Bridal Party Q&As

Guidelines about the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved, from maid of honor on down.

Q: I'm not sure if I should ask my cousin to be my maid of honor. We were so close as children and all through high school and college. But over the past few years, she has grown distant and didn't even congratulate me when I got engaged. I have tried to get together with her several times but she always declines. What should I do?

A: Your maid of honor should be someone with whom you feel especially close now. During the months before your wedding, you'll want her to share in your experiences and your happiness. She should be your biggest fan and your strongest supporter. If you need someone to go dress shopping, call florists or photographers, help you with addressing wedding invitations, or keep the rest of your wedding party informed about plans, then you should be able to ask your maid of honor to pitch in without hesitation—and she should willingly offer both assistance and emotional support.

That said, I think you already know what to do. No doubt you and your cousin were close in the past and have a lot of wonderful memories. But people drift apart and after a while they may have very little in common. So don't let sentimentality influence you. Chances are your cousin will not be there for you if she doesn't respond to your overtures for friendship now. You can still ask her to be in your wedding party if you choose, but ask a very close friend—someone you know you can depend on and who really shares in your happiness—to be your maid of honor. Looking back, you'll be glad you did.

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Wedding etiquette is a popular subject because they are so many horror stories. It's expensive to be in a bridal party, and it's expensive and stressful to have a large one. One budget line item that often gets overlooked by the future Mr. and Mrs. is the THANK YOU gift for each bridal party member. You should plan to spend at least half the amount of the cost of the bridesmaid dress/suit rental for each person. So if the dress they bought is $300, then be prepared to thank each one with ~$150 worth of gratitude. Bridal showers, bachelorette parties, flights/hotels, hair/shoes/makeup/hair styling -- all these things add up, and some bridesmaids spend over $1000 just to be in your wedding party. These are your most important witnesses to your wedding. And chances are they supported you before, during, and after the big day. Thank you gifts are not the area to skimp. Good luck! Lisa |

I've selected my matron of honor (and asked her) who is engaged and was supposed to get married before me but then had to postpone her wedding. Can she still be my matron of honor??