Bridesmaids: honored friends or henchwomen?

Photo by Dina Douglass of Andrena Photography
Photo by Dina Douglass of Andrena Photography
My bridesmaids are totally flaky and unreliable!

The only reason I even want bridesmaids is so I can have people to help me out and support me before and during the wedding.

If they aren't even going to be able to help me, should I just avoid having them at all?

-Anonyjane

Oh, bridesmaids. There seems to be a lot of drama surrounding bridesmaid selection and relations, which I suppose shouldn't be a shock to anyone who's done much thinking about the nuances of female friendships. (A short glance at research on female friendships includes titles like Female Friendship in Literature: Bonding and Betrayal and Managing Face Concerns in Criticism Integrating Nonverbal Behaviors as a Dimension of Politeness in Female Friendship Dyads.)

So yes: we can all agree that female friendships are complex beasts. When you put these friendships under the pressure of wedding planning, and then add the weight of various expectations and personal foibles … yes, you're going to run into some challenges.

That said, there are a few simple truths to address when considering whether you need bridesmaids, and how you should be relating to them. Hold my hand as we walk through this thorny garden together.

First truth: You need help with the wedding — you do not necessarily need bridesmaids

If you need help with your wedding, find people to help you with your wedding. Don't go looking for bridesmaids when you need laborers.

I didn't have a wedding party, but I had great conversations with my closest friends, asking them if they wanted to gift us with their assistance with the wedding. Most of them were excited to get involved, but there was no trade of status ("Bridesmaid") for assistance ("decor help") so there was no opportunity for bad exchanges. If a friend couldn't help, I gave them a big hug, thanked them so much for letting me know, and found someone else. There was no drama of "Well, now I want to demote them and take away their dress because they're not doing their end of the bargain…"

If you don't have friends and family who are excited or well-suited to help, look into hiring a wedding planner or day-of coordinator.

Second truth: if you do have bridesmaids, your best strategy is to select bridesmaids based on who you love and wish to publicly honor

Shift your paradigm around picking bridesmaids. It's not about getting help, rather it's about you honoring the people in your life. I realize this may contradict how some people view their wedding parties, but I'm just going to put it out there: If you choose to have bridesmaids, they should be selected on the basis of being beloved friends & family you wish to honor. The end. Full stop.

Third truth: Make ZERO assumptions about what bridesmaids will do for you, and you will never be disappointed.

Many bridesmaid issues seem to stem from a disconnect between what the bride expects and what her attendants deliver. One way to deal with this is to have long talks with your bridesmaids before you ask them to be in your wedding party. Really long talks. If you can't talk comfortably about this stuff before you get into the thick of wedding planning madness, then how the hell are you going to be able to do it later on?

I'm not saying there are specific bridesmaids requests that are unreasonable — it's totally dependent on the 'maid and your relationship. Crafty friends will love helping with the invitations. Glamour girls will be totally into growing their hair out for matching up-dos. Friends who are finishing their PhDs while raising two children and moving cross-country are going to be willing to commit to showing up, and that's it. The moral of the story here is that ANY expectations you might have need to be addressed right up front — before anyone agrees to anything. If you don't know what you want want from your bridesmaids, then slow down and figure it out before you go asking people.

Unless you've had these very explicit conversations, don't expect that your bridesmaid will help in the ways you want. When you don't make any assumptions, you leave room to be surprised when someone helps in the way that only they can. For instance, one bridesmaid may hate crafts — but then the day of the wedding she shows up with pizza as y'all are getting your hair done, just as you were starving and about to eat your own arm.

As in all things, communication and reduced expectations are key. There's no quicker road to drama than a bunch of assumptions crossed with silence.

Get your daily dose of Offbeat AWESOME

  1. Also important that, if you'll have more than one attendant, that they understand what the OTHER attendants are or are not responsible for. That's where we ran into trouble with ours: conflicts among them rather than with me and my groom.

