Bridesmaids' Parties: Another Pre-Wedding Event You Need to Have?

Etiquette

It's not a bridal shower, nor is it a bachelorette party. A bridesmaids' party is essentially an excuse to get your 'maids together, whether it's for a luncheon or as part of your bachelorette weekend, and bond before the big day. They're the perfect time to introduce out-of-town attendants, schedule final dress fittings, display wedding gifts, and distribute presents to thank attendants for being in the wedding. If you have time in your schedule and need to get these wedding-planning elements together, consider having one! Because they're less commonly referred-to and a little more nebulous, we nailed down three etiquette must-knows for these get-togethers.

Who hosts?
It's customary for the bridesmaids — individually or together — to entertain the bride (if they are not also co-hosting a bridal shower). Otherwise, the bride may want to treat her bridesmaids to a party. Traditionally, this was a lunch or afternoon tea, but today the bride might treat her bridesmaids to margaritas and Mexican food at a favorite local restaurant.

When is it held?
More-formal gatherings should be held at least two weeks before the wedding (unless bridesmaids will not arrive until the week of the wedding). Informally, the bride will probably spend time alone with her bridesmaids throughout the days leading up to the wedding. The bride might also treat her attendants to lunch after a dress fitting or invite them to a breakfast on the wedding morning.

Is this when bridesmaids find the "ribbon pulls" in a cake?
There is a southern custom that began at a bridesmaids' tea: The baker prepared a traditional pink-iced cake for dessert, with a thimble baked into the layers. Whichever 'maid found the trinket in her piece would be the next to wed. Today, bridesmaids may gather at a bridesmaids' party or before the cake cutting at the wedding reception to pull ribbons trimmed with tiny charms from between the cake layers: A horseshoe and four-leaf clover mean "good luck;" a fleur-de-lis, "love will flower;" a heart, "love will come;" an anchor, "hope and adventure;" a thimble and button, "old maid;" and a tiny wedding ring, "next to marry."

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