There's a lot more to being a bridesmaid than the bragging rights. From the various financial (and emotional) expenses, to the stress of planning the shower and bachelorette party, it's no secret that being in a bridal party can be tough.
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There's a lot more to being a bridesmaid than the bragging rights. From the various financial (and emotional) expenses, to the stress of planning the shower and bachelorette party, it's no secret that being in a bridal party can be tough. But there are certain things that can help make the entire process significantly less overwhelming and keep you, well, sane. Below are 9 tips for being a kick-ass bridesmaid.

Start planning as soon as possible.
It's likely you were asked to be in the wedding party about a year in advance. But don't let the seemingly far-off wedding date fool you--there is plenty you can, and should, begin doing ASAP. Stay as organized as possible by keeping a spreadsheet of the bridesmaids' contact information, a timeline of the events, a planner/to-do list, an outline of wedding-related expenses so you can budget appropriately, etc. Starting early will not only help reduce stress-levels, but will also let you leave a little room for last minute emergencies and/or unexpected changes.

Be a team player.
Do not mistake being part of the wedding for running the wedding. Disagreements between bridesmaids are bound to happen, especially when you are spending a lot of (perhaps too much) time together. But don't let it become a competition of "Who Can Be the Best Bridesmaid?" There's a fine line between being proactive and being overbearing. If you want to impress and help the bride, get along with everyone and be cooperative. Every now and then check in not only with the bride but also with the Maid of Honor to see if there's anything you could be doing to help.

Don't bitch about the dress.
Aside from standing alongside her at the ceremony and attending the rehearsal, there is technically only one other mandatory duty you agree to when being a bridesmaid: Wear the dress. Maybe it's ugly, an unflattering color, or you'd prefer a different style. It is extremely difficult to find a dress that looks good on 5+ different bodies. This is the one night of your (adult) life you have to wear what someone else wants you to. Do it with a smile.

Get party favors ahead of time.
Between the bridal shower and bachelorette party, you will likely need to help put together various decorations and party favors. But, contrary to popular belief, being a good bridesmaid does not necessarily mean emptying your bank account. Do yourself a favor and find a place for custom labels. From water bottles at the reception, to cupcake toppers at the bridal shower, to wine bottles at the bachelorette party, and gift tags for party favors, having a go-to company that is quick and inexpensive for custom labels and tags will prove to be invaluable. They are a great, cost-effective way to add a unique, personalized touch to gifts and favors, which will simultaneously help make guests and the wedding party feel appreciated. Plus, the right place should be able to customize the labels according to the wedding theme.

Plan the bachelorette party accordingly.
Don't assume the best idea for the bachelorette party is the stereotypical night-out partying (and perhaps a couple male strippers). Consider exactly what type of person the bride is, and plan it around what would make her most happy. While you want everyone to have fun, remember it is about the bride--not you, and not the other bridesmaids. Don't be afraid to ask the bride; not everything has to be a surprise!

Be present.
And not just in the Zen way (although that is important!). Make sure throughout the entire process you're both physically and emotionally present for the bride. Offer to go with her to dress fittings, venue viewings, etc. Offer to be her wing-woman for non-wedding activities when she needs a break. If you think being a bridesmaid is stressful, imagine what she must be going through! Be there as an outlet for her to express her stress, fears and frustrations. Continuously remind yourself why she chose you to be part of one of the biggest days of her life. Obviously she values you as a person--and whether it is your humor, understanding nature, or optimistic personality, there is something you bring to the table she could really use from time to time.

Don't get wasted.
Of course you should let loose and have fun--it's a celebration, after all! But don't drink to the point of being sloppy, and this goes for the shower and bachelorette party too. If you're inebriated you can't be entirely there for anything the bride may need. Remember that an important duty as a bridesmaid is to mingle with guests, get people to dance, etc. If you're interacting with people, you don't want to be slurring your words. Like it or not, being a bridesmaid means your behavior is a reflection of the bride. Don't embarrass her!

Never ever bitch to the bride
A lot of the stress brides experience stems from making sure other people are happy and enjoying themselves. And that includes you! If you absolutely must vent about another very frustrating bridesmaid, the constant expenses, or how time-consuming it's been, do it to someone else... preferably someone who doesn't know the bride. The bride has enough to worry about--your happiness shouldn't be one of them.

Prepare for the worst.
The best way to make sure everything goes right is to minimize the amount of things that could go wrong. Have an emergency prep kit on hand filled with bobby pins, deodorant, fashion tape, mints, and other essentials she may need. Consider ahead of time how you would handle certain emergency situations, such as last minute jitters, lost items, unpredictable weather, etc.

Agreeing to be a bridesmaid is a great honor, but it does come with a lot of responsibility, time commitments, financial expenses, and stressful situations. But throughout the process remember the best thing you can do, for yourself and for the bride, is remember what and why you are celebrating in the first place.

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