    9 agree
  2. I totally agree with everything you said in this article. I am having four bridesmaids, and they are all good friends of mine. I've made it very clear that while I may ask for help at times, the only thing I really expect from them is to show up, look pretty and walk down the aisle. Any extra help I get from them is simply just a bonus and I won't be upset if they can't help with other things for one reason or another. All of them are more like sisters to me and have always been there for me, and I want to honor them, not go bridezilla on their butts.

    20 agree
  3. "If you need help with your wedding, find people to help you with your wedding. Don't go looking for bridesmaids when you need laborers."

    AMEN SISTER!!!!

    40 agree
  4. the word bridesmaid holds the ability to make break out in hives and boils. i was asked by my best [or so i thought] friend to be her bridesm– *that* word.. i said yes initially, but then i got ill. by that time, my lovely and loving friend had grown her 2nd head and made the transition from pupae to fully formed bridezilla. so when the time came to tell her i was too sick to be her bridesmaid, she didn't take it well. over the next few months she gradually ignored me more and more, never once asked how my recovery was coming along, until eventually she dis-invited us to the wedding. it makes me sick to my stomach that we lost our friendship because she got so blindsighted by bridezillaness, but i have to just accept that her wedding was more important to her than my feelings, health, and our friendship. c'est la vie. made our decision to elope all the more easier though – no bridesmaid dramas when there's just the 2 of us in vegas, baby!!! πŸ™‚

    5 agree
  5. I preemptively told my best friends, who will be bridemaids for my yet-unplanned wedding, that my daughter was going to be my maid of honor and I only expect them to contribute what they want, and if they want assigned "duties" they're to split them evenly.

  6. I really agree with separating your bridesmaid dubbing with your wedding help… I also elected to not have bridesmaid as I'm pushing 40 and so are most of my friends and to ask them to do the dress dance and the implied laboring etc etc just didn't seem right. I think that if for a bride the maids are to be her primary help, in this day and age, that needs to be stated at the invitation.

    4 agree
  7. I count myself strangely lucky that I picked bridesmaids from a position of ignorance. Having never been in a wedding before all I knew was they wore a special outfit and walked down the aisle with the bride so that's all I expected from them.

    As it turns out they're all helping with the wedding in other ways too, but I still look on that as a seperate thing. My sister is helping me pick jewellery because she knows a lot about it, my friend is helping design decorations because she's great at art and crafts, rather than because their bridesmaids.

    7 agree
  8. Seriously. In my humble opinion…..

    No one is your "maid," despite the term. No one is obligated to help you "plan" your wedding. It is you and your fiance's responsibility Alone.

    As the article states, if you want to ask someone "hey you're so good at decorating, would you mind helping me hang lights at my wedding?…" or etc., then by all means. But expecting "maids" to do things for you in exchange for the ~honored~ title of "bridesmaid" = no.

    If everyone thought like this, weddings would have SO less drama…

    17 agree
    • maid never used to mean anything servile – it used to just mean girl. That's an Americanism. I think it took on that usage because people with 'servants' wanted a word that didn't sound so harsh πŸ˜‰

      10 agree
  9. I had two bridesmaids. My oldest friend (a known flake) and my sister (a teenager living a state away). There was never any question that they had to be my bridesmaids if I was having any. The two girls who helped me the most (decorating flower pots, dying my crinoline, etc) got small presents of thanks at the wedding from me, but no special titles. Neither seemed to mind and both seemed grateful for the gifts.

    9 agree
    • I like that Anie knows her friend is a flake – that's more than half the battle. It helps to delegate tasks (if you're going that route) when you know your 'maids strengths and weaknesses. My advice is don't expect anyone to change for your wedding.

      8 agree
  10. Very well put – I couldn't agree more! I've worked with a number of brides who are frustrated with their bridal party for this very reason. Even those who do agree to take on certain responsibilities often lose focus during all the excitement on the day of.

  11. I agree wholeheartedly with your article. Assumptions make trouble but communication keeps things clear and friendly. I also firmly feel that lots of thank yous to all those that do help over and over again is important. Everyone likes to feel that you do appreciate the help they give.

