What does this whole bridesmaids thing entail?
Wedding planning raises many questions for brides. What will I wear? How should I do my hair? Who will be in my bridal party? Once that last question gets answered, new questions arise – and not just for the bride. It can be a little unclear what specifically is required of bridesmaids. In what ways should I involve myself? How much will I have to spend? Every wedding is different, but in general bridesmaids should expect to be a part of (and pay for) the following:
1) Attire – This one is fairly obvious. You’ll likely pay for your own dress, and don’t forget about alterations and accessories! It is common (but not required) for brides to purchase jewelry as a gift to her bridesmaids, but plan on paying for your own shoes, undergarments, hair and makeup. Brides, take note though. If you are going to require your bridesmaids to wear a specific shoe, for example, it is customary for you to pick up the tab. If you keep it general (i.e. choose any gold shoe) then the girls can choose a style they like (and will wear again) at a price they’re comfortable with, so they won’t mind footing the bill. Same goes for hair and makeup, if you’re going to require that the girls get theirs done professionally, you should offer to pay. If you give them the opportunity to opt out, then those that want theirs done can pay for it and those that don’t can act as their own glam squad!
2) Bridal Shower – Traditionally the bridal party throws the bridal shower. At a minimum expect that cost to include the price of the venue, invitations, favors, decorations and a gift for the bride. Depending on the venue, though, more costs may arise; you may have to bring your own cake, food/drinks, linens, etc. Always check what is included with the venue cost before booking!
3) Bachelorette Party – One of the biggest differences between planning the shower and the bachelorette is that you can ask the bachelorette guests to contribute to the cost – yay! Split the cost of lodging, food, drinks and entertainment equally among all attendees. On top of that, though, the bridal party may want to consider paying for decorations, custom t-shirts or other goodies to make the party unique.
4) Wedding night lodging – Traditionally the bride will take care of your lodging the night before the wedding, but bridesmaids should secure their own rooms for the following evening. Make sure you get on the ball early and snag one of the rooms in the hotel block to save yourself some cash!
Again, every wedding (and every bride) is different but this is roughly what you should expect when you say yes to being a bridesmaid. So, think about it and be honest with the bride if the money/time requirements might be too much for you. If she’s a good friend, she will understand and might have another wedding role for you!