How to Handle Difficult Bridesmaids

Wanda the whiner. Katie the critic. Lucy the loner. Meet the women you've asked to stand up for you — and learn how to turn them back into the women you love.

The Diva

This bridesmaid manages to make your wedding all about her. She insists on planning the shower her way and around her schedule, and on the big day spends more time primping for the camera than you do.

Watch out: The Diva is trying to steal your thunder! Kim Thomas, of Santa Barbara, California, regrets having asked her friend Pia to be in her wedding party*. "She was impossible throughout the whole thing," says Thomas. "First, she offered to have the bridal shower at her house, but said she would limit it to 25 people—even though she knows I have a huge family. Fortunately, a lot of my relatives live far away and couldn't make it, so we came in under her limit. Then, she complained about the bridesmaid dress I picked, saying it was too short—but that's because she's really tall. Also, she was late to the rehearsal dinner, even though she was warned that the minister is a real stickler about punctuality. On the day of the wedding, she called me and said she wasn't feeling well, although it was clear she was fine. And then she wouldn't stop whining about a little chip in her nail polish. She even complained when the red polish I lent her to fix it wasn't an exact match!"

What's going on: There are a few reasons a bridesmaid might try to steal the show, says Sheryl Paul Nissinen, a Los Angeles-based bridal counselor and author of The Conscious Bride (New Harbinger Publications). "If she's not married, it's possible that she's jealous, especially if she's older than the bride," says Nissinen. She could also simply be envious of all the attention you're getting (which Thomas believes was the case with her difficult bridesmaid). Another common reason—and this may explain any one of the bridesmaid "acting out" behaviors described in this article—is a subconscious feeling of sadness over "losing" a sister or best friend, Nissinen adds.

How to deal: Have a heart-to-heart with her. You might say, "Hey, I've noticed that you've turned up your nose at every suggestion I've had. It seems like there's something else going on. What's up?" "It sounds so simple, but putting it out there and validating her feelings usually does the trick," says Nissinen.

Your bridesmaid is...
► The Rookie
► The Critic
► The Loner
► The Whiner
► The Had-to-Ask-Her
► The Gem

*Names have been changed.