    1 agrees
  12. This article hit it right on the money; fact of the matter is, you need to speak up about your expectations for a bridesmaid AS you ask them, not later. On another chat forum I frequent, a bridesmaid was ranting because she had to pay for her dress, accessories, makeup, and attend the bridal shower and bridesmaids luncheon. Apparently she had no idea that a bridesmaid did ANYTHING but show up and walk. She didn't even know about wedding rehearsals. In this case, I felt pretty bad for the bride, because how was she to know that her friend hadn't any clue about weddings? (after we determined that yes, this girl was in America, where bridesmaids pay for their outfits).
    So it's better to just speak up, even about things you don't think you need to say.

    6 agree
    • That could easily have been me if I'd ever been asked to be a bridesmaid, I had no idea anything else was expected either.

      As you said it's always better to speak up. Most people get that they need planning meetings with officiants, caterers, photographers ect. why not the people IN the wedding as well?

      3 agree
  13. It's so weird that I honestly never knew that anything was expected of bridesmaids, really! Though now I feel like I was the worst bridesmaid EVER. Now that I'm looking to be the bride, though, I'm just wanting people who will stand up with me while I do this. Hopefully that small expectation will make up for anything I didn't do in the past. (Aren't brides supposed to instruct you to do something if they want? Dang, I was too young while serving these roles! They're all still speaking to me, though).

    2 agree
  14. When I asked my sisters to be my bridesmaids I also gave a copy of the bridesmaids handbook. I thought if they were undaunted by what was in it they would certainly be good bridesmaids as the only thing I really expect them to do is wear the dress they are given with no complaints. Anything else is a bonus!

    1 agrees
  15. If you chose to have them there is always drama. I refuse to stand up in anyones wedding. At my own wedding no one stood up with me or my husband. Is a wedding not about the married couple? I refused to uphold this tradition and no one was upset about it acutally they were happy.

    2 agree
    • I don't necessarily think that if there's a wedding party that there will be drama — it really does depend on the individuals involved, and the situations that arise. For my husband and I, having friends stand with us was a form of support — it was still our celebration, in the same way that having a reader didn't take away the spotlight from us. In the end, you have to do what works for you of course, so by no means do I mean to say that your decision was wrong. Just that I think the drama isn't automatic.

      7 agree
  16. I would like to add that it's a good idea to be really sure what you are doing for you wedding before you start asking anyone to be involved.
    I might have been a little over excited and ended up saying to my friend "I'm engaged! (squee!) Will you be my bridesmaid – er if we have bridesmaids and stuff – er.um."
    But then we decided to just have family so… yeah. Kinda demoted. oops.

    1 agrees
  17. I was a bridemaid at a very DIY wedding a few years ago, and the Bride was upfront about wanting help with some of her projects. She was honest about it from the start so I thought that was fair. She has 6 bridemaids, and about 3-4 of us made it to most craft sessions,so that actually worked out pretty well.

    For my own, I'm getting married at one of those full-service we-do-shit-for-you places, so I honestly don't have a lot of work to delegate anyhow. I have 3 Maids and the only thing I want from them is moral support. The handy turnaround of this is that when unexpected bumps in road come, they have stood with me and offered up thier help and support.

    5 agree
  18. I have three bridesmaids, and all three of them live in locations other than Chicago. Two are in the Boston area and one is in my hometown. She's still 60 miles away. So obviously, I didn't pick my bridesmaids because I needed helper minions. I picked them because they are good friends and generally awesome people.

    I do have friends here who have offered to help me, but I find that as I have lots of free time, getting my projects done has been relatively easy!

  19. COMPLETELY agree with everything said here. Bridesmaids are not dogs-bodies! They're friends!

    Sheesh.

    2 agree
  20. I did not want to have bridesmaids because I have been one five times already. However, my fella had already asked his two best guys to stand up with him and so I felt like it would be too weird to not have some people stand up with me. Enter The Email. I picked my dearest friends who I thought would be most likely to want to volunteer or most likely to be hurt if I didn't ask. I sent a mass email to all of them saying that I originally didn't want bridesmaids, I knew how much work/stress/money/time it could be, and that I wanted them all to be there more than anything. I ended with a call for volunteers, that whoever amongst them would genuinely WANT to be a bridesmaid, then I would gladly have them but no hard feelings if they couldn't or didn't want to. Or if they wanted to volunteer to do something else.

