Being chosen to be a bridesmaid is an honor, but it can also be a lot of work. Some brides have a lot of resources at their fingertips and are happy to simply have their closest gal pals show up in the chosen dress, while other women may lean heavily on their ‘maids during the planning process. The problem, of course, is that you rarely know what you’ll be dealing with until you’ve committed. With the amount of effort that now tends to go into bridesmaid “proposal” boxes, it can feel like a lot of pressure to say yes right away. However, if you’re not prepared to be super involved, it might be a good idea to get expectations ahead of time before you accept. Should the bride in question make unreasonable demands down the line, not being involved could turn out to save the friendship.
Since it may be an awkward conversation to start, particularly if you were given a “Will you be my bridesmaid?” gift that looks straight out of Pinterest, we recommend saying something along the lines of, “[Bride’s name], I am so touched and would love to be a part of your big day, but can I ask about your expectations for the role?” If she seems thrown off, elaborate on how you just want to make sure you’re the right fit and that she’s fully supported at her wedding.
It’s important to keep in mind that even the bride may not have a concrete idea of her expectations of her bridesmaids, especially if this is very early in the planning process. For example, maybe she’s thinking $200 for the dress but then falls in love with a $350 gown. Or she thought you all could use her future in-laws timeshare for the bachelorette party, but the date wasn’t available. If she knows what you’re prepared to handle ahead of time, that will still do both of you a lot of good. So, if your issue is that you’re in grad school and might have trouble affording some extras, be honest about that. Time could be a constraint as well – perhaps you just started a demanding new job and won’t be available to tackle the seating chart or attend every pre-wedding event. The bride may happily assuage your fears and keep you as an attendant, or you may mutually agree it would be better for you to attend as a guest. Either way, this should keep everyone from feeling disappointed or guilty.