Being a bridesmaid for the first time is a thrilling experience. It is not to be taken lightly, when you have been given the honor of being in the wedding party. This is only because the bride values you a lot, and would love to have you by her side on the most important day of her life. When you think of it this way, it can also be daunting. So, don’t be surprised if you feel nervous about donning the role.
Here are some of the most important things that you should know. This will help you to handle your role well, not have any nasty surprises and basically understand what the bride will expect you to do. So, let’s begin!
1.The sticky issue—finances
When you agree to be a bridesmaid, remember that there are a number of expenses you have to bear. This includes the bridesmaid dress, accessories, hair and makeup, expenses for the bridal shower, and the wedding gift. The bride decides most of the outfit, hair and makeup choices, while the bridal shower expenditure is up to the bridesmaids group.
The bridesmaid dress is one of the most expensive items on this list, and how much you spend on it depends on the bride. If you are on a tight budget, it is best to discuss your constraints with the bride beforehand, so she can keep it in mind when planning her choice. You can also volunteer to help her find the best deals and offers that will be easy on your pocket while she still gets what she has in mind. If all the expenses come go beyond what you expected, you are entitled to go for a budget wedding gift. You can either get the bride your own wedding gift, or do it as a group. We will look at this in more detail, later.
2.The bride makes the choice
Your friend, the bride, may have specific ideas about how her wedding day should be. She will also have a certain idea of how her bridesmaids should be dressed and what they should or shouldn’t wear. As a member of the bridal party, you are expected to go with them. If you are very particular about not wearing something, share your opinions with the bride. Nevertheless, it is up to her to decide if she wants to consider it when making her choice. So, if she chooses a dress silhouette that doesn’t flatter your body shape, or a color that doesn’t go well with your complexion, gracefully accept it. Tell yourself that you have to go with her choice because it is her big day. Although you may tell the bride your honest opinion, don’t dwell on it or criticize her. A bride has so many things to plan for her wedding day. So, she can only accommodate everyone’s personal preferences so much.
3. What you gift is up to you
Your being in the wedding is definitely more important than the gift you get the couple. The bride knows that you are already shelling out money to buy her a dress, paying for the bachelorette and bridal shower, all for her. So, it isn’t reasonable for her to expect a big gift. However, it is customary to give her something on this lifetime occasion, even if it is small. With a little creativity, you will have no trouble finding a gift that will mean a lot to her, without breaking the bank. It could be something handmade, so you can gift her a personal gift that doesn’t cost a fortune. Or you can volunteer your help with something that she would appreciate. In some cases, all the bridesmaids pool money together and get the bride a better gift than many small, individual ones. If you think this is a better idea, but none of the others are suggesting it, you can take it up and see whether the others would like to join you. You will also be expected to give her a gift for the bridal shower, and this will mostly be opened up in front of all the attendees. So, make sure it is something that the bride will love.
4.Planning the bachelorette party and bridal shower
Although it isn’t compulsory, it is usually the bridesmaids who throw the bride a bachelorette party and a bridal shower prior to the wedding. The entire bridal party works together to plan these events, and usually the Maid of Honor approves the final plan. The idea behind having such parties is to ensure that the bride has a great time and likes the way it is set up. So, offer your suggestions to the group on what you think the bride would like. If the bride has, at any time, shared her ideas of what a great party means to her, discuss this with the rest of the group. Finally, it should be a function that reflects her personality and choices. You will also be expected to work hard on the décor, food and arrangements so it goes smoothly. Be prepared to run around, make arrangements and help to make the events a success. Both the bachelorette and bridal shower are usually held within a month or two before the wedding. Discuss the dates in advance and make sure you are available on the day. Also, since you will be contributing to the expenses, make sure that you are comfortable with the budget and be ready to pay the expenses that is expected from you.
