The Basics of Being a Bridesmaid

Agreeing to be a bridesmaid or maid of honor is no small task: depending on the size of the wedding and the bride’s expectations, you may have a lot of pre-wedding and day-of responsibilities or maybe you’ll just have a handful of parties to attend (lucky you). It’s important to be informed before you dive into the role of bridesmaid, so read on to discover everything that might be asked of you if you agree to take on the challenge.

Megan Clouse Photography, Bridsmaid duties
Photo by Megan Clouse Photography

1. Buying a dress and accessories. While the bride will typically pay for your bouquet and, in some cases, your hair and makeup, you’ll be expected to buy your own bridesmaid dress. Ditto for accessories and shoes.

2. General pre-wedding help. This could include making favors, helping out with DIY projects, hand-writing names on place cards, shopping for dresses and decor with the bride, and anything else she might need before the big day.

3. Planning and attending the bridal shower. Planning the bridal shower doesn’t always fall on the shoulders of a bridesmaid — a mom, sister, cousin, aunt, or non-bridesmaid friend might take the lead — but don’t be surprised if this task lands on your plate. You’ll also be expected to attend, but if you can’t make it (a situation that is highly likely if your friend lives in a different city), that’s OK.

4. Planning and attending the bachelorette party. While the maid of honor will usually take the lead on planning the bachelorette party, you’ll be expected to help generate ideas, chip in to pay for the event, and to attend the event itself. (However, speak up if what the MOH is envisioning is out of your budget and don’t feel obliged to attend if it’s not financially possible.)

5. Attending the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner. If you’re an out-of-towner, plan to arrive early enough the day before the wedding so that you can be at the rehearsal. (Not sure how early you need to be there? Ask before you book your flight!) You’ll also likely be expected to attend other events (think day-after brunch, engagement party), but your presence there is less important than it is at the rehearsal.

6. Keeping the bride calm, cool, and collected. On her wedding day, the bride may be stressed out or panicky. The bridesmaids typically help keep her calm by liaising with the wedding planner, vendors, family, and guests, and taking care of anything else she might need. (Pre-wedding mimosas, anyone?)

7. Assisting the bride at the ceremony. The maid of honor or bridesmaids are often asked to help the flower girl or ring bearer down the aisle, witness the signing of the marriage certificate, hold one or both of the wedding rings, and hold the bride’s bouquet.

8. Making a speech. Not every bridesmaid will be asked to make a speech, but if you’re particularly close to the bride, you might ask if you can say a few words about your friendship; she’ll be touched.

9. Helping the bride use the bathroom on her wedding day. Most wedding gowns are long and heavy — meaning it’s difficult to use the bathroom on your own. Be prepared to help the bride bustle and un-bustle her gown, and hold it up while she uses the restroom.

Whether you’re the bride or a potential bridesmaid, the best thing you can do for each other is talk through the items on this list before anyone commits to being in the wedding. If you’re all on the same page about responsibilities and expectations, wedding planning will be much easier for everyone.

Get more bridesmaid tips

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