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 Whiner

She's too busy to go gown shopping. She hates all bridesmaid dresses. Planning a shower is such a pain. Why did this wedding-party-pooper agree to be a bridesmaid at all? Cara Cormier, of Richmond, Rhode Island, quickly realized her pregnant matron of honor (she'd be eight months along on the wedding day) was not going to be a happy camper as the wedding planning progressed. "I spent a lot of time picking out four different maternity dresses that I thought would flatter her," says Cormier. "When she finally got around to looking at them, she called me with 101 reasons why she hated all four—the color wasn't right for her, the material was too heavy, it made her look like a tent..." After an unpleasant argument, the two hung up on each other and haven't spoken since.

What's going on: First, let's get one thing straight: "It's never about the dress," says Nissinen. While it may look that way on the surface, there is usually a deeper issue at work. Perhaps, as with The Diva, this bridesmaid is expressing sadness over "losing" you or feeling afraid or unsure about how your relationship might change once you're married (no more girls' nights out?). Sadly, Cormier will probably never find out what her pregnant former-bridesmaid was really feeling. "I doubt that I'll ever talk to her again," she says. "It's not worth the effort to me."

How to deal: It's possible to avoid a blow-up situation like the one Cormier experienced, but you'll probably have to be the one to make the first move. Talk with the difficult bridesmaid and gently say, "What can I do to make you feel better about…?" Hopefully, she'll open up about her real feelings and the problem will simply dissolve. If she resists, perhaps you need to ask her if she wants to bow out of the wedding party. If that doesn't work, you may have to accept that it's time to end the friendship, as Cormier did. People do grow apart, says Nissinen, and a wedding is often the catalyst for such a split because it's so charged with emotions.

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