How to Avoid Wedding Party Woes: Setting Expectations for Your Wedding Party

So, it finally happened! The ring is on your hand, and you cannot wait to tell your bestie that they are THE person you want by your side when you marry the love of your life. Whether you have extravagant plans for your wedding or have always dreamed of a smaller, simpler wedding, you likely have a clear vision of what you want your day to look like, who you want to be there, and how it's all going to work. 

Maybe you even have a Pinterest board full of fun ideas for every moment of the big day (or even a scrapbook, perhaps?). Wherever your genius plans are, it's time to break them out and get to work. But before you get too far into the planning process, think about your vision and how your wedding party fits into your plans. Figuring out – and communicating – what they will be committing to by being in your wedding is often half the battle. 

Identifying Expectations

A few questions you might want to ask yourself include: 

What are you expecting your wedding party to take care of for you? (Planning certain events, coordinating dress/suit shopping, etc.)

What should they be responsible for paying for? (We'll talk more about traditional etiquette below.)

What are you willing to cover the cost of? (Again, we'll cover this in more detail below.)

Will your vision for your wedding day likely cost your wedding party more than they might expect? (If so, you'll need to make this very clear when asking them to be in your wedding.)

Will your wedding party know what is expected of them – traditionally or otherwise? (If not, you'll definitely want to fill them in so they are 100% clear.) 

Of course, it's your wedding, so you get to make the rules, but traditionally, here's who typically covers what:

Traditional Wedding Party Expenses

Let's look at the traditional etiquette of six expenses the wedding party is "expected" to cover:

Hotel and Travel (unless otherwise noted, such as for a destination wedding).

Wedding Ensemble

The following are typically rented or purchased individually

  • Dresses and suits
  • Shoes
  • Accessories (all but floral accessories)

Wedding Shower

The following are typically split evenly between everyone in the wedding party.

  • Décor
  • Activities
  • Food
  • Drinks

Wedding Shower Gifts

Gifts should never be expected and are at the discretion of the gift giver.

Bachelorette Party

The following are typically split evenly between everyone in the wedding party.

  • Décor
  • Activities/Entertainment
  • Food
  • Drinks
  • Accommodations (if applicable)

Wedding Presents

When it comes to wedding presents, it's important to understand the investment your wedding party is making in your wedding day and all of the related festivities. It shouldn't come as a surprise if your wedding party decides to go in on shower or wedding gifts to save some cash. If you want to make your wedding party love you even more, you could tell them their participation in your wedding is the perfect gift. 

Traditional Bride Expenses

Now, let's look at what costs the bride traditionally covers with regard to the wedding party, specifically:


The bride usually covers the cost of any bouquets, corsages, and other floral accessories.

Wedding Day Transportation 

Traditionally, the bride and their family are responsible for coordinating wedding day transportation to and from the hotel, ceremony, and reception.

Hair and Makeup for the Wedding Party

If you request this be done for your wedding party, you typically will foot the bill. Equally fair, if you do not require this of your wedding party, then the responsibility for the cost of hair and makeup would fall on anyone who wishes to get it done professionally.

Night Before the Wedding Accommodations

If you plan on having a night to hang with your wedding party on the eve of the wedding, be prepared to foot the bill for this one! See it as a token of your appreciation for all they've done for you so far leading up to the wedding and all they are going to do for you on the big day.

Traditional Wedding Party Duties

Now that we've covered the "fun" stuff – no one likes to talk about money – let's take a look at a few other "duties" you might need to call upon your wedding party for:

Show up for the wedding…READY TO DANCE.

Did you know it's actually the job of your wedding party to GET people going out on the dance floor? Sometimes the dancing portion of the evening can get off to a pretty slow start. Tell your wedding party to be ready to get the party started with some sweet dance moves!

Be ready to listen to a little bit of complaining from YOU. 

Hopefully, you don't have too much to complain about on your wedding day, but if you do, your wedding party should be ready with tissues, open ears, and open arms. This is why you chose each of them to be a part of your day! There will absolutely be moments when you will need them to be there to coach you through your nerves, anxiety, frustrations, fear, and whatever else you may be feeling on this very important day.

Attend (and help coordinate) important wedding events. 

Make sure your wedding party understands the importance of these events (i.e.., the wedding shower, bachelor/bachelorette party, wedding rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, etc.), and that their attendance is highly desired. You'll want all your attendants there with you at these events if they can make it, and, hopefully, they’ll be pumped to be there! 

But Remember – Wedding Party Members Are NOT Wedding Planners.

You and your finance should not expect the wedding party to be deeply involved with planning from engagement to the moment you say, “I do.”  If you think you’ll want their assistance with decision-making or DIY'ing anything wedding-related, be sure to be clear about your expectations, and to let them know well ahead of time so they can be prepared.

Untraditional Ways to Show Your Appreciation

If you're looking for ideas to save your wedding party money (or you and your partner) or just want to do something untraditional to say "thank you," there are many ways to mix things up as far as expectations go. 

Swap the open bar for sweet accommodations.

Instead of splurging on an open bar (which can sometimes get a little messy), you could spend that money on an Airbnb for your entire wedding party to stay in on your wedding weekend.

Cut down on flowers or skip them altogether.

Instead of spending money on flowers (which can get pretty expensive), you can use that money to spring for a spa day for your wedding party prior to the wedding as a thank you for their help!

Save some trees (and cash, too!).

Instead of spending money on stationery and envelopes (and stamps!) for invitations, go digital and use the funds you would have spent to pick up the tab for some of the things your wedding party is traditionally responsible for.

Communication is Key! 

Set expectations right out of the gate, and things will happen naturally after that. You can start the conversation by taking everyone out to brunch and discussing expectations over mimosas and delicious food or a fun night out. As long as everyone knows what to expect, you've done your job. If you need help figuring out everything else that comes with planning a wedding, set up a consultation with Angela today!

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