From the very moment my future husband slid the sparkler onto my finger, I knew exactly which friends I wanted to stand by my side on my wedding day.
But how their unique personalities would all mesh with one another was not something I had given a thought to.
It wasn’t until a few months into the wedding-planning process that I realized these women each had their own individual friendship with me, and all came from very different walks of life and backgrounds. In fact, most of them hadn’t even met one another.
I instantly began to worry that waiting until the wedding to introduce them was a poor idea; I wanted to ensure that everyone was comfortable in advance of all the important pre-wedding events: the engagement party, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, etc.
I realized that they needed their own meet-and-greet event, apart from the rest of the wedding party, to serve as a fun icebreaker. It was a wonderful event, and one that I know my bridesmaids were thankful to have been invited to.
Given what I learned, here are my tips on how to host a meet-and-greet event for your bridesmaids:
1. Choose a theme that won’t compete with your wedding
Wedding planning can be extremely exciting, especially if you’re a creative person. And because this is likely the first event you’ll hold related to your wedding, you may be bursting with ideas and anxiously awaiting the chance to bring them to life.
But it’s important to remember that your wedding is the main event; save your absolute best ideas for that.
That doesn’t mean you should completely stay away from anything related to your wedding theme though. You can find ways to incorporate your theme into this event (and future events) without taking away from the magic of your big day.
In my case, I chose to use a different shade of the main color in our wedding scheme: pink. Our wedding colors are blush, gold and navy, so I went with a bright pink for the luncheon and paired it with an equally-bright shade of orange.
I also chose to use some of the decor for our wedding in a different manner. For instance, we’ve been collecting vintage decanters for quite some time now, scouring thrift stores and yard sales for different shapes and designs, and these will be an integral part of our wedding centerpieces. I chose to use them as part of the dessert display and adorned them with cupcakes, which is very different from how they will be staged during our wedding reception.
2. Have it early on in the wedding-planning process
These are the women you’ve chosen to take part in your wedding, so it’s only natural that you’d include them in most (if not all) of the planning process. It’s likely that you’ll invite them to your cake tasting, dress fittings and floral consultations, as well as many other appointments leading up to the big day.
But if these women don’t have a great relationship to begin with (maybe you’re like me, and you have chosen friends from all different facets of your life), it can create opportunities for opinions and personalities to clash, taking the sparkle out of these special moments.
You want this whole process to be as pain free as possible, so it’s important to try and alleviate any tension that might exist. For instance, your best friend from high school might end up feeling jealous if you value the opinions of your best friend from college, feeling as if she’s known you longer and therefore knows you better. If you’re able to help those two friends bond early on, and create a friendship of their own, there’s less of a chance for negative feelings.
But if you wait until a few months before the wedding to sort it all out, those tensions have probably built up over the course of the wedding-planning process, and may come to a nasty head right before (or worse, during!) your wedding.
Tackle this in the early stages of wedding planning, and you’ll be glad it’s out of the way.
3. Make sure you’re choosing the right environment
This whole purpose of this event is to help these women get to know one another, so you’ll want to choose an environment that’s conducive to that. Think small, intimate and quiet.
You need to provide equal opportunities for everyone to engage in conversation with one another, so if you’re thinking of taking them all out to dinner one night, remember that it feels pretty terrible to be the one at the end of the table who is left out of the conversation. Try and find a place that offers round tables, so everyone has an equal seat at the table and feels included, especially because the duration and intensity of your friendship with each bridesmaid probably varies from person to person. . And private rooms are always best in this situation; people will be sharing intimate details about their lives, and you don’t want to hinder their ability to share by being surrounded by a restaurant full of nosy strangers.
I chose to host a luncheon at my home, with the catering being set up on the kitchen island, and the actual dining area in the adjacent room. I wanted the whole event to flow and feel casual, and I felt this would be accomplished if the guests were able to help themselves to the food and then find their seat.
I handmade all the invitations using layers of different cardstock from the local craft store, and a hole punch with an intricate lace design to give some added flare to the edges of the invitation.
I felt that assigned seating was best, so that there was no argument over who got to sit where, and I set a place card out for each girl. These were really easy to make using the leftover cardstock from the invitations.
4. Make your bridesmaids feel important
When you ask someone to be in your wedding, you may not realize just how much you’re asking of them – unless you’ve already been a bridesmaid yourself. It’s a major commitment of time, energy and money, and you shouldn’t take that lightly. My advice is to make an effort to show them how special they are to, so that there is no doubt that you appreciate their participation.
I did this by putting together a gift for each bridesmaid that included a mix of things related to the wedding theme itself – the 1920s:
- A bottle of champagne
- A copy of “The Great Gatsby”, and on the inside cover of each book I wrote a note about all the ways I cherish that person’s friendship
- A framed piece of artwork depicting the Chanel No.5 perfume bottle
5. Don’t spend a fortune
By the time your big day arrives, no one will remember if you splurged on the custom monogram napkins or chose a lower-cost alternative. They will be focused on your wedding, and not the events that came before it.
If you’re paying for your wedding yourself, or plan to contribute to the overall budget, you’ll be glad that you didn’t blow your savings hosting the smaller, less important events.