What it takes to be a bridesmaid

by jaime on August 27, 2012

Being asked to be someone’s bridesmaid is an honor often reserved for siblings and close friends. It is the choice of the bride and groom as to how big the bridal party is, but the number of bridesmaids can range from one to twenty (or more!), which means that the role of bridesmaid and its jobs can differ depending on the size of the bridal party. But, there are certain expected duties that fall to the bridal party that can be broken up into two key segments: Pre-wedding and Wedding Duties.

Pre-wedding Duties

While you are there on the wedding day because of the relationship you share with the bride and groom, the real work happens well before that walk down the aisle. Part of sharing that special moment means that you’ll be providing the bride with assistance in planning and organization.

  • Dresses – this not only means your bridesmaids dress, but most brides will ask their bridesmaids to accompany them on their search for the perfect wedding dress. This could mean visiting multiple bridal stores and watching the bride go through countless gowns – throughout which you’ll be expected share your opinion. This will then be followed by helping to decide on appropriate bridesmaids’ dresses. Finally, expect to have several dress fittings to attend – it is important to be available for most of these.
  •  Hair and Makeup – be present for any hair and makeup trials in the lead up to the wedding. Usually there will be two or so in the months leading up to the wedding. While it’s up to you, the courteous bridesmaid won’t plan a radical hair change once the hairstyle has been decided.
  • Decorations – this includes everything from flowers to colour schemes, helping to make any decorations, bouquets or table arrangements.
  • Invitations – often it will be the bridesmaids that will assist in the writing (or possibly the creation!) of the wedding invites.  This task  can also include keeping track of the invitees.
  •  Deliveries/Scheduling – It’s not uncommon for bridesmaids to pick up any last minute details or items before the wedding day such as the wedding cake or floral arrangements. This is one of those case-by-case basis duties, though.

Party Planning Duties

It’s not all work to be a bridesmaid! The real enjoyment comes from the pre-wedding celebrations and parties that the bridal party get to enjoy as a part of the bride’s VIP party. While it tends to fall on the shoulders of the Maid of Honor, many times it’s all the bridesmaids who get to have the fun of organizing the bachelorette party (!!!) and bridal shower.

Wedding Day Duties

All that preparation is now finally going to pay off when the wedding day arrives, and many bridesmaids will find that their main duty on this day is simply to keep the bride focused and calm, easing any nerves she may have and ensuring that things run as smoothly as possible.

In addition to keeping the bride’s nerves under check, the bridesmaid will usually have to:

  • Arrive early to get all hair and makeup completed
  • Assist any younger bridal party members (such as the flower girl) in their pre-wedding process
  • Maintain contact with the groomsmen to confirm arrival times
  • Be ready for the processional by knowing the order and timing
  •  Keep track of all bouquets and any other decorative details such as the brides gloves or flowers
  • Mingle at the reception and ensure that all guests are caterer for and introduced
  • Pay attention during the reception and alert the vendors (caterers, photographers) of anything they need to be aware of
  • Dance with the groomsmen

There’s a lot of work that comes with being a bridesmaid, but a lot of fun too… so, I’d love to hear any tips that you have for bridesmaids-to-be! Be sure to comment with your advice or any questions that you might have – we have a great group of readers who are happy to help.



Pauline August 27, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Is it generally expected for bridesmaids to purchase their own dresses, or is the bride responsible for that? Also, I live in a culture that bridesmaids are chosen for fun and not as helpers, necessarily. What would be a tactful way to let the girls know their roles? (I think it’s a great idea that they help, and of course, I’ve been searching for bridesmaid gifts to give them).
Thanks for your help!

jaime August 27, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Pauline – generally, the bridesmaids pay for their own dresses (which is another reason to ask them to help you choose them!). Hopefully others will chime in, but the best way to let them know where you need help is to just plainly tell them. Be courteous and respectful – this is, after all, a time-consuming and expensive process for them, too! – and give them projects. If they’re really close to you, they’ll be happy to help someone that they love.

And it’s great to hear that you’re already looking into doing something nice for them, too!

Kaylen Fuhrman August 27, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I truly appreciate this post.Thanks Again. Really Cool.

Nicole November 4, 2012 at 4:42 am

Hi Kaylen,
I need your help asap. I have been left to organise my whole wedding and bridal party VIP night. My maid of hour is never around to help nor did she remember my birthday. In the last 6 months she has been very distant. I am not sure what to do as I am feeling let down and my wedding is in 3 months. My other bridesmaids have made so much effort and offered to make a girls day out for me. I am not sure what to do. I feel so let down and i am hurting deeply. I am scared to approach my friend about this because I will be a girl down on the day if something goes wrong. I have made so many efforts in the last 6 months with her but now she is just ignoring me and being distant.

sandi January 19, 2013 at 2:16 pm

She doesn’t seem like maid of honor material, pick someone you can trust, and will help you. Don’t worry about hurt feelings, it seems like she is already hurting yours, and it is your big day. Have someone by your side that you truly want. I changed mine to my brother, because my so called best friend did the same think as yours is doing know. Drop the dead weight and pick someone that wants to stand by your side.

sandi December 30, 2012 at 9:08 am

I did not have much support from my side of the bridal party. My advice to any up coming bride, is to keep your bridal party small, and only your close family and friends that you can trust to have your back on your big day I would ask to be in your party. Don’t worry about hurting someones feelings, people change, and so do friendships over the years, so if your best friend in high school is no longer your best friend, drop the dead weight, it is you’re wedding, you can’t make everyone happy; so make yourself on your big day.

AbbyB June 13, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Another tip for Brides: Let people you ask to be bridesmaids say no. I’ve been guilted into being a bridesmaid twice and I hate it. I hate paying for a dress I’ll never wear again, I’m not a good planner or shopper, and while I’m happy to get a gift for the couple and come to the wedding to celebrate, I hate the pressure of being responsible for anything about it.

Obviously the asked bridesmaid should be polite and tactful when she says no, but you shouldn’t take it as a personal rejection. I love the people whom I was a bridesmaid for, I just hate the role (and the brides were very careful not to get into the brideszilla mindset, so its not their doing.)

Trying to say no, they reacted like I just said I hated them and wanted to eat their puppies. I ended up misserable, and hiding it because the last thing I wanted was to screw up their big day.

Give them an out, please. Some of us simply a bridesmaid do not make.

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