Photo: Andreas K. Georgiou & Tomas Dolejsi
You’ve heard the nightmare stories or even experienced a bride[or groom]-zilla yourself–what is it about planning a wedding that can drive even the most reasonable people crazy? Well, it’s a lot of work. There is literally an entire profession dedicated to planning weddings so imagine taking that on in addition to your day job and other numerous responsibilities. This is why most couples decide to have bridal parties, to help divvy up some of those responsibilities to their nearest and dearest, the people they trust most. Now, we are by no means justifying the mistreatment of friends and family, we’re merely explaining the source of the madness to help us break it down a bit more as we attempt to uncover exactly what members of the bridal party are responsible for and what is simply too big an ask. Before we even get started we feel the need to add this disclaimer. We are going to discuss the things that bridal party members are “traditionally” responsible for. As a bride or groom, as a human with a conscience, you do need to take into account the financial and time commitments that some of these expectations come with and ask yourself, is this something that I should really be expecting of this person? Each person in your bridal party has a unique situation and may or may not be able to contribute an equal amount. So, be sensitive to that, and don’t guilt them into accepting the role or explain that it is an honorary title only, that nothing is truly expected other than their smiling face on your big day.
Now that we’ve talked about your expectations for your bridal party, here’s what you can expect from your guests. Still on the fence about who to invite now that COVID restrictions are lifting? Here’s some advice from some wedding industry pros to help you decide.
Photo: Shantel Wall Photography
It is normal to expect bridesmaids and groomsmaids to purchase their dresses. Depending on the design selected, the cost of these ensembles may vary. According to a recent study from The Knot, the average price of a bridesmaid dress is $130, though some can easily run into the $400s. If you know that you are selecting a dress that is well above the average or you know that a certain bridesmaid may not have it in their personal budget to purchase such an expensive item, consider helping them with the cost and adding bridal party attire into your overall wedding budget. You can also consider selecting a color or colors and letting your bridesmaids and groomsmaids select a dress of that color that is within their budget, eliminating any awkward conversations. Plus, they’ll be more likely to actually wear it again if they pick it out themselves.
Suits & Tuxes
Groomsmen and bridesmen are usually expected to buy or (most likely) rent their suit or tux for the big day. Renting tends to be less expensive than purchasing a dress, but the same sensitivity applies. If you feel that a member or members of your bridal party may not be able to afford the rental, do the right thing and help them out with the cost.
Shoes & Accessories
Bridal party members should not be expected to purchase a specific pair of shoes for your wedding, but it is acceptable to assign them a color/type of shoe like a nude pump or black oxford, for example. If the men in your bridal party are renting suits or tuxes, they are often able to rent shoes, which is a more acceptable and more common ask. If you do want your bridal party to be in matching shoes or accessories, consider purchasing the items for them as thank you gifts.
Hair & Makeup
It is totally normal for couples to hire a hair and makeup artist to get them looking their best for their big day, but often the women in the bridal party are expected to pay to have their hair and makeup done as well. We understand wanting a cohesive and professional look for your bridesmaids and groomsmaids, but asking your ladies to pay several hundred dollars to have their hair and makeup professionally done is not something we can get behind. What is totally reasonable is to consult with your HMUA ahead of time to get a cost estimate and ask your ladies if they would be interested. Some may be, others may not, it is completely fine to offer them the choice.
Photo: Ariana & Alex
Traditionally, the Maid of Honor throws the bridal shower and it is common for the bride’s close relatives and the other bridesmaids to help out with the cost or the venue. While some showers are full gourmet plated meals, a bridal shower usually consists of light food and drink, games, and favors for your guests. Be gracious and understanding of what your MOH can afford, and do not expect too much.
Bachelor and Bachelorette Party
Traditionally the members of the bridal party all chip in and throw the bachelor and bachelorette parties with the Best Man and MOH doing the coordination. A bachelor or bachelorette party is one night of revelry to celebrate your last single night out. Lately, we’ve seen what were once one-night affairs turning into week-long getaways. Now, don’t get us wrong, we’re all for a luxurious bachelor or bachelorette party, but we’re simply saying it shouldn’t be expected. Remember that in order to go on these extravagant trips, your bridal party needs to pay for their transportation, hotel, food and drink, and take off work. While some members of your bridal party may welcome the escape, it may be super stressful financially or personally for others, so just be kind and conscientious of this if someone is unable to attend. Often, the bridal party will split the tab for the hotel or lodging, but expect to pay for your own travel (flights, rental car, etc.).
Minor Tasks & Coordination
Photo: Here Today Photography
Your bridal party is there for you when you need someone to lean on during the stressful wedding planning process. It’s fine to ask them for help with certain small tasks like assembling welcome bags and scheduling appointments/fittings, but don’t expect them to function as a free wedding planner. They’re mostly there for moral support and to celebrate with you.
A Witness For Your Marriage LICENSE
Photo: Rachel Solomon Photography
You’ll need a witness to sign your marriage license and your Maid of Honor or Best Man is the perfect candidate for this small yet super important task
Holding The Rings
Photo: Andreas K. Georgiou & Tomas Dolejsi
Traditionally it’s the Best Man’s job to hold the rings until that part of the ceremony. Even if you have a ring bearer in your wedding, consider using replica rings for display purposes to be on the safe side and leave the real deal to the Best Man.
Photo: Sanaz Photography
Usually, the Maid of Honor and Best Man get up and give speeches about the happy couple and how they went from single to inseparable. It’s totally fine to express your preferences as far as what details of your love life you’d like to reveal to everyone in attendance.