Etiquette Snob here… lol
Lol, I am sooo glad you asked
There is some definite confusion on this front because things have always been done differently in this regard be it in North America or abroad.
Modern Etiquettte & Traditional Etiquette on this subject varies greatly.
I am a fan of Traditional Etiquette because in my opinion it is far more considerate to the Bridal Party, the wonderful folks who are there to “stand up” for you
My Best Advice on this matter is that Brides (and Grooms) should have a Sit-Down Heart-to-Heart with the members of their Bridal Party.
For Brides & Bridesmaids… North American “Traditional Etiquette” would divide up the Responsibilities & Expenses as follows:
THE BRIDE – RESPONSIBILITIES & EXPENSES (to the BP)
* Bridesmaids’ Luncheon
* Thank-You Gifts for the Attendants **
* Accommodations for the Bridal Party (often 2 Nights if there is a Rehearsal Dinner / Party)
* Transportation of the Bridal Party from Accommodations to Ceremony Site – Ceremony to Reception – and Reception to Accommodations
* Bridesmaids’ Flowers
* Extending to any member of the Bridal Party over the age of 18 the courtesy of bringing a Guest to the Wedding (and that Guest can be anyone of their choosing… Hubby, Fiancé, Long Term BF, random Date… or even their Mother IF that is who they wish to spend the Weekend with… it is THEIR CHOICE… and not yours to judge. This is one of the perks of being in the BP and giving of their time to your Wedding)
* Making sure that the Bridesmaids and their “dates” (see above) are included at the Rehearsal Dinner … or whatever form of Meet & Greet is planned before the Wedding.
This is especially important if you have decided to go with a Head Table… in so much as the “dates” then all can get to know one another, as more than likely they’ll be seated together at the Wedding itself.
THE BRIDAL PARTY – RESPONSIBILITIES & EXPENSES
* Purchase of Wedding Day Apparel and necessary accessories ***
* Transportation to the Wedding Destination
* Contribution to a Gift for the Bride (often a pooled gift with other Bridesmaids)
* Individual Gift to the Couple
* Attendance (and possible gift) for any Showers, or Pre-Wedding Parties for the Bride / Couple
* Reponsible for their Dress Fittings
* Assist the MOH whenever one can
* Attend as many Pre-Wedding Events as possible
* Possibly Co-Host a Party or Shower (not mandatory… hopefully at least attend)
* Assist Bride with errands when feasible
* Contribute to Bridemaids’ Present to the Bride
* Arrive to Appointments Promptly
* Arrive to Dressing Site on Wedding Day Promptly
* Participate in Professional Photo Shots
* Dance with Ushers & Single Guests (optional / courteous)
* Help gather people together where necessary (ie First Dance, Cake Cutting, Bouquet Toss etc)
* Help out with Elderly Guests if needed
* Pay for their Bridesmaid Dress and Transportation to the Wedding City
MAID OF HONOUR – RESPONSIBILITIES & EXPENSES
* Helps the Bride with selection of Maids’ Attire (if required)
* Helps with Addressing Wedding Stationery Items (Invites, Placecards etc)… if asked
* Attends as many Pre-Wedding events as possible
* Organizes Bridesmaids’ Gift to the Bride
* Makes sure that others in the Bridal Party are on-time for Appointments
* Holds the Groom’s Wedding Ring on the Wedding Day
* Helps the Bride get ready on the Wedding Day
* Arranges the Bride’s Veil & Train before Processional & Recessional
* Makes sure the Bride looks “Picture Perfect” throughout the day
* Holds the Bride’s Bouquet during Ceremony
* Is a Witness to the Marriage (signs documentation)…if required
* Is in the Receiving Line (if there is one… long version / not in the short version)
* Keeps the Bride on schedule
* Helps the Bride into her Going Away Clothes (if necessary)
* Takes care of the Bride’s Gown and Accessories after the Wedding Reception
* Pays for her own Dress and “some” accessories ***
* Arranges for and pays for her own transportation to the Wedding Destination
— — —
Two of the greatest areas of misunderstandings is what is paid for by whom.
*** In North America, a Bridesmaid is only obligated to pay for the Dress that the Bride has chosen. She is to provide her own foundation garments, shoes and accessories.
BUT if a Bride wishes for everyone to be matchy-matchy beyond the Dress, then the Bride is supposed to pay for those elements… so matching shoes, accessories, jewellery, hair & make up etc.
** The Bride’s Thank You Gifts to the Bridesmaids should not be something that she has chosen for them as part of the Wedding itself… so Hair, Makeup, Jewellery, or other matchy-matchy items… ARE NOT THANK YOUS.
A Thank You Gift should be chosen for each individual member of the Bridal Party… as part of the friendship bond you share. It should never be matchy-matchy… it should be chosen with much more care. That isn’t to say that it cannot be earrings tho if that is something that EVERY Gal in your BP would like… just that they shouldn’t all be the same. They should be chosen to ONLY “match” the personality of the girl, and nothing else.
Hope this helps,
PS… Worthwhile Reviewing this List BEFORE someone chooses a Bridal Party (and also going over it with potential Maids BEFORE they accept the role)… because there are some serious obligations / responsibilities on here that can add up to BIG BUCKS for BOTH Parties… BUT particularly the Bride (ie. Transportation, Hotel Rooms, Maid & Guest, and Thank You Gifts) … and the bigger the BP… the more it costs.
PPS… This is also WHY Bridal Parties are not a necessity (cost). In days gone by couples got by with what they could afford… and there were fewer “hard” feelings cause everyone understood that it was a HUGE commitment on BOTH sides of the equation.