Now that you have invited your bestest friends and relatives to be in your wedding, you are probably wondering what exactly a bridesmaid does. Here is a list of their responsibilities (and yours):
The dress and accessories are their expense. But play nice and consider the cost when picking these things out. Rarely (no matter what you think to the contrary) do gals end up wearing these dresses again. And you can always help with this adding up too much by giving them part of the ensemble as their gift.
Travel costs also come out of their pocket. If you are traveling anywhere unexpected, make sure to give them a heads up about it when you invite them to be a part of the bridal party. Either way, try and decide when they need to travel as early as possible so they can have time to find the best rates.
Accommodations should traditionally be covered by you. This doesn't mean you need to set up each bridesmaid with a suite at the Ritz, but you should provide them some place to lay their head. If bridesmaids know each other, they can share rooms, or you can offer guest rooms at family homes. Of course, some bridesmaids may prefer other accommodations on their nickel, and that is totally acceptable.
Parties and showers! Bridesmaids are not required to throw you parties or showers, although they often choose to. If they do, remember that this is their gig, not yours. Yes, you are a planning expert by now, but this is a party you are attending, not hosting. They will ask you for a guest list. Before providing them one, make sure to be clear on how many people they are able to host. You don't want to give them a list of 200 of your closest friends, when they can only afford an intimate party of 20. No matter what, bridesmaids should attend as many of these events as they can. Although, if they are unable to attend all, cut them a break (they have to work to pay off that dress, you know).
Help with wedding planning is always nice. And you should invite your bridesmaids to attend anything you'd like a group opinion on, such as a dress fitting or cake tasting. Due to distance or time, not all of your bridesmaids will probably be able to attend every planning errand.
At the wedding, bridesmaids are your representatives. They can help with all sorts of diplomatic missions like chatting with guests and helping to arrange group photos. Just make sure to communicate ahead of time what you will need on the big day. And let them know when they are "off-duty" so that they can let their hair down (both literally and figuratively) with the other guests.
Their gift can be just about anything, from the pair of shoes to wear on the wedding day to a gift certificate at the local spa. Include a thoughtful card to express your gratitude for their time and support (and grace with that last minute meltdown you had at the florist. What was that?).
Photo credit: Vitalic Photo