Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I have three daughters in their 20s and two of them have been bridesmaids already for a number of weddings with very different responsibilities. I’m hoping that you can clarify some issues. What exactly are the responsibilities of a bridesmaid these days? I am not necessarily talking about the maid of honor. Are bridesmaids supposed to pay for and put together a bridal shower? Are bridesmaids also responsible for paying for the bachelorette party? Are they the ones who should plan the party too? One of my daughters stood up for what I would call a bridezilla who not only required the bridesmaids to put together and pay for her only bridal shower but demanded that the bachelorette party be out of town. Standing up for this bride cost my daughter, who is only 25 years old, more that $1,500. The bridezilla further requested the bridesmaids to stay in the bridal suite the night before the wedding with her and made them pay for it, all the while not telling them they were responsible until they checked into the hotel. So what is the protocol these days? – A Concerned Mom
Dear Concerned: You are not alone! (Actually, maybe I should say your bridesmaid daughters are not alone.) This bachelorette/shower/wedding stuff is just out of hand, off the charts and, most important, horribly expensive for mostly young people who can’t afford this “honor” when it involves shelling out vast sums of cash on international travel and more. “It can start to feel like a burden,” says Daniel Post Senning, my go-to on issues of this sort since he is the great-great-grandson of etiquette doyenne Emily Post (and co-author of the 18th edition of “Emily Post’s Etiquette”).
Senning says that bridesmaids need to talk to the bride about costs. It’s that simple (and hard). “So much pain can be avoided if you’re willing to have that potentially difficult conversation,” he says. Senning says it helps throughout the run-up to the wedding to keep in mind the most important duty of a bridesmaid: “Bring the support and friendship on what is likely to be one of the most memorable days of her life.” And if you truly can’t afford the costs involved in the bridezilla extravaganza, “It’s OK to decline” (in the sweetest most gracious way possible).
Senning, who with his cousin Lizzie Post hosts the podcast “Awesome Etiquette,” has this to say about bridesmaid duties:
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▪ Bridesmaids are expected to pay for their own dresses.
▪ “Just because you said ‘yes’ to being a bridesmaid doesn’t mean you are saying yes to hosting a shower.” Same goes for maid of honor.
▪ The bride should tell the bridesmaids about her dream bachelorette party (which they customarily co-host and pay for) “but it doesn’t mean she can demand anything and everything.”
▪ Traditionally, the bride/groom provides or pays for the sleeping accommodations for the bridesmaids and groomsmen. (Ellen says: I had no idea. This is a new one on me.)
▪ Bridesmaids take care of the wedding dress after the wedding (cleaning, storing etc.) but the wedding couple pays for it. (Ellen: Didn’t know that!)