Being asked to be a bridesmaid is one of the highest honors in a friendship. Not only does it show that the bride values the memories you’ve made together, but it also shows that she wants your help and support as she gets ready for one of the biggest milestones in her life. If you recently said “yes” to a couple’s request to be in their wedding party, you’re probably wondering how to be the perfect bridesmaid for your beloved friends. We’re outlining everything you need to know to ensure that your bond is even stronger after you walk down the aisle on their big day.
While the notion of being a bridesmaid is glamorous, the reality is that the position comes with lots of responsibilities. Not only are there time commitments, such as wedding showers, planning a bachelorette party, going shopping to choose the perfect bridesmaid dress, and the rehearsal dinner, to keep in mind, but there are monetary obligations, too. Chances are that you’ll be asked to pay for things such as a dress, shoes (if you don’t have what the bride pictures for her ‘maids to wear), beauty services on the big day, and lodging—not to mention travel and wedding gifts. Plus, as a bridesmaid, the bride will lean on you for help with anything from selecting her wedding dress to decorating the ceremony space leading up to her wedding day.
If you’re swamped with work, family obligations, or you just aren’t in the space to cough up that much time or money, be honest with the bride. She’ll appreciate you telling her before she starts needing you, as opposed to after she’s already figured out her seating chart.
The bride has enough to try and coordinate without having to hunt down silent or indecisive bridesmaids. If she (or the maid of honor) asks for things such as dress sizes, volunteers to help plan the bridal shower, or just assurance that her veil looks great, don’t hesitate with your answers. While some items seem less urgent (such as responding to a thread about how the bride should wear her hair) than others (such as making sure to order your dress on time), responding to and carrying out all tasks or requests is one of the most appreciated ways to be a good bridesmaid. Fail to do this, and there’s a chance that you could do harm to your friendship in the long-run.
The bride is making a lot of choices right now, and one of the biggest tasks of a bridesmaid is to merely support and reassure the bride. If the bride asks your opinions for something that she hasn’t decided yet, give your honest feedback (kindly and respectfully), but turn the focus back to the bride and ask her follow up questions. Odds are that she just needs someone to talk through her options with and she, alone, will come to the end decision (so don’t be offended if she doesn’t take your advice or suggestions). However, if the bride has already made a choice that you don’t like—whether it’s about the dress, the flowers, or even her future spouse—it’s probably best to keep your opinions to yourself.
Even the most level-headed bride can get wrapped up in the details of planning a wedding. While there are few times when it’s necessary to contradict a bride, it does happen. If all of the bridesmaids feel uncomfortable in the chosen dress or the costs of the wedding-related fees, it’s a good idea to let the bride know what’s going on. If that’s the case, chat in person, or at least over the phone (not text or email), with the bride. Approach the subject with grace, and offer simple solutions that you can coordinate, so as to avoid adding another task item to the bride’s already lengthy list.
If you have specific times that you’re busy, if you can’t shell out $200 for a dress, or if you feel like the bride is leaning on you more than you have the capacity for, a good solution is making sure that your boundaries are clear as early as possible. While your duty is to support the couple, it needs to be understood that you have a job, a life, and your own responsibilities. If you start to feel spread too thin, have a chat with the bride, but keep things concise and helpful. Instead of blaming, just let her know the times and tasks that you are available to help, and keep her informed if things come up that will inhibit you from assisting.
Weddings can bring out many emotions in others. It’s a big moment that makes you evaluate where you, personally, are in life and love. It’s easy to feel anything from sadness to jealous while watching a pal plan her wedding, but it’s important to stay grounded and remember this time is about the couple. As much as you might want to talk about your own dream wedding, or your opinions on her choices, now isn’t the time. Ask the bride questions, show up to her fittings and appointments, let her shine at her bachelorette party, and keep the talk about your own wedding—whether it’s in the past or just dream plans for the future—to a minimum.
While there are a lot of components that come together to make the perfect bridesmaid, ultimately, this is the bride’s time to feel special. While it can get tiring, expensive, or cause jealousy to see a friend get all the attention, making her feel loved is one of the best ways to shine as a bridesmaid. Whether that means sending her little surprises here and there to keep her spirits up, decorate her hotel room on her wedding night, or just take her out for coffee when she’s feeling stressed, remember: This is the time to celebrate your friend, and there’s a good chance that when your time comes, she’ll happily return the favor.
While being asked to be a bridesmaid is exciting, there’s a lot that goes along with the title. As long as you respond to requests in a timely manner, put aside enough cash for your dress and travel, make your boundaries clear, and, above all, make the bride feel special, you’ll be the perfect bridesmaid in the eyes of the couple.