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11 Little Etiquette Rules All Bridesmaids Should Agree to Follow

Updated: Jan. 25, 2024

There's a lot more to being a bridesmaid than wearing a pretty dress and standing behind the bride. Nowadays, bridesmaids are expected to be there for every step of wedding plan, the bridal shower, bachelorette party, and more. Being a bridesmaid can end up being a lot of work, not to mention expense. Here, experts weigh in on the top tips for being a fabulous bridesmaid.

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Should you even say yes?

Sometimes the best thing you can do is not accept the bride’s invitation to be a bridesmaid, says Thomas P. Farley, known as Mister Manners. “Just because your friend says yes to being a bride doesn’t mean you must say yes to being a bridesmaid,” he says. Consider this if you don’t feel close to the bride or don’t want the financial obligations. Of course, handle your turn down, with great delicacy, so she doesn’t get offended, Farley says.

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Pay for your own bridesmaid dress

Unless the bride offers to pay, be prepared to pay for your own dress. But Kellee Khalil, founder of Loverly, a virtual wedding planning site, shares that if your bride knows it’s a struggle, she can—and should—offer to help.

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Help plan the bridal shower

While Khalil says planning the entire bridal shower falls under the maid-of-honor’s duties, you should be prepared to help and be an active participant. On the other hand, these 22 wedding rules are totally outdated.

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Try to attend all bridal events

Attending all bridal events is a must for a bridesmaid, Khalil says, except, of course, if you live out of town or have another family obligation. “Never say you’re too busy to participate in any pre-wedding event,” shares Cristen Flaherty, event planner and founder of Cristen & Co. Event Coordination & Design. “Everyone is busy and that is a poor excuse and you will simply upset the bride for not being a part of all the festivities.”

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Be ready and on call the day of the wedding

From helping a flower girl down the aisle to making sure the bride’s train is bustled, a bridesmaid should be ready to help out, no matter what, on the day of the wedding. “A bridesmaid should also act as a resource with information for any guests who may have questions about wedding logistics, bridal registries, directions to the ceremony or to the reception,” Farley says. Find out more secrets you can only learn from a wedding planner.

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Do not complain to the bride. Ever.

This may seem like a given, but if you are used to sharing your every thought with the bride on a regular basis, you may forget that this is her big day and she doesn’t want to hear your thoughts. Not about the dress, not about the shoes, and not about the jewelry, no matter what.

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Leave the drama at home

“This day is not about you. You are there to support the bride,” shares Flaherty. “Yes, you have been chosen for a special role however, it is all about the couple getting married. Don’t be a diva!” That also means don’t get drunk and don’t make a scene, say, if your ex turns up with his new girlfriend. But when it comes to the bridal party, sometimes craziness can’t be avoided—these are some of the craziest client requests wedding planners have ever gotten.

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Make an effort

Sure, you show up for bridal events and the wedding, but having a smile on your face goes a long way. “You should always pay attention to the bride and be present, this is a really exciting time for the bride and staying off your phone and having fun together is extremely important,” says Flaherty.

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Speak up about financial concerns

“Being a bridesmaid can get expensive and if you know there are certain things you may or may not be able to afford be upfront with the bride before all the festivities get started,” Flaherty says. “It is OK to say no, because if you say yes and then can’t afford to do certain things it ends up causing unnecessary tension and potential arguments.”

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Keep your opinions to yourself

This is the bride’s big day. She has spent hours finding her dream dress, choosing the perfect flowers, and fantasizing about how everything would come together. “Don’t give unsolicited feedback on her design or wedding details,” says Khalil, “Let her create a vision that feels special to her, not everyone has to love it as long as she is happy!” Farley also shares that, “A bridesmaid should be supportive, positive, joyous and ready and willing to participate in all traditional activities on the day of the wedding (such as the bouquet toss) even if she is not a fan of such traditions herself.” That said, brides and grooms don’t get a free-for-all when it comes to bad manners on their big day, especially when it comes to these etiquette rules that they really need to stop breaking.