The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Being a Bridesmaid

A closet full of bridesmaid dresses takes center stage on the set of 27 DRESSES. (Courtesy of PopSugar)

A closet full of bridesmaid dresses takes center stage on the set of 27 DRESSES. (Courtesy of PopSugar)

You just received the news that someone you love is getting married, and they want you to be part of their special day! Being a bridesmaid can be fun, but it also has some disadvantages. Before you say Yes to being a bridesmaid, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.

The Good

Being a bridesmaid allows you the opportunity to be part of your friend/sister/cousin/etc.’s special day. (It could be any of the above, but for simplicity, we’ll stick with “friend” for this article.)

Whether you’ve been friends with the couple since childhood or became friends as adults, it is an honor to be included in the wedding festivities. I can tell you from experience after being a bridesmaid in three weddings, standing up with your friend as she exchanges her vows is an experience that you will remember forever.

Not only do you get to share in the special occasion, but as a bridesmaid, you also have access to all of the behind-the-scenes planning leading up to the big day. From organizing bridal showers and bachelorette parties, to making the bride’s wedding fantasies come true, to calming her wedding day jitters, your role as a bridesmaid allows you to form a unique bond with the bride. No matter where your lives take you in the future, your presence at her wedding will be tied to her special day.

The Bad

Everyone loves going to the pre-wedding showers and parties, until they become a bridesmaid and realize how much work goes into it. Signing up to be a bridesmaid means you also sign up to help plan and pay for the bachelorette party and shower.

Sure, you say that now…

It sounds pretty simple, right? Wrong. 

Be prepared to shell out money for drinks, snacks, decorations, prizes, games and gag gifts for the bride. And in some cases, the cute bachelorette party you envisioned for your friend turns into a girls’ weekend in Las Vegas.  Oh, and did I mention that you should also bring a gift to all of these celebrations?

One of the most expensive aspects of being a bridesmaid is without a doubt the bridesmaid dress. Now, in a perfect world, the bride chooses a budget-friendly dress in your favorite color that you can actually wear again, a miraculous dress that flatters every body type.

But the reality is the dress alone can cost anywhere from $100-200 and upwards (not including alterations, shoes, or other accessories) and as much as you want to believe otherwise, the dress will probably only be worn once and never see the light of day again. Unless, of course, you take a cue from Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses and have a late night fashion show with all of your bridesmaid dresses.

So. Many. Dresses.

Between the parties and the dress, being a bridesmaid can become a financial burden, especially if you find yourself in more than one wedding each year. And don’t even get me started on destination weddings. 

The Ugly

Just because you support the happy couple, doesn’t mean you will get along with everyone in the bridal party or family. Sometimes blending friends and family together can be awkward and downright uncomfortable.  Add the stress of wedding planning, the excitement about the upcoming nuptials, the different bonds between the bride and her bridesmaids, and you have a recipe for potential disaster.

And in extreme cases (none that I’ve experienced), the bride can be become a bridezilla, making ridiculous claims of her bridal party, friends, and family. I’ve heard horror stories from friends about brides that were so nitpicky that they dictated the color of their bridesmaids’ hair, made them (knowingly) wear uncomfortable shoes, and held the bridal party captive until she felt the photographer had the “perfect” shots.

Being a bridesmaid can either be the best or worst experience of your life. Just remember one thing: just because you are asked to be a bridesmaid does not mean you have to say yes. It’s a request, not an order! It’s your choice whether you want to enjoy the good or avoid the bad & ugly. If you decide to opt out, you can still offer to help the bride in her planning process. No matter what your answer, be gracious and thank her for inviting you to be part of her life this way.

Jackie is an Ohio native who recently moved to Portland, Oregon. A former Spanish teacher, Jackie is now pursuing her dream of working in television. When she’s not blogging or writing, she loves to travel with her husband, workout, spend time with their three dogs and soak up as much sunshine as possible. Jackie is happiest when she is being active. To follow her natural hair journey and other adventures, check out her blog

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