    Apparently they all found my approach charming and I ended up with three bridesmaids and a day of coordinator.

    10 agree
  21. Here here! (hear hear?)

    While this article focusses on the bride's perspective, also keep in mind that just because a friend did not include you in her wedding party, no need to feel slighted! Ask if you can help in whatever way you would like to; more times that not, you will be warmly received.

    I like throwing bridal showers (a shameful truth!) and have done so as bridesmaid and as friend full stop. Just do double check with the bridal party to make sure you're not stepping on anyone's toes.

  22. The first thing I knew when I got engaged was who I would like my bridesmaids to be. What's funny is that I was actually more worried that they would feel obligated to help me out with things, so the first thing I did was assure them that all I might ask for was help deciding between two or three things as I'm very indecisive.

    Other than that, I just want them to enjoy the party. πŸ™‚

  23. I totally agree. Lack of communication is the destroyer of all kinds of relationships, coupled with the stress of planning and such things can go terribly wrong without reason.

    My sister is my only definite bridesmaid, and whilst she's only about to turn 16 she is so excited and keeps helping with research, ideas and I know she'll be good with DIY stuff too.
    Other than her I have a male cousin that I'd like involved, perhaps his partner too and that's about it. Hmm, well as long as I don't expect too much gushing over decor, tears over seeing me in my dress or invite making from him at least he'll be a damn good labourer instead!

  24. i love this response. i don't think anyone should expect things from their bridesmaids/wedding party. and choosing them should always be about who you want to be excited with and celebrate with. try to include them on things that you think they might find fun (like sharing top-secret details and sending them pics of inspiration for their hairz).

    be considerate when asking people; for instance, consider whether or not they would be able to afford a dress, etc. there were several people that i might have asked if i hadn't thought it would be too stressful or time-consuming. you can always invite these people to all the pre-wedding events and include them in other ways. also, many people (esp peeps whom have never had a wedding) have no idea about all the work that must be done as a hostess so don't get mad if they don't take initiative!

    don't let the stress get the best of you, ladies!!!! it's supposed to be about love after all…

  25. I find that the title of "bridesmaid" turns people into something they're not. For me, my friends all of a sudden became my BEST friends, wanting to do all this stuff for me when, in any other normal time, we turned out to be little more than acquaintances. It really helped to see the truth about people– the girls who were around when the honeymoon was over were the people who were really friends, not just attention-seekers. My maid of honor left halfway through the party and stopped talking to me after that.

    Yeah, we're hoping to renew our vows… minus the "friends".

  26. I agree with this whole-heartedly! In the world of my friends bridesmaids are 'expected' to come dress shopping with you – on every trip (at least 5 with my friends), plan & work your bridal shower, plan & work your stag & doe, plan, work & finance your bachelorette party & a lingerie party, as well as pay for whatever dress the bride wants to stuff you in. Oh! And THEN you show up at 6am on the day of, do your duties for the day, and give them a big gift besides. That alone is a huge commitment, never mind helping with the actual wedding!

    My two best friends did this for each other, while complaining the WHOLE TIME about what a bridezilla the other was being. THIS is why I refused to have bridesmaids! I didn't want the drama! And I didn't want them feeling obligated, and then bitching about me behind my back! I just want them to show up at my wedding and enjoy themselves, just like I want for the rest of my guests.

    3 agree
  27. Sorry for the Anon post, but I have a mutual friend that follows this blog and I'd rather not cause drama.

    I agree with this, too, but do want to say something that may contradict slightly.

    I had a girl in my wedding who was a Really Bad Bridesmaid (TM), but, had I not asked her, would have been disappointed and hurt (I know this for a fact because another friend did not ask her for this reason). The RBB status is not unique to my wedding, so I kept reminding myself of everything you wrote in this post (including when she showed up to my shower late and left early, before we even had cake).

