Over the weekend, I attended a very dear friend’s stunning wedding celebration. She’s an artist, so no detail was overlooked, and everything, from the specialty cocktails to the sparkler send-off, was Pinterest-worthy. Although I wasn’t a member of the bridal party, when the bride called me on Friday morning asking if I could help her out, I showed up at her mom’s house shortly thereafter. I was expecting the entire bridal party to be there, but instead, I found the bride alone and visibly stressed. Her bridesmaids had bailed on their duties! This is never a pleasant situation, and when it happens the day before, or, worse, the day of your wedding, it can be incredibly hurtful and frustrating for the bride. If you’re a bridesmaid, keep reading. Here are the dos and don'ts of being a good bridesmaid.
When your friend asks you to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, don’t immediately reply yes. Consider what you are getting yourself into. As a bridesmaid, you're agreeing to be there for the bride from now until the wedding day. This means you’ve got to be invested in the friendship, because in most cases, in the months leading up to the big day, the wedding becomes the entire focus of the bride’s life. Your cat run away? Had a tough day at work? The guy you’re dating ghost you? All of that will be second fiddle to the crisis with the letterpress that she's dealing with.
Being a bridesmaid is not cheap. If you’re on a super-tight budget, it’s perfectly okay to decline the invitation to participate in the bridal party. Although the bride may try and convince you that you won’t end up spending too much, that isn’t always the case. You should be mentally and financially prepared to spend a lot of money on your friend in the next few months.
You’ll have to pay for the dress, shoes, shower gift, and wedding gift. You may have to pitch in and help with hosting the bridal shower or bachelorette party. If it’s a destination bachelorette party or wedding, add on the cost of travel arrangements and hotel accommodations. Depending on what the bride wants, you may have to pay for hair and makeup on the day of the wedding. All of this adds up, people. My best friend has been a bridesmaid six times, and the average amount she spends on each wedding is $1000.
When the bride texts you to see if you’re available to try on bridesmaid dresses two weeks from Saturday, don’t ignore her texts. When she calls, answer your phone. If she’s trying to plan a get-together, don’t be overly busy and say you’re only free in six weeks. Don’t make a date two days before the wedding and then fall into a love cocoon that makes you oversleep and miss your manicure appointment. Simply put: Don't be M.I.A. Show up for action.
If you have a special talent like making clay pots from scratch or beautiful handwriting, offer up your services well in advance of the wedding. Make clay pots for the bride to give as favors, or write out the place cards for the reception's seating chart. These tasks are tedious and time-consuming, so start early and plan ahead. Once the bride has her guest list finished, you’ll have a ballpark number of people to work with.
If you’re not a creative, show up and help with anything last minute that needs to get done. Maybe the father of the groom forgot where he took his suit to get fitted, and you’ll have to call around town looking for it. Maybe 100 welcome bags need to be filled with bottled water, invitations to the day-after brunch, aspirin, and Emergen-C. Whatever the random task is, do it without asking questions or complaining. Help out as much as you can!
When she calls you in tears because the printer screwed up the programs, listen to her and provide emotional support. Yes, it may seem like everything is about her right now, but that’s because it’s the one time in a woman’s life when everything is about her. Let her have her moment.
The dress situation often causes tension between a bride and her bridesmaids, so do your best not to freak out if you hate the dress. Politely ask if there are any other options. If the color or style don’t look good on you, ask her if she would consider mix and match dresses, which are trendy these days. If worst comes to worst and you have to wear a dress you strongly dislike, simply grin and bear it.
What do you do if you dislike one of the other bridesmaids? Nothing. Don’t pick a fight with her. Don’t talk about her behind her back with the other bridesmaids. It will only create unnecessary stress for the bride.
Thinking about dying your hair? Chopping off those lovely locks? Getting a new tattoo? Wait until after the wedding is over. Even if the bride okays your new look, there is a chance she might freak out and change her mind when she sees your blue hair or giant shoulder tat. If you don’t want to have to dye your hair back or cover the tattoo with makeup, wait until after the wedding.
When she sends you emails with important details involving the days leading up to the ceremony, read the emails. Be present at the bridal shower, and remember her family members. A bridesmaid is like an ambassador of good will for the bride, so act the part. Pay attention to what she says, and be there for her, both physically and emotionally.
To avoid problems, don’t post pictures of her getting ready on the big day. What if her groom is checking out Instagram and sees her dress?! Get her permission before sharing images of her in her bridal look. If she says, “Don’t you dare post any of the pictures of me at the bachelorette party on Facebook,” respect her wishes.
If you feel like the bride is being a bridezilla, call a friend or family member who does not have a relationship with the bride and vent to her. If you and one of the other bridesmaids team up and complain about the bride behind her back, she’ll probably end up hearing about it. This will only cause drama and uncomfortable silences.
Most brides thank their bridesmaids with some sort of gift on the day of the wedding. If you felt like you’ve given a lot of your time and money to her, look forward to this generous gift!
Nobody wants to see a bridesmaid being carried off the dance floor because she’s too drunk to dance. Be careful not to have too many glasses of Champagne or shots of tequila. Be mindful of your alcohol intake on the day of the wedding and the nights before the big day. You don’t want to show up to the wedding suite to get ready totally hungover. Pace yourself, eat a substantial meal, and drink plenty of water between cocktails, and you won’t end up too drunk.