While we haven’t crossed paths with any Washington brides who’ve drafted one of these contracts or with any bridesmaids who have signed one, the UK’s You & Your Wedding magazine surveyed more than 1,000 women and found that one in five would like her bridesmaids to sign on the dotted line. On its Web site, the magazine offers a contract for brides to download and print.
The idea behind the contract is to give bridesmaids stipulations they have to stick to—or risk being fired from the bridal party. Gaining weight, changing hair color, and bringing an “inappropriate” date to the wedding are among the no-no’s that could warrant a bridesmaid’s pink slip.
If that bridesmaid already bought the dress, threw the shower, went to the bachelorette party, and flew halfway across the country for the wedding—only to be told she’s not going to be standing in the front of the church with the bride—she might reasonably expect some reimbursement. But not if she signed a contract.
We asked Linda Ravdin, divorce and family lawyer at the Bethesda law firm Pasternak & Fidis, if a contract like that is legally binding. After a few moments of surprised laughter, Ravdin admitted she hadn’t yet been asked to draw up a bridesmaid contract.
“Just because it’s wacky doesn’t mean it isn’t true,” Ravdin says. “Would something like that be enforceable? I think that if you strip away the silliness and the neurotic quality to weddings and what people do in relation to weddings and you try analyze it as a legal problem that could come up in another context, I think the answer is maybe it would.”
Ravdin says that if a bride pours enough money, time, and effort into a wedding, she might feel invested enough to demand perfection from the day—and that means no unplanned baby bumps.
“You might find that offensive, I might find that offensive, but people have a right to write contracts. And as offensive as they are to other people, courts do uphold them as long as they are not for something that’s illegal, so I think it would be upheld.”
After all, it’s a free country. One where brides are free to draw up contracts—and bridesmaids are free to say, “Can I be a guest at the wedding instead?”
Would you make your bridesmaids sign a contract? What terms would you make them agree to? Take our poll, and sound off in the comments.This story is party of our Bridal Party blog. To read more posts like this, click here.