What do you do if you ask your best friend to be your bridesmaid, only to have her announce her pregnancy a few weeks later? A pregnant member of the wedding party can do more than steal the bride's spotlight. An expectant mother might be unable to stand for long periods, or she might have to forfeit her already-bought bridesmaids' dress. The solution isn't as easy as visiting the nearest alterations shop, either; pregnancy brings emotional complications, too.
If you're worried about the changes your bridesmaid's pregnancy will bring to your wedding plans, there are two ways to approach the situation. First, you can try to convince the bridesmaid not to take part in the wedding except as an honored guest. This approach can cause hurt feelings and wedding-day drama, however.
Second, you can keep your pregnant friend in the wedding party and try to make her as comfortable as possible. This necessitates changing a few details, of course, but it's usually worth it to have a carefree and inclusive wedding day.
Convincing the Bridesmaid to Become a Guest of Honor
The most important factor to consider is the due date of the baby. If the bridesmaid will still be in the beginning stages of her pregnancy on your wedding day, it should not affect your wedding plans greatly. However, the closer your wedding comes to her due date, the larger your chances are of having a "big day" in more ways than one.
Pick a good time to have a gentle and honest discussion with your friend. Remind her that you chose her for the wedding party because you value her so much. Don't demand that she step down; instead, lay out your concerns in a way that makes it clear your main concern is for her welfare. Once you're done asking her whether she's able to stand on her feet during the ceremony, pay for a new dress and shoes, organize a bachelorette party where everyone else will be drinking, and endure the high temperatures of your outdoor summer ceremony, your friend may well decide she'd rather decline the position.
Emphasize that you would rather treat her as a guest of honor than risk her discomfort in any way. Speak with her about creating a new role specifically for her. Perhaps, instead of standing in heels during your vows, she can come up to give a short speech or read a poem. If her due date might force her to miss your nuptials altogether, she can still help you pen the wording for the programs or arrange silk flower bouquets ahead of time. Work with her to develop a new role in the wedding party that is better suited to her pregnancy.
Adjusting the Bridesmaid's Dress
Just because a bridesmaid is pregnant, your wedding will not necessarily be impacted in a negative way. It is up to you, as the one getting married, to ensure that your friend is given all of the consideration necessary to remain an active part of the celebration in whatever way is the most comfortable.
If the bridesmaids' dresses were picked out before the pregnancy was known, it may be possible to alter your friend's dress to accommodate her belly. Keep in mind that, during pregnancy, the body changes in more ways than one. A talented alterations shop should be able to let out the dress in multiple ways to ensure that the dress is enlarged as a whole; not just in the midsection.
Depending on the style of the dress, sometimes a simple alteration isn't possible. In this case, work with your bridesmaid to determine what course of action is the best for both of you. You may decide to let the bridesmaid choose her own dress, providing it is the same color as the other bridesmaids' dresses. If the other girls' dresses haven’t been bought yet, you can choose A-line or Empire waist dresses across the board to ensure that the fit is universally flattering.
Whatever you do, don't just choose the same style of bridesmaid's dress in a larger size. Pregnant bodies don't always expand evenly and you could end up with a style that looks baggy, puckered, or stretched over the belly bump. Shop for maternity dresses instead and try to match the color and style of the other bridesmaids' dresses the best you can. You can further unify your bridesmaids' style by supplementing the dresses with noticeable accessories like large flower corsages, sashes, hairstyles, makeup, or jewelry.
As an extra favor to your pregnant bridesmaid, allow her to choose her own footwear. As glamorous as your wedding is, most people will understand if the mother-to-be is rocking a pair of flats. Accessorize them with rhinestones or ribbon to disguise their sensible nature. You can even ask the photographer to avoid the shoes if you don't want them to be a part of your wedding-day memories.
Honor Your Commitment
Remember, your friend's pregnancy will not ruin your wedding. A fight over her role in the wedding, however, will cast a dark cloud over the happy proceedings. If your bridesmaid doesn't take kindly to your gentle hints and suggestions, it's time to let go. After all, you asked her to be a bridesmaid in the first place because you wanted her to be a part of your important day. Her presence in your wedding will be meaningful no matter what role she takes.
Pull a chair up to the altar in case she needs to sit during the ceremony. Ask a friend to be an "understudy" if the bridesmaid goes into labor the day before the wedding. Assign a groomsman to rub her feet after the reception. Ask the caterer to provide pickles and ice cream. Take any necessary precautions with a smile; after all, you know your friend will be there for you through thick and thin (no pun intended), and that is a wedding gift to treasure.