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What you can reasonably ask of them, and what they'll inevitably do for you
You've selected your squad, your bride tribe, your best friends, your team of ladies that will stand beside you on the happiest day of your life. Maybe you asked them with a bridesmaid proposal gift, or maybe you've been friends for so long it was a done deal before he even popped the question! But if you haven't been a bridesmaid yourself, it's hard to know what that title entails, and what you should and shouldn't assume they'll do. Kadlee is here to help!
Even though every bride and every wedding is different, there are a few universal bridesmaid duties.
#1 – They will buy their own outfit
Each bridesmaid is responsible for purchasing her own dress, shoes, and jewelry. You get to choose their dress (color & style are in your hands), and they should happily go along with whatever you decide. However, remember to be nice with this power; you get the final say, and they are expecting to have to pay for their dress - that won't take them by surprise - but you should be considerate of their budget and body type.
#2 – They should attend the wedding & most* pre-wedding events
They definitely need to be at the wedding, that's a given (a potential deal-breaker if they can't make it) but they also should be there for the rehearsal dinner, bachelorette party, bridal shower, engagement party, and any other official gatherings. All of your bridesmaids should be there to celebrate with you, play hostess, write down the gifts you receive so you can write thank-you cards later, etc. If they can't make a couple of these and have good reasons for doing so (trips, family emergencies) that is completely acceptable, especially if you have more than one shower. It's unreasonable to expect them to attend 15 parties. But for the most part, they should make an effort to be there, and communicate clearly and in advance with you if they cannot.
#3 – They will help plan and pay for the bridal shower & bachelorette party
Your bachelorette party is their treat for you - enjoy it! You shouldn't pay for anything unless you've specifically requested it, and they will pay for any travel/activities/overnight stays involved (your maid of honor will likely organize shared costs beforehand). They are also supposed to pay for the bridal shower (including decorations and food). It is becoming a recent trend for them to pay for the engagement party or at least split the cost with the groomsmen, as well, unless your family pays for that!
#4 – They may pay for their own travel/accommodations
Opinions on this vary, so this is something that is ultimately left in your hands, but should be communicated to the bridesmaids. If you want to all stay together in a hotel room the night before the wedding, you typically pay, but if they are on their own, they will typically pay. If they live far or out of state, their plane ticket is their responsibility, but if you are all riding in a limo together, you'll pay. Just be sure to let them know what you're covering and what's up to them so there isn't any confusion!
#5 – They should be the first ones on the dance floor
Unfortunately, sometimes it can be hard to get everyone up and moving when the music starts (this depends almost entirely on your DJ and the attitude your guests have towards dancing). So your bridesmaids should be the ones leading the Cha-Cha Slide and encouraging everyone to shake it out! This should be an automatic reaction if they see people not dancing, but you may want to mention this to your maid of honor beforehand so she knows what you expect.
#6 – They should help you get ready on the morning of
Ooooh this is the best part!! The morning of your wedding is an incredibly special time. They should be bringing you coffee and water, fetching your eyeshadow palettes and handing them to the makeup artist, helping you stay calm but also getting you excited, resolving any last minute hiccups, sending texts on your behalf to people asking questions, and picking the perfect getting ready playlist.
*An important note - bridesmaids don't pay for the beautification process. If you want everyone to have matching manis and pedis, get their makeup done professionally, and have their hair styled, you foot the bill. However, if you don't really care, and they insist on doing it, they'll pay, or you could offer to pay for these services as their bridesmaid gift.
#7 – They may come with you to shop for wedding dresses
This requirement varies from bride to bride. If you have 12 bridesmaids, you are probably not going to want all of them there (the saying "too many cooks in the kitchen ruins the sauce" is SO true when it comes to weddings), but those you do want there should be available and be excited about it.
#8 – They may speak at the rehearsal dinner
This is another requirement that varies depending on the situation, but it is customary for some speeches to be given at the rehearsal dinner. Since the maid of honor is giving her speech at the wedding reception, you are totally at liberty to ask one or more of your bridesmaids to speak if you wish, or you could just delegate that role to family members only. Up to you!
#9 – They should be a comforting ear
Wedding planning WILL stress you out (of this we are certain). On those days that you get super overwhelmed - if your soon to be mother-in-law is driving you crazy, the florist is being ridiculous, your out-of-town family members are being wayyy too pushy, and your groom just doesn't get it - turn to your bridesmaids. They should be your sounding boards, your confidantes. They know just how to calm you down and they know when you need a break (wine night, anyone?) from all of the preparations.
#10 – They should help you with the non-fun pre-wedding chores
When they said yes to being a bridesmaid, they said no to being just a spectator at the wedding. They need to be making the wedding happen. This includes helping you write thank-you notes, addressing invitations, doing any DIY crafts you chose to be decorations for the ceremony or reception, helping transport flower arrangements or your veil, and almost any other task you need them to do.
*Note: They're called bridesmaids, not brideslaves. They are not your personal servants and you should never treat them that way...in all of the stress, it's easy to become bridezilla, but you should do everything in your power not to take your problems out on them. Yes, they can be your emotional rocks, and yes, they WILL help you out immensely, but remember: it's your wedding, not theirs.
#11 – They should be on hand for anything you need during the big day
Your bridesmaids are excited to be in your wedding, so this is the part they'll be most excited for. They'll be happy to hold your dress as you pee, get you multiple water bottles, and act as hostesses to everyone at the reception.
#12 – They may get a gift
They've already spent a significant amount on the bridal shower, bachelorette party, attire, travel, and more, so when the wedding day comes, their budget may be tight. While they may get you something small (it is actually becoming a new tradition that the entire wedding party pitches in for one epic surprise gift!) don't be disappointed if some of them do not get you anything. They've given you the best gift just by being there for you!
Are there any other duties that you can think of? What duties listed here may be negotiable? What's the craziest thing you ever had to do as a bridesmaid? Let us know in the comments!
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