    However, when she told me, three days before the wedding that no, her boyfriend would not be attending because "something came up" (which, I didn't care if he came or not, but it would have been nice to have a little more lead time), I was a bit miffed at the inconsiderate gesture. When I found out it was just because he didn't want to come and instead wanted to go out of town with his buddies, I found it downright rude. But, then, when she left the reception over an hour early so she could catch an early flight the next morning to meet up with him, I was really, really hurt.

    Though, actually, to contradict myself, had she not been a bridesmaid and done all of these things? I would have been just as hurt. Except, what's interesting is, I'm "allowed" to be mad at her BECAUSE she was a bridesmaid, but if she was "just" a guest, I should feel guilty about being upset.

    Hmm. Thanks, Ariel, for making me see this in a different light. πŸ™‚

    3 agree
  28. I have to TOTALLY agree that you have to have ZERO expectation as to the behavior or support you will receive from your bridesmaids.

    When I got engaged it was a natural progression that my two very best friends (who I have known for 17 & 20 years, and I was in both of their wedding) would be my two bridesmaids. I expected nothing of them expect to be supportive, have fun, and wear a dress in the color I chose.

    This was over a year ago. We chose a November wedding date because I LOVE the fall and wanted a very Autumnal wedding with a rust/cinnamon color as the main theme, and thus the color of the dresses. This was known by EVERYONE, and the save the dates had this color pallet as did the wedding website.

    Fast forward to two months ago (four months out from the wedding) when I go shopping for dresses with one of them. ALL I wanted was for the dress to be in a rust or cinnamon color of some sort. I was fine with her picking whatever dress she liked best as long as the color was in that area.

    Then, for nearly 3 hours I had to hear her complain about what a horrible color it was on her and how she didn't think she could afford to buy a dress in a color she hated and would never wear again. She told me at least 6 or 8 times that if it were plum, she would have no problem with it; if it were brown, she would have no problem; if it were cranberry she would have no problem; if it were anything but what I had already planned the entire wedding around, then she could afford it.

    It was CRUSHING, it was hurtful and it was amazingly selfish on her behalf. Then I tried to say "If someone had tried to tell you to change your colors four months before your wedding, you wouldn't have liked it" to which her response was "Well, I pick a great color that would look good on everyone"!!!!

    After those 3 horrible hours were over, she did finally say that she was going to step down from being a bridesmaid.

    But, here's the thing:

    If she had said, "I'm sorry, I just can't afford to participate. But, I'll support you however else I can". I would have totally understood.

    If she had said, "I'm sorry, I just can't afford to buy a dress in a color I know I'll never wear again". I would have been hurt, but I would have gotten over it and life would have gone on.

    But, to choose to put me through 3 hours of her crushing my spirit and making me feel like crap, that was uncalled for. That took energy, that took time out of her day, and that took actively choosing over and over and over again to choose to be hurtful instead of being any sort of a friend and either being supportive or bowing out gracefully.

    So, my moral…. Have NO expectations of how they will behave. If you have ZERO expectations, then you're less likely to be so painfully hurt when your friends turn out to be less of your friends than you thought.

    P.S. Sorry this was so long. I guess I've kept it bottled up for so long that it came spilling out at lightening speed.

    15 agree
  29. I'm only having one bridesmaid at my wedding. I have a lot of good girlfriends, but not really one "best" friend, and I knew that budget-wise, I only wanted one attendant. I chose my MOH because I know she'll get all silly about wedding stuff with me when I need to do so, I know she loves throwing a party, and I know she can provide emotional support. I'm having her wear whatever she wants at the wedding, and I'm not asking that she do anything she doesn't want to do. At the bachelorette party, I'm honoring all the other girls who I'd have as bridesmaids on an unlimited budget, and I think the whole thing's working out great so far.

  30. I had 4 bridesmaids and Im currently down to 3. I also dont have a maid of honor. Im the type to do my craftwork and stuff myself, I dont like asking for help. So, with that said. The bridesmaid that is no longer was suppose to attend my bridal shower at 3 p.m. she showed up 3 hours late, came dressed in jean daisy dukes and a t-shirt and brought someone who I didn't know and stayed for 30 minutes and then left and said she was coming back. She also had told me the week before the shower that she took the day off from work just so she can come to the bridal shower. I never heard from her again, almost 2 weeks had passed and I just told her "If I can't depend on you to come to my bridal shower, how can I depend on you to be on time for the wedding." I don't ask anything from any of my bridesmaids, they're not suppose to be there at my beck and call everyday. It was a quite simple and easy request of mine. Be there at 3 p.m.

