So, you’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid in your friend’s wedding – how exciting! But now what? Where do you start? Who plans what? What will you have to pay for? Sometimes the bride will let you and the other gals know what she wants you to do, and sometimes it’ll be completely in your hands. So we’ve got the answers to all of your questions on what exactly is proper bridesmaid etiquette; from bridal shower planning to how to deal with an uncooperative maid, and everything in between.
Q: What exactly are the duties that come along with being a bridesmaid?
A: As a maid, you are mainly responsible for just being there for your friend throughout her planning, and on the big day. Help her out with whatever she needs, from picking out invites to choosing a color palette and anything else that arises. She may not ask you to help with every little thing, but always be sure to check in from time to time and see if there’s anything you can assist with. Wedding planning is a very stressful time, so she will definitely be very grateful for any help!
Q: How much is all of this going to cost me? What do I need to pay for?
A: Being in a wedding is not always cheap, but it is totally worth it! You will be in charge of paying for your bridesmaid dress, any alterations you need on your dress, your hair and makeup the day of, gifts, décor for any parties you are hosting, and there may also be additional costs for food, drinks or any activities planned for the shower or bachelorette party. If you think this might end up being a little too expensive for you to afford, keep in mind DIY wedding gifts, DIY décor for the shower or bachelorette, wearing shoes and accessories you already own, or even doing your own hair and makeup if the bride will allow you to. If you still don’t think this is something you will be able to afford, discuss it with the bride right away and let her know your situation. While I’m sure she will be bummed, she will likely understand that it’s just not in your budget to stand up in a wedding right now. Just don’t wait until the last minute to let her know!
Q: How opinionated can I be when picking out bridesmaid dresses?
A: This is your friend’s big day, so ultimately it will depend on what the she wants in the end. Some brides will let you pick your style, color, or neckline and others will want to keep everyone in the same thing. You may not love the color or style she picks out, but this is her day so just remember to be as supportive and positive as possible when voicing your opinion.
Q: I’m pregnant, or expecting to be within the next few months. What do I do about my bridesmaid dress?
A: Talk to the bride about it right away if she doesn’t already know, and make sure she’s okay with it. Some brides don’t always want pregnant bridesmaids in their wedding, unfortunately. Just make sure you don’t wait until the last minute to let her know. If you find out your pregnant after you’ve already ordered bridesmaid dresses and the bride is okay with that, contact the bridesmaid dress company immediately and see what they can do for you. You’ll want to make sure they can get you a new dress in time for the big day, because you’ll likely need to go up a couple of sizes, depending on how far along you will be by the wedding day. We recommend ordering two sizes up from the size your current measurements are putting you in and you should expect to need to have alterations done in your bust and/or hip area since your waist will likely be your largest measurement that will place you in the correct size. Just make sure you let the bride and bridesmaid dress company know as soon as possible to avoid any complications!
Q: What do I need to plan or host, and when?
A: This is something you’ll want to discuss with the other bridesmaids and the maid/matron of honor. Typically, it is proper etiquette for the maid or matron of honor to be in charge of all the bridal shower planning. If she is related to the bride she will likely host a family shower with another family member, and in that case, it may be nice for a couple of the bridesmaids to host a friends only shower. A bride is usually given more than one shower before the big day, but it will vary from bride to bride. Showers usually take place 2-3 months before the wedding.
Depending on how many girls are standing up in the wedding, the bachelorette party should be hosted by a few girls, including the MOH. From my personal experience, it is definitely easier to keep it to 1-2 girls planning, but you can always ask the others to pitch in on décor, lodging, and favors depending on the plans. Talk it through with the MOH to see what their thoughts are, choose a fun theme that the bride will like, and get to planning! This should be hosted 1-2 months before the big day, typically. Bachelorette parties used to be hosted a week or two before the wedding, and this may be the case in certain situations, but it can end up being a bit too much going on towards the end of the planning to have the party this close to the big day.
Q: How do I deal with an uncooperative bridesmaid or a bridesmaid who is much younger than everyone else?
