You’re going to be a bridesmaid. Congrats! But you may be wondering… how do you be a bridesmaid?
What are the bridesmaid’s duties, roles, and responsibilities? Don’t worry… I won’t let you screw this up. :)
The bride picked you as a bridesmaid, and I wouldn’t take that job lightly! It means she totally trusts you to be her support system by her side as she plans her wedding and on the big day itself.
In this blog post, I’ll show you how to be a bridesmaid and exactly what a bridesmaid needs to do.
I’ll help you identify the most important bridesmaid rules, roles, and tasks so you’ll know exactly how to be a bridesmaid.
Whether you’re a first-timer or a member of the frequent Bridal Party club, you’ll learn the ins and outs of being the best bridesmaid from start to finish.
What to Know About Being a Bridesmaid… By an Expert
What makes me an expert on being a bridesmaid?
► I’m a wedding expert and planner that works with bridesmaids often.
► In addition, I’ve been a bridesmaid five times and a Maid of Honor twice.
► I’ve also been a Bride.
As a result, I know how to be an awesome bridesmaid from all perspectives: as the bride and what she needs, as a Maid of Honor and how to support the bridal party, and as the bridesmaid, even when I wondered how to be a bridesmaid in my first experience as one.
From the wedding planner standpoint, I understand how crucial it is to have the support of bridesmaids for the Bride, when and how she needs it most.
Let’s get started.
Before You Agree to Be a Bridesmaid, Read This
Before you officially agree to be a bridesmaid in a wedding, there are two questions you must answer first.
• Do you support the marriage, and
• Can you afford to be a bridesmaid
Support the bride in her upcoming marriage
A bridesmaid should support the marriage 100% and be a good support system for the bride. This is the most important thing.
If you do not think the couple should be getting married, do not sign up to be a bridesmaid.
Please note that supporting the marriage and liking their partner are not the same thing.
It’s one thing to not like their soon-to-be wedded partner, but another to agree to bear witness to a marriage with a partner that is no good for her.
You may think their partner is weird or silly, could be better about loading the dishwasher or putting clothes away… ha! But it’s not about YOU liking them.
The discerning part of her is whether the partner is good for the other: will they give the support they need? A happy life? Laughter? Take good care of each other? That’s an important distinction.
All good? Awesome, happy, and in love? Great, let’s move on to part two: can you afford to be a bridesmaid?
Costs of Being a Bridesmaid
There are some costs associated with being a bridesmaid, but typically it’s not ridiculous.
► VIDEO: Here are realistic costs that will occur, so listen up to the video to help you decide.
► CAN’T AFFORD IT → If you cannot afford to be a part of the role, now is a good time to kindly decline the invitation (better now than later) and explain that you cannot afford to do it, but you wish them all the best and hope to be a guest at the big celebration.
► CAN AFFORD TO DO IT → Great!
How to Be a Bridesmaid: 100 Most Important Tips on Being the Best Bridesmaid Ever
1. Know what you are expected to pay for.
One of the important things to know about being a bridesmaid is it does cost money. The good news is, it likely won’t cost too much based on where the wedding is held, whether travel is involved, and the formality of the wedding. Budget accordingly so you won’t have any surprises.
2. Once you agree to be a bridesmaid, go ALL in.
Once you agree to be a bridesmaid, commit to it officially. Let the bride know you’re excited about being a bridesmaid, and can’t wait for the wedding. Let her know she can count on you.
3. Avoid negative comments about the wedding.
One rule of being a good bridesmaid is to never make comments about the wedding that are negative in nature. You may not like the venue, or the weather, or the date, but keep those things to yourself.
If you don’t like something, it is best to keep it to yourself and note it for your own wedding. ;) However, if the bride is asking your specific opinion on something BEFORE a contract is signed or a payment to a vendor has been made and wants your advice, give it but do so supportively.
For instance, if the bride is considering having an uncle DJ the wedding, but you know he has no experience and music is a very important part of the event to her, you may kindly suggest she look into hiring a professional DJ to do the job so her uncle can enjoy being a guest instead.
That’s just one example, but you get the idea. :)
4. Listen WITHOUT trying to fix it.
The bride is going to be getting a LOT of unsolicited advice from all angles. Her partner, family members, vendors, etc., not to mention her own internal debates on whether to splurge on these wedding cups or if she needs to re-evaluate her budget (again).
As a result, it can be overwhelming to get so much advice. Sometimes, all she needs is a listening ear so she can vent without fixing the problem, but rather just listen to her so she can get it off of her chest. That’s one MAJOR way to be the best bridesmaid ever. Just listen.
5. Add these pre-wedding events to your calendar.
Find out when any of the following events will occur and mark them into your calendar to attend:
• Engagement Party
• Wedding Shower
• Bachelorette Party
• Rehearsal Dinner
Put them on your calendar so you ensure your attendance at each event.
6. Assist with the wedding shower.
Offer up your assistance to the host of the wedding shower, whether it be the bride’s mom, her partner’s mom, a special family member, a friend, etc. You don’t have to commit to planning the party, but offer your assistance as a bridesmaid to contribute to an area they need help.
