So, you’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid. Congratulations! Whether it’s your first time, or you’re a seasoned pro, it’s an honour to be asked to support your friend on her big day.
But before you drift off in a daydream full of gorgeous gowns and fabulous flowers, you should remember that being a bridesmaid isn’t just about getting dressed up!
From the moment the engagement’s announced, right through to the big day itself, there are tasks and events that you, as a bridesmaid, will be expected to perform or participate in.
To help you fulfil those obligations and make the bride’s big day as special as possible, we’ve put together a helpful guide on bridesmaids’ duties and responsibilities.
As every bride and every wedding is unique, you probably won’t be expected to do everything on our list, but it will serve as a useful guide to the things that are commonly expected of a bridesmaid.
While these responsibilities are many and varied, they can be broken down into three main categories: pre-wedding duties, wedding day duties and post-wedding duties.
So, let’s get started.
Attending the Engagement Party
As a bridesmaid, you’ll be required to attend the engagement party. Assuming you’re not the only bridesmaid, this is a great opportunity for you to get to know the other bridesmaids, if you don’t already, and to setup a WhatsApp group for all things wedding related. In fact, you will probably need more than one such group, especially if you’re planning a surprise bridal shower or are buying a joint gift.
Planning and Organising
The bride may ask you to:
- Help with sending save-the-date cards or wedding invitations.
- Be a point of contact for the wedding planner.
- View the reception venue.
- Decorate the reception venue the evening before the wedding.
- Make wedding favours.
- Accompany her to dress fittings.
- Help with cake tastings – an arduous, but necessary task – someone has to do it!
Weddings may be happy occasions, but they are often stressful too, so be prepared to provide a shoulder for the bride to cry on if things get overwhelming, or the person she can vent to when they don’t go according to plan.
Helping to Choose the Dress
Clearly this will be the bride’s choice, but she may well ask you to accompany her when she’s shopping for her wedding gown. If you are invited to go dress shopping, be careful how you offer your opinion; this is not the time for brutal honesty! Instead, phrase your feedback in a positive way: “The strapless dress is pretty, but the one with sweetheart neckline looks fabulous on you.” This is one occasion where you should leave personal preferences at home; you may hate diamante trim, but if your friend loves it, and the dress suits her, tell her you love it too!
Shopping for Bridesmaids’ Dresses
This is often a bone of contention, particularly if there are several bridesmaids of varying shapes and sizes! If the bride is paying for your dress, you will, to a large extent, be expected to go along with her choices. And while it’s fine to point out that you’d feel uncomfortable wearing a strapless dress, be prepared to compromise. You could, for example, agree to the dress but suggest wearing a bolero or wrap. However, if the bride wants you to wear a certain colour there’s less wiggle room; it’s her big day and your role is to be as supportive as possible, so even though you may hate peach satin, go with it to make her happy. Don’t forget that you’ll also need to make yourself available for fitting appointments.
Organising the Bridal Shower and/or Hen Party
While these events are usually coordinated by the maid of honour, bridesmaids are expected to help with the planning and organisation. It’s also usual for the maid of honour and the bridesmaids to pay for the hen do, and that includes paying for the bride too.
This will give you an opportunity to familiarise yourself with the formation the bridesmaids will follow the bride down the aisle in, and where you’ll sit during the ceremony. Above all, being at the rehearsal will help to alleviate any stress the bride may be feeling about everyone knowing what’s expected of them on her big day.
Speech or Reading
You might be asked to do a reading or make a speech. If you are, ensure you practise this before the wedding day.
The Wedding Day Timeline
In the run up to the wedding, you should familiarise yourself with the order in which things are happening throughout the day.
Preparing an Emergency Kit
During the week before the wedding, prepare an emergency kit for the big day. This should include things such as painkillers, tissues, a spare lippy for the bride, tights, deodorant, hairgrips etc.
The Big Day
As a bridesmaid, you’ll be getting ready with the bride. Your responsibilities include:
- Arriving in plenty of time
- Remembering to bring your pre-prepared emergency kit.
- Decorating the room.
- Ensuring the bride eats breakfast.
- Ensuring the bride stays hydrated.
- Organising some light snacks and drinks.
- Helping the bride with her hair and make up if she hasn’t booked a hairdresser/ make-up artist.
- Looking after younger bridesmaids.
- Helping to sort out any last-minute hitches.
On the big day, you’re responsible for:
- Arranging the bride’s dress and veil before she walks down the aisle.
- Following the bride down the aisle and supporting the wedding dress train.
- Holding the bride’s bouquet during the ceremony (if there’s no maid of honour).
- Looking after and supervising younger bridesmaids and pageboys.
The Wedding Reception
Once the ceremony itself is over, there are numerous tasks that may be expected of you:
- Being part of the receiving line
- Taking care of the bride’s bouquet.
- Making a speech.
- Mingling with guests.
- Helping guests find their seats at the reception dinner.
- Encouraging guests to sign the guest book.
- Helping to round guests up for photographs.
- Assisting the bride with her dress during toilet trips.
Once the happy couple have left the reception, a bridesmaid’s duties are:
- Packing away the bride’s dress and storing it.
- Taking charge of the bouquet if it’s being kept.
- Arranging for the safe return of any hired outfits.
- Ensuring gifts are packed up and stored securely until the couple return from honeymoon.
- Ensuring any decorations are packed away.
- Taking charge of the guest book.
- Assisting the newlyweds to write thank you notes.
That’s a wrap
Although there’s a lot to take on board, being a bridesmaid is an exciting and fun responsibility. And, while not everything on the list will apply to your situation, it will give you a good idea of what’s expected of you. Just follow our guide and we’re sure you’ll make the bride’s special day everything she dreamed it would be!
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