  31. Interesting to hear peoples experiences.
    I don't want bridesmaids – to be honest I don't really see the point in them!
    I have lots of really great friends who I know will help me in any way if I need it and everyone who will be at our wedding will be there because they are special and loved by us, I don't feel the need to single anyone out.
    Having said that my guy is having a best man!
    The more I think about it I might get my brother to be my bridesmaid, is that allowed? I don't have any sisters so……
    He-maid? Brides-male? πŸ™‚

    • My brothers are my bridesmaids! When I asked them, they spent the next ten minutes acting out scenes from Bridesmaids (the movie). πŸ™‚

      7 agree
  32. I agree and wish I had read this post before choosing my bridesmaids.

    2 agree
  33. This has been so helpful. I'm one of the people who didn't even know the traditional "point" of bridesmaids. I thought they were just there to be publicly recognized as important people in your life…and to add color. πŸ˜‰ I'm planning my wedding from out of state, so the folks I'll be asking won't be asked to do anything. If I do have them, they'll just show up. Hmm.

    1 agrees
  34. My one year anniversary will be on Sunday ( πŸ˜€ ) and i still love looking back at my beautiful wedding photos. That being said, my bridesmaids were a source of much stress. I originally had 4, 2 maids of honor (my little sister the diva, and my best friend) my husband's niece (who is like a sister to me) and my old roommate. i then asked my husband if we could stretch it to 5 so i could include my oldest friend (we've known each other since we were 4). My sister and my mother threw a fit that she wasn't the only maid of honor- i didn't see the big deal, just because one of them wasn't married i had to choose? seriously screw that. then my old roommate found out she was pregnant and her due date was the week of our wedding- totally understandable circumstances. but as my husband had already found a 5th groomsman, i had to find a replacement for my roommate, so my husband's 1st best man's wife became my bridesmaid. Looking back, i wish we would have just had uneven lines, because we ended up having to pay for her dress, ($160) & she wasn't easy to get along with. my sister and best friend hated each other and fought constantly during the entire planning process so that was only added stress to me. my best maids were actually my husband's niece and my oldest friend (who lived out of state & was working on a master's degree) they were supportive and listened to me and answered questions honestly without trying to impose their own directions into my ideas. my advice to any planning brides is to choose maids who make you happy and can be relied on to listen when you're pulling your hair out over the stupidest things. don't expect unrealistic things from your friends or family. remember this wedding is all about you and your partner- at the end of the day, your wedding ends in your marriage. despite all the planning and stress leading up to the "perfect day" when it's over, you will be married to your partner.

    2 agree
  35. I realised when I was asked to be an usher that having no information about what was expected of me was a little irritating. I was only expected to turn up and usher people to their seats but was given no guidance on what I should wear, what the general schedule of the day was, or what duties I would be required to do.

    That got me thinking that if I would find it easier to be informed, surely my wedding party would do as well! (I am a control freak so maybe they're not as fussed as I am, but hey ho). Once we had our team together, I created a Google Spreadsheet listing all the duties each person would have to do, including pre-day and on the day. The tasks are all evened out so no one person has too much.

    Their living situation is considered too. One of my man's groomsmen lives across country and we've recently discovered he's expecting his second child 3 weeks before the wedding. His duties immediately got changed from setting up a game, to showing up on the day. I think he's sole task now is to hand thank you gifts to the bridesmaids during our speeches. No prep required πŸ™‚

    Bridesmaids/man have similar jobs too. I didn't want any of that men's role vs woman's role rubbish. Bridesmaids will perform usher duties along side the groomsmen. The Best Man will help my mister look his best hidden away from guests, just like my cheifette will do for me. There's an assigned groomsman and bridesmaid to round up guests for pictures, a speech each side, ceremony bouquet holder and ring holder, and of course special ceremony canons to fire :-P. Everyone has a part to play and have their moment to be special, because that's what they are to us.

