Wedding Etiquette Forum

Bridesmaid vs. Reader

I have a very close friend who I would love to have as a bridesmaid, but I'm sensitive to her personal responsibilities (she is a physician completing a fellowship, a new bride, and will be moving soon after my wedding).  Is it appropriate to give her a choice between being a bridesmaid and doing a reading or should I ask her to be a bridesmaid and let her know she could do a reading instead if she is too busy?  I want her to know I wish for her to stand by me on the day of my wedding, but I don't want her to feel obligated to take on the responsibilities and time commitment of being a bridesmaid.  Is there an etiquette here I should know about?  Thank you!
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Re: Bridesmaid vs. Reader

  • Besides the point about being a bridesmaid should not be a time commitment, I think in general giving a choice is weird.  If a friend asked me to choose between one role or another, I'd be on the defensive-- like, what makes her think I wouldn't want to be a bridesmaid? Is she taking pity on me?

    If she's close enough to you that you want her to be a bridesmaid, just ask her to be one. If she accepts, if anything, I'd be super conscious of her budget when it comes to attire purchases.  Residency and moving ain't cheap. 
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    SP29
  • As long as she can buy the dress and show up the day of the wedding, I don't see what the problem would be. 
    thelastdreamer[Deleted User]peachy13fwtx5815
  • Also, you generally ask the bridesmaids about 9 months out from the wedding, so there is time to get the dresses. A reader you ask usually a couple weeks before the wedding, since there's really nothing to do to prepare.

    But really, buying a dress takes virtually no time, and getting it altered takes maybe an appointment or two. If you want this person as a bridesmaid, ask her. Explain that all she has to do is show up the day of in the dress. Let her decline if she feels like she needs to, but unless you're being a bridezilla you should be clear that there are no other responsibilities involved.
    [Deleted User]
  • Agree with PP, if you ask her to be a bridesmaid she is not obligated to do anything but buy the dress and show up on time. 
    Daisypath Anniversary tickers

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  • I get where you are coming. Technically a BM only responsibility is to get their dress and show up on the wedding day. But many BM like to do more for their bride like throw them a bachlorette party & a bridal shower even though it's not required. And you don't want her to feel pressured to have to do those with all that she has going on in her own life. I don't know if there is any way to go about it delicately that "hey I want you was a BM but if you're too busy, can you at least do a reading?" If you are concerned that she would try to do more then she needs to and you don't want to overhelm her, just ask her to be a reader & skip the BM. This way if something happens, like with her move & job & she can't make it, a reader is someone you can easily replace or skip. Also being just a reader may make it easier with work schedule as then she wouldn't have an all day commitment on the day of your wedding.
  • Erikan73 said:
    I get where you are coming. Technically a BM only responsibility is to get their dress and show up on the wedding day. But many BM like to do more for their bride like throw them a bachlorette party & a bridal shower even though it's not required. And you don't want her to feel pressured to have to do those with all that she has going on in her own life. I don't know if there is any way to go about it delicately that "hey I want you was a BM but if you're too busy, can you at least do a reading?" If you are concerned that she would try to do more then she needs to and you don't want to overhelm her, just ask her to be a reader & skip the BM. This way if something happens, like with her move & job & she can't make it, a reader is someone you can easily replace or skip. Also being just a reader may make it easier with work schedule as then she wouldn't have an all day commitment on the day of your wedding.
    What? No. If you're are concerned that she would try to do more than she needs you you tell her she doesn't have to do anything other than show up the day of in a dress and stand beside you.
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    MandyMost[Deleted User]PrettyGirlLostSheMarie82
  • marie2785marie2785 member
    First Anniversary Name Dropper 5 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2014
    I think everyone has a good point. If you feel she'll put pressure on herself to do other things (showers, parties, etc), either A) let her know right off the bat that there is NO PRESSURE to do that, and you don't in any way shape or form expect it and/or B ) schedule them in such a way that she can attend without spending money or being too tired (e.g. a bar hopping night or a local beach trip for the bachelorette party instead of a trip to vegas, etc). 

    I told one of my unemployed bridesmaids option A, and she got a little offended, so I've moved onto B...
  • I get where OP is coming from. I had no expectations of my 2 bridesmaids to do anything other than buy a dress (they chose the dress) and be with me on my wedding day. But they threw me a kick ass bachelorette and shower. My only input was days that worked for me. I didn't ask or expect them to throw me any parties and told them as such. They said that of course they were doing that.

    I think that when you are asked to be a bridesmaid there is a certain expectation (call it cultural) that you will do those things for your friend getting married. And the 3 times I've been a bridesmaid I've wanted to do those things. Its not every day that a friend gets married.

    My advice is to ask her to be your bridesmaid. She is an adult and should know what she can and cannot do. Make the dress affordable and don't make her buy specific shoes or jewelry (which you shouldn't do anyways). And be clear that you know she is busy and you would love it if she would stand beside you on a very important day in your life. Don't mention anything about any other pre-wedding related events unless asked by her or another bridesmaid.
    SP29whovianstark
  • I get where OP is coming from. I had no expectations of my 2 bridesmaids to do anything other than buy a dress (they chose the dress) and be with me on my wedding day. But they threw me a kick ass bachelorette and shower. My only input was days that worked for me. I didn't ask or expect them to throw me any parties and told them as such. They said that of course they were doing that.

    I think that when you are asked to be a bridesmaid there is a certain expectation (call it cultural) that you will do those things for your friend getting married. And the 3 times I've been a bridesmaid I've wanted to do those things. Its not every day that a friend gets married.

    My advice is to ask her to be your bridesmaid. She is an adult and should know what she can and cannot do. Make the dress affordable and don't make her buy specific shoes or jewelry (which you shouldn't do anyways). And be clear that you know she is busy and you would love it if she would stand beside you on a very important day in your life. Don't mention anything about any other pre-wedding related events unless asked by her or another bridesmaid.

    But the difference is you as a Bridesmaid wanting to do those things for the Bride versus the Bride expecting the Bridesmaid to do those things. I've hosted Bachelorette Parties because I wanted to but it wasn't expected of me at all. Plus, a BM may want to help as much as she can but for various reasons -- geographical, financial, etc. -- may not be able to.

    The bridal industry feeds those expectations to the bridesmaids as much as they do the brides, where the BMs think they actually DO need to do all that additional BS and pay a ton of money and make this huge time commitment when none of that is required. There are multiple books out there written for MOHs and BMs with similar lists of "duties" that Brides are looking at.

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    twitterbirdPrettyGirlLost
  • redoryx said:

    But the difference is you as a Bridesmaid wanting to do those things for the Bride versus the Bride expecting the Bridesmaid to do those things. I've hosted Bachelorette Parties because I wanted to but it wasn't expected of me at all. Plus, a BM may want to help as much as she can but for various reasons -- geographical, financial, etc. -- may not be able to.

    The bridal industry feeds those expectations to the bridesmaids as much as they do the brides, where the BMs think they actually DO need to do all that additional BS and pay a ton of money and make this huge time commitment when none of that is required. There are multiple books out there written for MOHs and BMs with similar lists of "duties" that Brides are looking at.

    Totally agree. I didn't expect it of my bridesmaids and didn't ask for a thing. Didn't even ask they to go shopping for my dress with me. But I know of people who have been very demanding of their bridal party and have big expectations in terms of bachelorette, shower, etc. I don't think that's very fair to your friends. Budgets can be tight and free time in short supply for a lot of people no matter what you think they are.
  • I think you should ask her to be a BM if you want her standing with you on your big day. Leave it up to her to decide if she has time and money. Even though a lot of the posters are saying things like "what responsibilities are you talking about?" I think thats naive. They are assuming that a bridezilla is expecting those things, but they're forgetting that your closest friends and family (your BM) would WANT to celebrate you with a shower and bachelorette. Even though its not REQUIRED, MOST BM throw a bridal shower and bachelorette party. I have NEVER been to or been part of a wedding where the BM did not do those things. And even though its something I was happy to do, it can get expensive (between shower, gift, dress, shoes, jewelry, travel & hotel accommodations, etc.) and also can be very time consuming. Again, I think you should leave it up to your friend to decide if she wants to do it. By deciding for her by only asking her to be a reader, she might be hurt.
    Knottie48804623onefootinthebayouPrettyGirlLost
  • redoryxredoryx member
    First Anniversary First Answer First Comment 5 Love Its
    edited December 2014
    I think you should ask her to be a BM if you want her standing with you on your big day. Leave it up to her to decide if she has time and money. Even though a lot of the posters are saying things like "what responsibilities are you talking about?" I think thats naive. They are assuming that a bridezilla is expecting those things, but they're forgetting that your closest friends and family (your BM) would WANT to celebrate you with a shower and bachelorette. Even though its not REQUIRED, MOST BM throw a bridal shower and bachelorette party. I have NEVER been to or been part of a wedding where the BM did not do those things. And even though its something I was happy to do, it can get expensive (between shower, gift, dress, shoes, jewelry, travel & hotel accommodations, etc.) and also can be very time consuming. Again, I think you should leave it up to your friend to decide if she wants to do it. By deciding for her by only asking her to be a reader, she might be hurt.
    The problem is the expectation. When a bride says "I'm not sure I should ask my friend to be a BM because I'm not sure she's going to be able to commit to the time/money and blah blah blah that are the responsibilities of a bridesmaid" it implies that SHE expects her bridal party to commit a bunch of time and money to do these things for her. 

