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 Loner

Your sole grade school pal or gym buddy can feel like a fifth wheel amid a sea of your college sorority sisters. As a result, she may take several steps back from the planning, possibly acting distant and sullen. After she asked a pal from work to be a bridesmaid along with three childhood friends, Tina Stroup, of Towson, Maryland, wondered whether she was right to include this woman in her bridal party. "My friend wasn't interested in dress shopping, planning the shower or even talking about the wedding," says Stroup. "She just disengaged."

What's going on: The Loner feels out of place and may find it hard to assert herself among your friends who share a history.

How to deal: You and the other attendants must make an extra effort to ensure she feels welcome and part of the group. Early on, host a casual bridesmaid dinner where the goal is simply for everyone to get to know one another. Of course, always copy her on group e-mails, and keep the inside jokes to a minimum—unless they're new ones that include all of your bridesmaids. If that doesn't work, you might want to graciously give her an out—which is exactly what Stroup did. Well before the bridesmaid dresses were bought, she sat her friend down and said, "I get the feeling you're not as excited about being a bridesmaid as the other girls, so I want to give you the opportunity to bow out of the wedding party, if you wish." It turns out her coworker was relieved to be let off the hook and happy to attend as a guest. Today, the women are still friends, and there are no hard feelings between them.

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