Being a bridesmaid means agreeing to a fairly long list of responsibilities. As a part of the the Bride Tribe, a bridesmaid is expected to plan and attend all pre-wedding parties, help out with aspects of the wedding planning as needed, and be totally present and available to the bride on the wedding weekend. We’ve divided the list of bridesmaid duties into tasks that occur before the wedding and then actually on the big day. Every friend, sibling, or relative who’s asked to be a bridesmaid should have no trouble fulfilling her role if she follows these guidelines.
Pre-Wedding Bridesmaid Duties
These are the main duties that bridesmaids are typically expected to perform in the months and weeks leading up to the wedding:
1. Shop (and pay) for bridesmaid attire.
Bridesmaids may be asked to visit a bridal shop as a group to try on and select dresses together, or each woman may be asked do her own shopping and simply send her measurements and dress pick to the bride (or to a chosen shop). If the bridal party isn’t wearing matching attire, the bride may simply ask that each bridesmaid select her own outfit and share a photo to make sure it coordinates. Here are some additional tips when it comes to shopping for bridesmaid attire:
- Whether shopping together or individually, follow the bride’s wishes with a smile on your face.
- Be on time with your presence, your information, and/or decisions.
- Provide supportive and sensitive feedback on the choice of bridesmaid attire only when requested.
- Be prepared to pay for your own bridesmaid dress, jewelry, and shoes.
2. Help plan (and pay for) the bridal shower.
The bridal shower may be a shared responsibility among the bridesmaids, the maid of honor, or the parent(s) of the bride or groom—however, bridesmaids are expected to at the very least attend the shower, and if there are no other hosts that step forward, to help the MOH with the shower planning and execution.
3. Help plan (and pay for) the bachelorette party.
While the bulk of the bachelorette party planning usually falls to the maid of honor, the rest of the bridesmaids should lend her a hand wherever possible. This might include helping to secure travel plans, accommodations, activities, and transportation, as well as divvying up the costs between each bridesmaid so the bride’s expenses are covered.
4. Attend any other pre-wedding events.
Whether it’s an engagement party, a couples’ shower, or a gathering of helpers to do some wedding DIY over beers and pizza, bridesmaids are expected to attend all pre-wedding activities to the best of their abilities.
5. Book travel and hotel reservations.
Bridesmaids should take care of their own transportation and accommodations for the wedding weekend. It’s a good idea to do this early on, so you can be sure your travel logistics are convenient to both the schedule and location of important events. Whenever transportation is not already provided, the bridesmaids should figure out how they’ll get from place to place during the festivities.
6. Attend the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.
Bridesmaids should be present at both the ceremony rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner. Not only is this a practical concern—everyone involved in the ceremony needs to know where to assemble, enter, exit, and where to sit or stand during the service—but as a member of the bride’s support crew, she’ll need you there during these final moments of preparation before the big day.
7. Help support the bride emotionally.
As her best friends, siblings, relatives, and just generally the people she wants surrounding her on this huge life decision, bridesmaids carry the role of being the bride’s emotional rock. Wedding planning can come with its fair amount of stress, so bridesmaids should check in with her throughout the process, ask what she needs, and do their best to thoughtfully and sensitively support her feelings.
8. Help with wedding planning tasks.
While bridesmaids are not wedding coordinators, florists, caterers, or cake bakers, they might be asked to help with certain smaller wedding planning tasks within reason. Activities such as stuffing envelopes, alphabetizing escort cards, getting hands-on with some easy DIY projects, or even making trips with the bride to pick out rentals or attend her hair and makeup trial are tasks where the bridesmaids can lend a hand.
9. Buy a wedding present.
As with any other wedding guest, bridesmaids should buy a wedding gift for the couple off of their wedding registry and have it shipped to their address before the wedding. The only time this expectation may be removed is if you’re serving as a bridesmaid at a destination wedding and your presence (i.e. travel expenses) are considered gift enough. Going in on a big-ticket group gift with all of the bridesmaids can be a fun way to give the couple somthing they really want!
