel it’s the best way to avoid a tearful argument. D) Keep your head down and let the whole thing blow over.

What kind of bridesmaid dress are you hoping for? A) Perfectly co-ordinated mix and match dresses. B) Sexy fitted cocktail dresses. C) Long and romantic maxi dresses. D) Whatever the bride wants.

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What Kind Of Bridesmaid Are You?

If you answered...

Mostly As - You’re The Planner You were born to be a bridesmaid! Whether it’s keeping the bride on track with her to-do list or taking the lead with the hen party planning, you’re ready to take on whatever the role requires. You’re likely to be the bride’s goto girl when she’s feeling the strain, but just be careful not to take over or overwhelm your bride with tasks if you feel she’s behind.

Mostly Bs - You’re The Party Girl You’re the bridesmaid who knows how to get the party started, from coming up with the best hen do games to keeping the dancefloor full at the wedding. Your main job is likely to be helping the maid of honour plan the best hen do ever, but don’t forget that it’s not all about the partying - weddings can be serious business too! Know when to take things seriously as well as when to get everyone hyped up and excited.

Mostly Cs - You’re The Emotional One We’re surprised you stopped crying long enough to take this quiz! You’re a big fan of weddings and love all the most meaningful elements of it, like the vows, readings and first dance. You’re the bride’s shoulder to cry on, and you love going the extra mile for special gifts or memories. Just remember not to make the important moments all about you - and maybe carry some tissues for the big day...

Mostly Ds - You’re The Laidback One You’re happy to be a bridesmaid for your friend or family member, and you’re also happy to let the other bridesmaids take charge. You’re probably pretty chilled out in general, so when it comes to the wedding, you’re keen to go with the flow and not make a massive deal out of proceedings. Just bear in mind that your bride is likely to be taking things very seriously, so let her know that the day is important to you (and whatever you do, do NOT say, “it’s just one day”!). E ULTIMATE TH

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Who Pays for Bridesmaid Dress?

Picking the Right Colour

First things first - make sure you have a chat about budget with the bride. Being a bridesmaid can be expensive, so it’s good to know upfront whether you’re expected to pay for any (or all) elements of your bridesmaid ensemble. In the UK, it’s traditional that the bride pays for the bridesmaid dresses, but you may be asked to pay for your accessories depending on the bride’s budget.

Your bride is likely to have some ideas when it comes to her colour scheme, but if you’re shopping for gowns together, you might want to advise her on colours that will work with her theme. Bear in mind that bouquets look best when they pop against the bridesmaid dresses, not blend in, and think about how the groomsmen’s suits will look with the chosen colour palette.

Don’t Size Down When to Shop for Bridesmaid Dresses

Even if you’re planning to go on a pre-wedding diet, don’t order your bridesmaid dress a size smaller in the hopes that you’ll slim into it. If you’re unsuccessful, you may struggle to find the same style in a larger size so that you’re not mismatched from the rest of the bridal party. If you do end up losing the weight, then you can easily have your dress altered - it’s much easier to take a dress in than it is to let it out.

Your bride should have already chosen her wedding dress before you start shopping for bridesmaid dresses, to ensure that your dresses complement the style, fabric and shape of her gown. You may want to start shopping for dresses 12 months in advance, as you’ll be able to find more styles to suit the wedding season. Pastel shades and floral prints will be popular around Spring and Summer, and more deep jewel-tone shades and sequins appear in shops in the run up to Christmas.

Be a Team Player

Work with the Bride Remember that this is the bride’s big day, not yours, so try to be supportive even if she picks dresses that you wouldn’t usually choose yourself. Make constructive suggestions rather than just complaining when you don’t like a suggested style, and give her positive feedback when you see styles you like.

If the other bridesmaids are very different in size, shape or age to you, then you may want to suggest as a group to the bride that you wear different dress styles in the same colour. If she wants you all to match, however, then try to be flexible and pick something that everyone is comfortable with. Multi-way dresses, which are dresses that can be worn in a variety of different ways, are also a great option for big groups with differing preferences.

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How to Help the Bride Choose Her Wedding Dress

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Be Honest…

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embrace it too - if you’re vocal about disliking a dress that she ends up buying, then she’ll always have a doubt in the back of her mind.

If you’re one of the chosen few accompanying the bride on her wedding dress shopping journey, then you’ll know that she trusts your opinion and wants you to be a part of this momentous occasion. You’re there to help encourage her when she finds styles she loves, but also to help her pick the most appropriate and flattering dress for her big day. If she’s overwhelmed by different designs, then feel free to give her your honest opinion on which styles you think she looks best and happiest in.

Don’t Encourage Bad Shopping Habits Dress shopping with your bride can be a great girly experience, but try not to get carried away. Don’t encourage her to look at dresses out of her price range (no matter how pretty they are!), and if she does try on something over budget, don’t egg her on to spend more than she can afford.

...but not Brutal

Think About Practicality

When we say that you should be honest, you should still be as diplomatic as possible. Clothes shopping can be a fraught experience for women at the best of times, let alone shopping for the most important dress of their lives, so appreciate that your bride may be feeling frazzled. Remember that you’re shopping for her dress, not yours, so keep your personal tastes to yourself.

Your bride’s main focus is likely to be how she looks and feels in the dress, but if she’s picking out impractical styles, don’t be afraid to gently point this out to her. If she’s getting married on the beach, but she’s looking at heavy ball gowns with long trains, you might want to encourage her to look at lighter styles.

