Bridesmaids 101: How To Be In A Wedding Without Going Crazy (Or Broke)

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If you’ve ever been asked to be a bridesmaid at a good friend’s wedding, you know that the request can have different meanings, depending on the bride who asked you. With old school etiquette rules, and new school expectations it can definitely be difficult (and expensive) to navigate the role of being your bride-to-be’s right hand woman. “I think being a bridesmaid has a two-fold meaning,” says celebrity wedding planner Diann Valentine (pictured above, left). “A bride will ask a bridesmaid somebody to participate because she’s someone who’s near and dear to her heart, so there’s a friendship. And, after that,  a lot of brides want people to help them do things.”

Tasha Martinez was honored when her friend asked her to be her bridesmaid at her wedding, but she didn’t realize what she was ultimately getting herself into or how much it would cost. At first, the bride’s demands weren’t completely far-fetched. Tasha says she helped pick out her friend’s wedding dress, helped with invites and even looked up a few decoration ideas for the wedding. But, the planning started getting stressful when she realized how much money she was spending on the wedding, the bridal shower AND the bachelorette party. “I must’ve spent about $100 on my portion for food, decor, and plates/utensils [for one event],” Tasha wrote. “Then, another $50 for a present. The bride decided she wanted to go to the club for her bachelorette party. I threw in another $60 towards cake, decor, and party necessities.” Tasha isn’t the only person who experienced financial issues during a wedding experience; in some cases, her unofficial bridesmaids budget the lower end of the price points that brides expect bridesmaids to shell out  

As frustrating as it can potentially be to be a bridesmaid, some brides get angst with dealing with their wedding entourage too. Bridgette Bartlett, founder of Blackbridalbliss.com, had her wedding in October 2013, and remembers having an interesting experience with her own bridesmaids. “I was trying so hard not to be Bridezilla that I think, in hindsight, I was too nonchalant about some things,” she says. Bridgette tried considering budgets and even paid for her bridesmaids’ shoes and jewelry, but wasn’t happy when a few of them didn’t show up for her wedding’s first look. “Some people came right before we had to go to the venue and, because I feature real weddings on the site and I look at an insane amount of wedding pictures, so I noticed,” she says. “Most brides have their bridesmaids in their suite with them and helping her get ready. I didn’t have all of mine there and I was really disappointed in that.”

How do we bridge the gap so that we don’t have any bitter brides or bridesmaids?  Considering how crazy the process of being a bridesmaid can be, #TeamBeautiful decided to speak further with Valentine, who has planned some of the most famous celeb weddings — including nuptials for Usher, Toni Braxton and Martin Lawrence — and see what she suggests to bridesmaids to make the wedding planning process smooth for both them AND the bride.

1. Understand that this day isn’t about you.

This is the most important rule in the book, and even if you realize that, you might as well repeat it to yourself over and over again.

“I think they have to realize that day is not about you. It’s really about your friend and her wedding,” Valentine tells us. “You need to adjust however you need to adjust to have a wonderful wedding day. I think bridesmaids should keep their commitments. So many say they will do certain things and then end up not doing them, and they don’t realize how important even the smallest task is to the bride.” Remember, many women consider their wedding day to be one of the happiest days of their lives, don’t be that person that messes it up.

2. If you don’t like the bridesmaids’ dresses, you can give suggestions, but, proceed with caution.

Even though we know that the day isn’t about you, if you find yourself absolutely hating the bridesmaids’ attire (tulle, lace and ugliness, oh my!), try to politely bring it up to the bride.

“A trend that’s big now is not all the bridesmaids are wearing the same dress or even the same style of dress,” our expert notes. “A nice way to approach it could be, ‘I know you really love this style, but it’s not really flattering on my body type. Would it be ok if you chose a different dress in the same fabric or the same color?'”

3. Be honest about what you can and can’t afford.

As a bridesmaids, we can imagine that you don’t like surprises and neither does your bride. No one wants to go broke and have to pay interest for a year or more, just to be there for your friend’s happy day. And, with some brides trending toward destination bachelorette parties in addition to the wedding, dress you have to buy, bridal shower you may be expected to help front, and, not to mention, travel accommodations, you have to watch what you’re spending. You might find yourself spending a small fortune on your friend’s nuptials.

“Even if there’s a chance you might think you could work it out to handle the expense, but you’re not sure, you should absolutely mention that up front,” Valentine says. The day someone asks you to be in their wedding and you cannot write a check that day for a minimum of probably $500, you should say that. You should save the friendship and simply be honest.”

4. Go to every single event and expect to be hands-on with a few of them. 

Since you’ve established that you can be a part of the wedding, you have to keep your word and Valentine notes that, in many cases, you’ll have to take on the role of party planner, not just a guest showing up.

“Attend every single event that the bride hosts between now and their wedding day,” the wedding planner advises. “She might be called upon to help her go dress shopping or more obvious choices like attending a bridal shower or attending a bridal party. I also think that bridesmaids are expected to participate to some degree with the bridal shower or throwing a bachelorette party.”

5. Remember to not take anything personal, especially if your bride isn’t acting that, er, nice.

Valentine cautions bridesmaids to take their own emotions out of the situation and be more understanding toward their bride. After all, a wedding is a big deal and it can be stressful for your bride with two different families, logistics and decisions to manage.

“When a woman is getting married, she is nervous, she is scared, she is more than not spending too much money, she’s overspending, and there’s a lot of stress that comes with planning a wedding,” Valentine notes. “I think brides get a bad rap with the term bridezilla and they don’t realize that they’re going through a major significant life change and weddings bring out the best and worst in everyone. Bridesmaids should be more understanding and realize that 70% of bride’s attitude changes can be from stress.”

UP NEXT: FROM BRIDESMAIDS: We asked YOU what you would advise to your BRIDES! Click on to see what you said..

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