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Janna is a staff writer for The Hudsucker. Born and raised in a small Ontario town, she made her move to Toronto for university and immediately fell in love with the excitement and pace of the big city. She holds an Honors Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production from York University, specializing in editing and screenwriting. She currently works as an assistant editor for a television production company. Janna loves stories told in all mediums, especially film, and takes herself to the movies as much as she possibly can. She can generally be found taking a Zumba class, exploring some of Toronto’s lesser-known gems, or relaxing with her fluffy feline roommate.

How To Be The Best Bridesmaid

The holidays seem to bring on a slew of engagements, especially once you enter your twenties. It seems like every December, your Facebook timeline is flooded with engagement announcements and proposal pictures! That’s been my experience as someone in their mid-twenties, that’s for sure. In January, these couples will begin to plan their weddings—and along with wedding planning comes the selection of the bridal party. Being asked to be a bridesmaid is exciting and flattering, as I found out this past year when one of my best friends asked me to stand up with her at her wedding. But, as I also found out, being a bridesmaid comes with its fair share of responsibilities and obligations. The process isn’t as intuitive as it may look from the outside, especially to a first-time bridesmaid. It’s an honor, but it’s also best to know a bit about the position before you agree to take the job. I’ve learned a lot about the role of bridesmaid this past year, and it’s knowledge I want to pass on to anyone whose friend asks them the question, “Will you be my bridesmaid?”.

Whether your friend gets engaged over the holidays, or at any other day of the year, here are a few tips to help you be the best bridesmaid you can possibly be.

Credit Enfianced

Be aware going into things that your duty as a bridesmaid will cost you money and time:

Being asked to be a bridesmaid is a big honor. It speaks to the relationship you have with the bride, and it can be incredibly exciting to be asked. Many women would jump at the chance to be their friend’s bridesmaid! But before you eagerly agree, give the decision a little bit of thought. The duty of bridesmaid—and yes, it really is a duty—involves both time and money. It’ll involve time for the rehearsal dinner, and the day of the wedding, and likely some of the day after as well. It’ll quite likely involve time to devote to the bridal shower and bachelorette party, and it’s possible that it’ll involve time for appointments and wedding planning too. Not only that, but you’ll need to make sure you aren’t strapped for cash when you agree to be a bridesmaid. The costs of being a bridesmaid typically include a dress, shoes, hair and makeup, a shower or wedding gift, and possibly things like transportation and a hotel room as well. Some brides will be able to cover some of these costs for their bridesmaids, but not all can—and the price points for any of these things can vary wildly. Agreeing to be a bridesmaid and then being unable or unwilling to contribute some of your time and pay your way can really put a strain on your relationship with the bride. Who wants that? So make sure to keep these factors in mind before you say yes.

Do your best to get along with everyone:

It’s quite likely, if your engaged friend is in her twenties or older, that she’ll have chosen bridesmaids from different circles. Childhood, high school, college, and work friends all can wind up in a bridal party, along with family members. There’s a good chance that you may not know the bridal party members very well—or that you might not know them at all! This can be daunting, especially if you’re shy or anxious around new people. Try to keep in mind that you’re all there for one reason: you each love the bride and want to stand up for her on her special day. You all have that baseline in common. So do your best to get along with your fellow bridesmaids! Use moments like dress shopping or the bridal shower to get to know them and to try to find other common ground—you never know who else has the same taste in movies as you, after all. Keep the peace as best you can, and do your best to make the bridal party happy and pleasant. The last thing the bride needs as she’s planning her wedding is to field inter-bridesmaid conflicts. Help make her life easier and try to get along with everyone!

Credit Jim Hjelm

Respect the bride’s decisions:

Everyone is different. Everyone has different tastes, preferences, and budgets. Surely your friend won’t plan her wedding exactly the way you’d plan yours, and it’s up to you, as the bridesmaid, to accept that. Maybe you hate her wedding colors, or she’s deciding to do a cash bar and you think that’s uncouth. It’s all right to disagree! It’s even all right to voice your opinion, so long as you’re respectful and doing it in a non-confrontational manner. She might absolutely welcome your thoughts and insights. But keep in mind that this is her big day, not yours. If you disagree with her on an aspect of the planning, and she doesn’t seem receptive to your suggestion, let it go. Respect her choices. Your friendship will be all the better for it. However, that being said…

Don’t be afraid to speak up:

In an ideal world, keeping the peace and respecting the happy couple’s decisions is the way to go—no one likes or needs extra drama at a time where tensions are already running high. But it’s important not to be a doormat, either. Women tend to be less willing to speak up and voice their opinion than men, so this might be something you struggle with. I know that I do. But there are times where you can, and should, be vocal. Sometimes the other bridesmaids may be going around in circles, everyone offering ideas but no one really willing to step up and form a solid plan—so don’t be afraid to be that person. Don’t be afraid to take charge and make a decision if the other bridesmaids aren’t willing to. And you absolutely can be vocal about money. If extra costs keep coming up—the dress is far more expensive than you’d expected, or the bachelorette morphs from a girl’s night out at a club to a weekend in Vegas—and you can’t afford them, say something. Speak up early, and try to offer an alternative or a suggestion to help align both the bride’s vision and your budget. It’s her day, and you want her to be happy—but don’t let yourself be walked on, either. You don’t deserve that.

