A new book, The Bridesmaids, by journalist Eimear Lynch, takes a look at the trials and tribulations of standing up for someone. Lynch, who had been a bridesmaid a few times prior to writing the book, started to wonder about the custom so she decided to interview bridesmaids and bridesmen about their experiences.
Ultimately, Lynch included interviews with 80 bridesmaids who were very open about their roles in someone else’s wedding. Their perspective gave Lynch more insight into the ritual. While her overall opinion is less cynical (she still doesn’t see the point of a group of people with totally different styles all dressing alike), she still claims she will not have bridesmaids at her own wedding. By and large, most brides choose to have at least one attendant; fewer select a Poppy Delavigne-like cadre of 17.
Be respectful of your friends and family. Of course, this is your day and your family and friends will undoubtedly want you to have the day of your dreams, but don’t take advantage of them.
Be considerate of their financial ability to participate. Being a bridesmaid is both a time and financial commitment that some may want to make, but can’t. Buying a dress and shoes (plus hair and makeup if you’re not providing), helping host showers and/or bachelorette parties, paying for transportation and a hotel room, and buying a gift can quickly become more than some can afford – especially if a bride has her heart set on expensive designer bridesmaid dresses or an extravagant bachelorette weekend getaway. Keep in mind your friends’ limitations and don’t be offended if they decline to participate. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you and wish the best for your wedding, and it might just save your friendship.
It’s understandable if you have your heart set on your bridal party looking a certain way, but consider the comfort of your party – both in terms of their style and size. Different dresses can be complicated for certain body types and it is not acceptable to ask your friends to diet or lose weight. Similarly, it is not acceptable to ask them to get your approval on hair cuts or other appearance changes prior to your wedding. You want your friends to look their best, be comfortable, and happy to be standing up for you. Showing them you understand who they are and that you love them for it goes a long way.
When you’re asking your friends to stand up for you, be sure that you’re politely and clearly letting them know what you expect in terms of duties and which of their expenses they will be responsible for through the engagement and wedding.
Remember that these are your friends, not personal assistants. If you delegate responsibilities, which is your right, do so with a positive and grateful attitude. And be sure to thank them with a personal note and thoughtful gift. Your wedding is one day; hopefully your friendships last well beyond that.
And potential bridesmaids – be honest with your friend if she asks you to stand up for her and you can’t or would rather not. Thank her for thinking of you, but let her know that you aren’t able to make the type of commitment you know would be required, and perhaps offer to take her to a lunch, just the two of you or offer to do a reading during the ceremony. There are many ways to support an engaged friend and your friend will surely appreciate any of the time or talents you lend.
Photos: Indulgy, Bridal Guide