This coming Fall I will be a bridesmaid for the second time. I was a bridesmaid for the first time years ago, before I was an expert in the field. And let me tell you! Having just finished university, I thought my role as a bridesmaid primarily revolved around planning the bachelorette party (tip #1 -- never give drunk people permanent markers). While I like to think I was generally helpful leading up to the big day and the morning of the wedding, realistically, who knows? (I did yell at a groomsman for drinking too much!)
In all seriousness, it is hard to know the dos and don'ts of being a bridesmaid, whether it is your first time being in a wedding party or your tenth. Nowadays, every wedding is different and every bride has a unique personality. Some brides may want the wedding party to be hands-on, while other brides just want them to show up. No matter what the situation, it is an honour to be asked to be in the wedding party, and it should be viewed as such. On that note, here are my most important dos and don'ts for being a bridesmaid. For a detailed list of duties take a look at my blog:
- Find out what is important to the bride with respect to your role in her wedding party, and be up front with your ability to meet her expectations. It is very easy for the bride to get caught up in all the excitement and planning of the wedding and all the events that surround it. One engagement party, four showers and a bachelorette trip to Vegas later you are in debt, behind on at least three work projects and haven't seen your family or friends for months. Some people can do it all and others can't. Do not feel guilty about missing some of the events, but do make a reasonable effort to participate. Just make sure you have an honest conversation with the bride about it in advance.
- Give your honest opinion once (maybe twice just in case the bride didn't hear you the first time). If the bride decides not to take your advice, then just be supportive. If a champagne coloured dress washes you out, but the bride has been dreaming of that colour since she was five, well, wear it. Remember whose day it is. Yes, you are an important part of the wedding, but don't try to push your style and ideas on the bride.
- Stay on top of the wedding details. You might not be able to participate in everything, but at least make the effort to know what is going on and what the bride and groom expect from wedding guests. People will turn to you to ask about where the bride and groom are registered, if they should give cash, how dressy the wedding is, if there are accommodations close by, and so on.
- Do not, under any circumstances, add to the bride's stress. Be helpful and positive, and be proactive in solving problems. If the back of the bride's hair is a mess, don't tell her it looks like a rat's nest. Instead, let her know calmly it is a bit knotty, and offer a solution to fix it. She is already going to be emotional, so you should try to be the voice of reason and come up with solutions to solve issues. Things go wrong; it is part of life. Help her laugh about a situation instead of cry.
- At the reception it is easy to get caught up in the party. Maybe your significant other is sitting at a different table or your friends from university are calling you to the bar every 30 minutes for a shot. You cannot forget why you have a place at the head table. Be there for the bride throughout the evening. (You try going to the washroom by yourself in a gown that weighs 50 pounds!) Of course, go see your friends during dinner, but remember that your place is at the head table so try to spend some time there.