What Would You Do If You Were Asked To Sign A Bridesmaids Contract Not To Change Your Appearance Before A Friend’s Wedding?
A few weeks ago, I happened to flip through the TV channels to one of those popular court shows. What stopped me was a bride suing one of her bridesmaids for breach of contract. You see, the bride had everyone in the bridal party sign a contract not to make any drastic changes in their appearances leading up to the wedding. She had a particular image in mind for her wedding party photos and she wanted ensure that was what she got. In return for her bridal party signing the contracts, the bride paid for the bridesmaids’ dresses. But one bridesmaid was sued because she gained weight and could no longer fit into her dress– plus she didn’t have the “look” anymore. Her absence messed up the bride’s planned photos–and the bride claimed her “former” friend was in breach of contract.
This bride isn’t alone however. It seems a lot of brides believe in contracts for their bridal parties. It may sound like a Bridezilla demand, but if the other party agrees, why not? According to event and wedding planner Joyce Scardina Becker of Events of Distinction, “There are five basic criteria required for a contract. The first is ‘The Agreement,’ which must be reached between two parties (in this example it would be between the bride and a bridesmaid) before a contract can be signed. If both parties do not come to an agreement then there is no signing of a legal and binding agreement. No one can ‘make’ someone sign a contract.”
So what should be in a bridal party contract (which you can create yourself)? ” In addition to the ‘The Agreement’ the other four basic criteria required for a contract are: Competent Parties–those who sign the contract must have both the authority and legal capacity (be of ‘sound mind’); consideration which is the price paid in exchange of services. The other two criteria are ‘mutuality’–obligation on the mutual part of both parties–and ‘enforceability.'” Scardina explained.
But Dorian Smith-Garcia, founder of The Anti Bridezilla, a bridal inspiration site that focuses on couture bridal fashion and destination weddings to non-traditional places, thinks there is no occasion for which a bride should ever ask her party to sign contacts. “I think a bridesmaids contract is in terribly poor form and is the height of bridezilla behavior. It’s especially rude to attempt to contractually obligate someone when they’re basically donating their time and money to your big day. Bridesmaids don’t just ‘attend your wedding’; they help pay for and organize your bridal shower and bachelorette party. And in addition to that, many bridesmaids take a very hands-on approach to helping with wedding planning and essentially act as your assistant on your big day. All of the above fall under the category of ‘major commitment’. Don’t create bad blood or ruin friendships by being petty with a contract.”
Smith-Garcia pointed out if a bride can’t trust her bridal party to live up to her requests, them maybe she needs to consider other people. “In my professional opinion, if you’re even considering forcing your bridesmaids to sign a contract, then you should probably reevaluate who you’re asking to be part of your wedding party and if you should even have bridesmaids at all,” she said.
Added Becker, who too feels bridal party contracts are a non-no, “Boiling it all down to the basics, you should select pleasant, reliable bridesmaids you have been close to for many years (and that hopefully will remain close to you throughout your married life). Weigh all these factors and obligations carefully before making your final decisions. Once you extend an invitation to someone to be a part of your party, it’s rather difficult to un-invite them and absolutely no contracts!”
So who won the court case in this situation? The disgruntled bride. The reason: Her friend entered into an agreement with her and failed to live up to it. The verdict: The ex-bridesmaid had to pay the bride for the dress.