    And they all know what's expected because they all have access to the spreadsheet. They'll get a wedding manual on the day as well πŸ˜› Easy! And practical…

  36. I think it is pretty well established that bridesmaids are expected to help with planning. For the ladies I asked, i let them know that I would need help, and asked them to complete very limited tasks (one each) with defined boundaries (please choose 3 bridesmaids dresses you would like to wear) and that was it.

    As with the post you quoted at the beginning of this article, the ladies I picked have been very disinterested in the wedding. I individually gave them outs. No one wants to leave the bridal party, but no one wants to help me either, and it feels shitty.

    So yeah, I haven't found a solution, although I'm considering breaking out your other article on firing a bridesmaid and going with no bridal party at all.

    1 agrees
    • I think it is pretty well established that bridesmaids are expected to help with planning.

      If I've learned anything from publishing Offbeat Bride for all these years, it's to NEVER assume that anything is "pretty well established." Never assume anyone has the same understanding of a role in a wedding, ever. It'll save you a lot of heartbreak. πŸ™

      • Maybe that should go two ways. A bridesmaid can also speak with a bride before accepting the spot/honor/duty/dress/whatever and ask what that means to the bride. I'd certainly have the conversation if I was asked to be a bridesmaid. Our culture- movies, the internet, bridal mags etc clearly and consistently shows a role for bridesmaids where they assist the bride in various ways, from the practical- holding the train as she goes down the aisle, to the emotional- being there to when the bride is stressed, to the logistical- throwing a shower and/or bacherlorette party. Being ignorant of these traditions is a little unbelievable.

        Now whether you choose to do something different or not, that is what makes you offbeat.

        • You can be generally familiar with the concept of "bridesmaid = helping!" and still be shocked when a bride requests that all bridesmaids get brazillians. The devil is the details and the assumptions that we're all on the same page about expectations.

          That said, you and I are absolutely in agreement that more communication between brides and bridesmaids is hugely important.

  37. Yup… I really wanted mine for the fact that they are the closest people in my life and I love them so much. However… they have caused me more stress than anything else. So now I now not to expect ANYTHING! I just hope they show up! Dress buying disasters are now done and I hope everything from here on will be smooth and FUN!!!

    2 agree
  38. And if you have a long engagement be prepared for these to shift! I had a very gung-ho matron of honor when I started out. I made it very clear that I was hoping for a lot of help because she knows me well and knows WAY more about weddings than I do! She was all for it. However, due to unforeseen circumstances (job loss, severe illness) our wedding was put on hold for a year. When planning resumed my matron of honor was no longer willing and able to help. She had become very much the person listed who was only willing to show up… Her two kids had gotten older requiring more time and attention, she is working on a graduate degree along with her full time job, etc. I will admit that it has been hard for me to not get my feelings hurt. But, I have to remind myself that our wedding didn't happen when she agreed to play the big role and I cannot expect her to arrange her life around me. Just because my wedding is the biggest thing in my world doesn't mean it's the biggest thing in anyone else's. In the end I have done as the article suggested and relied on pros for help as well as some wonderful other friends and family who don't have quite so much on their plates right now. Wonderful article!

  39. I like the bit about how choosing bridesmaids based on who you want to honnor publicly. I felt obligated to ask one of my sisters to be a bridesmaid even though we had barely spoken in 4 years and don't get along at all. In retrospect our relationship would have probably gotten better instead of worse if i would have left her out to begin with. If you do have bridesmaids make sure they are really the people you care about most and want by your side.

    1 agrees
  40. I have had the opposite issue. 2 of my bridesmaids live 400 miles so they were going to organise my hen do, but they keep asking for stuff to do. Now I am a bit of a control freak so its been hard enough to let go of the hen do so I have had to invent stuff that I dont have an emotional tie to. So far I have suggested a quiz, speech bingo and a photo scavenger hunt for the little ones.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.

Biz owners & wedding bloggers

Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.