You have been given the honour to stand by your close friend on her very special day as a bridesmaid - congratulations! Who the bride chooses for her bridesmaids, is a matter of personal choice. Some brides choose to have children as their bridesmaids while others like to enlist the help of their closest girlfriends. Of course, some may have a mix of adults and children.
Being a bridesmaid is an experience that you will always treasure. Although it is both fun and exciting, it does come with responsibility that needs to be taken seriously before committing to the role. The following comprehensive list of tips will ensure you are best bridal assistant you can be!
Generally they act as assistants to the bride and the chief bridesmaid; the amount of involvement depends on the size of the wedding and the bride’s wishes.
Ahead of the big day there isn’t much to do, however the bridesmaids will usually have a say in the choice of their dresses and accessories. Very importantly, they need to be available for shopping excursions and dress fittings. The bridesmaids also usually assist the chief bridesmaid to organise the hen party.
On the day:
- Assist with any preparations and help the bride into her dress.
- If there are child bridesmaids and pages, the bridesmaids are responsible for looking after them before and during the ceremony when their parents may not be able to.
- Participate in the procession and recessional, traditionally walking up the aisle behind the bride and walking down the aisle behind the wedding party.
- At the reception, the bridesmaids should endeavour to talk to all the guests. Keep an eye on proceedings and report any problems or difficulties to the chief bridesmaid or best man.
THE CHIEF BRIDESMAID (“MOH”):
Traditionally called the Maid of Honour, if unmarried, or Matron of Honour, if married, she is usually a close friend or sister of the bride. The MOH should be trustworthy, understand the idiosyncrasies of the bride and act as a confidante. Every bride has an personal crisis at some point and this will often require plenty tissues and hugs. You will need to provide plenty of emotional support during the planning process, as well as on the wedding day.
As the bride's main helper, the MOH will be involved in plans before the wedding and act as the bride’s key aide on the day.
Before the day:
The MOH should check with the bride how much involvement would be expected of her in the lead-up to and on the wedding day. Avoid ambiguity by offering specific assistance. Instead of asking what you can do, rather say “Would you like help with the wedding invitations?” or “Can I help find dresses and shoes for the bridesmaids?” The bride will appreciate this!
- Attend wedding dress fittings, if the Bride asks you to, and help her find accessories and a going-away outfit.
- Direct the other bridesmaids through their duties. Ensure everyone gets their dresses, attends dress fittings, and finds the right jewellery and shoes.
- Paying for bridesmaids’ dresses depends on budget (and different cultures), but the MOH and each bridesmaid should offer to pay for the entire ensemble.
- Make sure all the bridesmaids break in their shoes before the big day to avoid painful blisters and sore toes!
- Make sure everyone in the wedding party is aware of any pre-wedding events. This will include attending the ceremony rehearsal, and the rehearsal dinner as required.
- Provide wedding guests with details of the bride and groom’s gift registries.
- Be supportive in the event of strained relations between the bride and her parents, or between the bride and groom.
- Organise a suitable hen night or weekend, specific to the bride's wishes and personal taste, with the help of the other adult bridesmaids.
- Keep in close contact with the best man and any other adult bridesmaids; and liaise with parents of young bridesmaids and pageboys.
- If necessary, coordinate transport and accommodation for all the bridesmaids.
- Offer to run any last minute errands, such as collecting bridesmaids’ dresses.
On the Day:
The MOH must remain calm on the day to reassure the bride. She has several duties on the big day:
- Help the bride into her dress and be at her side while she has her hair and make-up done.
- Hold on to any make-up or necessities required for touch-ups or unforeseen eventualities during the day. You can refer to our Survival Kit for a comprehensive list of essentials.
- Make sure that all the bridesmaids get their hair and makeup done, get to the ceremony on time and have the correct bouquets.
- Look after small bridesmaids or pages and ensure they are calm, dressed on time and know what they need to do.
- Escort the bridal party into the cars and wait with them outside the ceremony venue for the bride.
- Once the bride has stepped out of the car, help arrange her dress, veil and bouquet. Keep an eye on the back of her dress and adjust her train accordingly. Line everyone up to walk down the aisle.
- Take the bride’s bouquet during the ceremony, and hand it back to her before she is ready to walk down the aisle with her new husband.
- Exit the ceremony venue on the arm of the best man, and accompany the bridesmaids and pages to the reception.
- Assist the bride with her dress throughout the day by carrying her train as required. Also be sure to know how to bustle the wedding dress before the dancing begins and accompany the bride to the bathroom, if she asks.
- Communicate with the best man throughout the wedding day to ensure that everything is running smoothly.
- Keep a constant eye on the bride to make sure she has everything she needs, and make sure she takes a moment to eat something.
- Act as a secondary hostess at the reception by introducing guests to each other, making sure they know their way around the venue, showing them where to leave gifts and inviting them to sign the guest book.
- Collect any gift envelopes brought to the reception and keep them in a safe place.
- Hit the dance floor, when the dancing starts. Dance with the best man during the first dance, if the married couple asks you to do so. Also be on the lookout for guests who might need encouragement or a dance partner.
- When the bride is about to 'go away', she may require help into a different outfit. Also be sure to arrange for storage of her wedding dress in a safe place until she returns from honeymoon.
- Being a bridesmaid can be quite costly, so when it comes to buying a wedding present for the newlyweds, team up with the other bridesmaids to afford an even more fabulous wedding gift.
- Arrange for champagne and flowers to be placed in the couple’s wedding night room with the best man.
If you follow all the tips above, you’ll have a very happy bride! Just remember, above anything else, make sure you have lots of fun and laughs during this very special time.