Being a bridesmaid is a great honor. You get to help a loved one, whether she’s a friend or a family member, and make her wedding extra memorable just by being a part of the ceremony. The maid of honor is usually the one tasked with planning pre-wedding events and making sure the wedding day itself goes off without a hitch. But bridesmaids are expected to put in some money and effort, too! Here’s what you can expect in the period leading up to the wedding if you’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid. We’ve also included some tips at the end to make sure you have the best bridesmaid experience, ever!
Duties and Responsibilities
Every wedding party is a little bit different depending on the bride, the location, the wedding planner, and other factors. But there are some basics that pretty much every bridesmaid should plan on, regardless of the details. Here are the biggest bridesmaid duties and responsibilities. We’ve also included some tips at the end to make sure you have the best bridesmaid experience, ever!
The Bridesmaid Dress
Most wedding parties pick out a color scheme and dresses for the bridesmaids. Typically, the bride chooses the dresses and orders them by a certain date, but each bridesmaid is responsible for paying for her own dress. In some situations, the bride might offer to cover the cost or a portion of the cost, especially if the dress is super-expensive, but if you’re a bridesmaid, this cost usually falls in your lap.
The Bridal Shower
The maid of honor is generally the one expected to pull off the pre-wedding parties, but bridesmaids are expected to offer ideas, provide feedback, and sometimes chip in cash. And you’re definitely expected to attend the shower. In some cases, the shower will take place at the maid of honor’s house, or the mother of the bride may host it or help pay for it, but you should make yourself available to help with the planning.
The Bachelorette Party
The shower and the bachelorette party are two totally different events, and you’re expected to show up for both. When it comes to planning, you should be willing to lend ideas and chip in money, even though the maid of honor will probably be doing most of the work. Unless you have something really significant going on in your life, such as being pregnant, taking care of a new baby, moving house, or starting a new job, you should do your best to attend and be willing to have fun with the ladies for a night. Some bachelorette parties even turn into a weekend away.
Bridesmaids and the rest of the bridal party are expected to be at the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner. These typically take place the night before the wedding, so if there is travel involved, you can just plan to be around for the whole weekend. The rehearsal itself is typically just a quick run-through of how the ceremony will be arranged. The dinner is a formality usually hosted by the groom’s parents to give close friends and family and out-of-town guests a chance to get together before the wedding.
The big day is here! As a bridesmaid, you should plan to pay for your own transportation and hotel, as well as your date’s if you are bringing one, for the wedding weekend. If it’s a fancy destination wedding at an expensive resort, the bride might offer to cover expenses, but that depends entirely on her financial situation and should never be expected. The couple will often book a block of rooms at a hotel for a group rate, so find out if that’s within your budget if you want to stay together with the bridal party.
Calm Her Nerves
The bride has a lot of planning to do leading up to the wedding! Bridesmaids should be available to lend an ear, let her vent, and generally ease her anxiety leading up to and on the big day . Come armed with ways to take her mind off it if she’s stressed and ways to engage with her if she is excited.
In addition to these required duties, bridesmaids should follow proper wedding etiquette.
Hair and Makeup
Many brides will hire hair and makeup people or schedule a day at a salon for bridesmaids to get professionally coiffed and made up before the wedding. If you choose to partake in this hair and makeup session, expect to pay for the cost yourself.
Help With Wedding Tasks
It’s not your job to plan the wedding or take over the major tasks, but it is proper etiquette to offer to help with some tasks to ease the bride’s workload or just give her a second opinion. This can include anything from going shoe shopping with her to addressing save-the-date cards to helping pick out flower arrangements. Be generous with your time, but don’t take on more than you can handle.
Bridesmaids should give both shower and wedding gifts, especially when attending both events. You can go in on a group gift with some of the other bridesmaids if you want to invest in something more expensive. Shower gifts should be given on the day of the shower, but wedding gifts can be delivered before or after the wedding.
General Bridesmaid Tips
We’ll leave you with some general tips that should help you navigate the big day as a Bridesmaid:
- Plan to be 15 minutes early to every event
- Carry a small emergency bag with items the bride might need on the wedding day
- Be a team player – offer to help but don’t take over
- Wear the dress well, even if it’s not your style
- Plan the bachelorette party for the bride, not for yourself
- Don’t make the bride worry about you – it’s her day to shine!
Start planning as soon as possible. You don’t want to be rushing around as the wedding date nears because you didn’t set an agenda early enough!