A: From hosting parties to buying your dress and accessories, being in a friend’s wedding can get expensive so it is definitely nice to have everyone pitch in for the parties, if possible. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case when there are multiple girls involved and some girls won’t be able to participate financially as much as others. If you’re dealing with an uncooperative gal who can’t afford to help everyone out or isn’t willing to, just be sure to ask them to help out as much as possible in other ways; even if it’s just setting up for the parties you are hosting. If you’ve got a younger bridesmaid who is also in the wedding, you definitely shouldn’t expect them to pay for things. Sometimes, their parents may help them out to pitch in with everyone else for a shower, but they likely won’t be able to attend a bachelorette party. Just be sure to keep them included as much as possible throughout the process, but don’t expect too much financial-wise.
Q: How do I deal with a bridezilla?
A: Planning a wedding can be extremely stressful, so try to keep that in mind if your friend seems to be toeing the bridezilla line. Try to remain as positive as possible and just be there for her throughout, offering to help wherever and whenever you can. If you do feel as though she needs to be talked to about her attitude, be as sensitive as possible while trying to give her some perspective. Just remember, she’s your great friend and under a lot of stress, so try not to hold it against her!
Q: What do I need to buy gifts for?
A: Some bridesmaids buy their friends engagement gifts, but this is definitely not required. You should, however, buy gifts for the wedding shower and the wedding day. As a bridesmaid, you may be invited to more than shower. In this case, you are only required to purchase a gift for one of these. If you feel awkward not bringing a gift to one shower, consider dividing your gifts up and bringing one smaller one to each. Bachelorette party gifts are not required either, but sometimes it is nice to get the bride some cute panties or sexy lingerie if it is in your budget.
Q: What do I need to bring with me on the wedding day?
A: Put together a little mini-emergency kit for yourself, including things that the bride might need in case of emergency too. Include deodorant, lip gloss, makeup, clear nail polish, bobby pins, hair spray, etc. – anything you can think of that might come in handy if need-be. Also, bring some comfy shoes to change into (if the bride doesn’t mind, of course) for the reception. And don’t forget your positive, fun attitude and those awesome dance moves of yours!
Q: What do I need to do the day of the wedding?
A: First off, make sure you are on time for everything! From your hair and makeup appointments, to pictures and everything else throughout the day; being late will just cause unneeded stress for the bride – a big no-no! Also, make sure you are there to help the bride at all times. Carry her train and her bouquet when needed, help her go to the bathroom (big-time bonding moment!), touch up her hair and makeup, run any errands that come up, help with any emergencies that arise, mingle with guests, start the dance party, and most importantly – have fun!
Being in my friends’ weddings have been some of the best times of my life! It is such an honor to be asked to be a part of such a big event in someone’s life, and I will cherish these friendships and memories forever. While it can be a lot to handle from time to time and can get expensive, always remember that it is totally worth it in the end and your friends will do the same for you when you get married. From costs, to planning the bridal shower, to dealing with difficulties throughout the process, I hope this list helped you understand bridesmaid etiquette a little better. Please don’t hesitate to leave any other questions you may have in the comments section below! Happy planning!
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Taking Your Measurements
For the most accurate measurements, do not measure over your clothing. Your measurements should be taken while wearing undergarments similar to the ones you will wear with your dress. The measuring tape shouldn't be pulled too tight or have too much slack, and should always be parallel with the floor.
**Wedding apparel is typically sized differently than retail clothing, so keep in mind that it's not uncommon to find yourself requiring alterations.
Bust size: Wrap the tape around your back and under your arms at the fullest part of your bust (not underneath the bust).
Waist size: While standing up straight, bend at the waist to one side. Take the measurement where the natural crease happens in your side. This should be a few inches above your belly button.
Hip size: Standing with your feet together, wrap the tape around the fullest part of your hips and butt to get this measurement.
Choosing your correct size
Compare these three measurements to the Kennedy Blue size chart above. It is very important that you order the largest size that corresponds to your measurements. For example, if your bust measures 40.5" (size 12), your waist measures 31" (size 10) and your hips measure 41.5" (size 8), we advise that you order a size 12, and get your dress altered down to custom fit your body. Ordering anything smaller than a size 12 would not fit in the bust area. Please note: Our bridal gown size chart is different than the bridesmaids sizing and is listed below.