Credit Kristin Vining Photography

Wear your dress with a smile:

Bridesmaid dresses really do run the gamut now—there’s no such thing as a “must” for a bridesmaid’s dress anymore. Some brides opt to choose a color or a shade and give their bridesmaids free rein in picking out their own dresses, and that’s fantastic—everyone can then pick a dress that will flatter them in their budget. However, many brides are sticking with the more traditional idea of all their bridesmaids wearing the same dress. That can be tough, especially when you have a bridal party that varies in sizes and shapes, as women do. So the dress you wind up wearing on your bride’s big day may not be perfect for you—it might not be the most flattering cut or length, and it might not be your favorite color or style. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. This is your friend’s vision, and your friend’s day—and she cares about you enough to ask you to stand up with her. So who cares if you don’t feel you look your best? Wear that dress with a smile, because it’s the mark of the closeness that you and the bride share. And that’s what’s important.

Provide moral support:

Weddings are stressful. Between all of the planning and all of the money that goes into one, it’s no surprise that many brides will feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed as their big day approaches. Add the many opinions that she’ll be hearing about her decisions from family and friends and it’s almost a given that she’s going to need to let off a little steam! She might need to vent, or ask for advice, or even just want an afternoon full of distractions where her wedding doesn’t have to be at the forefront of her mind. So be the person that helps her with that. If she isn’t coming to you directly, let her know that you’re there if she needs you. Tell her that you’ll always be there for her to help her let off some steam however she needs it. It may not be something she knows she needs, so don’t be afraid to offer it. Chances are, she’ll be grateful even if she opts not to take you up on it. The comfort of knowing you’ll be there if she asks will mean a lot to her.

Credit Jim Hjelm

Make sure the bachelorette party is about the bride, not the guests:

When planning an event for a big group, it’s common to want to default to whatever the majority wants to do—whether it’s going out for a fancy dinner, or staying in and watching a movie. But a bachelorette party is different. It’s a celebration of the upcoming marriage for the bride and her girlfriends—a time for everyone to have fun. It’s important, though, to remember that at a bachelorette party, the bride is essentially the guest of honor. Sure, the traditional bachelorette party tends to involve drinking, dancing, and phallic paraphernalia, but by no means is that necessary. It’s important when planning a bachelorette party to take the bride’s tastes and preferences into account. Does she like going out and partying? Then by all means, go clubbing! If she’s a little quieter, though, she might prefer something more low-key—an afternoon at the spa, or a girl’s night in with pajamas and junk food. So keep that in mind when you’re planning. Tailor the party to her tastes, and encourage all the guests to get on board. Even the party isn’t the ideal bash for each guest, it’ll be the ideal celebration for the bride—and that’s what counts.

Keep an eye out for where you could be needed and help out:

Little things will crop up, especially on the day before or the day of, that you could be of help with. They may not be anything that people notice right away, or that anyone will ask you—maybe bows need to be tied around a hundred chairs, or the candles for the ceremony somehow didn’t make it to the church. Keep your eyes open and step up to help out where you can—it will be majorly appreciated. And try to think of other ways you could be helpful on the day of, too! Make sure the bride is drinking water and remembers to eat before the ceremony—nobody wants her passing out as she walks down the aisle. Also, do your best to be a liaison between the happy couple and the wedding guests. The bride and groom won’t have time to answer texts about what time the ceremony starts or where to park. So take it upon yourself to pass on that info to anyone who requests it—even consider holding onto the bride’s phone for her before the ceremony and field any incoming texts from well-meaning but clueless friends or relatives. Anything you can do to lessen the bride’s stress and worries on the day of is important. Let her focus on getting ready to marry the person she loves, and take care of the little things as best you can yourself.

Credit Jill Thomas Photography

Have a ton of fun—and drink responsibly!

More often than not, a wedding is a big party—so make sure you enjoy yourself! After all the planning, the ceremony, the pictures, and the toasts, your duties will be more or less over. So make sure to take time to socialize, dance, and have fun! You deserve it. The only other suggestion is to be aware of how much you’re drinking, and not to go overboard. You never know when some kind of last-minute emergency will come up that you’ll need to help with—and you’ll be of much more use to others if you can walk on your own. If you have responsibilities to help clean up the next morning, you definitely don’t want to oversleep or be taking down decorations while hung over. That won’t be fun. So have a fantastic time at the reception, celebrating the marriage of your friend—just keep your limits in mind, and have a blast within them!

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