While weddings are certainly a time to celebrate the love between a bride and groom, they can also be a time to celebrate other important relationships in a couple’s life. For example, the relationship between a bride and her bridal party is a unique bond that represents life before the bride met Mr. Right and is, therefore, an extension of everything that shaped the bride into the wonderful woman the groom fell in love with.

It is understandably important for a bride to honor those relationships and to make each one of her bridesmaids feel unique and special on the big day. Below are seven steps for making a bridesmaid feel special throughout the entire wedding process. Best of all, the tips are designed to fit any budget, so you won’t need to go into debt to show your thanks.

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  1. Make it a point to officially ask her to be your bridesmaid
    With 23 million bridesmaids and groomsmen attending weddings each year, it has never been more important to find ways to distinctly celebrate the bridal party. Start the festivities on the right foot by “proposing” to each bridesmaid with an individualized gesture. For some, this can be a small gift, or it can be a day trip that suits the interests of the bridesmaid. Whatever it is, be sure to find a time to officially ask the question so there is no ambiguity.
  2. Write a special letter during bachelorette festivities
    According to the Knot, the average bachelorette party costs $625 per person. Considering the investment, brides-to-be will want to do everything in their power to ensure guests have a great time. What better to make a bachelorette party guest feel included than to write her a hand-written letter about how much she means to you. If you are doing a weekend trip for your bachelorette party, be sure to give each bridesmaid her letter on the very first day.  Doing this will create a sense of community amongst the bridesmaids and will help everyone feel she belongs.
  3. Hire a hair and makeup person to do touch ups
    On the big day, nothing makes a bridesmaid feel prettier than having a professional hair and makeup artist give her a hand with her look. While it is definitely not expected that each girl will have a head to toe makeover, it is a lovely gesture to have a set of expert hands at the ready. The cost of bridal party hair for a party of four or larger can be as little as $85 per hour. Just a little extra money will be the difference between an average morning and one that makes each bridesmaid feel special.
  4. Give her a job
    With the average American wedding costing around $35,000, it is not unusual to ask your friends to help ensure the day goes off without a hitch. Bridesmaids can be responsible for making sure the flower arrangements look perfect on the big day or for confirming that your dress arrived at the venue in one piece. Giving a bridesmaid an important task to attend to on the big day can help make her feel included in the celebration.
  5. Let her wear what she wants
    One report on bridesmaid satisfaction found the most common complaint from bridesmaids was the bridesmaid dress. From the outrageous cost of gowns to the facts that bridesmaids cannot reasonably wear the dress again, your maids probably aren’t thrilled about the threads they have to wear to your wedding.

    To offset some of this frustration, why not give your bridesmaids a color scheme to work with and tell them to be creative with it. Just as a bride wants to feel her best in a custom bridal gown, so does a bridesmaid. Let her shine in a dress she feels beautiful in by giving her the freedom to choose.

  1. Launch a book club
    A new survey from the Pew Research Center found the percentage of Americans who read books has dropped in recent years. Beat this statistic and give all your bridesmaids something to talk about by initiating a “bridesmaid book club.” A few months before the wedding, pick a fabulous book and give a copy to each of your bridesmaids. This also gives each of your bridesmaids a connection to one another and gives everyone a shared experience outside of them knowing you. Make sure to leave ample time to read so it does not stress them out.
  2. Plan a girls’ trip a year later
    Why should the bridal party festivities end on the wedding day? In addition to celebrating a one year anniversary with your love, plan a one year wedding anniversary with your bridal party to celebrate your closest friends. According to Statista, the average cost of a trip to tropical locales like Jamaica or Trinidad is under $1,000 per person, so a memorable girls’ trip doesn’t need to break the bank.

Conclusion

While a wedding is ultimately about the bride and groom, that does not mean bridesmaids should be ignored; far from it, the bride should make every effort to ensure her bridesmaids feel cherished and included throughout the wedding planning process.

By following the seven tips outlined in this article, brides will be able to show gratitude without spending the equivalent of a semester of college tuition to show thanks.