There are some things brides ask for that are simply… unspeakable. We already covered them in The Worst Things Bridesmaids Were Ever Asked To Do. The crimes include banning any holidays during engagement period… asking a bridesmaid to dig in a rubbish bin for a lost ring… and setting a sleep schedule to avoid ‘saggy baggy eyes’. Trust us, that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Pffff, you may think. I’m not doing anything as extreme as that. I’m just going to ask my bridesmaids about the usual stuff – like losing weight, changing hair colour, and all that jazz. Well, before you actually go and ask, read this!
Can I ask my bridesmaids to lose or gain weight for the wedding?
Going too far score: 11/10
Our vote goes to a firm NO. Asking someone to be a bridesmaid is a huge compliment to them. Then it gets completely shattered by implying that their appearance doesn’t quite cut it. Imagine saying this to someone: I’d love it if you were my bridesmaid, I’d be so happy to have you next to me on the most special day of my life! Unfortunately, the way you look right now isn’t good enough. Could you lose/gain a few pounds? It’s pretty terrible, right? It’s impolite and implies that the bride cares most about how things look, rather than being surrounded by friends.
Can I ask my bridesmaids to change their hair colour for the wedding?
Going too far score: 9/10
This is a lesser crime than asking them to lose weight, but it’s still a NO. Changing hair colour is a big deal to many women. If, for example, a bride is a blonde and wants brunette bridesmaids, then she should only ask brunettes. But what if one of the brunettes unveils a surprise blonde makeover just before the wedding? The bride should say nothing. In the grand scheme of things, is this going to make any difference to the wedding itself? Heck, no.
Can I ask my bridesmaids to tan for the wedding?
Going too far score: 8/10
It’s hard to do without sounding like ‘you’re not good enough the way you look right now’. Every bride should also remember that the bridesmaids will likely embark on a beauty routine anyway, because they know they’re going to be seen by everyone, as well as photographed all day long. If they decide they want a bit of a tan glow, then they’ll likely do it of their own volition. One gentle way to bring this up is to ask the chief bridesmaid to raise the topic with the girls (without saying ‘the bride asked me to ask you…’ obviously!). She could simply say ‘hey, are you guys thinking of tanning for the wedding? I can’t decide if I want to or not!’ It’s a smooth start to the discussion.
Photo from Grace & Karl’s real wedding by Couple Photography
Can I ask my bridesmaids to pay for their own dresses?
Going too far score: 7/10
This is the number one question, and it divides opinions like no other. You may have heard it’s a pretty common thing in America. Bridesmaids over there pay for their own dresses, no biggie. It’s one of the reasons American brides have six, ten or 12 bridesmaids: it wasn’t the bride’s expense.
Generally, being a bridesmaid is no low-budget affair. There’s gifts, hen do, travel to and from the wedding, beauty treatments, sometimes extra incidentals like shoes. In Ireland, and indeed in Europe, it’s generally accepted that when a bride chooses a bridesmaid, then it’s the bride’s expense. So to answer the question – can you ask your bridesmaids to pay for their own dresses – yes of course you can, but be prepared for them to say no. It’s also fair to tell them at the same time as you ask them, so there are no surprises. And this leads us to…
… can I ask my bridesmaids to pay for their own accessories/shoes?
Going too far score: 4/10
Yes you can, as long as it’s within reason, and you tell them when you ask them! Don’t limit their choices to Prada or Chanel. If they’re paying, they get to choose. Say, ‘I’d love for you to be my bridesmaid, but I hope it won’t be too much of a stretch if I ask you to get your own shoes?’ Then it’s fair and square, the bridesmaid has time to check the budget, and get back to you. In a wedding with matching dresses, it’s not a huge crime to ask for the bridesmaids to buy their own shoes and specify the colour or style. Shoes are a funny thing anyway, when they don’t fit, they can ruin a whole day. This is a solid argument for letting them buy their own shoes.
Can I ask my bridesmaids to arrange my dream do in Vegas/Barbados/Monaco?
Going too far score: 11/10
Faraway adventures are for your honeymoon, or anniversary trips, or any other big deal occasion. Most bridesmaids will be happy to treat a bride to a fantastic hen do that’s more affordable (and maybe even involves a budget flight to a cool place like Prague, for example).
Can I ask my bridesmaids to devote a certain amount of time to planning?
Going too far score: 1/10
Of course you can, but within reason. This may sound surprising, but it’s true: while a wedding is often an all-consuming event for the bride, the others don’t quite have the same perception. To bridesmaids, a wedding is a fantastic event to look forward to, sometime in the future. Of course, there will be fittings, meetings and maybe even wiping some bridal tears of frustration, but in general, it’s not the same life as the bride’s: work, sleep, wedding. Repeat.
Only a bride can judge how much help she needs, and then ask for it. Meet up once a month with all the girls for a catch-up, with higher frequency closer to the wedding? Sure. Give them their tasks and send them on their merry way, contact only if necessary? Why not. It all depends on how intensive the planning is, and how far away the wedding. However, there are some things all bridesmaids should attend, no questions asked. This includes: fittings, hair and makeup trials, and the hen do (barring some unforeseen difficult circumstances).
A bride should know her expectations at the beginning and be honest about them. Some bridesmaids are truly committed and will do literally anything the bride asks, but meeting once a week for ‘girl talk’ and looking at bridal magazines is their idea of hell. Other bridesmaids have super busy lives already, or live far away – they can only do their best.
Often, it turns out those regular bridesmaid meet-ups just aren’t as necessary as the bride thought at first. Flexibility is key. Say, ‘I’d like us all to meet up about once a month to chat and catch up, would that be alright? We’ll also have three dress fittings and possibly two hair and makeup trials. Will you be able to make it?’ Being upfront about your expectations is the best thing you can do.
Photo from Jennie & Kevin’s real wedding by Paul Duane Photography
Main photo from Gaynor & Chris’s real wedding by Memories Photography by Magda
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If you think the bride should always have the last word, then Rachel is on your side! A devoted fan of everything quirky, unusual, colourful or crafty, she loves scouting WOL's real weddings for unique and fun touches. When not gazing at pictures, she's dispensing no-nonsense advice on everything from reception entrance songs to bridesmaid problems.