By: Rachel Brown
Wedding season is upon us, and for many of us, that means we have several back-to-back weekends that will be spent celebrating brides-to-be at their bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and the actual weddings themselves. Whether we’re a member of the bridal party or not, we all have supportive roles to play as our dear family members and friends enjoy this exciting season of their lives. Below you’ll find some tips for preparing for the upcoming wedding season, and we’d love to hear if you have any advice or ideas to share!
Bridal Shower Etiquette
If you’re a bridesmaid and no one has stepped up to plan a bridal shower yet, consider asking the other women in the bridal party to host the event with you. By sharing in this responsibility, you’ll cut down on costs as well as the length of your to-do list. Make sure to consult the bride on her vision for the shower—some ladies may want the whole thing to be a surprise while others will have a specific vision for the event, giving you some helpful direction while you’re planning the party. Even though the shower itself is truly a gift, hosts should still plan to give the bride a little treat on the day of the event. It needn’t be large—it can be something small from the bride’s registry or it can be something sentimental or handmade—but there should be some special gift for the bride to open on her sweet day.
As a guest, the best thing you can do is reply to a bridal shower as soon as you receive the invitation. It’s no fun for hosts to track you down to get your response. In regards to a gift, the registry really is the best place for purchasing a little treat. Typically registering is a fun process for a bride and groom as they plan their future together, and by sticking to the gift list, you’re giving the couple an item that they really want or need.
Bachelorette Party Etiquette
For bridesmaids and friends alike, the bachelorette party should be a time of fun, not stress. Traditionally the Maid or Matron of Honor plans this event, but if you’re not in this role feel free to offer to help in small way (by making a reservation at a fun restaurant or gathering up party favors, for example)—regardless of whether she takes you up on it, the MOH will certainly appreciate the gesture.
Bachelorette parties are increasingly becoming an opportunity for a fun weekend trip at a special destination, but costs can add up quickly. Do not be afraid to say no to a trip if it’s not in your budget, or to just participate in one day’s events instead of a whole weekend-long shebang. Don’t offer up lengthy excuses regarding why you can’t come or participate the whole time—even though our intentions are good, sometimes these detailed explanations can come across as hurtful to the bride. Do clarify why you can’t come if you’re in the wedding party, however—as a special member of the bride’s posse, it will help her feel cherished and loved if you are open and honest regarding why you can’t participate.
The bachelorette party can sometimes be a sensitive subject, as brides-to-be tend to invite smaller groups of friends to this event than to her shower. Some brides only include their wedding parties. If you are not invited for some reason, don’t take it personally. Remember that this season is a special one for your friend and she has her reasons for limiting the size of a group or choosing to curate a guest list in a specific way. If it bothers you enough to say something, wait until after the wedding, as the months leading up to the big day can be filled with stress for the bride. Be gracious and gentle in your understanding that you may not be able to see the whole picture right now.
As with the bridal shower, replying to the invitation on time is so important. Brides are fervently planning every last detail of their special day and it’s crucial that they have an accurate head count when reporting information to venues and caterers. So help them out by sending in your RSVP in a timely fashion.
Regarding gifts, you may feel like your wallet has been emptied out if you’ve already participated in the bridal shower and bachelorette party (and purchased presents for both events!). Traditional etiquette may dictate that a gift is required at a wedding but most brides these days are most grateful for your presence, not your presents, on their wedding day. Especially if you’re in the wedding party and you’ve purchased bridesmaid’s attire, you have probably already shelled out plenty of cash in honor of your friend. But writing a thoughtful card is a really nice touch, regardless of whether or not you decide to give a gift, and offering last-minute help (picking a grandparent up from the airport, overseeing the signing of the guest book, ordering lunch for the bridal party) can be a huge blessing for a bride on her big day as well.
Photo Cred: Sweet Ice Cream Photography
Rachel is the Director of Project Development for Touch A Life, an organization committed to the rescue and rehabilitation of children who have been exploited and trafficked in West Africa and Southeast Asia. Though she loves working in the non-profit world, Rachel has always been passionate about writing, pursuing opportunities to put pen to paper outside of her day job. Aside from writing for Darling Magazine, she maintains a personal blog, Coffee & Tacos, where she connects with others through food, travel, faith & community. Rachel lives in Dallas, TX, with her husband and their adorably large English mastiffs.