5 career (and work) lessons from wedding bridesmaids

Chances are good that you’ve spent at least a few weekends witnessing friends or relatives vowing in front of God or clergy (or that guy who go certification on the internet) to try to live happily ever after. And whether the bridesmaids were clad in identical powder blue chiffon or wore whatever they wanted, there was likely a strict organizational plan that kept these veritable strangers together in service of the bride.

Since there’s also a good chance that you’re not done with all the “I dos” of the season, you might as well find a takeaway in all of this.

Behold! Career lessons from bridesmaids.

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There’s no I in teamwork

Sometimes you absolutely must get along with people- no matter how annoying they are. When you’re part of a team that exists solely to support an individual, or single mission, your specific job matters less than working with others for the larger cause.

Bridesmaids lesson learned: Sometimes you quite literally have to bury your individuality to help make someone else shine. It isn’t fun and it isn’t necessarily your choice, but it allows you to better understand the creation of a better team dynamic.

Coordination is key

If you’re used to working on your own, or are a digital nomad, it can be bewildering to suddenly find yourself in the midst of a team full of other players. Finding the leader of the group and explaining that you’re still finding your way will help you to avoid a lot of heartache further down the line.

Bridesmaids lesson learned: There’s no shame in asking someone to help you to plan out the next stages in a project. And if you’re new on the job, it’s fine to ask someone else on the team to show you the ropes until you’re confident enough in your own skills.

Find out how much wiggle room you have

Some brides are tyrants when it comes to having their bridesmaids dress identically. For others, sticking to a basic color scheme is more than enough. Pay attention at work to things like dress code, lunch hour and the little things that show that you know what matters.

Bridesmaids lesson learned: No matter how seemingly relaxed your office environment is, there are always rules to be followed. The flip side of that is that you don’t want to come across as so uptight that no one wants to work with you at all. Find the balance between following the rules and standing out in the best ways possible.

Blend into the background every now and again

No matter what your parents told you, it isn’t always ideal to be an overachiever. Maybe your boss just implemented a new communication protocol, or you just can’t seem to catch onto the thing everyone’s been doing perfectly for years. At times like these, hanging out in the background is a good idea. You’ll draw less attention to yourself while watching and learning.

Bridesmaids lesson learned: The idea of becoming one among many might feel galling at first, but it also allows you to spend time honing your skills.

Reward every member of the team

Most brides and grooms make sure to buy their attendants at the very least a small token of appreciation. For some being a bridesmaid is a requirement and not a treat but receiving something special at least makes them feel appreciated.

Bridesmaids lesson learned: If you’re asking a team of coworkers or team members to go above and beyond, make sure to buy them something that shows your appreciation. And now’s not the time to play favorites. Instead, choose something that reflects that task completed or even the time of year. Maybe it’s a dinner out or vouchers for a cooking class. Let every single person who supports your mission know that they’re valued and appreciated.