Guide for First-Time Bridesmaids and Groomsmen: What You’re Really Signing on For

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BY Kate Harveston

As a 20-something-year-old female, I’ve been to my fair share of weddings already. In all honesty, I’m starting to feel a little like Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses. If you’re not too familiar with that movie, let’s just say that the name speaks for itself.

But while my closet may be full of poofy dresses and shiny accessories that are waiting for me the next time I get a wedding invitation in the mail, I was never a bridesmaid — until this past summer.  And let me start by saying that being a bridesmaid — or a groomsman — is an entirely different story from sitting on the sidelines of a wedding. I wish I had read a guide about the expectations before I helped my friend prepare for her big day.

Fortunately for you, you’re already one step ahead of the game if you’re reading this page. Why? Because below, I’ve outlined a list of everything you’ll need to know before you sign up to be a bridesmaid or groomsmen in your best friend’s upcoming wedding.

1. You Need to Be Financially Prepared

Once upon a time, the bride’s family would take on the responsibility for covering all of the costs associated with a wedding — bridesmaid and groomsmen essentials included. But today, the brides and grooms are likely to take on the obligation of this expense on their own. Your job, as a groomsman or bridesmaid, is to alleviate that burden a bit by offering to cover your costs — and maybe some of theirs.

As a bridesmaid, I didn’t realize how quickly the costs could amount. I’m pretty sure that when all was said and done, I spent the equivalent of a small vacation to Hawaii.

Although that may be a bit dramatic, the truth is that being a bridesmaid or groomsman is no laughing financial matter. What should you expect to pay? Here’s a look at a few of the costs I amounted during my first time as a bridesmaid:

  • A new dress, shoes, and all of those flashy accessories that are a wedding must-have
  • Travel expenses — especially airfare and hotel accommodations for the wedding day
  • Bridal shower decorations, gifts, and food

Remember that while your best friend may not be asking you for help financially, it’s always nice to chip in to cover some of their costs while attending to your own typical expenses as a bridesmaid or groomsman, too.

2. Be an Emotional Support System

Signing up to be a groomsman or bridesmaid may just be synonymous with becoming a personal therapist to the bride or groom. Yes — taking on this vital role can be a lot of fun and gives you a sense of honor that you don’t feel from the sidelines of the wedding. But, these jobs also come with a lot of stress — meaning you’re more than likely to spend a night or two acting as a shoulder to cry on, too.

Weddings are an exciting, yet stressful, time after all. But you’re only participating in the wedding, so imagine how your best friend feels. Whenever they seem like they’re just one more canceled venue away from losing their cool, you’ll be there to offer to be there for them through whatever hardship they seem to experience.

For you, it may just mean letting your bro drunkenly cry into your shoulder because of the argument he got into with his fiancé last night. For others, it means helping your best friend release some anger at the gym. Regardless of who’s getting married, be prepared to be their emotional support system.

3. You Will Have to Work

Being a bridesmaid is sort of like having a part-time job that you’re not paid to do, but that feels slightly more rewarding because your boss is your best friend. There’s a reason the word maid is in bridesmaid, after all.  

You may even have to learn how to deal with a bridezilla — or groomzilla — while undergoing your bridesmaid or groomsmen duties.

When I got the invitation to be a bridesmaid, I thought it’d be all fun and games — literally. I figured my job would involve eating a few sample wedding cakes while licking the seal on the envelopes that would go to the future wedding guests. What they don’t tell you is that your job also consists of planning showers, parties, and the actual wedding itself.

Whenever the bride or groom asks you to attend an event or help you out, you’ll feel the natural pull to be a great friend — and bridesmaid or groomsman — by being there when they need you most.

While being a bridesmaid or groomsman may seem like a lot of work, remember that it’s a great experience that can amount to a night full of fun and memories, too. So do your duties, and be there for your friend on this life-changing day. Once the wedding does arrive, you’ll be happy that you were there to experience the journey up-close and personal with the bride or groom right by your side.

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