How to Be a Better Bridesmaid

  • Copy by: Kellee Khalil

Have you been asked to be a bridesmaid by your sister, cousin, or, perhaps, best friend? We speak from experience in saying that it is such an honor and such a blast—because, while the job is a certainly a lot of work, it’s also a ton of fun. So we tapped wedding expert Lover.ly’s Kellee Khalil to help us navigate the oh-so-important role of MOH (maid of honor) and bridesmaid.

We asked Kellee the tricky bridal party questions, everything from financial concerns to the real requisites of the “job” and she sounded off on what every girl needs to know when she says yes to the (bridesmaid) dress! But first and foremost she reminds us never to forget why you’ve accepted the offer: The bride appreciates and cherishes you, and if roles were reversed, she’d do the same for you! Read on for some amazing bridal party advice.

Let’s start big: What is your best advice for a bridesmaid?
Above all, bridesmaids should be emotionally available before, during, and even after the big day. Whether it’s wedding planning stress, cold feet or sore feet once the vows are voiced and the dancing is done, your friend needs your support. This can mean taking the bride out of her wedding planning bubble every once in a while to catch a chick flick, indulge in a bottomless brunch, go on a fabulous shopping excursion or anything, really, to take her mind off of the old, new, borrowed or blue (unless it’s shoes!).

What should I do if the bride asks me to pay $400 for the dress and I can’t afford it?
$400 is definitely not cheap for a bridesmaid dress so I understand hesitations about spending that much (especially if it’s a dress that you will never wear again). In this case, I would encourage you to speak up and have an open and honest conversation with the bride—maybe ask if she can help you finance it or be honest that you might not be able to afford the other wedding related events at expense of the dress. Chances are, she’d rather rethink the gowns than have one or two girls absent during other nuptial activities. 

If I have to attend every shower, am I required to get her a gift for each one? How much should I spend on each gift? 
There are many pre-wedding events—from the engagement, shower, and bachelorette parties, to the rehearsal dinner, and no bridesmaid should feel obligated to give a gift at each. A handwritten note, bottle of inexpensive bubbly or even a hug goes a long way to let the bride know that you’re super excited for her and thrilled to be part of her big day.

As far as gift value goes, a wedding gift can range in price from $30 to $300 (and up) per bridal party member (considering how close you are to the couple—as a family member or friend). A bridal shower gift can be as little as $5 or $10 (like those adorable wishing well knickknacks) or $100 if you’re on a mission to check off those big-ticket registry items.

If I must get the bride a gift for each occasion, how can I do so affordably?
To save money, many bridal parties will go in together on gifts and work out a balanced pay scale on their own (i.e. junior bridesmaids might only chip in what they can afford to). Or, you can certainly offer to contribute towards the wedding itself—such as helping the bride craft and put together the wedding favors, offering to be the photographer’s second in command, or baking all of the sweets at the dessert table, etc.

What is a typical budget breakdown for a bridesmaid?
Of course, every bridal party is different but here is the most basic breakdown: 

Fashion and beauty
Dress and alterations: $200 average
Accessories, jewelry and shoes: $30-$200 range
Hair and makeup for day of: at minimum $50 (Note: the bride may pay but usually the bridesmaids do.)

Main events
Bridal shower: between $50 and $100 (excluding gifts)
Bachelorette party: at least $60, up to $500 and more (if travel is involved)

Travel
$50 and up for gas
up to $700 if flying
$100-$200 per night for hotel

Brides take note: When it comes down to it, you should always be mindful of what you ask of your bridesmaids. Remember, their presence far outweighs the presents.

Is it rude to plan an out-of-town bachelorette party if the wedding is a destination affair?
I don’t really think so. It may help always plugged-in brides to get away from the stress of planning with a few days off the grid. It is rude, however, if you require everyone to be there. Let the girls choose if they can afford it.

What is the price limit I should expect to pay for a bridesmaids dress?
This is varies, but hopefully no more than $400. Be sure to scope out rental sources like Rent the Runway and Union Station, which can bring costs down specifically. Definitely consider buying off the rack and ready to wear, or suggest choosing one color so all the bridesmaids can choose the designer/silhouette of choice.

Is it OK to require bridesmaids to get their hair and makeup professionally done or is that something the bride should pay for if it’s important to her?
It’s never OK for the bride to require her girls to do anything, but I think it’s not too much to ask to have a fun morning together getting glam. That said, the bride should make her makeup preferences known early on and be open to thoughts or questions. And the bride should always help pay or work with a bridesmaid who has concerns. 

And a few questions from our Instagram followers!

I am the maid of honor in a wedding coming up and am currently prepping for the bachelorette party. There have been a few places where I’ve read that the MOH picks up the bride’s tab for the bachelorette party. Is that the current standard for etiquette? And if the bachelorette party (or long weekend) is already pricy should that etiquette be followed? Also, how do you plan activities for 15 women so everyone has a good time? Thanks! —msmako, a curious (and slightly stressed) MOH
You cannot please everyone! However, if you’re a MOH and helping organize the bachelorette party, make it easy on yourself by giving options. Always offer a variety of choices for activities on a long weekend getaway and then also opportunities to reunite and celebrate the bride altogether. As far as who picks up the tab for the bride—that needs to be determined by you and your financial situation. By no means are you required to, or even expected to!

At what point can you tell a bride: “If this is that important to you, please help cover the cost.” For instance, the bride demanding you stay in a hotel when you live close to the venue or paying for a hem at a specific tailor. Thanks! —nadiachill 
This falls in the category of reasonable vs. unreasonable asks or when preference trumps practicality. It’s fine for the bride to ask you to be at every wedding weekend event. But it’s completely unnecessary for you to stay at the hotel, if you live in close proximity. Along the same lines, it’s OK to ask for alterations but the bride should allow you to find a tailor you can afford. Many bridal salons overcharge for nips and tucks, but independent tailors can do it just as well and at a cost that won’t break the bank. 

 

So tell us, what is your best bridesmaid advice?

 

feature image via Style Me Pretty

  • Great advice! I’m so excited to be a bridesmaid in April!!

    Her Heartland Soul
    http://herheartlandsoul.com

  • Amanda Martin

    Where can I get those bridesmaid dresses??!!

    • Becca

      I’m pretty sure the dress is Jenny Yoo’s Annabelle (available at Nordstrom) 🙂

      • Amanda Martin

        Thanks!!

  • mgm

    That bride demanding hemming at a specific tailor needs a good shake to wake her up and see what a wedding is really about…