    I've been a MOH and BM and happily spent that time and money because I WANTED to. When a BM volunteers to spend the time and money above the only true duty of showing up the day of in a dress, that's one thing. But when a bride asks their friends and expects that same level of commitment it's an issue. It doesn't matter if the friend was willing to do it without being asked, the bride's expectations are not okay.

    Being a BM/MOH is not a job. But, to put it in a professional setting, let's say my work place is planning the annual holiday party. Yay! I love holiday parties so I want to help. But for whatever reason I can only do stuff the day of, like set up the buffet or decorate. Only, then, see, going back weeks and the start of the planning process my co-worker who is head of the party planning committee comes to me and says "Since you said you wanted to help, you need to call the caterer and find a venue and set up the White Elephant gift exchange and then I need you to help me pick out the color scheme"

    Suddenly, despite initially wanting to help, I'm not so crazy about it anymore because of the expectations placed by the person planning the event. And when I tell this to the person or explain I can only help the day of, they get mad and threaten to fire me from the party committee. See the difference? 
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    [Deleted User]banana468
  • Thank you.  I was just drawing upon my own experiences of being a bridesmaid several times and I've found the time & expense commitments to be much more than those of being an invited guest, who also has no other job than to show up on the day of the wedding.  In any case, thanks for your thoughts.  
  • Thank you.  I was just drawing upon my own experiences of being a bridesmaid several times and I've found the time & expense commitments to be much more than those of being an invited guest, who also has no other job than to show up on the day of the wedding.  In any case, thanks for your thoughts.  
  • Thank you.  I was just drawing upon my own experiences of being a bridesmaid several times and I've found the time & expense commitments to be much more than those of being an invited guest, who also has no other job than to show up on the day of the wedding.  I don't do crafts & wouldn't expect anyone to do that.  The wedding industry has pushed nothing on me, I'm a first time bride, which is why I asked the question in the first place.  I see I made a mistake, as most of the comments have had some pretty unfriendly & condescending tones.  In any case, thanks for your thoughts.  
  • Interesting.  Every time I was a bridesmaid, I took it much more seriously than that and offered help with planning/organizing events, helping to shop, and just being a right hand girl to the bride to be.  Apparently, I took my responsibility too seriously.  Thanks for your thoughts. 
  • Interesting.  Every time I was a bridesmaid, I took it much more seriously than that and offered help with planning/organizing events, helping to shop, and just being a right hand girl to the bride to be.  Apparently, I took my responsibility too seriously.  Thanks for your thoughts. 
    Some people do that. I would (and have), too. But not everyone is interested in being that level of helpful, and it's not required. 
    What did you think would happen if you walked up to a group of internet strangers and told them to get shoehorned by their lady doc?~StageManager14
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    [Deleted User]lc07southernbelle0915PrettyGirlLost
  • I can see I've made a mistake from soliciting advice from the strangers on this site.  I thought this might be a forum where I could get some thoughtful advice from others going through the same (happy) time as me but, like the hopeless abyss of most internet comment threads, I'm left discouraged by the mildly unfriendly to outright condescending tone of the comments, "Um, what responsibilities? Oh my God, you're a bridezilla, the wedding industry has infiltrated your expectations, blah blah blah".  No one except annakay511 really got my point and I'm honestly surprised at how many of you could be so incredibly perceptive as to assume to know what my expectations of a bridal party are.  My question came from my own experience as a bridesmaid several times over, and I did find myself traveling, attending & planning parties, assisting the bride to be, etc. much more than I would have would I have just been an invited guest.  I guess that I would just suggest to nearly all of you that you just like you think before you speak, please think before you comment.  Ask yourself, "Am I really so free from criticism that I can be rude or make assumptions about someone who asked a simple question when I have so little information about their situation and when, in fact, I don't know them at all?"  In any case, I'm sorry I posted here, it's funny how so few responses offered any sort of advice and so many just talked about yourselves.  Bummed about my first post on The Knot.  Boo.    
  • Missing the point.  I never said what my expectations were.  They are low.  However, there are more duties that come w/being a bridesmaid than an invited guest.  I suppose that is only in my experience though, and clearly that differs from about everyone on here.  Either way, thanks for your thoughts. 
  • Ok, to get back to your original question- should you ask her to be a BM or a reader?

