Attending weddings and seeing bridesmaids ditching their heels for flats, grabbing their gowns with one hand, and serving food with the other hand is not an uncommon sight. In some weddings, the bridesmaids, aside from ensuring that the day is memorable for the bride, are also expected to ‘help’ serve food, and ensure that guests are well catered to.
The idea behind bridesmaids serving food at weddings is one that has, on many occasions, caused rifts between brides and their maids. From the bride’s perspective, there’s a belief that the bridesmaids are “supporting” their friend – the bride or the couple – when they “help out” in serving food and ensuring that all guests are settled, most times before they – the bridesmaids – settle down to eat. From the bridesmaid’s perspective, the couple should have, under normal circumstances, paid for the services of professional caterers and waiters. After all, bridesmaid duties do not include carrying plates of food up and down and serving guests.
As a bride, having bridesmaids who can make your day amazing for you is a blessing. I am not referring to ‘rented’ bridesmaids
who are slender, model-ish and good for the camera, I am talking about actual friends who you love and they love you in return. Having them around to share your big day and fill it with so much ‘ginger’, love and laughter is a blessing. Expecting them to become servers at your party is not only disrespectful, it is you taking their love for you for granted.
If we are taking it from the angle of your friends being supportive, it is different. Supportive is them noticing that some things are not in place and deciding to help out however they can. If they notice that food is not being served properly and they choose to help, that’s awesome. The crux is that you have to give them that choice, respect their decision to serve or not to serve, and not be expectant that your bridesmaids will double as waiters.
Bridesmaids do a lot for brides before and during weddings. From being a part of the wedding preparation, to the expenses they incur, the running around they do, the bridal shower, and the many other ways they ensure their friend has a swell day, the least you can do as a bride is to ensure that they are well catered to during your wedding too. Yes, they are your friends, but they are also wedding guests. If you will treat all wedding guests with utmost respect – including mogbomoya – by ensuring they are comfortable and they enjoy your wedding, why treat your friends any less?
I have been a bridesmaid many times and on a few occasions, I have been harassed by my friend’s relative to serve food. The first time it happened, the servers refused to serve the bridesmaids because “you people are women, get up and take your food yourselves.” So we sat and watched as only the groomsmen were served.
The second time it happened, I was the chief bridesmaid and I had gone to get my food towards the end of the wedding when my friend’s sister looked at me and said she was totally disappointed in me. She had expected me and the other bridesmaids to take charge of serving the food but we just sat there looking all pretty. It didn’t matter that we – the bridesmaids – were the ones who went to the market to get stuff for the wedding. It didn’t matter that we had supported financially. It didn’t matter that we were there to ensure our friend had a memorable day. It didn’t matter that prior to the wedding, no one told us they’d need our help in the ‘serving department.’ But there she was, yelling angrily.
The third time this happened, it was my friend’s sister who also yelled. The bridesmaids and the groomsmen were all seated together when she came with drinks for one of the groomsmen. One of the bridesmaids then asked if she could get a drink and all hell was let loose. She screamed, “you people are just sitting there and you cannot even help.”
These “yellers” later apologised for their outbursts and claimed they were stressed – there were many guests yet to be served, they were getting exhausted, and they’d have appreciated it if we’d helped. There’s nothing wrong in asking for help, and there’s nothing wrong in the bridesmaids helping, but it is an entirely different scenario if you are entitled to the bridesmaids serving services, and start yelling at them for not performing what shouldn’t be their duty in the first place.
I cannot also fail to notice that this yelling does not extend to the groomsmen. Unlike the bridesmaid, the groomsmen are not expected to run around in their suits and ties carrying trays of food in their palms, nor are they expected to stand by the bar and ensure all guests get drinks. In weddings where the bridesmaids are the ones serving the food, the groomsmen sit pretty with their tables filled with orisirisi delicacies, and no one harasses them for not “helping out.”
As a bridesmaid, I want to enjoy the wedding ceremony too. I want to be treated like the guest that I am, and if I am going to serve at my friend’s wedding, it should be because I choose to do so.
As a bride, if you need your bridesmaid to help with serving guests, please let them know prior to the wedding and be okay if they choose not to do so. It is plain rude to expect them to become waiters just because they are bridesmaids, or have your family members yell at them for not serving food.
As a couple, biko, pay for the services of caterers and waiters so the rest of us can sit back and enjoy the ceremony,