They’re the ones who stood by you through those ugly, Passion Pop-fuelled nights, and they’ve watched proudly as you finally got your stuff together, met the love of your life and got engaged. Of course you want your best girls there by your side at the altar! Before you pop the question, though, there’s some bridesmaid etiquette to know. Make your special day (and all the days leading up to it) fun for everyone by following this simple advice.
Related article: Sweet ways to pop the question to your “I do” crew
“What should I keep in mind when asking my friends to be my bridesmaids?”
Make this your mantra: be upfront about as much as possible. Take them out for coffee or meet up for lunch and be honest about what sort of time and financial commitments might be involved. And remember, it’s not just the special day they’ll be signing up for. If you’re planning a last-hurrah hen’s celebration or a weekend-long wedding festival in a far-flung destination, tell them now. Give your friends time to think about their answer and try not to be offended if it’s a no.
Also, try to ask your potential bridesmaids one on one if you can, rather than gathering them in a group. This won’t just make them feel special, it’ll help avoid anyone feeling peer-pressured to say yes.
“I was her bridesmaid. Does she have to be mine?”
The short answer is: no. If you’re not all that close anymore, or if you want a small bridal party, there’s no obligation – and forcing it could be a little disheartening for your friend.
It’d be nice to involve them in your wedding somehow, though. Can they lend their talents in any way? If they’re a whizz with social media, appoint them as official Insta photographer for the day. Or, if they’ve got crazy-good music taste, ask them to suggest a playlist for post-ceremony cocktails. However they help, be sure to acknowledge their efforts with a shout-out in the speeches and thank them in person on the day.
“What duties do bridesmaids take care of on the day?”
Being a bridesmaid isn’t just about standing at the altar and looking lovely. They’ve got you covered for everything from giving last-minute pep-talks to running on-the-day errands and greeting guests at the reception while you’re having photos taken.
There are also the important tasks of helping the bride get ready and making sure she eats something before the ceremony. It’s also lovely if one or two of your bridesmaids give a speech, but only if they’re keen to (and, of course, mostly sober!).
“What’s the official role of a maid of honour?
Think of her as your boss bridesmaid. She’s your go-to girl (or guy, if you like) for just about everything. She’ll round up your bridesmaids, keep an eye on the time, check that the car has rocked up and make sure everyone has their bouquets.
During the ceremony, the maid of honour is the one who’ll hold your bouquet and – unless you’ve chosen someone else – sign the marriage certificate as an official witness. The reception is her time to let loose and party (at last!), but if she feels comfortable giving a speech, let her go for it.
And, of course, the maid of honour will be your first point of contact for refining ideas and will coordinate any pre-wedding celebrations. Yep, it’s a big job, so make sure you show your gratitude (a cute gift is always welcome) a thousand times and more.
“What should my bridesmaids be involved with in the lead-up to the wedding?
Every wedding is different, but typically a bridesmaid will help out with things like finding her outfits and accessories, attending the bride’s dress fittings and planning any pre-wedding events (like the hen’s party or a welcome dinner).
Of course, the most important job is being an emotional rock and true friend to the bride – that, and keeping an eye out for inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram! #SawThisAndThoughtOfYou
“I prefer to keep things totally laid-back. Do I even need bridesmaids?”
Nope, you do not. The good news is that having a bride tribe is completely optional. But just remember that even if your dream wedding is totally chilled and non-traditional, there’ll still be some element of admin and research involved – from organising details with vendors to finding the perfect dress.
If you’re up for handling this all by yourself, go for it – but keep in mind the role that your closest friends will play throughout your wedding planning. We’ve heard the occasional story where brides have opted not to have a bridal party but still gave their most intimate circle all the heavy- lifting duties of bridesmaids (without any of the credit). Not cool.
It’s okay to ask your girlfriends for advice or to be your occasional sounding board – you might also want to invite them along to some of the fun stuff, like wedding dress shopping dates, or to help you suss out the entertainment for your big day. So where do you draw the line? Well, it can help to remember that your wedding, while exciting, probably isn’t top priority for your besties! Try to resist sharing every single Pinterest board you’ve created, don’t ask them to call vendors for you when you’re too busy (your groom can also help out!) and definitely do not dump all your wedding stresses onto them every time you catch up with them. You might live in wedding world right now, but they don’t. Besides, taking a break every now and then will do you good.
“How do I avoid bust-ups with my bridesmaids?”
Okay, this might be obvious, but try not to treat them as an around-the-clock wedding planner. Yes, they’re helping out with your special day, but first and foremost they are your friend (or family member). Don’t forget that there is more going on in this world than the planning of your wedding – make sure you ask how they are every now and then.
Communication is everything. Talk to your bridesmaids about what you have envisioned, what it’s likely to cost and exactly how you’d love them to lend a hand. Don’t assume that they’ll go along with everything just because they’re your oldest friend. Avoid unnecessary pressure like it’s the Brisbane flu.
Lastly, check yourself when you feel like you’re about to rant Kanye-style at your bridal party just because the napkins you ordered are one degree off dove grey. We feel you – you’ve put a lot of time and effort into planning – but taking out your frustrations on your bridesmaids is an easy way to lose them as a friend straight after the bouquet toss.
“I love mismatched dresses for bridesmaids. How do I pull off the eclectic look?”
We love this look too… but mastering it is a challenge. You might be tempted to source a collection of dresses yourself – but don’t. The best way is to let your bridesmaids find something that they would love to wear (and make it clear – as politely as possible – that you’d like to have the final say).
Got that out of the way? Next, have a think about whether you want to go for a particular colour in different styles or a complementary colour scheme (like rose gold, burgundy and pale pink). If you’re sticking with one colour, research boutiques and designers. Many will offer the same dress in various styles – think off-the-shoulder, strapless, slip and cap- sleeved. Lock in which option you’re going for and keep your bridesmaids in the loop.
Be sure to share your plans with your bridesmaids and give them an idea of the sort of feel, colour scheme and look you’re aiming for. Set up a shared Pinterest board of colour swatches, dress styles and your venue so everyone can see how it’ll all come together. One person’s dusty lilac can be another’s pale lavender, so keep notes of what you’re after to avoid clashing tones. Remember – the Pantone colour chart is your friend!
“Is it okay to ask my bridesmaids to pay for their own dresses?”
Ah, this would be the most-asked question when it comes to bridesmaids. The answer? Yes and no (stay with us). It’s entirely acceptable to ask them to cover this cost, but make sure you tell your bridesmaids from the outset if that’s what you have planned. Don’t automatically expect them to fork out for anything over $200 – unless you want to recreate that awkward dress-hunting scene in Bridesmaids. The general rule of thumb is to offer to pay the difference if your dream dresses are a bit over.
Also, make sure you cover the costs of things like hair, makeup and alterations. And, be open to letting your bridesmaids wear shoes they already own. If they’ve been to basically any event in the past five years, it’s likely they’ll have at least one pair of strappy nude heels, white open-toe sandals or basic black pumps.
“How can I show my maids how much I appreciate them?”
It can be as simple as thanking them in person or specially acknowledging your bridesmaids in the wedding speeches. If you want to go all-out though, treat them to a special gift such as personalised jewellery, or hire out a beautiful location to stay the night before the wedding. There are lots of genuine ways you can choose to share the love with your bride tribe – just make sure you do!
Related article: Sweet gift ideas for your bridesmaids