A Complete Guide to Bridesmaid Duties

bridesmaids

PHOTO BY ASHLYN CATHEY PHOTOGRAPHY 

There may be no greater privilege as a friend than to be chosen as a bridesmaid. You’ll likely be flooded with excitement and joy, but if you’ve never been in a wedding, overwhelm and panic could creep in if you’re not prepared. Wrapped into all the celebrations, there is a bit of work and financial commitment involved for anyone in a wedding party, so you’ll want to be well-informed of the duties at hand in order to show up as the best bridesmaid you can be

Here, we’ve enlisted wedding and events pro Jane Yu (who has also been a bridesmaid seven times!) to breakdown the complete guide to bridesmaids’ duties before, during, and after the wedding. 

Meet the Expert

Jane Yu is co-founder of wedding planning and DJ company Veils & Vinyls with her husband Jon Yu. Together, the Los Angeles-based couple has over 20 years of experience creating events from intimate micro-weddings to massive brand activations.

Before the Wedding

Be Emotionally Supportive

Wedding planning is as stressful as it is exciting. First and foremost, it’s important to be there for the bride in those moments of tension. “Be available as much as you’re able! You don’t have to be at their beck and call, but it’s nice for the bride to know that their bridesmaids are there for them as their closest friends and best supporters,” Yu says.  

It’s also important to support the maid of honor. A lot of the burden falls on them to get things started with pre-wedding events, but not all MOHs are natural planners. “It is a group effort especially where any planning is involved, and it’s important to set that tone from the beginning.”

Be a Sounding Board

If you’re someone the bride trusts to bounce ideas off of, that’s a pretty important role to play as a bridesmaid. However, Yu warns, there’s a fine line between helping her decide what she wants and being pushy about what you think is best–give your opinion if asked, but don’t force it on her.  

Communicate Honestly 

Yu advises that bridesmaids take the time to understand what might be expected of them, financially and otherwise, and have honest conversations about those responsibilities from day one. Sometimes, even the expectations you have for yourself as a bridesmaid may be beyond your means. Honesty is always the best policy–with yourself and with the bride–be communicative if you’re not able to handle something, and as a close friend, she will likely be completely understanding.

Help With Pre-Wedding Events 

Planning (and paying for) the bridal shower and the bachelorette party are two of the biggest pre-wedding expectations. The maid of honor will typically take the lead, but the bridesmaids should support by helping to plan and pay for as much as possible. For the bridal shower, you want to help cover the amount of the event, and for the bachelorette party, you want to at least make sure the bride’s portion is covered. 

If a bachelorette trip is way out of your budget as a bridesmaid, Yu notes it’s a nice gesture to chip in and help cover the bride’s portion of the trip even if you’re not able to attend yourself.

Assist With Attire

Some brides may already have a strong vision of what they want the wedding party to wear, but if the bride asks for help, you can certainly chime in on ideas for the bridesmaids’ attire, hair, or makeup. If you’re asked to wear something you don’t like, this is the time to forever hold your peace.

The one exception is if you’re asked to wear something you are truly uncomfortable with (i.e. something too low cut or that you can’t wear a supportive bra with). “If you already know what you’re uncomfortable with it’s totally fair to bring that up,” Yu says. “Just let her know before she picks anything, so you don’t derail her plans.”

Keep It Drama Free 

In many cases, not all of the bridesmaids will know each other. They may be from different places, different backgrounds, and different phases of the bride’s life; it’s possible that conversations could get misconstrued or personalities may clash. Don’t leave it up to the bride to be the middleman or set the tone for the group. Play nice, be kind, don’t complain, and definitely do not stir up any unnecessary drama. 

Give a Gift

In many cases, not all of the bridesmaids will know each other. They may be from different places, different backgrounds, and different phases of the bride’s life; it’s possible that conversations could get misconstrued or personalities may clash. Don’t leave it up to the bride to be the middleman or set the tone for the group. Play nice, be kind, don’t complain, and definitely do not stir up any unnecessary drama. 

