The first thing the bride will say is I want you to have dresses that you can wear after the wedding. Don’t count on it. If it’s a taffeta, brocade or other formal fabric, in this informal age, you can pretty well write it off. How many balls do you attend in a year? On the other hand, sometimes it actually works. Occasionally, a bride will say that she wants to choose the colour, but other than that, each attendant can choose her own style. One bride wrote us to say that she asked each bridesmaid to choose her own black dress and she provided wide, long silk scarves in shocking pink which they could wear anyway they wanted. Some wore it as a shawl and one wore it as a sash.
How to say no
The honour can be declined. There can be a variety of reasons, but one of the primary ones is the considerable cost of a wedding to the attendants. This is a valid reason to say that you are grateful to have been asked but you must decline. Another is the style of dress that may be agreed upon. A woman who is very heavy will feel ridiculous walking down the aisle in a mini skirt and has every right to decline the invitation. If a friend declines the honour but doesn’t want to disturb the friendship, she can offer to help in other ways, like addressing envelopes, running messages or making table favours.
- The bridesmaids usually pay for their own dresses, hosiery and shoes.
- They look after their own hair and makeup, but it is their choice whether they want to use professionals or do their own hair and makeup.
- They give a wedding gift. It is not unusual for attendants to pool their money and give a joint gift.
- They attend all the showers. (If the hosts are thoughtful, they will ask the bridesmaids not to contribute or bring gifts. If gifts are expected, the attendants should pool their money for one modest gift.)
- They will host a shower for the bride.
- They will be available for dress fittings and for the wedding rehearsal.
- The Maid of Honour may be required to make a toast at the reception.
- They will be available from time to time in helping with the planning, such as addressing envelopes or doing some shopping.
- Anything extra that the bride wants the attendants to wear or carry are her financial responsibility. This includes wearing hats, gloves, bouquet or prayer book.
- The bride is responsible for providing transportation to the church, to the reception and home from the reception.
- The bride gives each attendant a personal gift. Paying for cosmetician or hair stylist is not a gift.
Who makes the decisions?
So who gets the final say? To avoid a tug of war (and hard feelings) follow a sensible guide.
- The cost is the decision of the bridesmaids if they are paying for the dress.
- The style is the combined choice of the bride and bridesmaids, but the person who has the most difficult figure has the right of veto.
- The colour is the choice of the bride.
- The length of dress is the choice of the bride and will depend largely on the formality of the wedding.