You have been asked to stand with one of your closet friends as she takes this important step in her life. Whether you love weddings or think they are a waste of money, you should still feel honoured that the bride values your relationship so much that she wants you not just to attend, but to participate in her special day.
You may be thinking that being a bridesmaid simply means buying a dress and standing at the front of the ceremony site while the couple say “I do,” but that is actually only one of multiple duties.
Being a bridesmaid has quite a few responsibilities, and more expenses then just the dress. Below I’ve explained the customary bridesmaid duties and what she is responsible for financially.
Duties & Responsibilities
A bride should never assume that a her party knows exactly what her anticipated bridesmaid duties are, especially since every bride has different expectations.
Today, many brides send out an email to their bridesmaid to let them know what her plans and (reasonable) expectations are, and what the bridesmaids should be available for.
Customary Bridesmaid Duties:
Maid/Matron of Honour
The maid/matron of honour is the primary bridal attendant. She is the bride’s right-hand-woman for the entire wedding planning process and on the big day.
The role is the same for a maid or matron of honour. History simply created the different terms to distinguish whether the lady was single (maid) or married (matron).
On top of the customary bridesmaids duties listed above, the maid/matron of honour has the additional duties of:
Being prepared for emergencies is always a good idea. No matter how hard the bride has worked to make her special day perfect, something can go wrong. To help with the minor mishaps on the day it’s suggested that bridesmaids have an emergency tool kit with them. When at your seamstress ask for suggestions on any items you should have on hand (ex. needle/thread, safety pins) for any unexpected emergencies.
Other suggestions to include in your kit are aspirin/ibuprofen, bandages, bobby pins, etc.
Who Picks the Dress and Accessories?
Yes you are paying for the dress. Yes you are the one wearing the dress. However, the final decision on what dress the bridesmaids are wearing is up to the bride since it is her day.
A good bride will take your budget and opinion into her consideration, but ultimately she does make the decision.
Some brides are letting their bridesmaids choose their own gowns given some specific parameters; such as colour, length, material, and/or designer. In this case it’s always a good idea to make sure the bride does give her ok on your dress before you purchase it to make sure it goes with her vision.
When getting alterations on your dress, make sure you wear the same undergarments you’re going to be wearing on the actual day of the wedding. Undergarments do affect how a gown sits and fits.
Also make sure your undergarments are not visible underneath the dress. This occurred at a wedding I was a bridesmaid in. Minutes before we were getting ready to leave we noticed one bridesmaid’s black underwear was showing through her coral gown. Luckily we were in the hotel yet so she could run back to her room and change.
Some brides want a unified look, right down to the toes, so they ask their bridesmaids to all purchase the same pair of shoes and other accessories. Other brides give general specifications (ex. nude pump, pearl stud earrings, etc) but let the girls choose the exact items themselves.
So before you run out and start accessorizing your look find out what the bride has decided.
Hair, Make-Up, Nails
It’s customary for the bridesmaids to pay for their own hair, make-up, and nails. Again, some brides want a certain look for their wedding. Which means all their girls to have an up-do, matching nails, etc. While other brides let the girls choose what works for them.
If the bride doesn’t inform you of her choice, you should check with her or the maid of honour. Don’t make any assumptions either way.
Some brides do decide to pay for this service for their girls as part of her thank you for helping her with her special day. However, this is not a requirement so make sure you leave room in your budget for these services unless the bride tells you otherwise.
Being a bridesmaid should be an enjoyable experience for you. It’s a great time to enjoy the relationship you have with your friend. It can also be a busy and stressful time which can put a strain on your friendship.
To help reduce the stress, it’s always a good idea to find out what the bride’s expectations of your bridesmaid duties are at the beginning. Let the bride know what your budget and time availability is for the event, and to remember that this is a time for celebration so don’t let the little things bog you both down.