– Ask Cheryl – What are the Duties of a Bridesmaid?

Dear Cheryl,

Help! I am getting married in 3 months and so far my bridesmaids haven’t helped me with anything! I’m starting to believe they think being a bridesmaid means they get to wear a pretty dress and walk down the aisle. The only time we have all been together was to pick out said dress.

I’ve mentioned things I would like to do and no one has offered to help me. I need some help but they are always “too busy” (and even seem annoyed that I mention wedding things!). I’m at the point where I’m ready to tell them I don’t want them to be part of my wedding.

My mother had to plan my bridal shower and one bridesmaid already said she has to work that day. I didn’t want to have her in my wedding but felt obligated because she is my fiancé’s sister. She’s self centered and everytime she isn’t the center of attention she sits in the corner and pouts. This is a 23-year old woman! I don’t want to deal with her drama now let alone on the wedding day.

I feel like I shouldn’t need to tell them how to be a bridesmaid and what is expected of them. I’m getting frustrated and I don’t want to turn into a bridezilla but I need help!

-Pissed in Pittsburgh

Duties of a Bridesmaid
Featured Image courtesy of Sarah Ellefson Photography

Dear PO’d in Pittsburgh,

Planning a wedding can be stressful and it’s clear you are disappointed in your bridesmaids’ participation. That disappointment stems from your expectations not being met. So you have to ask yourself: “Do I have reasonable expectations for my bridesmaids?” It seems as if many brides have been led to believe that bridesmaids have specific “duties” to perform. That really isn’t true. I blame the movie 27 Dresses.  🙂

Some people get really excited by parties and weddings, but some don’t. In all honesty, there are no set rules and bridesmaids aren’t actually responsible for a lot. As your friends, one would hope they would be willing to help you, but technically they’re not required to do very much. They are certainly not required to give you a bridal shower. Bridesmaids often want to host a shower, but they are under no obligation to do so and sometimes their finances or job demands keep them from doing so.

Our post, A Bride’s Guide to Bridesmaids offers many helpful and practical tips for maintaining a good relationship with your bridesmaids. Additionally, here are the “official” duties of a bridal attendant:

  1. Purchase the bridesmaid’s dress.
  2. Attend the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.
  3. Attend other pre-wedding events when possible.
  4. Arrive on time for wedding-related events and follow instructions. (This means the rehearsal and ceremony.)
  5. Help with any children in the wedding party, if asked.
  6. Smile for pictures.
  7. Stand in the receiving line, if there is one.
  8. Mingle at the reception and act as ambassadors of the bride and groom.

Additionally, it is nice if they:

  1. Assist you with wedding planning or preparation.
  2. Help host a bridal shower.
  3. Throw you a bachelorette party.

To address the problem, I recommend starting with your closest friend or Maid of Honor. Schedule a time to meet with her for lunch, dinner or a drink. Without being confrontational, ask her how she is feeling about the wedding and if there is anything that is bothering her or the other bridesmaids. Although this may not apply to you, I have noticed that if bridesmaids are feeling overtaxed with costs, they seem less excited about pre-wedding activities. Tell her where you need help and ask her how you might go about getting the others involved. If there is a problem, be willing to listen and to change, or adjust your expectations. Remember, although your friends care about you, they are never going to be as excited or as concerned about the details of your wedding as you are.

Additionally, don’t have any expectations for your future sister-in-law. She may not be your friend, but she will soon be part of your family. You asked her to be a bridesmaid to be inclusive and that’s great. I’m sure she accepted out of obligation as well. For your future happiness, I recommend that you ignore her behavior.

Also, I really do feel the need to address the bridal shower issue. It seems to be a misconception that one must have a bridal or wedding shower. This is simply not true. Additionally, since a bridal shower’s theme is gift centered, it is usually considered bad form for an immediate family member of the bride, such as a mother or sister to host a shower, although this does seem to be changing. In most cases, a bride should wait until someone outside her immediate family offers. Check out this post for more Bridal Shower Etiquette tips.

These may not be the answers you expected, but hope they are helpful. Wishing you a lifetime of happiness with your future spouse.

If you have questions or comments about gift giving, bridal shower, baby shower, or wedding etiquette, please comment below or email [email protected].

Emails in this column are received from readers. Emails may be edited for spelling, length and grammar, or to remove sensitive information. However, we are careful not to alter the intent or content of the question.

Cheryl Seidel is the founder and President of RegistryFinder.com, an intuitive search engine that helps gift givers quickly and easily find online registries for weddings, baby showers, graduations and more.

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