Tag Archives: weddings

The Cost of Being a Bridesmaid

I just discovered this chart by mint.com on the cost of being a bridesmaid and yeesh! $1695!! I have to admit that I’ve never added up all the costs like this before, but in looking at this chart, it seems pretty accurate (and even conservative sometime). The second portion of the chart offers some advice (click to enlarge), which I’ll expand on. I think it’s always a good idea to combine the shower and bachelorette into one weekend. That can eliminate a huge chunk in travel fees, which is where you really get hit hard. When possible, it’s also nice to choose a location where you can all stay at someone’s house or apartment.

I also agree that shelling out for a big-ticket wedding gift isn’t necessary. A personal gift or small item from the registry is fine. The bride and groom want you to be there for the wedding and their priority is your presence, not your presents.

I’d also advise brides to make getting your hair and makeup done optional, or at least shop around for good prices. If the bride wants to spend more on her hair and makeup (and why shouldn’t she?), she could bring in a lower-cost hair stylist or makeup artist to work with her bridesmaids. You can also cut down on costs by using a dress rental service like Little Borrowed Dress or Rent the Runway, or by choosing dresses with lower price tags.

Of course, this is a touchy subject. I think no bride wants to feel like she’s costing her friends a lot of money. And no friend wants to complain about the cost because we want to make our bride happy and make her day as beautiful and special as possible. Try to approach the issue with delicacy and remember that you’ll want her to do the same for you when it’s time for your big day.

Wedding Day Duties

So the day has finally come. Time to put your game face on and make the bride your number one priority. It’s important to keep things in perspective and remember the role you signed up for. Your bride may be giddy with happiness or petrified with nerves—just be the friend she needs that day.

I’ll use photographs from the lovely Michele’s wedding to lay out how a traditional wedding day will unfold. This of course all flies out the window if your bride has planned a nontraditional ceremony. In that case, just be sure to communicate with her beforehand and know what she needs you to do.

So in our traditional scenario, bridesmaids are asked to meet several hours early to start getting ready. For a girl who can be dressed and out the door in fifteen minutes this may seem excessive, but you really will need the time if everyone is planning to get hair and makeup professionally done. Even if that’s not the case, remember that job of yours? Support. Your bride wants to be surrounded by her friends. Show up when she asks.

Ok, so the hair and makeup folks have arrived or you have broken out the curling irons and mascara yourself and the primping is under way. Wear a button-down shirt or loose top so that your hair and makeup won’t get messed up and you’ll be comfortable. What else should you do for the next couple hours? I’m partial to celebratory mimosas but I highly, highly recommend keeping drinking in check—one or two at most. If you start getting ready in the morning for an afternoon or evening wedding and drink at a steady pace, people will be wasted, tired and sloppy at the actual event. MOHs can coordinate with the bride’s mother to make sure there will be food for everyone. If Mom’s not planning to provide, make it your job to arrange this. You all need to eat at least something small. No one wants to pass out at the wedding. Youtube “bridesmaid fainting” for a preview of how that will go.

Holding the bride’s mimosa.

This is also a great time to present the bride with a small gift from her maids. For Michele, we got her an FSU garter. The bride may have favors for you as well (Michele made us beautiful bracelets to wear on the day!). Sometimes you’ll present the bride with a gift as a group, but I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary since you’ll already have given her shower/bachelorette/wedding gifts. One thing I always try to do though is bring a card for the bride and share a private moment with her. I like to include my thanks for asking me to be in her wedding, my excitement for the day and encouragement about the future. It’s a great way to share a personal moment before she gets swept up in the events of the ceremony and reception. I kind of cherish that getting ready time, because after that the bride is going to be bombarded by the other guests and you won’t have as much time with her.

Michele with her gift—an FSU garter.

After all the maids are dressed, you’ll help the bride into her gown. If she’s using a professional photographer they will probably be on hand at that point to capture the moment. For the next hour (or so) you’ll take pictures with the bride, either at the reception venue or the church. Some couples may choose to do a “first look,” in which case the whole wedding party will meet up and take photographs before the ceremony. If there’s no first look, you’ll be expected to take more pictures after the ceremony. Either way, you’re in for the long haul here. The MOH should stay with the bride at all times and make sure her dress and hair are always looking great. Carry her train for her if she has one and step in to fix problems if you see them (I don’t want to even get into the red underwear situation).

