Portraits104.jpgWedding of Davena Mok and Lance Chiu

Experts say good friends make the best bridesmaids because they're really thrilled about your wedding, and naturally happy to help.

But any bride who's had to deal with a good-friend-turn-bad-bridesmaid, will tell you, it's still better to choose carefully. If you're in any way unsure of a potential maid's ability to help, mull over it before actually asking her. Otherwise, you risk losing her as a friend after the wedding.

Still, if you've already picked your maids and you're unlucky with your choices, don't fret - there are ways to work around it.

Your friend's complaints may have irritated you once in a while. But they will start to grate on you when she becomes you rbridesmaid, simply because her grouses are now related to you and the wedding.

She'll grumble about the dress she needs to wear, the timing of meetings, and maybe even what the other bridesmaids are or are not doing.

There's a good chance she is jealous of the attention lavished on you as the bride, or the fact that you are getting married. She might also be wondering if the marriage will affect your friendship, and in what ways.

What you can do: Suggest going for lunch or dinner with her and have a heart-to-heart talk. You can thank her for her help while she gets a chance to say why she's being difficult.

You can be frank, but be firm and kind too. Let her know that you're concerned about her "unhappiness", and you wish to find out why she matters to you.

If her reason is jealousy and fear of "losing" your friendship, reassure her. As singles, you probably hung out together every weekend. As a married woman, you can still hang out, just not as often as before. And when you do so, you will both make sure that the time is well spent.

This is the girlfriend who's probably got something to say about everything - and isn't afraid to voice it. In a worse-case scenario, she might even ask for changes if she's unhappy enough.

But because it's your wedding and you have the final say, and also because you have more things on your mind now, her opinions and requests for changes will get on your nerves.

What you can do: Rather than ignoring her requests, have a chat with her. It will help her understand that while she's used to voicing her opinion, there are some occasions where her views may not be needed. If she's so opinionated that she is sometimes oblivious to other people's feelings, this chat should help clear the air.

You really want this friend to be part of your bridal party but you're aware her pocket's not as deep as the other maids.

What you can do: Be considerate - show her that while the look of the wedidng is important, her presence is even more so. Consider giving her and the other maids fashion freedom - you choose the outfit colour, they choose the style. Or, if your budget allows, why not buy the dresses as gifts for their help?

She'd love to be your bridesmaid, and is willing to help - as long as it fits her schedule.

What you can do: You may have set ideas about what to expect from your bridesmaids - but it's good to stay flexible since your bridesmaids may also have very busy lives. That said, it's fine for you to remind a bridesmaid who's lagging behind in the timeline, especially when you have had meetings with them about duties and deadlines.

Be nice with the reminder. You can call her to say you appreciate her help and want to find out how she's coping with work and the wedding duties. Maids who are genuinely split between the two will apologise and promise to step up. The bridesmaid who gets upset and defensive may be secretly resenting the demands on her time. In which case, you may want to rethink about having her.

This friend is a very nice person. But let's face it, she's likely to give you more stress, because while she wants to help, she has no idea how. So chances are she'll depend on the other bridesmaids for directions. In time, she'll probably annoy them, which will come back to you eventually.

What you can do: If this bridemaid's a really good pal, and you think you'll be patient enough with her, then ask her to check with you instead of the other girls. This way, you won't get more complaints from the rest.

Meanwhile, it's also good to find out from her if she is really clueless or needs specific instructions. If she's merely disorganised, then sit down with her and work out the list of tasks and respective deadlines. Once she's clear about what to do, let her know that she can check against her list when she's done with each chore. She can keep track that way and update you accordingly.

We're referring to the bridesmaid who's not close as a friend but you need to include her because she's your future sis-in-law, your groom's closest cousin or his mum's god-daughter, etc. Having her helps you score points with your new family.

What you can do: In such cases, we say, go for it. When you marry your groom, you, in part, marry his family. And if this girl is important to him and/or his relatives, then having her in your bridal party will help start your relationship on a good note.

Once you've agreed to have her on the team, make sure you welcome her and involve her in meetings and get-togethers. There's no point in including her if it's only for show. Besides, if the girl really wants to be your bridesmaid, she must be looking forward to being part of the party, and getting to know you. After all, you'll soon be family. 

This article was first published in Her World Brides Dec 2011 - Feb 2012.