Most bridesmaid duties are fairly obvious: help the bride out on the wedding day, run errands during the planning process, and look nice in the wedding photos. However, a few bridesmaid duties need a little more explanation…and unfortunately making an etiquette snafu when you’re a bridesmaid can sometimes turn into a relationship-ending mess if the bride takes your mistake too personally (as many over-stressed brides might).
A good way to stay on the bride’s good side is to brush up on your bridesmaid must-dos, along with a few might-dos that could score you some extra brownie points at events like the bridal shower. Bridal showers might seem like a no-brainer, but in fact they are events that can be loaded with emotional landmines, since the bride may be under a lot of pressure to make a good impression to future in-laws or her own family. As a bridesmaid, your job is to be supportive, helpful, and (most of all) a positive impression of the bride herself.
Here are some tips for being the perfect bridesmaid when you’re at a bridal shower:
(1) Be helpful. Even if you aren’t hosting, you should offer to greet guests, help serve food, or stay a little later to clean up. You’re a guest, but you’re also supposed to be making the bride’s life a little easier and this is an easy way to pay a nod to your role. There’s no reason to go overboard, however, by offering to cook for the shower or spending the entire event refilling people’s beverages. You’re a bridesmaid, not a kitchen maid.
(2) Be enthusiastic. Get excited about the upcoming wedding and the details that the bride has planned out. Compliment every gift she opens. Warmly say goodbye to guests you’ve just met by saying you’ll see them at the wedding. Creating an atmosphere of positive excitement is exactly what the bride needs. This is not the time to go into your “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” tirade about your rotten love life. Even if you have to fake it, you should be glowing about this wedding as much as your friend is.
(3) If you’ve been invited to multiple showers, don’t worry about bringing a gift to each event. It’s customary to invite the bridesmaids to all of the bridal showers being thrown, since the bridesmaids are the inner circle of the bride. However, being a bridesmaid can get pretty pricey (especially if you add in a dress, shoes, hair styling, etc.) and you shouldn’t be penalized for being close to the bride. Just bring a gift to the first shower you attend and then enjoy the rest as a supportive friend. Note: if you can’t make one of the bridal showers, it’s a nice touch to send a handwritten note with your RSVP apologies to the hostess, particularly if the shower is being hosted by the mother or mother-in-law-to-be.
(4) Always RSVP, whether you can attend or not. Don’t count on the bride to tell the hostess if you’re coming. She has a lot going on and it’s your responsibility, not hers. Even if you end up re-confirming what the hostess has already heard, that’s a lot better than leaving the hostess wondering if she needs to factor you into her luncheon menu or not.
(5) Stay sober. There may be alcohol served at the bridal shower, but you should be careful not to overdo it. This is the bridal shower, not the bachelorette party. Unless close friends of yours are hosting the shower and it’s more like a comfortable get-together, you should definitely avoid indulging. There’s nothing worse than the bridesmaid who accidentally says inappropriate things or embarrasses herself at a wedding event. No matter how much fun you’d have if you let yourself go, it’s not worth becoming a punch line.