10 Ground Rules for Avoiding Bride Wars with your Friends

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The summer I got married was a whirlwind of weddings. I think the final count was 13 weddings, including my own. Some of the weddings were for acquaintances, a couple for extended family, but most were for close friends. I lost count of the number of engagement parties, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and rehearsals/rehearsal dinners that I attended in the months leading up to all the weddings.

Wedding planning season was a busy time, and my friends and I would get together and talk about our upcoming bridal showers and wedding details. Everything was always polite and civil, but it was hard not to feel like we were competing for cute wedding ideas, or dates for showers, or bridesmaid dresses, as if someone was going to give awards for each wedding category at the end of the summer. I look back now, and it all seems really dumb and petty. Plus, no one ever gave me a trophy.

If you and your friends find yourself in a similar situation as you plan your respective weddings, then here are 10 ground rules to follow if you want to avoid bride wars:

1. The first rule is the golden rule. Treat your friends the way you want to be treated. Be excited for them. Show them that you don’t just care about your own wedding and future, but also about theirs. Plan your friend’s bachelorette party or bridal shower with the same gusto as if it was your own. You will be thankful when your friend treats you the same way.

2. Your friends do not have to get in line behind you when setting their wedding date. If your wedding is in June, and they get engaged after you but choose a date in May, don’t get mad. You chose June. They chose May. You could have chosen May. In fact, you could elope today. People have reasons for choosing the wedding date they choose. Don’t assume they are trying to steal your thunder by jumping in front of you.

3. You cannot claim any commercially available bridesmaid dress is yours only. If you want a unique bridesmaid dress (or wedding dress), have it custom made. Certain styles and colors are popular, and it’s not uncommon to see similar dresses in the same wedding season.

4. Tread carefully when talking about wedding trends or traditions you don’t like. You may end up with your foot in your mouth. For example, you and a friend may be looking at Pinterest and you may say, “What’s with everybody doing photo booths at their reception? It’s getting kind of cliché.” To which she may reply, “I think it’s a really fun idea, and we are planning to have one at our reception.” Oops.

5. Celebrate each friend’s individuality rather than constantly trying to one up each other with a better wedding favor, band, first dance, flower display, or signature cocktail.

6. Your friends aren’t “stealing” all your ideas. If you want to keep the details of your wedding day a secret, that is up to you, but don’t get mad if your friend(s) choose similar ideas. Sometimes colors/ideas/themes are just popular, so you’re guaranteed to see them in more than one wedding and that’s okay.

7. You cannot hold dates hostage. This goes for the actual wedding date and for dates for showers. When a lot of your friends are getting married at the same time, there will be a lot of showers and a lot of busy weekends. Don’t give your friends multiple days for when you might have a shower or might get married. Set your dates, so your friends can plan accordingly.

8. Don’t be mad if your friends can’t make it to every single thing you have planned. This, especially, goes for out of town friends. Don’t take it personally and don’t be passive aggressive and miss one of their showers because they missed one of yours.

9. Have awesome best friends and give each other grace. I guess that goes without saying, but I know people who have broken one of these ground rules and allowed it to sour a friendship for a long time.

10. Your day is your day. It’s not a competition to see who has the best wedding. Remember, no one gets a trophy for “best wedding.” In 10 years you will only remember the details of your own wedding, so focus on your wedding, the love between you and your groom, and not what everybody else is doing.

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