How to Tell If a Friend is Bridesmaid-Worthy

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There’s (almost) always one: an uninterested and/or disgruntled bridesmaid who had no business being chosen for the wedding party in the first place. Why does this happen so frequently? Brides often forget to consider these qualities before issuing that all-important invitation to be a bridesmaid (luckily for me, the four lovely ladies in that picture were the best bridesmaids around–they even wore lavender taffeta!). Check out this checklist.

She’s absolutely thrilled to learn you got engaged.
If your pal is the type to jump up and down and scream when she gets excited, she’ll jump up and down and scream when you share your engagement news if she’s bridesmaid-worthy. If she’s not that type, she’ll give you the heartiest, sincerest congratulations you’ve ever heard her offer when you make your announcement. Of course, few people will be as thrilled as you are that you’re getting married, but friends who don’t come close to your level of enthusiasm (whether because they’re too busy wishing it were them getting married or they just don’t care for you as much as you do for them) probably won’t do wedding-party tasks with a smile.

She’s a part of your past.
Yes, new friends can make perfectly wonderful bridesmaids. New is relative, though. A year of friendship may be plenty of time to tell that you’ll be BFFLs (that’s best friends for life, for those of you who didn’t scribble that on notebooks in the 90s). Less than that, and you probably don’t know best-buddy basics, like her middle name and the foods she’s allergic to–so she’s not on the same level as your sister or college roommate.

You suspect she’ll be a part of your future.
No one can predict what’ll happen in years to come (sorry, palm readers). But if you can’t envision yourself staying in touch with her well after your wedding, why would you want to see her face in every. single. wedding photo?

She’s seen you at your worst.
Don’t bring a friend into the bridesmaid fold who has no idea what you’re like under intense pressure and scrutiny as you may be (fingers crossed you’re not!) during your engagement and on your wedding day. She needs to know ahead of time what she’s getting herself into, so she won’t freak out or flat-out bail when things aren’t all sunshine and peonies.

You’d do anything for her (short of taking a bullet, maybe).
Some brides really expect their bridesmaids to do anything they ask of them–like holding the wedding gown away from the potty as the lady in white tinkles. Whatever you’d request as a bride, make sure you’d be willing to do the same for your bud. If you’re not, it’s not fair to put her in your wedding party.

She fully supports your marriage.
If an ounce of her is doubtful that you and your hubby are going to make it, you’ll feel that. Or if she’s not a fan of your man, you’ll feel that too. Neither makes for someone you want standing next to you when you exchange vows.

She has the time and money.
This is last because it’s the least important–yet it still warrants mentioning. Being a bridesmaid is time-consuming and expensive, and some women simply don’t have the resources. You may not mind if she does nothing more than attend your wedding. Great, ask her. If you expect her to accompany you on wedding-dress-shopping expeditions, throw you a bridal shower and bachelorette party, buy a designer bridesmaid dress, and assemble wedding favors and programs, you’ll be disappointed when she can’t. So make sure your expectations of someone who’s short on cash and free time are reasonable before bestowing upon her this honor–and responsibility.

Any you’d add to this list of must-have bridesmaid traits? Could you ask a friend to be a bridesmaid if she weren’t all that excited about your wedding?

More Wedding Advice
6 “Budget Wedding” Tips That Aren’t Worth It
What No One Admits About Wedding Dresses
Know When to Let a Bridesmaid Back Out

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  • Ashley Breanna

    I’m having this struggle. I’ve already asked 3 girls, whom I love & have been friends with for ages, and our relationship is very close-knit. They’ve ordered their dresses & everything! But I have another friend, whom I just met about 1 year ago. We moved, and she will be our next door neighbor, once she gets out of the military. I can see this friendship growing really strong someday, but, seeing as she’s in the military, I only see her a handful of times a year. But we talk weekly & she gives me great wedding advice. We seem very similar… and, if this friendship grows, I would look back & regret NOT having her in my wedding. If it doesnt grow, then it may be weird to have this temporary friend in all my wedding pictures.

    • HH

      Ask her if you wish. If not, GUEST is also an honor.

  • HH

    Never, never, never ask a friend to be a bridesmaid because of what you think she can do for you. The tradition of bridesmaids comes from ancient times, when the bride’s friends accompanied her to church in order to confuse watching demons about the bride’s identity, so they couldn’t curse her marriage. Over time it evolved into a way to honor special friends or relatives.

    The only thing a bride should do with those lists of “duties” seen in so many books and websites is THROW. THEM. AWAY. A bridesmaid’s duties are two: get the dress and show up (sober, not drunk) for the wedding. Anything else is optional.

    Think about where those “duty lists” originate: from vendors. They want
    brides to believe her party must have matching dresses, shoes, hats,
    evening wraps, purses, hairstyles, makeup, manicures…. See where I’m
    going with this? They want her wedding party to think they are bad
    friends if they don’t fork out for all this, and host an engagement
    party, bridal shower, bachelorette party and gifts for all of this…..
    Never lose sight that these are your FRIENDS, the ones you wouldn’t
    dream of not having beside you as you make this life-changing step.

    Planning the wedding is not their job. Ask the groom if you need help. It’s his wedding, too. If they offer to help – great. Accept the offer. Just please don’t expect it.

    It’s great if they can all go dress shopping with you, but be kind….this is a busy day and age, and getting a grop of women together at once is often just not possible. They have jobs and lives, too.

    Showers and parties? Those are a gift, not a right. Anyone who wishes to can host a shower – with the exception of a relative, although this is becoming acceptable in some areas. in my circle it’s usually the bride’s church or older friends of her mother, since young people often lack the funds.

    That said…..never pick a wedding party more than 6-9 months from the wedding. Friendships change, and you can’t take it back once you ask, or kick a bridesmaid out of the wedding without destroying your friendship with her, because it will. It’s a VERY public slight to her. Trying to claim you “need to ‘reduce the size’ of the wedding” won’t work. She’ll wonder why somebody else made the cut, but she didn’t. Spare me the “I didn’t kick her out, I asked her to ‘step down’ ” excuse…. You kicked her out, and she and everybody else knows it. Once you ask, you’re stuck.

    Don’t expect a bridesmaid to change her personality just because you’re getting married. If she was flaky before your engagement, or always late to events, drinks way too much at parties, or is crude in public, she won’t change now. Think before you ask, or be prepared to put up with it.

    Worst reason to ask someone to be in a wedding: NUMBERS. Never ask someone just to make your wedding party even numbers of maids and groomsmen, or to have warm bodies up there with you. It’s never been a “rule” to have even sides, and it’s perfectly acceptable NOT to have a wedding party at all. Tell everyone you love your friends and family too much to pick and choose from among them, and so won’t select a wedding party. They will love you twice as much for it.

    Too many people to pick from? Your parents insist that you “must” have the cousins you only see on holidays? Choose ONE person, or none, and give everyone the excuse I gave above – “I couldn’t possibly elevate some over others….”

    Remember that the bridezilla title didn’t come out of nowhere.