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What Every First-Time Bridesmaid Needs to Know

  |   By Kimberly Aglipay

If you're a first-time bridesmaid and you have no idea what to expect, don't worry, you are not alone. Most bridal BFFs find that feelings of excitement and happiness at having been selected as one of the chosen few often give way to a whole slew of questions regarding expectations and responsibilities.

That's why we've asked wedding planners Rebecca Chan from Rebecca Chan Weddings and Events and Melissa Medalla from near+dear events to weigh in on some of the toughest bridesmaid etiquette questions. Should you be paying for the dress? What's the best way to let a bride know you can't pay for something? And what exactly is a bridesmaid's role?

Whether you're a first-time bridesmaid of a seasoned pro, we have the answers you need to some of the most pressing bridesmaid etiquette questions. (And if you're a bride and reading this, do your girls a solid and pass on the info!)

What does a bridesmaid do? If you've never been a bridesmaid before, you might not know exactly what the role entails. Ultimately, a bridesmaid is there to support the bride, which includes being their sounding board and someone they can trust. "It means being a part of creating a fun experience for the bridal party and guests," Medalla explains. "It also means being someone the bride can count on to roll up their sleeves and help with things such as DIY projects."

What should you consider before agreeing to be a bridesmaid? Before agreeing to being a bridesmaid, consider the costs involved and the time commitment. "You might be the main go-to for the bride on important wedding decisions, so ensure you have enough time and energy for this," Chan advises. It is almost as important to be aware of the costs involved, Chan says. "There will likely be pre-wedding events you help pay for, and possibly attire, makeup and hair, although sometimes these items are a gift from the bride," Chan adds.

How can should you let a bride know that you can't pay for a bridesmaid-related activity or item? As with many relationships, communication is key, Medalla says. "If you have financial constraints or scheduling conflicts with bridal events, voice it early on," she shares. "Discussing who buys the bridesmaid dress or who pays for makeup right after she asks you to be her bridesmaid might dampen the fun, but take her out for coffee the following week. Be mindful of your words and timing, but express your excitement in taking on the role." When it comes to being upfront about financial constraints with the bride, Chan agrees. "If you can't pay for a wedding-related event, be honest with the bride," she says. "If you can't pay for it, chances are you are not the only one."

Who pays for the bridesmaid dress? According to Chan, the bridesmaid typically pays for her bridesmaid dress, but in some cases, the bride will pay for this as a gift. "It's always a nice gesture for a bride to pay for some of the wedding-day costs involved for their bridesmaids such as hair, makeup and dress," Chan says. "Otherwise it does get expensive to be a part of the wedding party."

What should you do as a bridesmaid if you don't live in the same location as the bride? "Try your best to contribute remotely," Medalla advises. "In the digital world, bridging the distance is easier than ever." She suggests sharing a Pinterest board with the bride to help visualize and brainstorm wedding ideas, as well as suggesting vendors in her area. It's also important to communicate with the other members of the bridal party. "Set up a group chat to share photos and updates from events you won't be able to attend."

If you live away from the bride and the wedding venue, how soon should you arrive before the wedding? If your plans allow it, aim to arrive a week or two prior to the wedding to help with the final details, suggests Medalla. "I've been a bridesmaid and maid of honour to dear friends who live far away, and helped make tassel garlands with one and seating charts with the other," Medalla shares. "No matter what, try to spend some quality time with the bride before the wedding."


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