For instance, you may be in charge of passing out the game cards and prizes at the shower, setting up the dessert table, or writing down the names of gifts and who brought them as the bride opens her gifts.
You can reach out to the host a month or two ahead of time and let them know you are happy to assist at the wedding shower if they need any help.
7. Purchase your bridesmaid dress on time.
It is customary for the bride to select bridesmaid dresses; bridesmaids then purchase the dress and pay for it themselves.
Although the bride can offer to contribute or cover the cost of dresses, it is typically tradition for each bridesmaid to pay for her own dress.
Make sure you order the bridesmaid dress on time so it arrives early enough for alterations.
8. Get your bridesmaid dress professionally tailored if needed.
You will need to schedule an appointment with a seamstress or tailor to have your bridesmaid dress properly fitted. You will need to schedule this at least two months before the wedding, especially if it takes place during peak season. Dress alterations can be time-consuming and most shops have a full list of wedding party dresses to alter.
Don’t wait until the last minute for alterations or it won’t look properly fitted on the wedding day.
9. Purchase your own bridesmaid shoes.
Ask the bride what kind of shoes she wishes you to wear with the bridesmaid dress. The bride may not be picky: she may say any shoe you like that goes well with the dress in terms of color, style, and formality works with her.
On the other hand, the bride may ask you to wear a specific pair of gold heels so everyone is uniform.
Find out what shoes you will need and purchase them ASAP so you can break them in on time.
10. Break in your bridesmaid shoes.
Break in your bridesmaid shoes so they are super comfortable for the big day. A bridesmaid shouldn’t be hobbling around on heels that hurt, nor do you want to have uncomfortable feet from morning to night.
► PRACTICE: If you’re not familiar with wearing heels, practice walking in them for the aisle procession BEFORE the big day.
► STRETCH: If the shoes feel tight, use this to stretch them out a bit.
► ANTI-SLIP: If you’re wearing heels that are taller than usual, make sure you add these to the soles so you do not slip.
► COMFORT: Add these pads to the shoes to ensure they are comfortable for the wedding day.
11. Book your hotel accommodation.
As early as you can, book your hotel room for the night (or weekend) and plan ahead for other transportation you will need for the wedding.
This may include travel by plane and car, or it’s a local event where you can stay the night at your own home.
But if you need to book any hotel accommodations, do it ASAP to get the best rate (and avoid running out of rooms, yikes!)
12. Prep your wedding day skin.
Although the focus will be on the bride, bridesmaids are expected to take lots of pictures. Look and feel your best by prepping your skin at least 3 months ahead of the big day. You’ll be glad you did! Some helpful things to do include drinking water, exercising regularly, eating fruits and vegetables, and taking good care of your skin with a proper skincare regimen.
Then, apply plenty of night cream each evening and follow up with these under-eye masks to avoid dark lines underneath the eye area.
For more skincare tips, see: How to Prep Your Skin Before a Wedding.
That’s it! Your skin will be glowing in no time.
13. Purchase a gift for the wedding shower and the wedding.
As a bridesmaid, it is nice to give a gift for the wedding shower and a gift for the couple on the wedding day.
14. Attend the bachelorette party.
Be a good bridesmaid and attend the bachelorette party. Discuss the party with the Maid of Honor (who customarily plans the event), offer to help her with it, and be sure to attend as a guest.
15. Attend the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner.
As a bridesmaid, you’re expected to attend the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner. This typically takes place the night before the wedding day, or a few days prior.
Dress up to the event in a dress that is suitable for the occasion and formality of the restaurant where the rehearsal dinner will take place.
16. Offer assistance to the bride.
Check-in with the bride a few times during the wedding planning process. See if she needs any help with anything and try to be as specific as possible with ways you can help.
If she declines your offer, that’s OK! Some brides like to do it themselves, or they may have hired a wedding coordinator to assist.
By offering your support in this way, you’ll be doing the best job you can as a bridesmaid and she’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness.
17. Make sure the wedding is properly set up on the big day.
This is typically handled by the wedding coordinator, but if they haven’t hired anyone, it is helpful for the bridal party to assist where needed with the setup of the wedding ceremony and reception. This is usually just a small list of to-do’s, but you can offer to set up the welcome sign and easel, the escort cards, place cards, table numbers, and wedding and gifts sign and card box where needed.
The bottom line is this: make sure the bride isn’t running around setting these things up on her special day. :)
18. Have numbers of vendors handy, if needed.
One secret rule of being the best bridesmaid ever is to handle things that pop up unexpectedly… without the bride finding out.
Keep a small notebook of phone numbers and names handy, or program them into your phone to have just in case a vendor fails to show.
For instance, if the cake baker never brings the cake… you can call and find out when they are expected to arrive.
Is the DJ running behind? Give them a call to see the ETA.
