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Wedding Party Etiquette

The social codes of being a bridesmaid or groomsmen can sometimes be confusing. To help you navigate the often murky waters, here are some of the most commonly asked questions.

WHO SHOULD BE THE FIRST TO KNOW ABOUT THE ENGAGEMENT?

Avoid broadcasting the news (photos included) to social networks before sharing your engagement with family and friends. If you have any children from a previous marriage, they should be told first. Parents, family members, godparents, and anyone you are particularly close with should also be told before the news is public knowledge and before you select your wedding party.

I’VE BEEN ASKED TO BE A BRIDESMAID, DO I HAVE TO SAY YES?

No, you are not obligated to accept if asked to be a bridesmaid. While it’s a big honour, it’s also a big ask and brides-to-be should be mindful of that. Even if you want to accept, don’t rush into the decision. Before you commit to the potentially pricey and time-consuming task, there are a couple of things that should first be considered: most importantly, the money and time it will cost you. Ideally, the bride should give you as much information about that as possible right off the bat. You should definitely ask if she doesn’t. Will you be expected to pay for your own dress and accessories? What about wedding day hair and makeup? These are important things to know.

WEDDINGS ARE EXPENSIVE! WHO PAYS FOR WHAT?

‘As a bridesmaid, what am I supposed to pay for?’ is the biggest question. It’s a great starting point if the bride can pay for dresses. If she wants a specific look for hair and makeup, it would be nice if she could also cover the cost of that. If that’s not within the bride’s budget, perhaps accessories and shoes are. The couple should cover more of the wedding party’s costs if it’s a destination wedding; they should foot the bill for their transportation or lodging, if not both. Or at the very least, cover the bridesmaids’ outfits. Because of those added costs, many destination weddings either not having a wedding party or have a smaller one.

EVENTS & GIFT-GIVING

If I am a part of the wedding party, do I have to attend every event? There may be an engagement party, bridal shower, and bachelorette party — but you don’t have to attend them all. Be up front with the bride about which events you’ll be able to make. And if you don’t attend a party, you don’t have to feel compelled to give a gift. It’s best to just pick and choose what fits best in your budget. It is, however, recommend always showing up with something in your hand even if it is as simple as a card filled with well wishes. For those who plan on attending most or all of the events, and want to bring a gift to each one, it is recommends purchasing a gift within the $50-100 range.

HOW DO I BEST DEAL WITH A ‘BRIDEZILLA’?

Some brides will handle the stress of planning a wedding better than others. If you find yourself with a Bridezilla on your hands, try to be gentle. Get together with the other bridesmaids and see who can help take some tasks off her plate. Then go to the bride and offer specific things you can do to ease her workload. This is one of the biggest parties she will ever plan. Hopefully, your friend’s journey to the altar isn’t too tumultuous for you, and you can both enjoy the fruits of your labour when the wedding day finally arrives.

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