The first look!

After photographs it’s time for the ceremony! When processing down the aisle, adopt that time-honored BBQ slogan: slow and low. Walk slowly and carry your bouquet low, where your hands would sit naturally if you folded them in front. Higher will block your face and dress and just looks weird. The MOH holds the ring (if she has a pocket or place to keep it; if not sometimes the best man will carry both rings). She stands beside the bride, fixes her train and veil when the bride makes it down the aisle and holds the bride’s bouquet and her own throughout the ceremony. When the vows are said and the ceremony complete, the MOH, along with the Best Man, will sign the marriage license—the true reason we have attendants in the first place. They are our witnesses to the validity of the marriage!

Excellent bouquet form.

If your couple has planned post-ceremony pictures you’ll now partake in those. Then the wedding party heads to the reception. Some couples may want you to be formally introduced, in which case you’ll wait for the other guests to enter and then come into the reception as your names are announced. Sometimes the wedding party stands around the dance floor as the couple has their first dance, other times they might join in after a few bars or just take your seats. It’s a good idea to find out in the morning what your bride had planned for this, because in the moment she’s going to be a litttle preoccupied.

An enthusiastic introduction.

The bridal party gathers around during the first dance.

Then, unless you’re the MOH, your “official” duties have ended! Your unofficial duties: make sure guests are having a good time—point out wedding day events like photo booths or guest books, help pass out favors, lead dances if necessary, chat with lonely old ladies, if single cruise for eligible bachelors—you know the drill. If your bride has taken a more DIY approach, your work may only be beginning, but that’s really specific to each bride.

She doesn’t even know that woman (to my knowledge).

If you’re the MOH, you’ll need to give a speech. But more on that another time.

Bachelorette Games: Most Likely To…

This game can be hilarious and scandalous, but it won’t work for every bachelorette party. In order for the game to be effective, everyone in the group needs to know one another. If you’re bringing together different groups of friends (college, high school, work, etc), skip this one. This is also a good game to play midway through the night. Let’s say a few drinks in but before you head out to the club (or if you’re staying in, before things get sloppy and you start bringing up high school boyfriends or referencing incidents the bride maaaybe didn’t want mentioned…).

Anyway, here’s how to play.

Step 1. Have a couple drinks.

Step 2. Before the game, you’ll need a set of index cards and a pen. Everyone will need their own hand of cards with the names of each player on a card. So, if 7 girls are playing, each girl should hold seven cards, one for each of their fellow players and one with their own name. You can easily just scribble names on cards before you start, or if you want to get fancy, you could DIY a cool set of cards beforehand with colored paper, glitter, stickers, etc. It’s important that all the cards look the same from the back though so that no one will know which card you’re throwing down. Think deck of playing cards. Backs identical, fronts your call.

Step 3: Let the game begin! You can come up with your own idea of how to start: MOH first, bride first, youngest first. You choose. The first player presents a “Most Likely To…” situation, such as “Most Likely to Kiss a Total Stranger.” Then each player throws down the card of the person they think is “most likely to…” face down. The questioner gathers all the cards, flips them over and tallies them up. If you’re voted most likely, you drink and you also get to come up with the next scenario.

The results can be funny, sweet or revealing depending on the question. Part of the fun is just seeing who gets votes! Some scenarios will go almost exclusively to one player, but others will be split. Since you’re using the cards, you won’t know where the votes are coming from, which adds to the mystery. Unless you’re really sure your group can handle some darker questions, try to keep it friendly. For example, some groups would find “most likely to have a one-night stand” hilarious, but others would think it’s over the line. My advice is to use your judgment and steer the group away from stuff that might hurt feelings.

