Being a bridesmaid is a total honour and the chance to make life-long memories with your closest friend as they get married - but what are the actual bridesmaid duties?
The role of a bridesmaid and the bridesmaid responsibilities that come with it are crucial to the day - you are a very important piece of your friend's wedding puzzle and we're here to help you ensure you don't forget a thing.
Bridesmaid duties in the UK differ from those around the world - we have a number of wedding role traditions that date way back to when weddings first began - but that doesn't mean you need to stick to all of them. Your bridesmaid role will very much depend on the couple and what their approach to wedding planning is like.
They might decide to give you a bridesmaid list of duties that are all super traditional, or they might decide to go off-book and have a bridesman or bridesmate who's just there to enjoy the ride. Whatever they choose, one thing's for certain, there are some bridesmaid jobs that you definitely need to know about.
Bridesmaid Role Explained: What Are Bridesmaid Duties?
This exciting role is one of the most important you'll ever have - and there are plenty of fun and exciting bridesmaid duties to undertake.
That said, not all bridesmaid duties are glamorous, and bridesmaids aren’t actual maids. Couples can sometimes forget that. With that in mind, it’s best you get clued up on all the crucial bridesmaid duties that you’d better not forget. We’ve also thrown in some top tips for being the best bridesmaid ever for good measure. Let’s get started…
- What Are Bridesmaid Duties?
- Bridesmaid Duties and Jobs Before the Wedding
- Bridesmaid Duties and Jobs on the Wedding Day
- Bridesmaid Duties and Jobs After the Wedding
What Are Bridesmaid Duties?
As we mentioned before, not every bridesmaid will have the same list of duties on their bridesmaid job checklist, but some that you can almost guarantee to have on your list are getting ready with the nearlywed on the morning of the wedding, walking down the aisle and, potentially, giving some sort of toast or wedding reading. We go into a lot more detail below...
Bridesmaid Duties and Jobs Before the Wedding
1. Celebrate the Engagement
Whether it's helping to plan the engagement party, or arranging some celebratory drinks with the maid of honour, other bridesmaids and the bride or groom - celebrating the upcoming wedding and the fact that the couple have officially chosen their 'I do crew' is an absolute must. This is also your chance to establish with the couple just how hands-on you're willing to be when it comes to planning.
2. Establish the Finances
Before you begin tasks such as shopping for bridesmaid outfits and booking hair and makeup, you should make sure you establish with the bride who is expected to pay for what. Approach the conversation with an open mind - whilst it is tradition for the couple to pay for wedding party outfits, this isn't always the case and it will very much depend on hers and her partner's wedding budget.
Make sure you consider any extras such as accessories and hair and makeup, too. This is important to establish before any purchases are made, as it may affect yours or their choices.
3. Go Bridesmaid Dress Shopping
You’ll be expected to go bridesmaid dress shopping with the nearlywed and the rest of the crew – and let’s face it, this is probably the part you’re most excited for. What colour will your bridesmaid dress be? What style will everyone choose? It’s all so much fun!
The maid of honour’s duties include helping to arrange a day where everyone can get together to try dresses on, so try and be flexible, particularly if there’s a large group to organise.
Offer positive feedback and remember it can be difficult to dress and coordinate everyone, so if you have concerns, address them calmly with the couple as soon as possible. Help the couple try and achieve their vision, and most importantly, be open minded. Wearing a bridesmaid dress is very different to any other outfit so styles you don't usually go for, may be work a try on just to see.
4. Help with Wedding Planning Tasks
The bridesmaids can help the couple with various parts of wedding planning, and may be asked to help with specific tasks depending on each of your individual interests, skills and talents.
If you’re good at crafts, the couple might ask you to help with DIY wedding favours, whilst those with a knack for design might assist with the wedding stationery. You might also be asked to sort through RSVPs, categorise menu choices or offer your opinions on wedding suppliers.
Be prepared to help with any wedmin - it's all about finding the balance between being super helpful and positive, without being too involved. Let the couple take the lead with how much involvement they want.
5. Help to Plan the Hen Party
Planning the hen party typically falls to the maid of honour, but you may be given tasks to assist her. Be prepared with ideas to help the maid of honour plan the perfect day or weekend away, and think about what task you can do to assist with planning the hen do.
One bridesmaid could round up some hen party dares for everyone to do, whilst another could contact the partner to get the answers for the Mr and Mrs Quiz (our template in that link has variations for Mrs and Mrs and Mr and Mr too!) – every hen party needs this! If there’s a big group of bridesmaids and friends of the nearlywed, consider some bridal shower games to break the ice.
Another bridesmaid task could include putting together the hen party bags – we have the best hen party bag fillers to inspire you if this job falls to you.
6. Prepare for the Big Day
As the wedding date gets nearer, make sure you know what time you need to arrive – most nearlyweds like to have their bridesmaids get ready with them, so find out if you need to sort overnight accommodation or if you can turn up in the morning. Also, double check to find out if there’s anything you need to bring with you.
Talk to the maid of honour and the other bridesmaids about putting together a wedding day emergency kit to give to the couple on the day of the wedding, and if you’re staying overnight have a think about sleepover essentials – chocolates, romantic movies and bottles of bubbly are all essential!
