The Dos and Don'ts of Bridesmaid Etiquette

Adult bridesmaids seem to be getting a rough deal these days. While the bride’s expectations are sky high, budgets remain insufficient and the poor maids bear the brunt of this shortfall.


I’ve had so many friends ask recently if it’s normal to have to buy your own dress. No it isn’t. If the bride wants a harem of girlfriends to look pretty in her pictures she must pay for the privilege, just like she paid for everything else to set the scene. This includes their shoes too, especially if your maids are having to purchase a certain swatch of footwear they don’t already own.


Keira Knightley as a bridesmaid


Next up, hair and make-up. If the bride wants them to have their hair or make-up professionally done, guess what? She needs to pay for that too. As lovely as it is to have your hair done before a wedding, few find the time, money or salon close to the venue to make it happen. So it’s not as if they’d be doing it anyway. It’s also a safe bet that you’re prescribing a style they wouldn’t go for themselves so again, pay up.

Accommodation – this is a contentious one but if the bride requires her maids with her the night before the wedding and this involves an extra night’s hotel charge, this cost should be covered too. If you’ve chosen a costly hotel as your base, it would be very thoughtful to cover or contribute to the cost of the wedding night’s accommodation as well. Just remember, they’d be spending £60 staying in the pub B&B otherwise and they’d probably like a holiday this year.

Sound expensive? That’s weddings for you I’m afraid but friendships may not recover if taken advantage of. After all, they will have paid out for your hen, a gift, celebratory engagement champagne, dress visitations and endless advice already. If you can’t afford the harem then – like the fireworks at midnight and after-dinner champagne – you’ll have to bid them farewell. Have less or children instead.

Note to brides:

  • Be mindful of their body hang-ups when choosing a dress

  • Respect their input

  • Consider differently shaped dresses for the maids. One style does not fit all

  • Pay for their dress and fittings

  • Pay for their shoes if new ones required

  • Pay for their accommodation before the wedding, on the night if possible too

  • Pay for their hair and make-up

Note to maids:

  • Be positive to the bride’s ideas about what you should wear

  • Be accommodating to her vision

  • Contribute your own research and suggestions

  • Make yourself available for shopping trips

  • Throw her the mother of all hens to suit her personality, not yours

  • Learn how to fit and position the dress, veil and train

Read Next: