There's much more to being a bridesmaid than slipping on a dress and standing in line, so it's important to learn the dos and don'ts of the special role. If your engaged pal has asked you to be part of her wedding party, don't take it lightly — she's asking for you to support her through one of the most incredible times of her life. Think you know what it takes to be the best bridesmaid? Some of these pointers may surprise you. Whether you're a first-timer or a seasoned veteran, you'll want to follow these 11 must-know tips to become the ultimate bridesmaid.
We're happy to present this story from one of our favorite sites, Brides magazine.
Wait a minute — an "after-party to the party?"
That's right. An after-party is a relatively informal post-reception gathering that's all about prolonging the wedding festivities into the wee hours of the morning. The trend is gaining popularity because many guests have traveled so far to attend that they and the newlyweds don't want the evening to come to a close. Also, many couples spend the majority of the reception greeting and chatting with guests they're not close to, so by the end of the night you may feel like you haven't had a single bite to eat or any time for your "real" friends. "The after-party is a time when everyone you love, especially those you don't get to see often, gathers together on a more intimate level," says Karen Robinovitz, coauthor of Fête Accompli! The Ultimate Guide to Creative Entertaining, who threw a party after her own nuptials.
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What are they like?
Most after-parties involve snacking and drinking at a spot that doesn't require reservations or an additional rental fee. The hotel bar or a nearby watering hole are great choices. Karen staged her after-party outside by the hotel pool. Guests joined her and her husband for a late-night dip, cookies and milk, and fun conversation while an iPod played tunes in the background (a friend took care of this detail). The ambience was laid-back and lighthearted, especially when some of the guests busted out Twister and Operation (Karen had brought the board games along for laughs).
Do I have to have an after-party?
Of course not! You're not obligated to throw one. There are lots of reasons you might skip it: You're exhausted, or want to head to the honeymoon suite, or simply aren't up for more face time. Do what's right for you. Just keep in mind that your guests may take matters into their own hands. You don't have to be involved.
What if I want to plan something specific for my friends?
Go for it. Most after-parties have a last-minute, throwntogether feel. Still, giving this aspect of the wedding some thought will of course make things easier. Jes Gordon of the New York City and L.A.-based Proper Fun suggests planning out how many guests you think will attend, taking into account how young they are. "Let's say 50 percent of your guests are in their twenties," says Jes, "and it's a large wedding. You can expect 20 to 35 percent of these folks to show up for an after-party." Jes has orchestrated fêtes that feature alcohol and greasy-spoon goodies in settings that are party-animal-friendly. Once you know the size and nature of your crowd, you can make decisions about the after-party's location, what to serve, etc.
We'll have a mellow crowd . . . does that matter?
Only in a good way. Mellow crowds are easy to manage. All they want is a comfy seat and a place where they don't have to scream to carry on a conversation. The bridal suite, if it has a large, separate space, is an option — provided you'll be comfortable walking through the French doors into the bedroom and telling folks to clear out. Better yet, pay for a guaranteed after-partier (a college roomate?) who's staying in the hotel to upgrade to a suite. It can be very low-key — think couch cushions, pillows, and blankets to create the ultimate slumber party. "This format is perfect for smaller weddings," says Jes, "when the couple doesn't expect more than 20 people to attend."
What about décor? What about invites? I won't have the time to plan an after-party, much less the money to expand the budget!
Don't panic. We know you've blown your budget or are pretty darn close to it, so keep it simple. Delegate responsibilities to someone else: One of your bridesmaids (not the maid of honor, she's done enough) or groomsmen can handle it. Invite your guests via e-mail or word of mouth, and reuse floral arrangements from the reception. If you're having the party at a bar or club, music won't be necessary. Otherwise, have one of your friends rig something up. As for refreshments, anything goes (including leftover wedding cake). Karen found a way to serve her midnight treats with a caterer's flair: grocery-bought munchies arranged on a silver platter from home. And if there are any unopened bottles of booze after the reception, bring 'em.
It's 3 a.m. and we need to sleep! When will this party end?
Eventually. Newlyweds typically attend the after-party, but you should feel free to say your goodbyes after an hour. Sooner or later, wedding-party members will start to disperse. "Once the key players split," says Jes, "everyone tends to go. They fizzle out faster than you'd think." But it sure was fun while it lasted . . .
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We're way past the age where we have to stick to certain outdated rules when it comes to weddings, such as the bride's parents footing the bill for most of the whole wedding. This tradition stems from the times when parents had to include a dowry to make the bride more attractive, since she won't be able to earn income. These days, many couples are splitting the costs evenly among themselves, with and without their parents.
Take a look at the traditional cost breakdown of a wedding for reference. But keep in mind that no one is required to follow these rules — it all depends on your own situation.
Bride pays for:
- Groom's ring
- Wedding gift for groom
- Gifts for bridesmaids
- Bridal party luncheon
- Transportation for bridal party to wedding
Groom pays for:
- Engagement ring and bride's wedding ring
- Wedding gift for bride
- Gifts for groomsmen
- Marriage license
- Officiant's fee
- Wedding wear
- Boutonnieres for groomsmen, fathers, and grandfathers
- Bridal bouquet
- Corsages for mothers and grandmothers
- Transportation for groomsmen to wedding
One of the trickiest elements of wedding etiquette is the plus-one problem: who gets a date, who doesn't, and how do you know one way or the other? Invitation wording should make it crystal clear, but not everyone is familiar with the common wedding protocol. If you're confused about the "and guest" arrangement, we have the answers to the most common plus-one questions:
Who gets a plus-one?
A good rule of thumb: for both the rehearsal dinner and the wedding itself, all spouses, fiancés, and live-in partners should be invited. As for long-term boyfriends and girlfriends, it's more or less up to you, but it's smart to go with a hard-and-fast rule — all or none — to keep things fair across the board.
How do you clarify plus-ones on the invitation?
Two magic words: "and guest." The name(s) on the inner envelope are the only people who are invited, so if you'd like to offer your guest the opportunity to bring a date, you must write: "Miss X and Guest." Otherwise, based on traditional etiquette, she should understand that there's no plus-one involved.
What if a guest replies for an uninvited plus-one?
It may be an awkward conversation, but you shouldn't hesitate to reach out and politely let the guest know that your budget doesn't allow for any guest list additions. As Anna Post writes in the Emily Post etiquette guidelines, "It's not okay for guests to ask you to make exceptions, so it won't be rude in the least to stand by your guest list."
What about children?
Again, stick with an all-or-none guideline to keep things fair. Guests may be offended if you make an exception for one family but not theirs, so be sure to communicate clearly whether or not children are welcome at the wedding. If you're struggling with the decision, try establishing an age guideline — no one under 18, for instance — to stay consistent.
Have any tips for keeping the guest list clear? Share your advice in the comments below!
It's always an honor when someone near and dear to you asks you to give a speech at their wedding. But it can also be a nerve-wracking experience if this is your first time or if you don't like public speaking. Relax and remember that everyone's focus will be on the bride and groom, and you're just helping shine the spotlight even brighter on the happy couple. Here are some tips for making a great wedding toast:
- Be yourself: It's cheesy but true; the best speech is one that comes from the heart, so be yourself. If you're a serious person, then you should speak from the heart. If you're a fun-loving person, then go ahead and give a speech infused with humor. Don't force jokes if you don't feel comfortable with it.
- Practice makes perfect: Write the speech ahead of time and keep practicing until the words roll off your tongue easily. Do a quick practice run in front of other people closer to the wedding date and ask them for feedback. On the day of the wedding, write the main points of the speech on note cards to carry to stage.
- Short and sweet: Don't drone on and on, because the other guests may quickly lose focus. Keep the speech brief; three minutes is a good length.
- Refrain from telling too many inside jokes: It's great that you have such a close relationship with the bride and groom that you have your inside jokes, but remember, everyone else might not get them. If the jokes are the "you gotta be there to understand" kind, then you might want to refrain from mentioning them.
- Don't talk about exes: Even if you think you can bring up the topic in a lighthearted manner, just don't. It's really inappropriate to bring up your pal's past loves and relationships, and it may even be awkward for the other guests.
