Maybe it's the first time a friend has asked you to be a bridesmaid, or maybe you're starting to feel like Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses. Either way, even if you're excited to celebrate with your friend and are super-supportive of her emotionally, not everyone is totally clear on all of the actual duties of a bridesmaid.
It's not just about showing up, hanging out by the open bar, and wearing a pretty dress (or a dress of questionable taste that you'll suffer through for your BFF). Yes, there's work involved — but don't worry, being there for your friend does not equal having to empty your savings. Ahead, the basic obligations of a bridesmaid, along with a few things that are definitely not expected of you (and how to say no if they are).
Do: Help with pre-wedding tasks like assembling DIY centerpieces and making welcome bags. While you don't need to spend hours on this every weekend, do offer to make the couple's life easier by pitching in when you can. Don't: You're not required to communicate with vendors on behalf of the couple, sign contracts, or take on consuming tasks like putting together the seating chart.
Do: Go with the bride to her fittings. Don't: You don't need to go to every single dress fitting, if there are multiple ones, or fly in from out of town for one (unless you want to!).
Do: Purchase a dress or other attendant outfit, as well as shoes, jewelry, and accessories for yourself. Help pay for the hair and makeup pros if your friend asks to pitch in. Don't: Spend your entire bank account on these things. If the bride is asking all of the bridesmaids to buy $300 dresses and pay $200 for hair and makeup, and that's not in your budget, feel free to speak up.
Do: Help plan and cohost the bridal shower and bachelorette party, if it's financially feasible for you. Help the maid of honor keep a record of the gifts and RSVPs for these parties. Don't: If you can't afford the travel plans for these pre-wedding events, you can bow out and send a small gift (or card) instead.
Do: Attend the rehearsal (if there is one), rehearsal dinner, and post-wedding brunch (if there is one). Don't: Feel obligated to buy a new outfit for each one. Most of the time, you can get away with keeping it casual.
Do: Help with day-of tasks like ordering food for the bridesmaids while you're all getting ready, helping receive deliveries, and running any other errands. Don't: Try to assist the wedding coordinator, florist, or give directions to the photographer. The pros can handle these tasks themselves.
Do: Greet guests at the reception, directing people to the guestbook, bathroom, photo booth, and anything else they need to know about. If the dance floor looks sparse at first, lead by example and get guests moving. Don't: Spend the entire reception "at work" — make sure you have time to celebrate, too.
Do: Help bustle the bride's gown after the ceremony if needed, and accompany her to the restroom. Don't: You don't need to stage-manage the wedding. Let the wedding coordinator and the couple handle the timeline.
Do: Buy a wedding gift. Yes, you've likely already spent quite a bit on travel, attire, and more, but it's good etiquette to buy a present when you're invited to a wedding (after all, you're a guest, too, not just an attendant). Don't: Feel like you have to spend a fortune on said wedding gift. You can go in on a group gift with the other bridesmaids, or, if you don't think you can afford anything from the registry, take the bride out to dinner or make the couple something if you're crafty. You may also choose to donate a small amount to a cause about which the couple feels passionate.
Do: Speak up if you're unhappy with something, but in a tactful way (and ideally with plenty of time before the wedding day). The Knot advises bridesmaids to, "Be a trooper, no matter how stressful the ordeal becomes... Be gracious and tactful." But if things become really untenable, financially or otherwise, you do need to stand up for yourself. Don't: Make it all about you. If the biggest problem is your bridesmaid-dress color or the timing of the rehearsal dinner, remember that there are bigger things to focus on — like your friend getting married.