Everything You Can (Reasonably) Expect From Your Bridesmaids

And what they should expect from you.

Not sure exactly how to divvy up bridesmaid duties and handle what's expected? Here's a little breakdown of what you can realistically expect from your bridesmaids, and what they can expect from you.

What You Can Expect From Your Bridesmaids

Being a bridesmaid can be overwhelming, but it's your job as the bride to keep the control, set expectations early and be as empathetic as possible. You should expect your bridesmaids to...

Be your trusted confidantes and sounding boards.

Throughout the process, bridesmaids will continue to be trusted friends and good listeners. Your bridal party is there for you to bounce ideas off of and vent if you need to. But remember, they're not your paid therapists—don't forget to lay off the wedding talk and ask them how they're doing every once in a while. Most importantly, they're there keep you sane and laughing which, for any stressed-out to-be-wed, can be as effective as venting.

Pitch in on wedding-related tasks.

Whether it's picking up your veil while you're stuck at work, dropping off welcome bags or corralling the flower girls, you should be able to trust your bridesmaids to be your extra pairs of hands. They can also help you choose bridesmaid attire and accessories and co-host any prewedding parties. (Read here for a list of typical bridesmaid duties in detail.) Be careful not to let your demands turn into, well, demands—your bridesmaids aren't your personal assistants.

Cover certain expenses (within reason).

Bridesmaids traditionally have to pay for their own ensembles, including the dress, shoes and accessories. They'll pony up for the bridal shower and bachelorette party, travel to your wedding location, and cover their own wedding accommodations and wedding gifts too.

Keep you calm, fed and hydrated on your wedding day.

When the day comes, your bridesmaids should be on call to help with last-minute tasks, answer questions from guests and act as sort of secondary hostesses. It'll also be their job to make sure you breathe, eat, drink, sit and all of that other stuff you might actually forget to do on such a whirlwind day. They'll also help you get in and out of your wedding attire—a huge help when you're dealing with hundreds of buttons and multiple layers of fabric.

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What Your Bridesmaids Can Expect From You

Even with a crew of awesome friends surrounding you, the bride's prerogative isn't all take-take-take. You still want your bridal party to love you after your wedding, right? The key to keeping your bridesmaids happy throughout the process is to be compassionate. They're not ladies-in-waiting, so before you turn into an overbearing ringleader, remember they have feelings, lives, budgets and personal priorities of their own. Keep your tasks for them reasonable and manageable, and be wary of boundaries. A lighthearted coffee date to discuss upcoming events and expectations is perfect—a midnight envelope-licking session is just kind of cruel. Your bridesmaids expect you to...

Be considerate of their finances.

However you slice it, being in a wedding is expensive. Your bridesmaids aren't made of money—and even if they are, you can't reasonably expect them to prioritize your wedding over important personal finances. You'll likely have bridal party members in different life stages, and you should be wary of everyone's financial situation. If it helps, base things on the lowest common denominator so none of your ladies have to struggle to keep up with costs and attendance. Anything you can do to help them save money here and there will be greatly appreciated. Finally, be understanding if someone needs to back out of an event—you'll miss them, but it happens all the time and isn't a big deal.

Communicate clearly and early.

Some brides send out a newsletter detailing all of the to-dos and other essential information. While you might not be that organized, find a way to let everyone know what your thinking in terms of events, attire, budget and more. We love the idea of a get-together right after you ask everyone to be in your crew, whether it's brunch or pizza and beer on somebody's couch.

Be grateful (and give them a thoughtful gift).

Put a lot of effort into a nice present for each of your bridesmaids. Nice doesn't have to mean expensive—your bridesmaid gifts should be personal and meaningful to show how much you appreciate her work and friendship.

Have fun.

They know how important this time of your life is and will hopefully bend over backward to make sure you're beaming from ear to ear. And don't forget, you set the tone for your wedding—if you're relaxed and happy, they'll follow suit.

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