    If you want her to stand by your side, you ask her to be a bridesmaid. She is an adult and can decide if she has the resources (which includes time) to participate to the degree she would like. If she brings up concerns, such as that she'd like to throw you a party, you can then tell her you expect nothing except for her to show up on the day of in a dress. 

    If you give her the option, "You can also be a reader if you think you can't commit to being a BM" you are implying you have expectations from her about parties and the like, because there is really nothing to commit to besides showing up the day of with her dress. 

    It could also make her feel less important if you're giving an out to being a reader- it would make me feel uncomfortable if my friend asked if I wanted to be a bridesmaid OR a reader, kind of like, "are you expecting me to say reader so you can pick someone else as a BM? Do you want me to pick reader to make this easier on you?". 
    PrettyGirlLostbizzy592
  • redoryxredoryx member
    First Anniversary First Answer First Comment 5 Love Its
    edited December 2014
    onefootinthebayou said: I can see I've made a mistake from soliciting advice from the strangers on this site.  I thought this might be a forum where I could get some thoughtful advice from others going through the same (happy) time as me but, like the hopeless abyss of most internet comment threads, I'm left discouraged by the mildly unfriendly to outright condescending tone of the comments, "Um, what responsibilities? Oh my God, you're a bridezilla, the wedding industry has infiltrated your expectations, blah blah blah".  No one except annakay511 really got my point and I'm honestly surprised at how many of you could be so incredibly perceptive as to assume to know what my expectations of a bridal party are.  My question came from my own experience as a bridesmaid several times over, and I did find myself traveling, attending & planning parties, assisting the bride to be, etc. much more than I would have would I have just been an invited guest.  I guess that I would just suggest to nearly all of you that you just like you think before you speak, please think before you comment.  Ask yourself, "Am I really so free from criticism that I can be rude or make assumptions about someone who asked a simple question when I have so little information about their situation and when, in fact, I don't know them at all?"  In any case, I'm sorry I posted here, it's funny how so few responses offered any sort of advice and so many just talked about yourselves.  Bummed about my first post on The Knot.  Boo.     **i swear there are boxes when I type this up**

    I think it's just a misunderstanding of what a BM or MOH is because, yes, it is a step up from being an invited guest. The role of a Bridesmaid or a Maid of Honor is just that -- an honor. You, the bride, are honoring them by asking them to stand beside you. You are telling everyone who attends the wedding that these are your nearest and dearest. You don't treat your nearest and dearest like hired help by expecting them to do a bunch of stuff. 

    If they volunteer on their own, that's perfectly fine. But, as I said above, it's the expectations of the bride when it becomes voluntold that is the problem in these situations.
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    [Deleted User]lc07PrettyGirlLost
  • Please use the quote button.  It's a headache to try and decipher who you're responding to.

    Everyone responded to your question based on the information you provided.  No one was rude to you.


    Missing the point.  I never said what my expectations were.  They are low.  However, there are more duties that come w/being a bridesmaid than an invited guest.  I suppose that is only in my experience though, and clearly that differs from about everyone on here.  Either way, thanks for your thoughts. 
    Yes, and those duties include:

    1) getting a dress
    2) showing up on time, (fairly) sober

    Nothing more.  Certainly some BMs feel the need to do more, or are ABLE to do more, and that's fine.  But those seriously are the only actual "duties".
    Anniversary

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    [Deleted User]ViczaesarPrettyGirlLost
  • Thank you, that was helpful.  I did ask her to be a bridesmaid and I'm glad I did.  In the intro email I sent to all of them, I thanked them for accepting and stated that although I needed them next to me on my wedding day, I understand the reality of being a working woman and did not expect them all to attend the bachelorette, shower, engagement party, etc. if work/time/travel did not permit. In fact, I would never expect that of anyone.  Most of the commenters made incorrect assumptions about my expectations.  Thank you for your answer, it was definitely more along the lines of the kind of discourse I expected from here.  Have a wonderful holiday. 
  • SP29 said:
    Ok, to get back to your original question- should you ask her to be a BM or a reader?

    If you want her to stand by your side, you ask her to be a bridesmaid. She is an adult and can decide if she has the resources (which includes time) to participate to the degree she would like. If she brings up concerns, such as that she'd like to throw you a party, you can then tell her you expect nothing except for her to show up on the day of in a dress. 

    If you give her the option, "You can also be a reader if you think you can't commit to being a BM" you are implying you have expectations from her about parties and the like, because there is really nothing to commit to besides showing up the day of with her dress. 

    It could also make her feel less important if you're giving an out to being a reader- it would make me feel uncomfortable if my friend asked if I wanted to be a bridesmaid OR a reader, kind of like, "are you expecting me to say reader so you can pick someone else as a BM? Do you want me to pick reader to make this easier on you?". 

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