If you head to Tik Tok for wedding ideas and advice (or follow Buzzfeed, the Today Show, Insider, etc) you’ve likely seen the epic and now viral video of San Antonio bride Lisa Torres. In the video she shows off the letter she included in her bridesmaid proposal box detailing out her expectations and potential costs, right down to the mandatory bachelorette trip to a resort in Mexico.
The comments on the video range from applause to ridicule, with some commentators being shocked that bridesmaids should have to pay for anything themselves.
However, if you’ve ever been a bridesmaid before being a bride you know the costs and time commitments can get hefty. We’re here to give you the rundown on what Lisa got right, and how to set your own expectations for your bridesmaids and still be friends by your wedding day.
Prepare a Budget
Having a target budget for your bridesmaids is a good starting point.
Though you won’t know a hard figure up front, a general price range will help set expectations. Think through how formal the bridesmaids dresses will be, whether you want a bridal shower or not, what type of bachelorette party you’re picturing and if your wedding will be in a different city. Details such as hair, makeup and accessories all need to be factored in. You can work with your wedding planner to help get an idea of all the potential expenses your bridesmaids might incur.
Once you have an estimate, you can start your bridesmaid invites. Knowing that number in advance will be helpful to you and to your potential bridesmaids.
Keeping Things Clear
Now you may not want to write a two page letter to your potential bridesmaids, but ultimately clarity helps.
Consider gathering with your bridesmaids early on in the planning process to talk about what you envision for the bridal shower, bachelorette party and the wedding itself. This is a great opportunity to start celebrating, but get the practical items out of the way first. Confirm the probable expenses, what they need to cover and what you’ve budgeted to cover for them. The clearer you are up front, the less potential resentment down the road.
One thing Lisa got right was giving her potential bridesmaids an easy out. She made it perfectly clear that saying no wouldn’t hurt her feelings or jeopardize their relationship. Even if you don’t write it out up front, give your friends an option to opt out after your first get together. And if you tell them there’s no hard feelings for saying no, mean it.
Bridal Showers & Bachelorette Parties
Traditionally, the maid of honor would plan and host the bridal shower and bachelorette party. As these events have grown in size and scope, this tradition has changed.
Bridal Showers have typically been luncheons or afternoon affairs, hosted by the maid of honor along with the mothers of the bride and groom. Now they are often coed and focused more on having a party to celebrate the engagement than receiving gifts. Many brides are foregoing showers all together.
If you do want a bridal shower, let your maid of honor in particular know pretty quickly. Discuss the scale you imagine and who else might want to help with planning and hosting. Having a shower to plan and focus may be fun for your mom or the groom’s mom, while you’re putting together the details of your own wedding. If you’re envisioning a coed shower, the groom’s family should certainly be involved.
Bachelorette parties, the modern woman’s response to the time-honored tradition of bachelor parties, have also changed over the years. What used to be a pink-ballooned, cocktail infused event with naughty cakes hosted in the home, grew to nights on the town to full vacations. Many brides now expect trips to Vegas or a resort in the Bahamas. If a vacation is more your speed, discuss costs up front with your bridal party. And calling the trip mandatory may be a stretch.
Though brides will often pay their own way, it’s not expected that you would pay for your bridesmaids as well. And though the maid of honor may be crucial in coordinating the trip, don’t expect her to cover your costs. Alternatively, it may be a nice gesture to cover expenses for your maid of honor if they put in a lot of their own time and effort in making the trip a success.
In the FAQ portion of Lisa’s letter she addressed questions about if she would want her bridesmaids to lose weight, change their hair or put a hold on family planning. (Note – she did not.)
As crazy as it may seem that she even had to address that, it happens. Bridesmaids have been chided for gaining or losing weight, kicked out of the wedding party because they got pregnant, and asked to wear wigs.
Avoid being the bride that wants your bridesmaids to be anything else than what they are. If your friend has purple hair, embrace it. Though your bridesmaids may choose to slim down on their own, don’t force it.
Still, it wouldn’t be inappropriate to ask if they let you know they are planning on drastic changes to their appearance. You may be shocked to find a large tattoo sprawling on their back during the final fitting, or a long-haired friend sporting a pixie cut a week before the wedding. Your job in this instance is to not freak out, or ask them not to move forward with their plans for their own body, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting a head’s up to avoid a shocked or bad reaction.
Show Your Appreciation
Ultimately, being a bridesmaid is expensive and time consuming. Make sure your bride squad knows how much you appreciate them by thanking them sincerely and often. Yes, the gifts are nice. But verbalizing your appreciation, or ending each email with a genuine thank you. That’ll help your chosen friends feel thankful they’re included and remember more of the fun than the stress.