The Brooding Bride: What's a Bridesmaid to Do?

When confronted with a brooding bride, what's a bridesmaid to do? First, you must recognize that getting married is hard. There's so much to plan, consider and balance. Additionally, everyone who gets married has emotional ups and downs, doubts and hesitations. Be sympathetic.

Consider the bridal expectations. Brides are supposed to be blissful and to float everywhere they go. Yet everyone has seen that pitiful bride who looks utterly exhausted in her bridal pictures.

Don't let your bride end up like that. Help her. If she's trying to do too much, then she probably expects too much of the experience and of herself. If she were planning any other event, she'd know that she would have to pace herself. Because it's her dream wedding, though, she's expecting to be excited all the time. Nobody can keep that up for a year or more.

Give her some time off

Maybe she needs a break. Take her on a trip, somewhere far from both planning and dreaming. Go to the beach, or to a carnival. Hike, jog, play tennis or take in a movie. Help her find detachment from her situation. As a bridesmaid, it's part of your job. During your excursion, do not mention the word 'wedding.' Tell her about your life, or gossip about work, your family or whatever social group you share. Offer to repeat the excursion every week or so.

Listen

The bride may feel a need to talk about her unhappiness. She probably doesn't want feedback, just a listening ear. That's what friends and bridesmaids are for. If she does demand a response, think before you answer her, especially if she says something like, "Maybe this is all a mistake. I don't think I want to get married." A remark like that needs to be discussed with her spiritual advisor, her mother or her fiance. You should listen, but avoid giving advice if you can.

Whatever she ultimately decides to do, she may later remember that you advised against it. If the course of action she chooses doesn't work out, she may remember that you were for it. Advising a bride is treacherous territory.

Support

Help with the small decisions, and help her to see that most decisions aren't important. Ask her if she remembers the specialty cocktails at the last three weddings she attended. Ask her if she remembers what the escort cards looked like. If she does remember something she liked, suggest she borrow the idea and stop brooding about it. If she remembers something she hated, gently suggest she do the opposite.

Take care of yourself

You'll attend any number of parties for this wedding and possibly throw one too. You might buy an expensive dress that you wouldn't have chosen for yourself, one that you'll probably never wear again. You'll see seating charts race before your eyes as you try to fall asleep.

What's a bridesmaid to do? Give yourself days off, too. Go for a walk alone, read a book, put your feet up and relax. Then you can come back on duty rested and refreshed, and ready to cope with a brooding bride.

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