During the Wedding

Attend the Rehearsal Dinner

In many cases, not all of the bridesmaids will know each other. They may be from different places, different backgrounds, and different phases of the bride’s life; it’s possible that conversations could get misconstrued or personalities may clash. Don’t leave it up to the bride to be the middleman or set the tone for the group. Play nice, be kind, don’t complain, and definitely do not stir up any unnecessary drama. 

Connect with the Planner

In many cases, not all of the bridesmaids will know each other. They may be from different places, different backgrounds, and different phases of the bride’s life; it’s possible that conversations could get misconstrued or personalities may clash. Don’t leave it up to the bride to be the middleman or set the tone for the group. Play nice, be kind, don’t complain, and definitely do not stir up any unnecessary drama. 

Know the Plan

In many cases, not all of the bridesmaids will know each other. They may be from different places, different backgrounds, and different phases of the bride’s life; it’s possible that conversations could get misconstrued or personalities may clash. Don’t leave it up to the bride to be the middleman or set the tone for the group. Play nice, be kind, don’t complain, and definitely do not stir up any unnecessary drama. 

Don’t Complain

In many cases, not all of the bridesmaids will know each other. They may be from different places, different backgrounds, and different phases of the bride’s life; it’s possible that conversations could get misconstrued or personalities may clash. Don’t leave it up to the bride to be the middleman or set the tone for the group. Play nice, be kind, don’t complain, and definitely do not stir up any unnecessary drama. 

This also includes not freaking out if something goes completely sideways. Hopefully, that won’t be the case, but if something does go wrong, it’s your job to keep the bride as calm as possible. 

Feed the Bride

In many cases, not all of the bridesmaids will know each other. They may be from different places, different backgrounds, and different phases of the bride’s life; it’s possible that conversations could get misconstrued or personalities may clash. Don’t leave it up to the bride to be the middleman or set the tone for the group. Play nice, be kind, don’t complain, and definitely do not stir up any unnecessary drama. 

Prepare for Photos

In many cases, not all of the bridesmaids will know each other. They may be from different places, different backgrounds, and different phases of the bride’s life; it’s possible that conversations could get misconstrued or personalities may clash. Don’t leave it up to the bride to be the middleman or set the tone for the group. Play nice, be kind, don’t complain, and definitely do not stir up any unnecessary drama. 

Be a Bathroom Buddy

In many cases, not all of the bridesmaids will know each other. They may be from different places, different backgrounds, and different phases of the bride’s life; it’s possible that conversations could get misconstrued or personalities may clash. Don’t leave it up to the bride to be the middleman or set the tone for the group. Play nice, be kind, don’t complain, and definitely do not stir up any unnecessary drama. 

Keep the Energy Up 

In many cases, not all of the bridesmaids will know each other. They may be from different places, different backgrounds, and different phases of the bride’s life; it’s possible that conversations could get misconstrued or personalities may clash. Don’t leave it up to the bride to be the middleman or set the tone for the group. Play nice, be kind, don’t complain, and definitely do not stir up any unnecessary drama. 

After the Wedding

Help With Returns 

In many cases, not all of the bridesmaids will know each other. They may be from different places, different backgrounds, and different phases of the bride’s life; it’s possible that conversations could get misconstrued or personalities may clash. Don’t leave it up to the bride to be the middleman or set the tone for the group. Play nice, be kind, don’t complain, and definitely do not stir up any unnecessary drama. 

Share Photos 

In many cases, not all of the bridesmaids will know each other. They may be from different places, different backgrounds, and different phases of the bride’s life; it’s possible that conversations could get misconstrued or personalities may clash. Don’t leave it up to the bride to be the middleman or set the tone for the group. Play nice, be kind, don’t complain, and definitely do not stir up any unnecessary drama. 

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