How to Navigate Being a Bride and Bridesmaid at the Same Time

Don't steal the spotlight.
Bride and her bridesmaids with matching bracelets
Photo: Sanja (Lydia) Kulusic / Stocksy
Sarah Title - Bridal Fashion & Shopping Expert.
Sarah Title
Sarah Title - Bridal Fashion & Shopping Expert.
Sarah Title
Bridal Fashion & Shopping Expert
  • Sarah writes a variety of content for The Knot and WeddingWire, including bridal fashion advice and product recommendations.
  • Sarah’s work has also been featured in Brides, Nicki Swift, Betches and Style Me Pretty.
  • Sarah lives in Alexandria, VA with her (new) husband and golden retriever named Brady.
Updated May 01, 2024

If your closest friends are around your age, there's a good chance they may be getting engaged or married around the same time as you. You might even get engaged and married within months of each other. Being engaged is an exciting time in life and having someone by your side who knows exactly what you're going through makes it even more special. You can exchange ideas, commiserate about the tougher parts of planning and pump each other up.

There's also a good chance you'll be a bridesmaid while you plan your own wedding, which can dredge up some situations you've never encountered before. If this scenario sounds familiar, we're here to walk you through the ins and outs of being a bridesmaid and a bride-to-be.

In this article:

Can a Bridesmaid or Maid of Honor Be Engaged?

Simple answer: Of course. In fact, it's more than likely that you'll be in a wedding while planning your own. There's no rule that says bridesmaids and maids of honor can't be planning their own wedding while being a bridesmaid in someone else's. Truth be told, If that was a restriction, you might not have any bridesmaids at all.

Tips for Being a Wedding Party Member and To-Be-Wed

Being a wedding party member and a to-be-wed isn't unheard of. In fact, it's extremely common. Here are a few things to consider if you're playing the part of bride and bridesmaid.

Financial Considerations

The average cost of attending a wedding is around $500, and being a bridesmaid or maid of honor only makes that price go up. There's the bridal shower, bachelorette party, dress, wedding gift and hair and makeup cost that also factors into it. Since you're also a bride with your own wedding to plan, there's even more to think about when it comes to cost. In 2023, the average combined wedding ceremony and reception spend was $35,000, according to the The Knot Real Weddings Study. So dishing out thousands more as a bridesmaid may not be feasible. Be realistic with the other bridesmaids about what you're able to and not able to afford. Chances are, if you're feeling like an event or pre-wedding activity is stretching your wallet, another bridesmaid may feel the same way. Keep lines of communication open when organizing plans to keep drama at bay.

Planning Considerations

Being engaged at the same time means you need to talk openly with your friend about potential date conflicts and guest overlap. "If both ladies are getting married in the same region and share the same social circle, there's always the concern about double booking a date or scheduling things like bachelorette parties too close together," says Paula Ramirez, owner of Historic Mankin Mansion. "This only means that they'll need to take the added step to communicate dates with one another before setting anything in stone." If you see an idea that your friend has for her wedding that you also want to use for yours, talk to her and see if she's okay with you including it in yours. You'll also want to connect on dates of ancillary events like your wedding shower and bachelorette party so they don't conflict with the to-be-wed's plans.

Give Them Their Time to Shine

You're only a bride once, so be sure to step back and let your friend enjoy the limelight when it's their moment. At their wedding shower and bachelorette party, make them feel celebrated and try to keep your own wedding talk at bay. While it's nice to have a planning partner-in-crime, relating everything to your own experience can come off as you trying to steal her thunder. Work together and share planning tips when it's appropriate and not when the moment should be all about the to-be-wed.

What to Do if Your Wedding Party Member Gets Engaged

If you're a to-be-wed and your bridesmaid gets engaged, you should react as you would if you weren't also planning a wedding. Show your excitement for them, get them an engagement gift and let them know that you're there to help answer any questions if they have them. Don't start listing off tons of dos and don'ts about wedding planning, as they may have their own approach to the process and may not view it the same way as you do. Offering help without forcing it on them will make them feel supported rather than stressed or pressured. Every wedding is unique to the couple so resist telling them how it's going to go or what to expect—unless of course they ask.

Do You Have to Include Them in Your Wedding If They Asked You?

This is a complicated question, and there's no straightforward answer. There are a lot of factors into deciding who you want to include in your wedding party. The first thing you should do is ask yourself: Will I be just as close to this person in a few years as I am now? Obviously, you can't predict the future, but depending on the nature of your relationship it might help guide you toward the right answer. Another question to ask yourself is: Are you only including them in your wedding party because they asked you? In our humble opinion, that's not a reason to ask them to be a bridesmaid. Think about it in reverse. If you found out that you were only asked to be a bridesmaid because you were one in their wedding, that wouldn't feel too great would it? Obviously not asking them is a delicate situation that should be handled with care. There are plenty of other ways to include her in the wedding. For example, you could have her do a reading at the ceremony or pass out programs. You can also still include her in the bachelorette party and bridal shower even if she's not a bridesmaid.

Carrie Anton contributed reporting to this story.

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