You can read up on message board comments like you're trying to cram for an exam or read a bridesmaid survival guide, but the best, and the only way, to figure out how to be a bridesmaid is to do it over and over again — and make some mistakes along the way. No matter if you're doing this for the first, or the fourteenth time, here's a list of common bridesmaid mistakes to avoid.
1. Prematurely accepting to be a bridesmaid
Just because you're asked to be a bridesmaid — doesn't mean you have to say yes. Do it only because: that person truly means a lot to you, you have the time and extra cash to do it right, and because you want to.
2. Bringing the wrong gift to the wrong place
When the wedding adventure first begins, map out each event that you plan on bringing a gift to — that way, you won't make the rookie mistake of bringing lingerie to the bridal shower.
3. Not listening to the bride
When the bride says she wants a quiet and simple bachelorette party, somewhere with bottles of wine and cucumbers over her eyes — don't go off and plan a night out at the hottest club in Las Vegas. Listen to her: even if it's not what you want to — or what you "think" she really wants.
4. Not saving the drama for the maid-of-honor mama
Planning a wedding is stressful. So, if you're not happy with the dress she picked out or the time the bridal shower starts or how another one of the bridesmaids is treating you, chat about it with the maid of honor or another member of the bridal party.
5. Spending too much money
Yes, being a bridesmaid is expensive. Sometimes more money than you'd like to actually spend. Set budget expectations early on with the entire wedding party.
6. Leaving the essentials behind
Clean out the travel size toiletries section at CVS. Throw all those items into a tote bag or a fanny pack. They will come in handy. They will save your feet, your mind, and your stress sweat from leaking out all over the place when the bride desperately needs eyelash glue.
7. Speak now or hold the peace
If you're speaking during her reception or at her rehearsal dinner, leave out the part about how on your spring break cruise to Cozumel she spent 60 percent of the trip with her head nearby the toilet and the other 40 percent with her lips on a shot glass. Save that for the bachelorette party.
8. Shots, shots, shots, shots
Speaking of shots, leave them off your drink menu the night before the wedding. Waking up, hung over, won't feel or look so pretty.
9. Wedding is done — so am I!
Just because the couple said "I do" and you danced the Hora and the Macarena with them until 2 a.m., doesn't mean your job as a bridesmaid has come to a complete stop and you can exit your role. The days after the wedding, the bride may turn to you for help with picking out photos for her album, helping her sort through gifts and even just call you to chat.
Jen Glantz is a "Professional Bridesmaid" and the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire. She's the author of All My Friends Are Engaged and frequently wears old bridesmaid dresses to the grocery store and on first dates.