Being a bridesmaid is exciting and an honor -- the bride picked you, whether you are the groom's sister, her sister, a cousin, or one of her closest friends, you get the privilege to stand beside her and her fiancé on their wedding day to help celebrate their marriage. It’s easy to say “Yes! Of Course!” right off the bat upon being asked or proposed to, but before you heartily accept the position, there are quite a few obligations you should take into consideration and talk about to make sure you’re on the same page as the bride.
THE TIME OBLIGATION
As a bridesmaid, there are numerous events and invitations you’ll have to respond to, and that’s not including the showers and a rehearsal. More times than not, the bride is going to ask for your advice or thoughts regarding décor, request help in crafting or making decisions regarding colors, fabrics, and hairstyles. Though that may or may not be of your interest, it’s a general expectation that because the bride reached out to you and values your opinion, that you take the time to respond back and participate.
Outside of the time assisting in planning, there is the unspoken expectation of attending any and all events. The bachelorette party, bridal shower, and rehearsal and subsequent dinner are certainly mandatory, you may also be asked to attend trips to dress appointments or send photos or video of dresses you’ve looked at and tried on. Carving out the time in your schedule, or acknowledging that you can’t attend, and letting the bride or hostesses know of your attendance (or lack therefore) in a timely manner is not only considerate, but a must, as it will prevent hurt feelings and your relationship with the bride.
THE DRESS AND HOW YOU LOOK
Speaking of apparel, with the trend of having bridesmaids pick their own dress as long as it's a certain color and fabric, you have a relatively good chance of ensuring that you get to wear a flattering dress (or not a dress!). The reality is however that the bride gets the final say on what you wear and how you are presented, as you will be heavily photographed that day.
With this being said, talk over with the bride about your appearance, and let her know about your comfort levels and things that would be ideal (example, wearing a complimentary pant suite rather than a dress, or perhaps having your tattoos exposed rather than covered in makeup). While most friends are understanding and know of these needs or requests before they ask you, I would remain cautious and follow "expect the worst, hope for the best".
According to sources like Weddington Way and Bustle, the average cost of being a bridesmaid today is between $1,000 and $1,500. Not saying that all weddings will insist on a financial commitment that large, but when you break it down for an average of $250 dress, $100 for a shower gift (including wrapping), $100+ to go towards the bachelorette, $300 for traveling, $150 for hair and makeup...the expenses can add up quickly. If you struggle with procuring funds, be honest to the bride about it and upfront before you accept the offer of being a bridesmaid. It’s awkward having the money conversation, but being honest with your friend from the onset about your financial situation or what you would be able to commit will go a long way in avoiding or preventing hurt feelings.
Regardless though if money is a little tight for your bridesmaid budget, do keep track of expenses and what you’re spending throughout your bridesmaid experience. Let the bride and Maid of Honor know when things are getting a little out of hand; do not be discouraged from being the voice of reason in the midst of the wedding-spend craziness s that can often occur. There’s no reason for frivolous spending, or if something seems off (as in, suspiciously, the MOH used your funds or contributions towards the bachelorette to pay for her portion…).
Be understanding and open to the bride about your ability to commit to being in a member of the bridal party, and stay true to yourself throughout the process while being there for the bride. It’s ok to say no and question, but also keep in mind that this is not your event, and there are some things that you will have to comply with despite your personal tastes. Expect though to have an amazing time with your soon-to-be-married bestie, and enjoy being there by her side throughout the process.