Every bride wants her bridesmaids to be happy. It’s actually quite rare for a bride to want only her way, and not care about the bridesmaids’ budgets or what they’d like to wear on the big day. Sure, you may see these train-wreck, ultra-selfish brides on talk shows, but the vast majority of brides would never want to over-obligate you, or make being a bridesmaid something to dread.
But in order for you to be happy, you need to let the bride know a few things as soon as possible. Here are the top five essential FYIs you need to share with your bride:
How much you can spend. A bride who’s close to you (like a sister or a best friend) knows if you’re on a limited budget due to your school loans or your crummy, low-paying job. She’s already aware that she needs to keep your expenses on the moderate side, and she’s looking for dresses that aren’t going to cost you a fortune. But you need to give her a range of what you consider a reasonable budget for your tour of duty as a bridesmaid. Clear communication is a favor to both of you! So while she may think that $300 is a great sale price for a gown, you’re thinking $100. The only way to make everyone happy is for you to spell it out. Just tell her, “I know we can find great dresses in my budget range of $100 or so. I’ve seen a ton of them. How about I send you some links?” You might not get the $100 dress since the bride is the #1 decision maker, but your honesty will register with her, and she may be more likely to find a $175 dress for you instead of that $300 one.
How much time you can give her. Some brides ask their bridesmaids to travel into town to go gown shopping a few times, and then join her to tour wedding sites, and then come over one night to make favors... And while you know she may just want to share the fun and have bonding time with her girls, you have to let her know if you’re already tight on time. The bride needs to know if you’re in your busy season at work or studying for exams or taking care of a sick parent. If she doesn’t have this information, she might think you’re just uninterested, not there for her or a "bad bridesmaid."
When she can contact you about the wedding. I almost put this as #1! The excited bride might be so revved up about the gown she found or the site she booked that she might call or e-mail you at work, which may get you in big trouble with the boss. Some bridesmaids have been fired from their jobs for taking personal calls and using company time to e-mail with friends. So don’t be afraid to let the bride know your time boundaries, and when you’ll able to give her your full attention. Some brides need to be reminded a few times, but she’ll eventually get the picture.
If you’re pregnant. Some bridesmaids are terrified to let the bride know they’re going to be full-on preggers during the wedding day since they assume the bride won’t want to share the attention or have to choose a different dress. But these days it’s not uncommon for one or more bridesmaids to have a baby bump! Some of the top bridesmaid dress designers have collections that are created especially for the expecting bridesmaid, so put your fears away and let the bride know your due date. Now, if your due date is super close to the wedding and your pregnant status will make flying or traveling impossible, you’ll need to talk with the bride about what you can both arrange. The bride would never want you to risk your health nor the baby’s, so she might agree to just go forward as planned with your bridesmaid role and if you have to bow out of the wedding, so be it. No drama. Just joy.
Who you know and what you can do. One of the best gifts you can give to the bride and groom is your friends and family connection to, for example, a florist who will give them a great deal or a reception hall manager who can throw in a bunch of freebies. These kinds of networking smarts save the couple thousands of dollars and can help them make their wedding dream come true. And if you have a great talent for cake making or graphic design, you can offer to make the rehearsal dinner cake or their invitations as your wedding gift to them. DIY projects always add an extra level of sentiment to a wedding, and they may love it that you want to bring their designs to life. (But don’t be offended if they say they want to get a pro!)
Sharon Naylor is the best-selling author of over 35 wedding books, including The Ultimate Bridal Shower Idea Book, The Bridesmaid Handbook and the new Bridesmaid on a Budget. Visit sharonnaylor.net for more bridesmaid tips and advice.