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How Much Control Should a Bride Have Over Her Bridesmaids?

Earlier this week we explored bridal dress traditions from around the world. Now I want to talk about that other wedding dress: the bridesmaid dress!

I had the pleasure of being a bridesmaid twice last year. For one wedding, which was very small, my friend told us to wear our favorite black dress. For the other, the bride chose a specific dress for each of us from a relatively pricey boutique. The bride disliked too much matching, so she chose different dresses for each bridesmaid. Of course, she was still the one choosing, and we were the ones paying. To be fair, she generously pitched in half the cost of the dresses.

The bridesmaid's dress is just the beginning of bridal party micromanaging. I've heard of a bride forbidding her attendants to get spray tans because she didn't want them to look orange in her photos. It's also not rare for a bride to mandate everything from a bridesmaid's earrings, shoes, and hairstyle. And let's forget about looks, what about dates? Should a bride speak up when her bridesmaid's plus-one is someone she cannot stand?

On her big day, does a bride have the right to control anything she wants, from her bridesmaids' tans to their love lives?

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
danakscully64 danakscully64 6 years
"I already told the bride that I planned on losing a small amount of weight before the wedding and she told me that she didn't want me to because she wants to look the best on her wedding day, a huge red flag went up for me and I'm borderline regretting saying yes. " It's not too late to back out.
danakscully64 danakscully64 6 years
Anon 51 - Sorry, I think your sister is in the right. It's not an unreasonable request, wearing your hair up for a formal event is very common. Being uglier part... now that's just childish.
danakscully64 danakscully64 6 years
From now on, you and I are not allowed to talk about weddings Lol I can imagine both of us sitting in front of our computers saying "I can't believe she's talking to me like that!" while we really are being calm and friendly. The computer can really cloud tone/intent. I think being from 2 different coasts gives us different opinions on things :) Your last paragraph, very very well said.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 6 years
I didn't mean for my post to come off rude, either! I didn't mean that we had different friends in a bad way, just that it seems like we're used to different things. It could be a regional thing, as well. Weddings are such a tough subject to talk about; everyone obviously has different priorities and different opinions. I guess in the end the most important thing is that a wedding reflects the tastes of the bridge and groom. If a couple does that, I think everything else falls in to place!
danakscully64 danakscully64 6 years
Oh, I'm not set in a position at all. :) I definitely agree that it's a nice gesture, especially if the bride is set on getting it done professionally and won't allow it otherwise. It sucks that she's obligated to be in a wedding because it's family, especially when she's broke. I'm hoping the bride will be okay with her doing her own hair and makeup. Or maybe the parents will chip in for those costs. I'm sure there's a compromise here. Just so you know, you have definitely changed part of my views on the open bar situation :) And I really do mean this when I say I apologize if my posts have come off as rude or snippy in the past, I really wasn't intending that. And I noticed the spam too, bleh.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 6 years
Ugh. Has anyone else noticed a huge increase in spam lately?
lilkimbo lilkimbo 6 years
I know there is no set ettiquette. The majority of respondents on this thread stated that it is in fact typical for bridesmaids to pay for their own hair: None of the articles/posts I'm coming across say "should" or "obligated to." They all say it would be a nice gesture, but that it's not typically something that's expected or that the bride should do. I'm sure both of us would be able to find equal amounts of support for our position. It's obvious (not from this thread alone, but through several threads) that we have very different groups of friends with very different priorities when it comes to weddings.
runningesq runningesq 6 years
If a bride told me not to get pregnant for a year and a half, and that was what my husband and I were intending to do, I'd bow out. Hell, even if I WASN'T planning on getting pregnant I'd bow out. You cannot tell an adult woman to not cut her hair, change her body shape, etc. My OPINION is that if a bride is going to require that her BMs get their hair/ make up professionally done, she should pay for it.
danakscully64 danakscully64 6 years
I found different information at different websites, so that's why I wasn't 100% sure (it seems to be split). I found this on The Knot: Q. Who pays for bridesmaids' hair and makeup? A. If the bride wants her attendants to have their hair and makeup done professionally, it's a nice gesture for her to offer to pay for these services on the morning of the wedding. The attendants are already paying for their dresses and -- if they don't live in the wedding city -- for travel and accommodations. You should not be expected to pay for professional hair and makeup as well. Tactfully bring up the issue with your bride (say "Should i do my hair myself for the wedding, or are you thinking of bringing someone in? How much does he/she charge?") just to make sure you're all on the same page. From The Wedding Colony: Must I pay for my bridesmaids to have their hair styled? While it is probably obvious that the brunt of the expense falls on the planning parties, being an honor attendant is no small investment either! A bridesmaid often has to buy a dress, shoes and gifts galore for her treasured bride. That doesn’t include any traveling or shower expenses that will likely pop up! If you are insisting that your maids have their hair and makeup done, you should take on the responsibility of paying for it. It doesn't seem like there is a set etiquette here, all of the articles/posts I'm coming across say "should," not "obligated to." I agree with lilkimbo, see if you can do your own hair and makeup if she's asking for it to be done professionally. :) The pregnancy part is the worst. Eek!
lilkimbo lilkimbo 6 years
Anon #40/#41, I tend to disagree with dana. I think you are responsible for your hair, make-up, shoes, etc. If you absolutely can't afford it and think you can do it on your own, ask if she'd be OK with you kind of "copying" another girl's make-up and just doing your own that day. I do think she's being unreasonable with respect to hair cuts, etc. I can see her not wanting her bridesmaids to have blue hair or mohawks for the big day, but even in those instances she has no right to tell you how you can/cannot get your hair cut, etc.
danakscully64 danakscully64 6 years
Hey Anon #40/41 She's being unreasonable. Just because you are her bridesmaid, she has no right to control your life for the next year or so. She is responsible for paying for your hair/makeup if she wants it done professionally. You are responsible for the dress and shoes, that's all (I'm almost positive). She should be treating you like one of the most important people in her life since that's what the Bridal Party is. Talk to your brother, see if you can reason with him. Good luck!
runningesq runningesq 7 years
Tinkle - my thoughts: - low heels are okay, I guess, although if you are going to be barefoot won't your BMs look weird in ANY shoe? - guests don't bring their own confetti/ rice, so if you don't want them throwing that, then don't provide it. People won't bring their own baggie of stuff to throw. we had bubbles and it worked out fine. - you cannot dictate what your guests wear. At all. You're going to have to get over that.
danakscully64 danakscully64 7 years
TinklePrincess - I think most of your requests are fine. Low heals for the BM, no fake tans/crazy makeup, and bubble are fine. Just remember that bubbles can leave marks on your dress, depending on the material. You can't control whether or not your guests wear hats, especially if it's an outdoor wedding in the sun.
LadyLiLa83 LadyLiLa83 7 years
I think that I'd do whatever as long as it's within reason and I could afford it. On the subject of bridezillas, I was invited as a guest to a wedding with a nice little note that asked me and my guest to come after dinner because the venue was too expensive for us to have dinner too. Needless to say we didn't go. The wedding I'm in this year is actually not even hellish because of the's because of one of the other bridesmaids! She's wayyyyy too controlling about the wedding planning.
danakscully64 danakscully64 7 years
Burotukunam - The problem I would have with that is you might have 5 bridesmaids with totally different styles. One might have a long dress, one might have a mini dress, one at the knee, one above, one with full cleavage showing, one with a neck line that covers fully, etc. You don't want 1 girl to stand out above the rest, that can also draw attention away from the bride. I think it's always a good idea to take the BM into consideration when choosing the dress style. I know many who brought their girls along and they all compromised on one, that's what I plan on doing.
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