In the South, good manners are passed down like a treasured family recipe for pecan pie. However, unlike the formula for a favorite after-dinner treat, guidelines to being well-mannered are changing with the times. With the approaching wedding season—that brings an abundance of gatherings—many of our etiquette conundrums surface, and we are left feeling confused about social protocol. Every other week throughout wedding season, Erika Preval of Charm Etiquette school in Atlanta, will answer a question that helps us navigate the grey area of modern etiquette.
It’s easy to ensure that escort cards and other details of the wedding are just so, but scenarios that sometimes arise within the wedding party can be tricky. Here are a few such conundrums concerning bridesmaids:
Q: I’m excited that my friend is getting married, but not sure I can afford to “say yes” to her invitation to be a bridesmaid. What would my financial responsibilities be?
A: As a bridesmaid, you will be expected to furnish your attire: the dress and any adornments the bride chooses, alterations, and shoes. You’ll also cover transportation to the city of the wedding, although the hosts will likely provide hotel rooms or other accommodations for all bridesmaids.
You might be asked to cohost the wedding shower and bachelorette party, and will be purchasing a wedding gift. The bride will discuss costs and expectations specific to her events, and might discreetly offer assistance if there’s financial strain.
Q: A few of my bridesmaids have tattoos that won’t fit in well with our conservative wedding ceremony and photographs. Can I ask for them to be covered?
A: You can ask that the tattoos be covered during your event. Approach the topic with sensitivity; you’re asking them to alter something that is a part of their body, and your request could be denied.
Consider hiring a makeup artist, for the entire bridal party, who can also airbrush the tattoos. As this is your request, you should pick up the tab. This, and perhaps an option to wash off the makeup once the ceremony and formal shots are taken, might be the perfect compromise.
Q: One of my bridesmaids doesn’t seem excited about the wedding. Is it ok to ask her to not participate?
A: That is a question that only you can answer. Revoking her participation without an extreme reason will likely end your friendship. You wanted this person in your entourage for a reason. Remember that reason, take a break from discussing the wedding, and shift the focus of conversation towards your friend. Perhaps something in her personal life is the source of her distraction.