Bridesmaid Duties 101: What to Expect
For most brides, their bridal party is typically made up of their closest friends and female relatives of both the bride and the groom. The bridesmaids are there to provide support throughout the lead up to the wedding and on the actual wedding day, whilst also helping to make the whole experience fun for all involved.
So where did this tradition come from and what did the duties used to entail? Well apparently in Ancient Roman times, weddings needed to have 10 witnesses to be deemed legally binding, but wait for the even crazier bit - the bridesmaids were all expected to dress similar to the bride so any vengeful spirits that were hovering would be confused out of trying to harm or sabotage the newlyweds. Luckily for us, things have changed a little since then but many of us are often perplexed as to how much responsibility bridesmaids need to have. Now this can vary from bride to bride and is hugely dependent on their preferences but listed below is typically what can be expected.
Who Pays for What?
Bridesmaid Dresses - This can vary, but generally it is expected that the bridesmaids will pay for their dress, accessories and shoes. But bear in mind if as the bride you are asking your bridesmaids to pay for this, you will need to be more flexible with the bridesmaids' choice to suit both different budgets and tastes. If you have your heart set on something in particular, then you need to be prepared to come to a compromise with how much you are expecting your bridesmaids to be paying.
Bridesmaid Bouquets - This one comes down to the bride to provide for the bridesmaids and the same will apply for the groomsmens' buttonholes. Typically they will be the same as the bridal bouquet just in smaller versions.
Hair and Make Up - If the bride wishes to have all the bridesmaids looking the exact same style-wise, then it is down to the bride to cover the cost of the hair and make up artist. If the bride is feeling a little more flexible, perhaps they might give the bridesmaids some guidelines and allow the bridesmaids to take care of this themselves. They can then either choose to do it professionally or take care of it themselves.
Hen Party - Typically the bridesmaids are expected to pay for themselves at the hen party and some bridesmaids might be happy to pay for the bride too. Again, this is something that can vary from bride to bride and if the bride is happy to cover their costs or pay for an element of the party then there is no doubt it will be graciously appreciated by the bridesmaids.
Leading up to the wedding
As the wedding approaches, the bridesmaid is on hand as a helper for when the bride may need it. Whether this be help with calling venues and suppliers, helping to choose dresses for both the bridesmaids and the bride, table plans or organising RSVPs. The bride can have the bridesmaids involved as little or as much as she likes in the lead up to the wedding but as a bridesmaid, just be a helping hand where you can. This could be checking in to seeing how it's all going or popping round to help with any wedding DIY projects or just a cup of tea and a chat. The bridesmaids will more than likely act as a sounding board for any of the ideas the bride may have!
The bridesmaids may wish to help the bride with organising any beauty appointments she might be hoping to have, whether this be offering to go for a mani/pedi/massage with her (aren't you such a great friend?!) or attending her hair and beauty trials with her to help give a second opinion.
Many brides will want to have their bridesmaids getting ready with them the morning of the wedding and even have a mini sleepover the night before the big day, so the bridesmaids will need to look into booking accomodation near by and organising what it is you'll need to be taking with you to get ready. If the plan is to have a little sleepover, then think about all the fun things you might want to pack such as bubbly, girlie films and tasty treats.
Typically this is a responsibility that often falls to the Maid of Honour, but bridesmaids are generally expected to help out with the hen party planning process. They should be ready to help the Maid of Honour come up with ideas and try to be as cooperative as possible. The best thing to do is create an online chat group for all the bridesmaids so you can get any bridesmaid chat and duties organised and sorted as efficiently as possible! Some of the bridesmaids may not actually know one another, so this is also a chance for you to all get to know each other better.
The Week Before the Wedding
As Chief Bridesmaid or Maid of Honour, this is your time to check in with the main party and check to see if everyone is feeling ready and organised. It's a good time to ensure no one is having any last minute nerves about their speech and to ensure everyone is happy with proceedings.
The Day Before the Wedding
This is the very last day to get everything in order so the bridesmaids will need to chat to the bride to see if there is anything she needs their help with. Some venues may let you set up the day before the wedding so it's highly likely the bride may need the bridesmaids on board to help get everything ready and in place for the next day.
This is also the bridesmaid's last chance to ensure their outfit is complete and ready to go. Whether that be collecting any items that are being hired, buying appropriate underwear for the dress or getting their nails done - get all you need to do booked in so you have it all ready in time.
As mentioned above, many brides like to spend the night with their bridesmaids the night before they get married to quell any nerves they may have and really enjoy some quality time with their girls - so gather together some of the bride's favourite things and head on round to celebrate this exciting time. This is also a great place to have a chat with the bride about how she's feeling about things and encourage contemplation. The day can often be gone in a flash so it's always nice to think about these things with all your closest friends.
On the Day Duties
The bridesmaids will most likely be getting ready with the bride the morning of the wedding, so all the bridesmaid should help each other with getting ready and if there are little bridesmaids or flowergirls then make sure they're all ready to go too. Then just be on hand for the bride in case she needs anything.
The bridesmaids will likely travel seperately to the bride with the Mother of the Bride in tow, leaving the Bride and Father of the Bride to travel together to the ceremony. The bridesmaids should be at the ceremony venue at least 10 minutes before the bride so the photographer can take any necessary photos and so you are there to welcome the bride when she arrives.
Once the beautiful bride has arrived, it is down to the Maid of Honour to get all bridesmaids in formation and paired with the necessary groomsmen. The Maid of Honour will then make any final adjustments to the brides dress and veil, checking she is all happy and ready to go. Depending then on the preference, the bridesmaids will then lead or follow the bride and her father down the aisle and sit on the front pews ready to follow the bride and groom out at the end.
The Maid of Honour will then take the bridal bouquet from the bride and sit with the bridesmaids. At the end, the Maid of Honour will link arms with the Best Man and follow the bride and groom out of the ceremony. The bridemaids will then link with their partnered groomsmen and head out after them.
Once outside the church, it is down to the Maid of Honour to gather together everyone for any necessary photos and organise people into their cars assisting with any directions that might be needed.
When at the reception, the bride may want you to help with receiving people into the venue and to help with anything guests may need. The Maid of Honour should spend a bit of time circulating at the reception to check that everyone is happy and just have a general chit chat on behalf of the bride.
Needless to say, the final duty is to have a bloomin' great time, the bridesmaids are always memorable for a reason! So enjoy, use these guidelines as and where you wish and most importantly - focus on what works for you! Everyone is different so there's no need to follow these duties as if they are set in stone, play around with what works and just know that the bridesmaids will be on hand when you need them!