5.Be there to support and help
Weddings can stress out even the most easygoing bride. The bride will have a million things to handle, and it isn’t uncommon for her to feel emotional, angry or upset while planning the wedding. As her bridesmaid, you can ease her tension by offering your help when possible. Whether you choose to help her complete her responsibilities, or are there to support her when she is feeling down, make sure she knows she can count on you. Volunteer your help for whatever you can assist her with, and help her stay positive and happy. Do not complain or criticize, but offer constructive suggestions. Nevertheless, remember that she may or may not take them, and don’t be disappointed if she doesn’t. If she asks you for your opinion, provide honest feedback. If you come across good ideas or inspiration you think she may find useful, share it with her. Overall, ease her responsibilities by pitching in with help when possible, and she will appreciate you being on her team.
6.Understand your responsibilities and perform them well
Bridesmaids have an active role prior to the wedding, and on the actual day. Usually the bride or Maid of Honor will delegate duties that each bridesmaid has to handle. Prior to the wedding, your duties include attending the dress selection, buying the dress, getting it altered and collecting it on time. On the wedding day you will have to get dressed, help the bride get dressed and attend to jobs that are designated to you. Make sure that you are available and enthusiastic to handle any task assigned to you. Have everything you need to get ready for the wedding, and handle your jobs responsibly and punctually. At the wedding venue, the bride may turn to you for last-minute help or assign new duties. Accept them gladly and do your best. If you are in doubt, consult the Maid of Honor, or bride herself, and plan accordingly. Remember that you aren’t a regular guest at the wedding, instead you have a very special role. So, try to live up to the expectations from you.
7.Be there for the different wedding events
Bridesmaids are expected to be present at all the important events leading up to the wedding. This includes the bridal shower, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner and any more events that the bride or Maid of Honor notifies you of. Once you sign up to be a bridesmaid, keep your calendar ready to accommodate these events. Unless you are far away from where the events are held, or have a commitment that you simply cannot miss, don’t forge excuses to keep yourself away. You will have to work with the rest of the girls to plan the bridal shower and bachelorette, and be prepared to assist the bride with planning the rehearsal dinner if required. It will also be nice if you can accompany the bride to her vendor appointments or dress fittings, if she asks you to. A little help can go a long way in making your friend happy, and it will be fun too to be involved in something so exciting. Now, if you are a junior bridesmaid, it is possible that you will be excused from the bachelor party, if the plans are not suitable for your age. In such a scenario exit gracefully, and only engage in tasks that are expected of you.
8.Learn to compromise, adjust and work in a team
All the members of the bridal party are important to the bride, and they will all have a role to play in the wedding and events before it. So, you may have to deal with people you are unfamiliar with or don’t get along with. Compromise and make adjustments when necessary, and don’t be too stubborn about everything. If there is something that is genuinely concerning you, discuss it with the bride or Maid of Honor, and they should suggest a practical solution. The bride trusts you to do things in her best interests. Don’t be a drama queen and be a good team player, so you can all help the bride have the wedding she wants. Don’t get into fights or arguments, as this can make the entire party uncomfortable. Help each other out where possible, and things will be a lot easier for both the bride, and for all of you.
9.Follow the bride’s instructions
The bride or Maid of honor are responsible for delegating duties and responsibilities. Try to be a good friend and follow them. If you are expected to hold the bouquets in a certain way, or be in a specific place after the ceremony, take note of it and follow these instructions. The bride may need your help to go to the washroom, for bustling her dress, fixing an emergency situation or touching up makeup, so don’t get lost at the time she needs your assistance. All the same, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have fun at the wedding. By all means, do! Just be aware of the needs of your bride and be available when she needs you to help. If you aren’t sure of what you are expected to do, ask and find out.
10.Be pleasant, friendly and approachable at the wedding
Guests look up to the bridal party as the hosts of the event. So, you may be asked questions and asked for assistance. Take up the responsibility of helping those who wish to know something. Be pleasant and welcoming, and you will be a fantastic bridesmaid. Try to help those you come across feel comfortable by chatting with them, or getting them to meet people they can mingle with. Invite people to the dance floor and ask if there is anything you can do to help to those who seem to need it. Spread the joy around and you will feel just as happy as you make the people around you feel. Plus, your friend will appreciate your efforts to make her special day extra-special.
Are you a first-time bridesmaid? If so, do tell us what you look forward to at your friend’s wedding? And for those of you seasoned bridesmaids, tell us how you have evolved from a novice to an expert over the many weddings you participated in.
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