You’ll never forget the day your best friend popped the question–the bridesmaid question. Serving as the maid of honor can be almost as exciting as getting married yourself. With this honor, however, comes a certain degree of trepidation. Now that you’ve said yes, you’re wondering what exactly you’ve gotten yourself into.
Your bridesmaid adventure should begin with a budget. Weddings are expensive, and it’s not just the bride and groom who can end up in debt. According to a recent WeddingWire study, the average cost for bridesmaids is $1,200.
Expect to pay for your dress, alterations, shoes, accessories, and travel and hotel accommodations. You will also need to pay for your hair, makeup, and nails unless the bride provides professional styling because she wants a particular look for the wedding photos.
What Is Expected Of A Bridesmaid?
Although it can be awkward, it’s important to have an honest conversation with the bride and the rest of the bridal party upfront about what you will be expected to pay for and what you are able to afford. “Think of the absolute maximum you’d be willing to spend on everything,” says Jaya Saxena in The New York Times, “and in any initial planning correspondence, say that number out loud.”
If, for example, the bridesmaid dress your friend has chosen is out of your price range, ask if she’ll consider cheaper options such as letting the bridal party order dresses online or wear mismatched attire in the same general color scheme. However, you should make peace with the fact you’ll probably need to buy a dress you’ll never wear again. In Vogue, 30-time bridesmaid Emily Schumann says she’s only worn three of her 30 dresses after their respective weddings, “one of which was to a Goldfinger-theme costume party.”
One of the biggest expenses for bridesmaids is planning and hosting any pre-wedding events, such as the engagement party, bridal shower, and bachelorette party. In WeddingWire, Kim Forest reports 44 percent of bachelorette parties are destination weekends that involve additional travel expenses. Still, that means 56 percent of bridesmaids throw more modest parties closer to home, so don’t feel pressured to go all out if you can’t afford it.
Once you have a clear sense of your financial obligations, you need to define your other responsibilities. The maid of honor and other bridesmaids offer support and assistance before and during the wedding. Wedding Masterclass emphasizes the importance of being involved in the dress fitting process: “Come with the bride to try on dresses, support her if family opinions are difficult, and show up for the fittings as well.” Logging a few hours with the bridal gown will also ensure you can help the bride attach the bustle, place the veil, and handle any hooks and buttons on the big day.
Style Me Pretty notes that a bridesmaid can serve as the voice of reason: “It’s pretty much a guarantee that the bride is going to get pretty stressed out at a certain point (or points). To-do lists will be a mile long, and the stress of dealing with family can start to boil up. Calm her down and put things in perspective for her by reminding her that no matter what, at the end of the day, she’ll get to marry the love of her life.”
Sometimes a more practical approach is necessary. “Don’t just tell her you’re there if she needs help with everything, offer to take specific tasks off her plate,” says an article on One Fab Day. “Whether it’s chasing up RSVPs or finding the perfect shade of navy for the ties, delegation can be tricky for some brides so make it one less thing on her to-do list.”
Saxena refers to the ring theory, a way to be supportive of others without neglecting your own needs. In this case, the bride is on the innermost ring, so she gets a free pass when it comes to dumping on others emotionally during times of stress. Bridesmaids are on a ring outside the bride’s, so they should offer comfort in return.
The challenging part is not dumping on the bride when your own nerves get frazzled. Make sure you have an outer ring of friends who are not involved with the wedding. Then, when the bride insists on putting you in a dress that makes you look like a marshmallow peep, the other bridesmaids are driving you crazy, or you find out there’s a cholera outbreak on the island that was supposed to be the wedding destination, you can still vent and get the comfort you need without adding to the bride’s stress.
On the wedding day itself, one of your jobs is to help the bride get ready. Getting her into the dress is just the beginning, however; you’ll also need to fluff and straighten periodically and offer assistance in the restroom. “Holding a wedding dress above your head whilst in a small cubicle is a job for two people,” says Annie Cording in Wedding Ideas. “You are one of them.”
Your other job is to handle any crises that might arise. In her article in Southern Living, Katie Strasberg recommends the maid of honor memorize the wedding itinerary, keep a list of family and vender numbers on hand, and stash a well-stocked emergency kit nearby. You could end up saving the day by having baby wipes to clean up runny mascara, Krazy glue to fix a broken heel, safety pins to secure a dress, or Benadryl to prevent a bad case of hives. Also, make a point of offering snacks to the bride and ensuring she stays hydrated.
Being the maid of honor isn’t easy, but on your own wedding day, you’ll be thankful you have a friend to do it for you. How did you choose your maid of honor and what did she do to make your wedding special? Let us know in the comments.
If you are interested in even more wedding-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels then we have a lot to choose from.