No two brides are alike, and the same can be said for her ‘maids! These days, bridesmaid squads frequently include ‘maids who live in different parts of the country (or world!), have different jobs and family situations, and different budgets—meaning what’s affordable to one might be a splurge for another, and what’s doable for one might be a struggle for another. You can’t make everyone happy all the time, but putting a little bit of effort into bridesmaid etiquette and making things fair for your ‘maids will pay off in a big way as your wedding comes into focus.
Here are a few tips for leveling the playing field and considering appropriate bridesmaid etiquette for your unique group of ‘maids.
Pop-up costs? A bachelorette party that will last five days instead of just one night? Some women have the time and money to absorb the unforeseen expenses (of both time and money) agreeing to be a bridesmaid can bring, but for others, something like the above can throw them for a loop. To make sure everyone who signs on to be your ‘maid has a fair understanding of what will be expected of them (and their vacation days, and their finances), include a quick rundown of what your bridesmaids will have to pay for, what trips and parties they’ll be invited to, and what you’ll be covering for them (like their hair and makeup) in your will-you-be-my-bridesmaid invitations. That way everyone who says yes will say so knowing they can give it their all—and no one will be blindsided by a stressful surprise along the way!
Let them pick their dresses.
Instead of asking everyone to order the same $300 dress, which could be a stretch for some of your ladies, it’s good bridesmaid etiquette to let each ‘maid choose their own dress—and stick within their own personal budgets. Specify things like color or color family, style, and length, and let them go shopping. Give them plenty of time, and ask to see each dress before they pull the trigger so you can verify that it fits within your vision. You can even make a Pinterest board of dresses you like to help guide their choices. At the end of the process, you’re still giving each ‘maid the power to spend however much (or little!) on her dress as she feels comfortable, and not asking anyone to reveal their financial situation in the process. Even better: you’re giving every girl a chance to grab a dress she’ll love enough to wear again!
Delegate, delegate, delegate
We all have that one friend who volunteers for everything without thinking twice—so often that, before she knows it, most tasks tend to just fall into her lap without her even volunteering at all. Chances are, one or a couple of your bridesmaids are like this, and they’ll probably unintentionally take on more than their fair share of tasks just to help you out—and end up working their butts off while the other girls cruise. It’s poor bridesmaid etiquette to give your gals “jobs” to do for your wedding, there are ways they can all help out, and it’s better for you to delegate these tasks early on rather than letting them all end up on one woman’s plate. So, right after you pick your ‘maids, figure out what you need help with and match each task up with the gal who’d be best at it—e.g., ask your most artistic friend for help doing DIYs and your fashion-obsessed pal for help hunting down veils—then reiterate that no one needs to overdo it to help you because all you really want is their company on your big day! (And a fun bachelorette party.)
Pick the right MOH—or skip it entirely.
Being maid of honor is an honor (that’s why it’s in the name, y’all!) but it also comes with a significantly higher cash and time commitment than simply being a bridesmaid. When you’re selecting your MOH, it’s only fair to pick with both your heart and your head—can the girl you have in mind afford the extra expenses? Does she have the extra time in her schedule? Chances are, yes, but it’s worth a second thought just in case, because burdening your MOH can cause some serious drama down the line (and take a lot of the fun out of being MOH at all)! If you’re feeling like it might not be a fair appointment, you can simply skip having a maid of honor—no, you won’t get arrested! One of the simplest ways to make sure everything is fair is to make every ‘maid equal—that means no one is the “chief” who’s expected to do more, spend more and stress more.
Remember, they have lives.
Taking advantage of your bridesmaids sounds like something you’d never do—but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to (accidentally) do when you’re in the weeds of wedding stress and you just need help! But don’t forget: all of your bridesmaids have lives to live, jobs to do, friends to hang out with and families to support outside of your wedding—and it’s totally unfair to lose sight of that and expect them to give you 110 percent, 24/7. Especially if one woman is more available than another—and therefore can be taken advantage of more than another (or, on the flip side, makes the less-available one feel like a bad friend for not being there for you). A good rule of bridesmaid etiquette is to treat your squad like friends first, always—and never lose sight of that!