Be Prepared for the Long Haul Wedding dress shopping can be a long, exhausting process for everyone. Be sure to eat something filling beforehand to keep you going, and don’t let the bride skip breakfast if she’s worried about feeling bloated in the dresses. Pack water bottles and cereal bars in your handbag, and try not to schedule appointments back to back if you think it’ll wear everyone out.

Don’t Override the Bride’s Opinion You’re at the appointment because the bride values your opinion, but that doesn’t mean that you should shoot down styles without taking her feelings into account. If she hates a style, then help her feel confident in her convictions. If she’s unsure, then you can help her think through the pros and cons. If she loves a style, then try to

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Tips For Dealing With A Brideszilla

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If your bride is starting to turn a little monstrous, don’t panic! Here are 5 top tips for a surviving a bridezilla attack...

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of anything worse than the stripper she’s demanded for her hen, it may be easier just to embrace it. However, the one area where you should always speak up is if she’s insisting on expensive options that you or the other bridesmaids can’t afford, such as hair and makeup, bespoke shoes or a luxurious hen abroad. Just let her know gently that you can’t afford it, and suggest an alternative - being a bridesmaid shouldn’t put you in debt.

Stay Calm Planning a wedding is stressful, and can bring the bridezilla out in the best of people - but luckily, it’s temporary. Remember that your bride is under a lot of pressure, and try not to take it too personally when she gets picky. Instead of snapping back and starting a fight, do your best to breathe and let it go. Don’t be a doormat, but let her know your thoughts diplomatically (and ideally when she’s calm and not in a panic).

Don’t Gang Up On Her Resist the urge to complain to the other bridesmaids about the bride. If you need to vent, then chat to someone outside of the wedding party about your frustrations. If you and the bridesmaids begin to talk behind the bride’s back, the atmosphere will quickly become sour, so quickly diffuse any group complaining.

Talk To Her You can sometimes nip a bridezilla in the bud by addressing the situation early on. Take her out for a coffee or a glass of wine and ask if there’s anything stressing her out, as she doesn’t seem to be herself lately. If she’s upset you, be honest and let her know that you understand that she’s under a lot of stress, but that she’s hurt your feelings. Hopefully, she should see the error of her ways and be more mindful in future.

Know When To Quit Sometimes taking the higher ground and being honest simply isn’t enough. If your bride has become too irrational to deal with, or you’re being asked to do something you’re just not comfortable with (such as lose weight or spend too much money), it may be a good time to tell your bride honestly that you’re not sure that you can be there for her in a bridesmaid capacity, but that you would love to attend the wedding as a guest. Try to avoid a massive blow-out fight, and remember that the bride may be feeling a similar way, so making it easier for her by stepping down may save your friendship in the long run.

Pick Your Battles Choose wisely when it comes to pushing back on your bride’s demands, otherwise you’ll feel that you’re constantly battling each other and everyone will become frazzled. If she’s picked bridesmaid dresses that you’re not a fan of, or you can’t think

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hese days, more and more brides are asking their bridesmaids (or maids of honour) to make speeches on the day. The best thing about bridesmaid speeches is that there are no rules or expectations to stick to, but this also means that it can be quite difficult to write. Here are our top tips for rocking your bridesmaid speech…

LG

remember that this day is about two people! If you’re not close with the groom, then simply talk about how happy he makes your bride, or about when she first knew he was the one. If you are close, then some gentle jokes are always likely to go down well.

Thank People Introduce Yourself

Adding in some thank-yous is crucial to a wedding speech. Thank the other bridesmaids for their support and your bride for making you a part of the wedding party, as well as any other thank-yous you feel appropriate.

Bridesmaid speeches are still considered unconventional enough that people won’t be expecting it, so a little introduction explaining your role and how you know the bride will always go down well.

Finish with Advice Focus on the Bride

A good piece of marriage or relationship advice for the newly married couple never goes amiss. Ask the rest of the bridesmaids for their input on this for a more personalised touch.

Just as a best man’s speech is focussed on the groom, your speech should primarily be about the bride. If you have the kind of relationship where you can include a few jokes or funny stories, then that’s sure to go down well with the guests, but otherwise feel free to stick to purely complimentary material. Talk about how you first met, what you love about her, and some favourite moments from your friendship.

And Relax! After your speech is finished, then you can relax and enjoy the rest of the wedding day. You’ll still be on ‘bridesmaid duty’, so don’t indulge in too much fizz, but take a moment to pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Being a bridesmaid can be fraught and fantastic in equal measure, but it’s a memory that you’ll treasure for years to come.

But Don’t Forget the Groom!

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Your speech shouldn’t be all about the bride -

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Created by the expert team behind Guides for Brides, The Bridesmaid Survival Guide is an essential guide to help bridesmaids through the ups and downs of being part of the bridal party. Answering burning questions like ‘who pays for the bridesmaid dresses?’ and ‘what is the difference between a maid of honour and a chief bridesmaid?’, as well as giving bridesmaids expert advice on every stage of the wedding, from the hen do to ‘I do’, The Bridesmaid Survival Guide should be in every bridesmaid’s bag.

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Guides for Brides - The Ultimate Bridesmaids Survival Guide  

A handy bridesmaid lifeline to help guide you through the ups and downs of being part of the bridal party, all the way from the hen do to ‘...

Guides for Brides - The Ultimate Bridesmaids Survival Guide  

A handy bridesmaid lifeline to help guide you through the ups and downs of being part of the bridal party, all the way from the hen do to ‘...