Here’s a list of Most Likely To… situations to get you thinking. Continue reading


Choosing invitations for Marisa’s bachelorette weekend turned out to be way more difficult than I expected. I didn’t think my criteria were too demanding. I wanted something classy and simple but fun. Marisa’s a graphic designer, so I knew the typography and design needed to be modern and clean. Little did I know that “modern” and “clean” don’t factor in to many of the invites on the market. Getting away from black and pink was almost impossible so we just embracing it in the end. But I didn’t want anything that overtly referenced lingerie or Sex in the City (you would be astonished at how overdone these themes are). Designers, there’s a niche here that’s under-represented in my opinion! Here are a few of my favorites that Alyssa and I tracked down after lots of searching and the invite we ultimately went with.

This one felt like a good balance between modern and vintage and the muted pink and black is subtle and still chic. It’s customizable but not custom, so the price is good. You can find it here on Wedding Paper Divas.

This one stole my heart. The chevron pattern feels so modern and the colors are tweaked toward gray and coral, which makes this invite feel sophisticated and unexpected. You’ll find these on Etsy and need to contact the designer directly for a personalized listing.

I loved that this one got away from pink and incorporated sparkle in a fresh way. The script feels hand drawn and the vibe is vintage modern. This listing is for a digital file and you can find it on Etsy as well.

Polka Dot Design is another good site if you’d rather set your own type rather than working with a designer. This invite is actually for a New Year’s party, but I thought it could easily be tweaked for a fancy bachelorette party.

If you’re going to go lingerie or kitsch, I think this is how to do it.The playbill lettering and ’50s pin-up balances perfectly with the cream paper and feels vintage without being busy.

This invite was our final choice. We loved the simple typography and the “All You Need Is Love” theme fit our bride perfectly. The hot pink seemed fresh with the crisp white instead of the black that I’d seen on so many other invites. Lisa from Blushface was also very easy to work with, responding quickly and sending us a few proofs until the invite looked just right. She also printed for us, which was something we were looking for.

In general, I recommend you shop around because prices can vary considerably. Print-on-demand sites like Wedding Paper Divas and Polka Dot Design are great for a budget and do have lots of options allowing for one-stop shopping and less time spent searching, but the templates aren’t completely customizable and I didn’t find very many designs that met my “clean and modern” criteria (the two sites I’ve mentioned were by far the best in that category). Designers can be more expensive, but not always. They also tend to have more interesting designs and will customize the invite to your needs. I found Etsy to be the best resource for this by far. Most of the designers on wedding website directories are looking for wedding invite orders, not smaller parties like showers and bachelorette weekends. Though I saw some amazing work, their clientele is focused on brides. Etsy invite designers were much more approachable for our purposes. Some designers provide printed files, but some don’t which means an extra expense. Alyssa and I used a board on Pinterest to display invites we liked all together, which helped to narrow our options and keep links at the ready for price comparison.

Please post links to invites you’ve found! I’m going to need ideas for the next time around…

Mission Bachelorette Party!

I’m fresh off Marisa’s bachelorette party in Savannah and it’s going to take me multiple posts to get through all the details, but I’ll start with the location and some of the resources we used. I could not have planned this weekend alone and was so lucky to have my co-maid of honor Alyssa to take on half the work. MOHs, I highly recommend recruiting help, especially for destination weekends! Since Alyssa and I could bounce ideas off each other, we didn’t have to bother our bride with details and questions and no one person had all the pressure.

Combination bachelorette party/bridal shower weekends are ideal for groups of friends that are spread out over the country. Since I grew up in Florida, went to college in North Carolina and now live in New York, weddings take me all over the East Coast, so travel has become a necessary part of these events. I’m not going to lie—it’s much more difficult to plan events from afar, but it’s possible! And may I strongly recommend Savannah, GA, for ladies in the South.

Here are some of the benefits:

  1. No open container laws. That’s right, ladies, when you order a drink in Savannah they’ll ask you if you’d like that in a to-go cup. Marisa got fun LED light cups for us to carry around the city, which served the dual purpose of looking awesome and helping us keep track of our group. You can find the cups here.
  2. Huge variety of bars and restaurants. Savannah really has something for everyone. We went to dive bars, karaoke bars, Western bars with bull-riding and line dancing, rooftop bars with live music and fire pits, and clubs with black lights and nonstop dancing. There are also good dining options for any budget. We were looking for the most affordable options and also had a huge group (15 girls) but were able to find low-priced dinners each night that didn’t require a reservation. Of course, you’re not going to get in to some of the most popular spots without calling ahead, but the city is packed with solid options if you’re willing to try something new.
  3. Very walkable. Savannah is a great walking city, so there’s no need for a designated driver and bar-hopping is simple. Make sure your hotel or house has a parking option though, as spots can be hard to come by on the street. My advice is to try to park your car when you arrive and only retrieve it when it’s time to leave.