You’re not necessarily going to run into any of these experiences, but having the phone numbers and names of vendors handy is a great way to ensure the day runs smoothly for the bride. And while this typically falls more under the Maid of Honor’s duties, it’s helpful to have all hands on deck, so to speak. :)
19. Make sure the bride eats something.
The bride is so excited she barely eats a thing all day, then she starts to feel dizzy and light-headed.
Don’t let that happen to her!
Make sure the bride eats healthy food on the morning of the wedding and doesn’t drink too much before the ceremony. Also, make sure she’s hydrated.
20. Help the bride get dressed.
Bridesmaids are responsible for helping the bride get dressed on the morning of the wedding, as the bridal gown can be quite the wardrobe experience. Help where needed!
21. Bring a fabric steamer.
If you can, bring along a fabric steamer like this on the morning of the wedding. When everyone’s getting dressed, you may realize your dress, another bridesmaid’s dress, or even the bridal gown or veil are wrinkly. It helps to have a fabric steamer on hand for last-minute fixes.
This fabric steamer is my expert go-to:
22. Bring a pair of bridesmaid flats.
Order a pair or bring a beloved pair of bridesmaid flats on the wedding day. Keep them in a tote bag or in the bridal suite so you can slip them on later if your shoes hurt. Even if you do all of the above, shoes sometimes hurt anyway. Bring a spare pair just in case.
These foldable flats are a perfect option that bridesmaids swear by! Choose a shade that matches the shoe color the bride requests.
23. Book hair and makeup.
You can do your own hair and makeup, or you can book professional salon services for the wedding day. Depending on the bride’s preferences, she may be planning to have hair and makeup done on the morning of the wedding with her bridal party. If this is the case, and there is room to book your appointment, do so immediately. Remember to bring cash for the tip.
If not, book a salon nearby for your hair and makeup to be done early enough in the day so you won’t be running late to the ceremony.
24. Arrive early on the day of the wedding.
Be early or exactly on time for the wedding day. This can mean an early morning of getting ready and enjoying brunch with the bride, or to arrive at the ceremony ahead of guests. Find out which the bride prefers and follow it. Don’t be late!
25. Make sure the bride’s train is fluffed and laying correctly at the ceremony.
Although this is a Maid of Honor task officially, some MOHs forget and, as a bridesmaid, it’s a good idea to do it.
If the bride has a train on her gown, she’ll want it to be fluffed out and laid out nicely for photos during the ceremony. Since she can’t fix it herself, keep an eye on it and make fixes when needed so the photographer always has a good photo of the gown and the train.
26. Bring an emergency kit.
What is the key difference between being a bridesmaid and being the best bridesmaid ever? Being prepared for anything that comes your way!
Have an emergency kit for the wedding day for any last-minute fixes or needs of the bride or your own.
A safety pin can effortlessly keep a hem in place, a stain remover wipe can get rid of an unsightly stain pre-photo hour, and a makeup remover wipe will stop that mascara run in its tracks.
Get this kit for all of your wedding day needs and you’ll be rocking this best bridesmaid ever thing. ;)
27. Smile for photos.
Photos can be boring and long, but really, do your best to remain positive and give your best smile. The newlyweds will be looking back at these photos for years, and they’ve paid lots of money to have them taken, so do your best to remain as happy as possible during what can feel like an endless amount of photographs.
You may not like to dance, or you may not even be good at it, but dance at the reception! It means a lot to the bride.
29. Make sure guests sign the guest book.
Keep an eye on the guest book and make sure guests are signing it. If needed, make little announcements at tables to ensure guests don’t forget it’s there!
30. Encourage guests to take photos and upload them.
There’s this terrific gallery you can set up for guests to upload photos. If the couple uses it, make sure they print signs like this for guests to upload pictures, make it memorable by encouraging guests to use it.
Then, be the bridesmaid ever and encourage guests to upload their photos to it. It’s only fun when guests contribute their photos, otherwise, the gallery won’t be very helpful to have.
► Read more on how to set it up here. The newlyweds will love to see the photos the next morning!
31. Keep an eye out for the cards and gifts table.
Make sure the card box has a lock. If it does, great! Your job is done.
If not, keep an eye out so no one steals any wedding cards. This is usually more of an issue when giant weddings occur with multiple events at one location; some people can get away with cards and cash without someone being in charge of it.
Be a bridesmaid who keeps an eye out for this and, when dinner has been served, it’s a good time to lock up the cards in a locked trunk or storage box for the newlyweds to open later.
32. Do something special for the newlyweds.
And last but not least, plan a little something special for the newlyweds.
Get the bridesmaids together to plan something special as a send-off for the couple. One example is having the hotel room decorated for the couple when they arrive after the reception. Add a bottle of champagne to an ice bucket, chocolate-covered strawberries, toss some rose petals, and voila. You just created a magical oasis for them to return to after the wedding is over.
Do they plan on making a grand exit via car? Decorate it with festive decorations for a perfect photo finish.
And there you have it! I hope this helps as you join the wedding party as a bridesmaid.
Run into any questions? Just let me know in the comment box below.