Ahead of the actual wedding, you'll want to make sure you and the other bridesmaids are super clear on smaller organisational details such as your travel (if you're having to arrange it yourself) and your hair and makeup (if you aren't having it professionally done).
Other details like last minute nail salon trips and ensuring you are fully equipped with all the accessories you need are also important. Rushing around on the day itself because you aren't organised will only cause unnecessary stress for everyone else. Organisation is key.
7. Know Your Wedding Day Jobs
It's important that ahead of the wedding day itself, you know exactly what your bridesmaid duties are. It may be that the couple have asked you to deliver a wedding reading in the ceremony or make a toast to the happy couple or keep an eye on an elderly wedding guest. Whatever it is they need you to do, make yourself aware of it with plenty of notice so you can prepare.
8. Check in With the Maid of Honour
In the days leading up to the wedding, t's likely that the couple will be inundated with last-minute wedding tasks, so maybe check in with the maid of honour, if there is one, and see if there are any tasks you can help out with ahead of the big day.
9. Help Set Up the Venue
The bridesmaids might be asked to help set the venue up the day before the wedding – the more people who help, the quicker it gets done. Alternatively, you may be asked to set up the wedding suite where you are all getting ready.
Bridesmaid Duties and Jobs On the Wedding Day
10. Get Ready Together
If you’re not already together on the morning of the wedding, head over to her hotel to help the nearlyweds get ready and capture those beautiful getting ready photos. The bridesmaids should be able to help any younger bridesmaids and flower girls, whilst the maid of honour tends to the star of the show.
Traditionally, the bridesmaids travel to the wedding ceremony with the maid of honour and the mother of the bride, leaving the bride to travel with her dad - but this isn't the case for all weddings as not all weddings have a bride! So it's something you'll want to check beforehand. The bridesmaids should arrive at the ceremony ten minutes before the bride, so they can see her arrive.
11. Walk Down the Aisle
The order in which you walk down the aisle during the ceremony will depend on which style of entrance the couple have chosen.
The traditional English style sees the bride and her father go first, followed by the bridesmaids, but it’s becoming increasingly popular to do it the American way, with the bridesmaids and rest of the wedding party first and the bride last. This might be different if there isn't a bride or if the couple have another idea for how they want to enter their ceremony.
12. Give a Reading
It's common for bridesmaids to be asked to play a bigger part in the wedding ceremony, either making a toast or being a witness as the couple do the signing of the register.
If it’s a reading you’ve been asked to give, the couple will probably choose it for you. However, if they give you free reign, take a look at our pick of the most romantic non-religious wedding readings about love. There’s sure to be one they’ll appreciate.
13. Exit With the Wedding Party
After the ceremony is over, you should leave after the couple and the maid of honour and the best man. Again, the exact order of when you leave the ceremony will depend on the couples' wishes.
14. Join the Receiving Line
If the newlyweds choose to have a receiving line at the reception, you may be required to stand in it and greet guests as a key member of the wedding party.
15. Help Seat Guests at the Wedding Breakfast
Along with the ushers, bridesmaids are often expected to help guide guests to their seats during the wedding breakfast. Bridesmaids aren't usually invited to sit on the top table so they are free to carry out this task.
16. Host Your Table
Bridesmaids are typically not included on the top table, but distributed across the table plan to host the guests. Have your friendliest, most cheerful face on and chat to all of the wedding guests on your table. Being a bridesmaid makes you a bit of a celebrity wedding guest, after all!
As well as hosting tables, bridesmaids were traditionally expected to hand out slices of wedding cake to guests. Most people now help themselves or it is served up after the wedding breakfast, so this probably won’t be something you’ll need to worry about.
17. Be On-Hand for the Couple
The bridesmaids and maid of honour should be available during the wedding reception to assist the bride – she might need makeup touch-ups, or help going to the bathroom if she has a particularly cumbersome dress.
Keep an eye out to make sure the couple always has something to drink (including regular hydrating drinks of water!) and has had some food as the evening goes on – it can be tricky for the newlyweds to find the time to grab a bite to eat, so if you can help out there it will be appreciated.
18. Fill the Dance Floor
Last but not least (and arguably the most important role of them all) is to be the life and soul of the party. Make sure guests are having a good time, be the first on the dance floor (no one else wants to be, so that’s down to you) and party all night long.
Bridesmaid Duties and Jobs After the Wedding
19. Return Any Hired Clothing
You may be asked to help to return any hired clothing or accessories, as well as taking bridesmaid dresses and possibly even the couples' outfits to be dry cleaned the next morning.
20. Help Clean Up
As well as that, you may also be needed to help take down any decorations after the wedding, or collect anything that the couple will need such as their wedding cake leftovers, centerpieces and floral arrangements.
No matter how fuzzy your head is feeling, stick on a wedding playlist and round up the other bridesmaids to get to work. After all, team work makes a dream work, and both the couple and the venue will really appreciate you helping with the tidying up.
Oh, and even though it’s one of the best man’s duties to safely store the wedding gifts if the couple decide to honeymoon right away, a bridesmaid might be asked to help with this also.
Now you know how to be the best bridesmaid ever, you might want to start brainstorming for the hen do. Take a look at our round-up of the most unusual hen party ideas around, for those who want something a little different.