Alyssa and I compared renting a house for the weekend with staying at a hotel and we ended up going with the hotel. There are definite pros and cons to each, but because of the size of our group, we decided that a hotel would be simpler (finding a house that sleeps 15 is difficult). If you have a group of 6-8, I think staying in a house would be ideal and recommend vrbo.com (Vacation Rental by Owner) as a great resource. We chose to stay at one of the many hotels along Bay Street, mostly for the great central location. We were only a block from River St. and City Market, areas that are rich in bars and restaurants.

We picked the Four Points by Sheraton because the price was right and booked two regular rooms and one “suite.” The hotel was clean and the staff friendly, but I wouldn’t recommend springing for the suite. While it was nice to have a living room for all the girls to gather in, the room wasn’t really any larger than the normal double rooms. There are lots of other hotels all along that strip in roughly the same price range and I think the area’s convenience makes it a good option, especially if your group plans to party a lot. If you’re looking for a more laid-back weekend, staying on one of the squares would be more picturesque and really put you right in the center of Savannah’s southern charms.
Posts to come on our bar crawl/ghost tour, bridal shower in Forsyth Park, favors, collaborative gifts, and more.

Bridesmaid Basics

The first time I was asked to join a wedding party I felt a rush of excitement and anticipation, shortly followed by this thought: “Ok, what exactly does this job actually entail?” Though I did know a lot of the basics, I soon realized that being a bridesmaid is also a kind of state of mind (how very zen). Here are the basics of bridesmaid and maid/matron of honor duties, both tangible and intangible. I think of these first two as rules:

 1. Be there for the bride.

This one seems like a no-brainer, but it can’t be overstated. You’ve been chosen as a bridesmaid because you have a close, special relationship with the bride. She chose you as a bridesmaid for the same reasons she chose you as her friend and she is hoping that you will bring all the qualities that she loves about your friendship to your role as her bridesmaid. While some bridesmaids do pitch in with actual wedding planning—going to dress fittings, addressing envelopes, arranging flowers and the like—this isn’t a mandatory part of being a bridesmaid. What is officially part of your job, as both a bridesmaid and just a regular old friend, is offering a listening and supportive ear to the bride as she plans her wedding. The process can be stressful and the bride will appreciate knowing that you won’t mind if she goes on and on about whether the wedding color should be lilac or violet. She may need someone to vent to or someone to reassure her that she can do it. Just be that person. If you’d like to help more but don’t live near the bride, you can always dig up inspiration and send her links to venues and vendors. Joint Pinterest boards, anyone?

2. Do not complain.

Hate the dress? Too bad. Anxious about how you’ll look on the day? That’s your problem! Planning a wedding is stressful and brides count on their girls to provide a safe haven from the madness. Do everything you can to encourage and support. This doesn’t mean you should lie. If your bride asks what you think of her dress options, weigh in honestly. She’s asking you because she respects your opinion. Just keep things positive and make sure she knows you’re excited for the day and recognize how hard she’s working.

Once you’ve mastered the rules, the following will come naturally.

 3. Bridal showers and bachelorette parties.

While it’s not mandatory to throw the bride a shower or plan a bachelorette party, many bridesmaids do choose to do this. Of the two parties, the bachelorette most typically falls to the bridesmaids and the MOH in particular to plan. Maids of honor should talk to their brides about what kind of party they want and then take the reins and plan something you know they’ll love. Throw a party that reflects her personality, whether it be a wild weekend in New Orleans, a backyard BBQ or a quiet retreat to a mountain cabin. Bridal showers can be thrown by the bridesmaids, or by a relative or family friend of the bride. Bridesmaids should try to attend all events if you are local and at least one event if you have to travel. Combination shower/bachelorette weekends are ideal for friends who are spread out across the country. You get to spend more time together and pack all these traditional events into one crazy weekend.