Dear Savvy Bride,
My long-term boyfriend and I just broke up, and to save you the back story, I've found myself in a weird predicament. We have plans to attend one of my girlfriend's wedding in Mexico in less than a month. Obviously, he will no longer be accompanying me, but I don't want to go alone. Since the wedding is just days away, I'm sure his attendance has already been accounted for so do you think it would be OK for me to ask the bride if I can bring another date? I've already paid for a king room and an extra plane ticket and I really don't want all that to go to waste. I'd hate to put her in an awkward position, but it's a destination wedding to a romantic vacation spot and having to go alone is already giving me anxiety. Help!
Suddenly Solo Sadie
Wedding planning and etiquette can be tricky, which is why I called on a savvy bride planning her own wedding to share special Wedding Season advice here on SavvySugar. Her series, Ask a Savvy Bride, tackles wedding dos and don'ts from a bride's perspective. Here's a peek at her answers to your pressing registry and tradition dilemmas.
It can be difficult to decode wedding invitations and decide whether or not your kids are invited, but learning the proper etiquette guidelines will help you clear things up. Whether you're struggling with vague wording or an unusual format, we've gathered a few tips to define the gray areas. Not sure how to handle your reply card? Follow these pointers to respond in a gracious, respectful manner, and if your kids are included, then follow these tips to ensure that they're welcome, well-behaved guests:
- Your invitation reads "Mrs. Smith": It's perfectly fine to get in touch and ask about possible plus-ones, whether you're wondering about your children or a date. If you do have questions, then steer clear of texting or email. Call and thank the bride and groom for the invitation, and then politely ask about wedding specifics to bring up the plus-one topic.
- Your invitations reads "Mr. and Mrs. Smith": According to the Emily Post etiquette guidelines, you can assume that your children are not invited if this wording appears on the envelope. As a general rule, only the names that are specifically addressed are guaranteed an invitation.
- Your invitation reads "The Smith Family": In this case, things are a bit less clear. Typically, an envelope addressed to the entire family means that everyone is invited — kids included. Still, if your children range in age, then you may want to follow up and confirm with the bride and groom. If they've set an age limit, then the invitation should be addressed to each invited member of the family, but it's best to communicate and be sure before you assume anything.
Still not sure? Don't hesitate to reach out and ask. It's better to find out for certain than to guess, as seating charts and final guest counts are crucial to the couple's planning process. Be kind and straightforward, and respect any guidelines the bride and groom have set for their big day.
With the passage of time comes a change in traditions. We know what traditional wedding gift-giving etiquette dictates, but what rules should we go with now? I polled a few hundred SavvySugar readers who chimed in with their preferences for gift-giving etiquette. Here are the results:
You can choose to skip or keep to the registry: Half of the readers say that it's OK to skip the registry, while half say it's not. You know your situation and the couple best, so it's your decision if you wish to skip or stick to the gift registry.
Spend what you can: The majority — 53 percent — think that you should spend what your budget allows for. It's not rude to underspend if your finances can't cover a pricey gift.
You can bring your gifts to the wedding: It's fine to bring your gifts to the wedding, according to readers. Some people feel it's rude to bring gifts to the wedding and saddle the newlyweds with the hassle of transporting their gifts home, but the majority think it's totally fine to do so.
Buying a gift when you're not attending is up to your discretion: It's a tie between people who think you should buy a gift and those who think you don't need to bother with one if you're not attending the wedding. It's up to you and how you feel about the issue and how close you are to the couple.
Gifts should be given on time: Some say that gifts can be sent one year after the wedding, and there are some that say it is bad manners to do so. Readers feel that gifts should be given on time and that guests should avoid the one-year waiting period.
You should always give a gift if you're attending the wedding: If you're going to be at the wedding, 80 percent of readers unanimously agree that you should always, always give a gift.
Do you agree with any of these rules?
Here come the kids! Some couples opt for an adults-only bridal affair and others welcome the pitter-patter of little feet on their wedding day. Whether your lil one is playing a featured role in a wedding as flower girl or ring bearer, or you're just bringing the whole family to witness a couple's nuptials, here are some tips for keeping your children — and the bride — happy.