Photo: Charlie Juliet Photography
Can you really register for a mortgage? Send digital wedding invites? Say no to a bridal shower? Many of the old wedding rules have gone the way of the dowry. No longer is Emily Post dictating every step of your journey to the altar. In fact, engaged gals around the country are re-writing the rule book when it comes to nuptial protocol, so we're here to give you the low-down on the wedding world's new etiquette guide on every aspect of your big day. You'll be the new and approved soon-to-be Mrs. Manners in no time. Read, adjust accordingly, and if Grandma gives you grief, tell her BRIDES said so! Next on our list, we're tackling all your questions regarding your go-to girls — your bridesmaids! Check out the expert advice below to avoid committing any bridesmaid blunders...
How do I make sure I'm not asking too much of my bridal party?
"There's a difference between sharing your joy with friends and making your wedding the focus of your friendship," says Allison Jackson of Pineapple Productions in Washington, D.C. They're not your slaves or even your wedding planners. "Consider it a nice gesture if your bridesmaids come to your dress fittings, stuff envelopes, or arrange flowers for you — but it's not expected," notes Misty Damico of Portland's Luxe Event Productions. The only job requirements? Buying the dress you pick and helping plan and pay for your bachelorette party. Talking you off a ledge when your gown comes in a size too small is extra credit.
Can a would-be bridesmaid say no to being in the party?
Yes — and you shouldn't let it ruin your friendship. "It doesn't mean she doesn't care about you," says Todd Fiscus of Todd Events in Dallas. "She may have financial hurdles or a baby on the way or just be too overwhelmed with her own life. She can be present for you in other ways."
One of my 'maids will be super pregnant at my wedding. Do I need to find another dress for her?
Ask your friend if she feels comfortable in the gown, and if not, make accommodations. "If her boobs are getting huge and she needs straps, let her have straps," says Tamra Sanford of NYC's Ever Swoon. "Being a sensitive friend is more important than having your girls be exact replicas of one another."
What should my bridesmaids cover for my destination bachelorette?
Excellent question! They didn't choose the travel buddies or the location, so don't consider this a vacation for them. "They typically cover their own costs plus your drinks, dinner, and activities. You should pay for your airfare and hotel share," says Sanford. Then surprise them by covering a brunch or a round of drinks.
How much is too much for a bridesmaids' dress?
The planners capped the cost at anything from $200 to $500 before you may want to start subsidizing. Keep in mind your friends' financial realities, and factor in that they may also have to pay for alterations and shoes. And remember, no matter how cute and rewearable the dress may be, your friends shouldn't have to go into debt for it.
See More: 50 Tips for the Maid of Honor
Should I expect my 'maids to give me a gift?
Yes, for the shower, unless they are hosting, says Fiscus. Beyond that, not necessarily. "They're already spending a lot, so don't bleed them," he says. We agree that it's very cool to tell your girls you don't want a wedding present — and mean it. "Say, 'You've already done so much — the shower, the bachelorette, coming to dress fittings. Your gift to me was being a bridesmaid,'" Sanford says.
Do my bridesmaids have to do their hair and makeup the way I want them to?
Yes. "If the bride wants everyone to look uniform, 'maids should go with the flow," says Jackson. That said, if you make specific demands — that your girls get their faux bobs from Kristi at Blowbar or their makeup by Bobbi Brown herself — you should pay for it.