 4. Pay your way.

Some brides may offer to pay for some of these things, but you should by no means expect it. A normal part of being a bridesmaid is chipping in for your dress, shoes, makeup and hair. Please refer to rule 2. That said, of course everyone has different budgets and we all understand that being in weddings can be expensive. My advice is to speak with your bride about concerns once, at the beginning of planning. After that, try not to burden her. There are lots of ways to get creative with money. A personal gift or small token instead of a big purchase from the registry is perfectly fine. You being in the wedding is enough of a gift to the bride. You can also opt to do your own hair and makeup, or split transportation and hotel costs with other wedding guests to save. As a last resort, you can opt out of the bachelorette or shower. The bride should understand that if you can only afford one big trip, the wedding is the more important one.

 5. Help her enjoy the day.

Be on time the day of the wedding. Help the bride get ready. You may find yourself called on to perform the unofficial bridesmaid duty of keeping the groomsmen in line during photos (orders to “put down that beer and smile” may be required). Your bride will need different things from you depending on the format of the wedding. I’ve brought out trays of lasagna at a backyard wedding or been formally introduced and joined the first dance at more traditional receptions. Make sure you know what she expects before the events kick off. Once the festivities get going, she’s going to be focused on her groom and her guests and if her bridesmaids know the drill it will keep things running smoothly.

Maid of Honor:

The maid of honor does all of the above and more. I’ll go into more detail about these in the future, but for now make sure you:

  • Plan a bachelorette party and/or shower.
  • Be the point person for the other bridesmaids. On wedding day you’ll need to keep on a schedule and it will take the burden off the bride if you make sure all the girls are on time and ready to go.
  • Hold the ring and bouquet during the ceremony.
  • Constantly keep an eye on your bride and make sure she looks great. Adjust her dress or hair if she needs it.
  • Sign the marriage license.
  • Give a speech and toast at the reception.

The truth is, each wedding and bride is different and they’re going to need different things from their ‘maids. If you follow rules 1 and 2, you can’t go wrong.

What else should every bridesmaid do? What unusual duties have you had to take on? Leave it in comments!

Welcome to The Ultimate Bridesmaid Guide

The wedding season of my life seemed to begin all at once. Around the time I turned 24 there was a mad dash to the jewelry store and all of the sudden many of my friends were engaged. When the dust settled, I found myself invited to five weddings that would occur over the course of six months. Before 2010, I had attended a few family weddings and at the age of three I’d had a stunning turn as a flower girl who refused to drop her petals.*

So needless to say I didn’t have much experience going into that first wedding in 2011. But I was excited to make that transition from family wedding to friend wedding. It was fun for me to field texts and emails from my friends as they planned their weddings, weighing in on dresses and flowers, venues and food. But most importantly, I truly felt this sense of honor that they had asked me to be in the weddings. I felt a surge of energy. I wanted to help. I wanted to be the best bridesmaid possible!

Over the course of that year (and still today!) I learned a lot about the business of getting married. I realized I was catching on when a wedding coordinator turned to me during a tour of his hotel ballroom and said, “you’ve done this before, haven’t you?” I’ve been involved in all kinds of weddings now, from DIY backyard celebrations for 70 guests to country club receptions for 150. I’ve thrown and attended destination bachelorette weekends, dreamed up shower themes and gifts, shopped for bridesmaid dresses, given speeches, and tried to be there for my wonderful friends as they have planned their weddings.

Let’s make one thing clear: being a bridesmaid is a lot easier than being a bride. But, I’ve learned a lot about how a bridesmaid can help her bride. I’ve also been really impressed with some of the beautiful projects and ideas my brides (yes, they are mine) have come up with. I’ll include my own advice to bridesmaids, inspiration for showers and parties, as well as details from my friends’ weddings that I found particularly unique or personal. I hope this blog will serve as a point of inspiration for ladies both behind and beside the veil.

*When I quite innocently asked what would become of the flowers after I dropped them, I was told someone would throw them away after the ceremony. I could not abide this, so video records show a stone-faced three-year-old with no intention of sacrificing her powder blue petals.