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Miss Manners: Married woman wonders if she was too nice a bride

Dear Miss Manners: What are the responsibilities of a bridesmaid?

My wedding was several years ago, but one of my bridesmaids recently contacted me because someone told her that a bridesmaid is supposed to pay for her own dress. At the time of my wedding, I thought it felt odd to ask someone to pay for a dress of my choosing, so I didn't say anything and paid for all the dresses myself. Though at the time, I certainly would have appreciated the financial help.

Since so much time has passed, I simply thanked my bridesmaid and told her not to worry about the cost of the dress. But it got me thinking about all the other "duties" people claim bridesmaids are responsible for: showers, bachelorette parties, helping the bride with planning, decorations and getting dressed on the big day.

It seems that some of this must be part of the trend of weddings getting out of hand in general. And yet, my own bridesmaids did little more than walk down the aisle and stand there, and I confess I did feel a little neglected at the time. What can a bride reasonably ask of her attendants?

To show up at the wedding clothed and sober. At least enough to give the toast.

However, Miss Manners will add to the bride’s responsibilities: not to find ways to harbor newfound resentment years after the fact. While you were not required to pay for the dresses, it was generous. The honor of paying for a dress that will be worn only once is not, in fact, a treat and should be acknowledged, even if not monetarily. Allowing the bridesmaids some choice in the matter would be magnanimous and appreciated.

The long list of things that have become commonplace for the wedding party to pay for includes, but is not limited to: multiple bridal (and sometimes baby) showers with accompanying presents, bachelor and bachelorette parties in far-off tropical places, elaborate and expensive clothing for all such occasions, flights, hotels and who knows what else. (Although the pandemic has led to charmingly modest weddings, inflated registries seem to have sprung up as compensation.)

Miss Manners has noticed that because of the exorbitant cost, it has also become commonplace to decline the offer, causing rifts in friendships. You might hold on to the warm feelings that seem to have preserved yours by not indulging in feelings of latent neglect and entitlement now.

Dear Miss Manners: I have a friend who endeavors to commemorate my birthday each year, but who generally forgets it. This year, when she realized that it had passed, she harshly scolded me, saying that I should have reminded her — thus putting the blame squarely on me for her forgetfulness.

I feel as though alerting someone to one's birthday is self-serving and undignified, making it seem as if attention and presents are being sought. I have no such desires. Nonetheless, I risk the ire of my friend if I do not warn her that it is coming. What should I do?

Give her a calendar for her birthday.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

2021, by Judith Martin