Wedding Day Bridesmaid Duties
On the big day, bridesmaids help ensure everything goes smoothly for the bride, her maid of honor, and the majority of the wedding guests. Here’s how:
1. Get ready with the bride.
Bridesmaids should plan on showing up at the designated getting-ready location on time, with all of their gear (bridesmaid attire, shoes, jewelry, makeup, undergarments, etc.) in hand. Besides getting themselves aisle-ready, the bridesmaids should do whatever they can to assist the bride during this time, such as:
- Keeping her smiling, laughing, calm, and collected
- Answering any incoming texts, calls, or logistical questions for her
- Making sure she eats something and stays hydrated
- Pouring celebratory bubbly for everyone to enjoy
- Keeping hair and/or makeup appointments on track
- Helping her into her dress
- Assisting her with her shoes, jewelry, or veil
2. Assist the MOH.
The maid of honor has a pretty big job on the wedding day. Bridesmaids should serve as her right-hand ladies, helping out with whatever tasks are needed—whether that’s making a last-minute run to the drugstore, coordinating with the photographer or wedding planner, or providing (and keeping track of) a wedding day emergency kit.
3. Provide getting-ready snacks.
If no other arrangements have been made for getting-ready sips and snacks, the bridesmaids should take it upon themselves to provide these treats. Everyone—from the bride to her mother to even the photographer and beauty stylists—will appreciate the gesture and benefit from some food and drink throughout the busy day.
4. Be the “bride tribe.”
Bridesmaids should embody the concept of being the support crew for the bride and the maid of honor in all ways during the big day. They can also serve as a point of contact for guests and vendors when it’s helpful. Here are some tasks the bridesmaids can cover to be of service:
- Double-check that all members of the wedding party and any special family members have their personal flowers (bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, flower crowns, or toss petals). Assist with pinning on boutonnieres or other floral accessories as needed.
- Help guests navigate the venue, such as directing them to parking areas, bathrooms, handicap access, exits, and if applicable, the bar or refreshments station.
- Standing near the gift table, guest book, or wedding favors to help direct and facilitate guests’ participation.
5. Participate in the ceremony.
Bridesmaids should be in place at the ceremony venue on time, (most likely hidden out of sight), and ready for their cues to process down the aisle. Keep chatter to a minimum and be respectful of the planner, officiant, or whomever is running the show. During the actual ceremony, be sure to hit your rehearsed mark, fulfill any other roles you’ve been assigned during the actual service, and then process out of the ceremony according to plan.
6. Be photo-ready.
If the wedding party didn’t pose for photographs with the happy couple before the ceremony, typically these group photos occur right after the ceremony at the beginning of the cocktail hour. Rather than dispersing into the crowd, bridesmaids should stick together and be ready to follow the photographer’s commands—gathering stray folks for these shots can be tiresome, not to mention steal precious minutes away from the couple’s ability to enjoy their cocktail hour.
7. Be model guests (and the life of the party).
Bridesmaids should mingle and chat with other guests, enjoy the food and drinks offered, sit down at their dinner table when asked, participate in guest-related activities like signing the guestbook or visiting the photo booth, listen to, applaud, and/or give any speeches (that have been pre-arranged), witness the special dances, and boogie down (tastefully) when it’s dance floor time.
8. Maintain a stress-free send-off.
Finally, bridesmaids should help the maid of honor, coordinator, or the couple’s parents assemble any items than need to be transported out of the reception venue at the end of the night. These packables might include:
- Any getting-ready clothing or gear
- Extra/unused ceremony programs, favors, or sparklers
- Leftover alcohol
- Any decor or signage that was personally provided (not rented)
- The bride and/or bridesmaids’ bouquets
- Wedding cards and gifts
- The guest book
- Special toasting flutes, cake servers, or cake plate
- A basket of late-night leftovers (packaged by the caterer)
- The top tier of the wedding cake
- A few slices of late-night wedding cake (packaged by the caterer)
- The bride and/or groom’s wedding attire, if they’ve changed into getaway clothes
In addition to making sure the above items leave the venue in the right vehicle(s), bridesmaids can lend a hand with these final logistical tasks:
- Make sure all guests make it onto the right shuttle buses, find their cars, or otherwise make it safely out of the venue.
- Hand out pre-addressed tip envelopes to the vendors.
- Make sure the bride and/or groom’s overnight bags make it to their wedding night hotel room.
- Organize guests to the after-party, if there is one.