It’s that time of the year. The weather is cooling and wedding season is upon us. Although I’m still a senior in college, I’ve finally graduated to the age where my friends are beginning to get married. In fact, the first two friends to pop the question were the two I set up on a random camping trip date in high school! Not only was I stoked to go to their wedding, but the bride asked me to be a part of her bridal party, and now I’m stoked to be IN her wedding. But after the proposal and the bride popping the “bridesmaid” question to me, the question is: what comes next?
After the initial proposal and gathering of the bridal party, there are a few stops on the itinerary before the final destination of the day of the wedding. First and foremost, bridal dress shopping. It is customary for the bride to bring her mom, sister, close relatives, and bridal party to shop for wedding dresses with her. After all, she’ll need opinions from the people whose opinions matter most to her. This is where you, as a bridesmaid, can live out your “Say Yes to the Dress” dream and pretend you are making your reality T.V. debut. The only gift a bridesmaid should bring to bridal dress shopping is herself in semi-formal attire and her honest opinions about dresses. There might even be time for the bride to pick out her bridesmaid’s dresses on this day as well.
Next on the list is the formal engagement party. This is a party that the bride’s family hosts in honor of the newly engaged couple. This party has the same guest list concept as the bridal dress shopping, although this list is a little longer, consisting of the bride and groom, their families, friends, and maybe a few work friends. As a bridesmaid who is close to the bride’s family, it can be helpful to prepare and assist with decorations for the party. As far as gifts go, a card, some flowers, fancy alcohol or a small personal gift will suffice.
After these events, it’s the bridesmaids’ time to shine! They must meticulously plan the bachelorette party, where the bride will be whisked away on a trip to spend time with her favorite girlfriends, preferably somewhere beachy and tropical or a city like Nashville. The bridesmaids will pitch in to give their bride the best (free) trip she could ask for. Some other ideas are the Hamptons for a quiet getaway or New Orleans during Mardi Gras.
Following the bachelorette party comes the rehearsal dinner, where the bridesmaids must step up their game and prepare for leading the bride down the aisle the following day. Don’t forget the wedding gift, a donation to the newlywed’s honeymoon fund, or a gift off their registry list. As a bridesmaid and close friend, it is crucial to include a personal touch that will connect with the couple on a deeper level. This should give you some insight into proper etiquette for being part of your first bridal party.