So, you've been asked to be a maid of honour or bridesmaid for a dear friend or relative and you're thrilled what a privilege to be asked to play such an integral role on their Big Day! But now what? What is expected of you? How can you help to make the whole wedding planning process and day wonderful?
Being asked to be a bridesmaid is not only a commendation of how much the bride-to-be values your friendship or relationship, it also signals that she believes you will be a great support to her when it comes to wedding preparations and the big day itself, helping her through the stressful times and sharing in all the magic and excitement.
The honour of being a bridesmaid typically comes with a few responsibilities and duties, but don't stress, most of these are enjoyable dress shopping anyone?!
The key is to embrace the joyful spirit of the occasion and to make yourself available (within reason) for help and support, remembering to take any requests from the bride good naturedly, even if she has the odd bridezilla moment. If you can't be bothered or have better things to do then this might not be the job for you.
Lucky you! Going wedding dress shopping with the bride is a fun and special experience, but be prepared with comfy shoes and a good attitude, as nice as trying on wedding dresses is, this can be a long and frustrating day. The chief bridesmaid/ maid of honour might also be tasked with helping the bride arrange dress shop appointments and the itinerary for the day make sure to book in a nice lunch and refreshment stops.
Bridesmaid dress shopping is often done on another day so don't expect to be trying on dresses yourself on the big dress hunt. When it comes to the bridesmaid dress shopping be flexible, although you have to wear it, your dress forms a fundamental visual cue for the wedding day (think flower arrangements, table decorations etc) so ultimately the final choice will be the bride's decision.
The vast majority of brides will want their bridesmaids to be comfortable and feel confident in their dress, sometimes opting for a variation of a certain style of dress to make sure various bridesmaid figures are taken into consideration.
Feel free to make practical suggestions on suitable styles and colour ideas but don't be upset if you don't end up in your first choice. Be prepared to try on lots of dresses. The same goes for shoes, hair, make-up and accessories.
Another fun part of the festivities is of course the hen party. The maid of honour and/or bridesmaids are expected to take on the role of party planner and organiser. It might be appropriate to ask the bride for a guest list and rough ideas of what she'd like to do, but try to keep the finer points a surprise. If older relatives are invited then theme it accordingly or have a separate 'do' for more debaucherous antics.
Plan well in advance so that you have time to book in the date with guests and any venues / experiences you are planning.
A key part of the party is usually some fun wedding themed games (Bing 'Hen's party games' for ideas), props and party bags for the guests.
Bear in mind peoples' budgets when planning your idea so that it is as inclusive as possible. All travel, venue, food and drinks costs should be covered evenly by yourself and the guests, the bride is generally not expected to pay.
The Big Day
So finally the special day is upon you and it's your time to shine (be wary not to out-shine the bride).
You will be expected to join in the excitement of getting ready together with the bride, having your hair and make-up done and helping the bride look perfect in her dress.
- Assist the bride in getting into her dress and makeup.
- Ask if the bride needs anything (food, water, etc) throughout the preparations, she may be too stressed to think about these things herself.
- Assist the other bridesmaids on where to go and timing, especially if they show up late.
- Help the bride in getting in and out of the vehicles on the day.
- Hold her bouquet for her on the way to the ceremony and during.
- Adjust her train and veil pre and during the ceremony and photographs.
- Keep a bag of essentials handy should the bride need a tissue or a top-up of lip gloss.
- Help make sure the bride has some quiet time if she needs some privacy before the ceremony.
- Be a witness in the signing of the marriage license.
- Assist the guests to their seats and be sociable. The guests love to greet the bridesmaids and groomsmen.
- Take some slow, deep breaths for composure and pace yourself to walk slowly down the aisle.
- Be on the lookout for the unexpected which might detract from the festivities (i.e. something dropped in the aisle, a wayward smudge of lipstick or a sick guest). If you are close enough, help fix what you can so that the bride, groom and their families can focus on the ceremony.
- If you are single, make sure you mingle and have a great time at the party!
- If you are with your partner, don't let that stop you dancing and socialising with the bridal party and guests.
- Help the photographer organise the guests for photo opportunities.
- Direct the guests to the reception.
- Last, but by no means least, give moral support and be a great listener to the bride throughout the day, she will really appreciate it.
Other things your help might be called upon for includes visit wedding exhibitions and venues, attending menu tastings (what a chore!) making/ sending invitations, choosing decorations, helping on the day of the wedding with set-up of the venue and helping clear-up at the end (the bride won't want to be worrying about this on her wedding night!).
Tips for being a great bridesmaid
Only offer your opinion if asked for it, this is her big day so even if you don't agree with some elements (does she really
love those earrings?!), as long as she's happy that's all that matters.
Diplomacy: Even when she does ask for your opinion, tread carefully, this is where all of your diplomacy skills need to come into play. Does she just want reassurance of her own ideas or is she looking for alternative ideas from you? Planning a wedding is stressful, try not to make it any more worrying for the bride by putting unnecessary doubts in her head.
Expenses: If the bride is on a budget and you can afford to, you can offer to pay for or chip-in to the cost of your bridesmaid dress you'd have to buy an outfit to the wedding whether you were a bridesmaid or not.
Be on time: So the big day has arrived, the bride looks stunning, the venue is ready and the guests are seated, but wear is the bridesmaid? Don't let this be you. This is definitely an occasion where being 30 minutes early is better than being five minutes late.
Devoted: Put aside the entire wedding day (and yes that might mean starting with hair and make-up at 6am), and possibly the day before if necessary, for helping the bride with final preparations.
Poised and thoughtful: It is likely the bride will have some nerves and worries on the big day. It is your job to put her feelings first, be calm and reassuring and help out with any last minute panics or hiccups.
Have fun!: With all the planning, organising and preparations don't forget to have fun! Share in the bride's anticipation and excitement and cherish the moments you share together along the way.
Smile: It might seem obvious but with so much going on don’t forget to wear your happy face, you might get face-ache but with a simple smile you will set the tone for the occasion, reassuring the bride and welcoming the guests.
Drink responsibly: Okay so it is a big celebration, but don't get so drunk and carried away with the festivities that you forget your duties or worse still make a big scene, no one likes a thunder-stealing bridesmaid.
- Supportive and seamless underwear (VPLs and dodgy bra straps will be noticed)
- Handy essentials kit (lip gloss, hair pins, tissues, camera)
- Flowers (don't forget these anywhere)
Have a fabulous time!
Related video: Bridesmaid fashions