Your best friend from college, your sister, or your colleague has asked you to be a bridesmaid. How exciting! Being included in this happy event is a lovely compliment and demonstrates how important you are to the bride.
Before you accept, make sure you know the answers to these questions.
1. What are my pre-wedding responsibilities?
Your overall responsibility is to keep the bride happy. Listen to her plans, make appropriate suggestions, and encourage and support her during nervous moments.
2. Should I give the bride a bridal shower?
Discuss this with the other bridesmaids, the bride's mother, and the bride. Often the maid or matron of honor gives the shower. As a bridesmaid, offer to help in any way you can. Unless you live far away, attend this and every other party to which you're invited.
If you're invited to more than one shower, you are only expected to give the bride one gift.
3. What are my financial responsibilities?
Bridesmaids pay for their dresses and any alterations, shoes, and beauty appointments.
You are not expected to pay for the flowers you carry or wear during the wedding.
If you cannot afford the dress, discuss this with the bride as soon as you can. She may be able to help, or you both may decide that it won't be feasible for you to attend her. This does not mean you can't participate in pre-wedding plans and festivities!
4. What am I expected to do on the day of the wedding?
Other than the obvious requirement that you accompany the bride down the aisle, you are expected to arrive at the wedding site on time, either fully dressed or with your dress and makeup in hand.
The maid or matron of honor traditionally helps the bride dress, although the bride's mother or sister may usurp this role.
All bridesmaids should be ready to run errands, sew on a button, have a spare comb or safety pin, answer the telephone, and reassure the bride that all is running according to plan.
The maid or matron of honor should ask for the groom's ring to hold or transfer to the ring bearer.
One bridesmaid should be responsible for all the bridesmaids' flowers. This may be the maid of honor or another chosen attendant.
The maid of honor should be prepared to hold the bride's bouquet during the ceremony and then remember to hand it back to her before the bride and groom start the recessional.
Bridesmaids, along with the groomsmen, should make sure everyone has directions and rides to the reception. Once at the party, they should mingle with other guests, agree to ask people to sign the guest book, and offer to keep track of gifts brought to the party.
The maid or matron of honor usually helps the bride change from her wedding gown into her going-away outfit. She or a designated bridesmaid makes sure the gown is taken care of after this point, especially if it has to be transported back to the bride's or her parent's house.
5. Can I turn down the invitation to be a bridesmaid?
If you're asked, you will probably want to say yes! But there may be reasons why you cannot participate. If so, it's acceptable to decline.
These reasons might include the cost of traveling to the wedding, buying the dress, and other incidental expenses.
You might have small children, a demanding job, or a health problem that you think would interfere.
Whatever your reasons for deciding not to be a bridesmaid, talk about them candidly yet gently with the bride. If the problems are financial, you and she might be able to work something out, but don't expect her to do this.
The most important thing to remember when declining is to do it very soon after you're asked so that your friend can ask someone else. Be open and honest with the bride to avoid any misunderstandings.
When you are sure you both are at peace with this decision, offer to help in other ways. Call or email her frequently with support and to let her know how happy you are for her and her fiancé.