No matter what you’re interested in, there’s a TikTok community for you. From fashion to food to fitness, the app’s influence can be felt in every industry—and the wedding space is no exception. Brides-to-be are flocking to TikTok to share everything from venue ideas to DIY decorating hacks. Thanks to one recent viral video, it’s even becoming a source for bridesmaid etiquette advice.
Earlier this month, TikTok user Lisa Marie Torres shared a video explaining how she gave her bridesmaids a “transparency letter” when she asked them to be in her bridal party. In the letter, Torres outlined the time and money commitments that would be expected of them should they accept her bridesmaid proposal.
The video clearly struck a chord with users—the Tiktok has 5.5 million views and counting—who have experienced the dilemma of wanting to support their friends while also knowing how quickly bridesmaid expenses can add up. The comment section is filled with people praising her “mature” approach.
If anyone would know the bridesmaid struggle, it's Jen Glantz, founder of Bridesmaid for Hire (it's exactly what it sounds like) and author of Finally the Bride. “I think a huge problem with being a bridesmaid is that you agree to the role before even knowing what you are agreeing to,” she says. “Every single bridesmaid experience is different, and yet we say yes before we know what the wedding entails.”
Glantz thinks a transparency letter is a great way to help ease pre-wedding tension and build excitement for the bridal party. It also gives them a chance to accept (or not accept) the role. She notes that the letter doesn’t have to be punchy or demanding: “It can be sweet and full of thanks to the people who are thrilled to stand by the bride's side."
The letter Torres sent to her bridal party outlined everything from where and when the bachelorette party would be to how much her friends should expect to spend on their dresses. She also included a list of frequently asked questions to address some common bridesmaid concerns. For example: “Will you expect me to make any appearance changes?” to which Torres responded, “No, that’s weird.”
“I felt very insecure doing this, but I’m ultimately glad that I did,” she explains. Torres says that the most important part of the letter was a line explaining that her friends could say no without it affecting their friendship. Plus, they could keep all of the gifts she included in the proposal box. “One of them said no and we’re still good friends,” she says.
Wendy Kay, the owner of Birds of a Feather Events in Dallas-Fort Worth, agrees that being transparent and giving bridesmaids the opportunity to say no to the role is a great way to prevent resentment on either side. “Generally, when you are asked to be a bridesmaid, you just say yes because that’s what’s expected,” she says, adding that a letter like Torres’s can keep everyone on the same page about the financial and time commitments.
Ahead, our experts offer up some advice for both brides and bridesmaids on how to navigate the experience without any drama. Keep reading for more bridal party tips.
While wedding specifics vary, both Glantz and Kay agree that some universal expectations come with the bridesmaid role. “If you plan on saying yes, no questions asked, go ahead and assume you’ll be attending at least one bridal shower, several dress shopping and alteration appointments, and the bachelorette party,” says Kay. According to her, bridesmaids are usually expected to pay for their own dress, shoes, hair, and makeup (more on that later). “And of course, you'll need to be with her on the wedding weekend,” Kay adds, which could include spa services, brunches, and the rehearsal dinner, in addition to the big day.
As for Glantz, the obligation is more figurative: “I really think when you're saying yes to being a bridesmaid, you’re saying yes to being a good friend,” she says. “You're agreeing to be there, in the best way you can, for the person getting married.”
Keep It Light
“Keep the tough topics light,” says Glantz. She stresses that open communication can make the process easier for everyone. “We get nervous bringing up topics like money or bridal party obligations, but the lack of answers to those questions can make you feel resentful throughout the process.” If a bride isn’t upfront with her needs, she suggests casually asking them what they have in mind for the role. “Then, you can see if it's in line with what you can offer, based on what’s going on in your life and personal space over the next year.”
Think It Through
Before agreeing to be in the bridal party, Kay suggests taking your own personality into account. “I would really sit and explore your own tendencies before responding,” she says, noting that if you normally have a hard time saying no, setting boundaries with the bride may be difficult. “Ask yourself how this experience could affect your friendship and if it’s worth it or not.”
Glantz agrees that even though it can be all about the bride during the planning process, it’s important to be honest—with them and with yourself—about your boundaries. “It's okay as a bridesmaid to say no to things you can't do, don't have time for, can’t afford, or don’t have the emotional space to handle,” she says.
Mention It All
Glantz suggests getting together with your bridesmaids right after they agree to be in the bridal party to chat about all the “messy and taboo” topics. “Get it over with!” she says. “That way, everyone is on the same page. Having your friends there as your support system is exactly how it should be—supportive and not stressful.”
Pitch in Where You Can
If it’s within your budget, Kay suggests offering to front some of the bridesmaid costs (dress, hair, or makeup), as it can make the decision easier for your friends. “If that’s not an option, be upfront about the costs,” she says. She recommends asking your wedding planner to help you develop a ballpark estimate of the financial commitment. If you’re not using a wedding planner, there are resources online that can help you calculate costs.
It's Okay to Rethink the Bridal Party Altogether
While the bridal party can be a fun and rewarding experience for both the bride and bridesmaid, more and more brides choose to forgo the tradition entirely. “I knew it had the potential to stress my friends out, which in turn would stress me out,” says Kay of her decision not to have bridesmaids at her own wedding. “My friends were able to just enjoy our wedding without all of the financial and time commitment.”