Bridesmaids for Life

By Natasha Garber | Make Favorite

Photo: Christa Elyce

Whether confidante, cousin or colleague, she’s someone special in your life—after all, you’re asking her to be at your side on your most momentous occasion. So make sure your bridesmaid knows just how important she is, on this precious day, and always. From how you invite her to be part of your wedding day squad, to how you treat her in the months leading up to your event, to how you thank her for her dedication and friendship on the big day itself, you are beholden to making your bridesmaid’s experience one she’ll always remember for all the right reasons. Follow our heartfelt advice, and you’ll make sure she does!

Invite & Excite
No matter how formal your wedding affair, the invitation you extend to your bridesmaids need not be grandiose at all—although it should be more than a simple phone call or emoji-filled text. If you’re already working with an invitation designer, talk to her about creating a special invitation just for the gals you’re asking to be in your group. Don’t worry about having it match your wedding invitation design—your bridesmaid invitation is an opportunity to have fun with graphics, images and print. If your wedding invitations have dark formal letterpress print on heavy ivory stock, go for vibrant watercolor flowers, vintage script, bold stripes, or accent with bits of lace and ribbon.

And get creative with your wording! Cute phrases like “I can’t do it alone!” or “‘Planning this wedding was so stress-free!’ (–said no one ever),” or “I found my man, but I still need my girls!” all are perfectly appropriate ways to ask your besties to be your b’maids in a language they’ll understand.

Recent Houston bride Julie Blumberg took a sweet approach to inviting her 11 bridesmaids to her winter wedding at The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa: “I asked each girl to be a bridesmaid with a little container filled with personalized M&Ms. On each M&M was either: ‘Be,’ ‘My,’ ‘Bridesmaid,’ or a ‘?’ For my sister, who I was asking to be my maid of honor, I was so eager to ask, I couldn’t wait for he M&Ms to come in. Instead, when we were at dinner one night, I arranged for the waiter to bring out her favorite chocolate cake, which I knew she would order for dessert, and had the chef write, ‘Will You Be My MOH?’ around the edge of the plate!”

Looking for an invitation idea that’s a little outside the…envelope? Send each of your gals a bottle of wine labeled with a custom, “Will you be my bridesmaid?” nestled in a crate or box, with rose petals or confetti mixed in with the packing fill. Labels also work well on candle tins, boxed fancy soaps, and packaged sweets and treats.

Tasteful Tokens
While it’s your invitation to her to play a special part in your wedding, your bridesmaid invite is also a request for help—possibly lots of help. Since you’re asking her to assist you with wedding planning, and, most likely, to spend her own hard-earned cash on a bridesmaid dress, shoes, outfits for pre- and post-wedding bashes, and, let’s be honest here, a gift or two for you, it’s a nice gesture to sweeten your request with a token of your appreciation.

Whether you include a gift with your invitation, or bestow gifts on your bridesmaids at a pre-wedding lunch or brunch—or on the morning of the big day itself—the most popular bridesmaid gifts are as practical as they are meaningful.

Houston bride Sue Trevino, who tied the knot at lovely Agave Real in Katy, didn’t give her gals just one gift each—she lovingly curated a collection of goodies for the girls: “During the rehearsal dinner, each bridesmaid was given a bag. Inside was a hanger with the girl’s name and title engraved on it, along with the wedding date, plus a ‘cupcake’ loofah, a personalized robe to wear while getting ready on the day of, a notebook with her initials, and a photo album of pictures of us together throughout the years.”

Blumberg hosted a bridal luncheon the day before the wedding, where she set a bag on the table at each girl’s place setting. “The bags were monogrammed with the first letter of their name. Inside each bag was a charcoal-grey zip-up hoodie with the girl’s monogram on the front (to wear while we were getting ready), a hanger with her name on it (to hang her dress on), a pair of flip-flops (for dancing later), and extra-soft polka-dot socks.”

Giving your gals the freedom to wear non-matching bridesmaid dresses, perhaps all in shades of one color or basic style? You can bring your squad into harmony with a matching accessory gift. Great options include crystal pendants and drop earrings, stackable rings, and elegant wraps or shawls. For a twist on the popular bridesmaid prep robe, opt for monogrammed “men’s” dress shirts in a pale pastel hue, or “Team Bride” T-shirts or tanks, with or without the bling.

Taking your festivities to a far-off location? Monogrammed beach totes, duffels, toiletries cases, passport cases or bikini bags make great gifts for destination bridesmaids, and can be used over and over again on future vacations.

Get Together
If you’re lucky enough to have most, or all, of your bridesmaids living nearby, an in-person gathering is the best thank-you of all. It’s also a great way to connect, laugh, share memories, and blow off steam, during what can be a stressful lead-up to a very big day.

An overnight or weekend getaway with your girls is your best bet for relaxing and enjoying, so plan early, and get everyone on board. One way to ensure an unforgettable bridesmaids’ trip is to ask your girls to be your maids during the trip itself, as a surprise. A Champagne toast to kick off the festivities is a perfect opportunity to gift your gals with delicate flutes printed with each girl’s name, and the word “bridesmaid.” Doing the spa thing with your special girls? Present each bridesmaid-invitee with a luxurious spa robe embroidered with her initials in front, and “bridesmaid” in back.

For bridesmaids who’ve already been asked, and have answered with a resounding, “Yes!” pre-wedding activities offer plenty of opportunities for you to show your gratitude. Trevino joined her bridesmaids and several additional close friends—for a total of 16 girls!—on a weekend in New Orleans, where they enjoyed “lots of good food, good fun (we won’t share those pictures), and good drinks, all shared with GOOD people!”

For a more intimate gathering of maids, consider a group mani-pedi appointment, either at the salon, or in the privacy of someone’s home, a day or two before the big one—and for a special touch, have all your girls get matching gels or custom nail art, which, like their dresses, will set them apart from the rest of the guests.

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