What You Can (and Can't) Ask of Your Bridesmaids

There's been a lot of buzz over an email from a bride to her prospective bridesmaids, where the bride laid out what she expects from her bridal party: buy the dress the bride selects ("everything will be affordable but if you think by affordable its [sic] going to be a $25 Forever 21 dress, then your [sic] going to the wrong wedding"), fly around the country to attend every wedding-related event (engagement party on the East coast, bachelorette party in Vegas, wedding in Vail, CO — "If you don't think you'll be able to attend one party but can make the rest of them I'm sorry but I'll have to take you out as a bridesmaid and put you as a guest."), don't book any plans between February and August after this week ("if your [sic] going away in January I don't care. I want any dates from February to the day of our wedding in August, that way we know not to plan something when your [sic] away. But after this week the dates are set in stone."), and respond to the bride's emails promptly ("if its [sic] something important and it takes you a week even 2-3 days to get back to me seeeee ya! I don't have time to wait around for responses, everyone has their phone on them, it shouldn't take you more than a day to get back to me, even if your [sic] out of the country, check your email!"), among other demands. And if you can't meet these demands, then you're out of the bridal party.

In a way, I can understand her intentions — by clearly laying out her expectations, she can avoid a lot of issues down the road. And if I were a prospective bridesmaid in this wedding, I'd greatly appreciate the easy out. But it's the tone (and the misuse of "your" vs. "you're" — sorry, I'm an editor!) that I find most offensive.

The email has called to question what is truly expected from your bridal party these days. So, we've broken down what you should — and shouldn't — ask of your bridesmaids.

DO: Expect your bridesmaids to attend the wedding (obviously) and the rehearsal.
DON'T: Demand that they attend every wedding gown shopping appointment, vendor appointment, or even every pre-wedding party if they're not held locally. 

DO: Take into consideration your bridesmaids schedules before planning the engagement party, and have your maid of honor do the same with the shower and bachelorette party.
DON'T: Kick them out of the bridal party if they can't make it to one event.

DO: Feel free to bounce ideas off of your bridesmaids. 
DON'T: Forget that your bridesmaids' lives don't revolve around your wedding. Please don't set a deadline for responding. 

DO: Rely on your maid of honor to coordinate with the bridal party for their dress fittings, organize the bridal shower and bachelorette party, and help you with preparatory and organizational tasks, like addressing invitations and keeping a record of gifts at the shower.
DON'T: Treat her like your personal assistant — don't inundate her with wedding-related demands at all hours of the day, don't expect her to complete all of the DIY projects you started but can't finish, don't ask her to play referee regarding issues with your future in-laws, and don't make her research and meet with your potential vendors. 

DO: Inform your maid of honor of your preferences for the bachelorette party — strippers or no strippers? Vegas bash or a low-key beach weekend? 
DON'T: Ignore budget concerns from your bridesmaids. If you're not paying for the trip yourself, then it's not fair to demand an expensive trip. 

DO: Ask that your bridesmaids purchase their own attire — whether you choose the dress or allow them to choose their own.
DON'T: Ask that your bridesmaids get spray tans, professional makeup application, manicures, pedicures, and professionally-done updos — unless you're footing the bill.

DO: Be clear up front about your expectations from your bridesmaids. 
DON'T: Be surprised if you end up with no bridesmaids after sending an email like this one. 

Bottom line: Don't forget why you've asked these girls to be your bridesmaids in the first place. They're your family and/or your closest friends. You chose them because you love them and want them standing up with you as you celebrate the happiest day of your life. If your best friend can't afford a trip to Vegas, does that really make her a crappy friend who doesn't deserve to be a bridesmaid? 

—Kristen O'Gorman Klein