Everything You Need to Know About Being a Bridesmaid

From the bridal shower to the big day, follow these tips to be the best bridesmaid a bride could ask for!

Being a Bridesmaid

Being chosen as a bridesmaid is no casual commitment — when a close friend or family member asks you to stand up at the altar next to them on the biggest day in their life, there are plenty of expectations that come along with it.

If you’ve never been a bridesmaid before, or you have but you feel like you could have done more, you’ve come to the right place. As you might have guessed, your role as a bridesmaid starts long before the wedding day. In fact, it starts right around the time the bride-to-be asks you that once-in-a-lifetime favor.

Throughout the process, the thing to keep in mind is that you’re there to help the bride. We’ve broken down all the steps to being the perfect bridesmaid from the moment you say “I will!” to the newlywed send-off. Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about being a bridesmaid.

Before the Wedding

1. Connect with your fellow bridesmaids.

Your first task as a bridesmaid is to connect with the rest of the bridal party. Do your best to avoid asking the bride for everyone’s contact info — if anything, her maid of honor (MOH) should be able to provide you with phone numbers and email addresses. While you’re at it, get ahead of the to-do list by asking the MOH if you can help out with any big-picture tasks or organizational components for the bachelorette, bridal shower, and any other wedding-related events.

2. Buy a bridesmaid dress, shoes, and accessories.

You’ll likely be asked to purchase or help pay for your bridesmaid dress. If that’s something that’s just not feasible for you, for whatever reason, be sure to communicate that to the bride as early as possible. Either way, expect to pay for your day-of shoes and accessories. If the bride is going for a mismatched look, try to pick options that you’ll be able to re-wear after the wedding.

3. Help plan bridal shower and bachelorette (and help pay).

Once you’ve connected with the rest of the bridesmaids, it’s time to start planning the bridal shower and bachelorette party! While it can be hard to coordinate a big group, do your best to work around everyone’s schedules to maximize the fun and spread costs more evenly. While it’s not the most exciting reminder, be sure to check on social distancing and other restrictions wherever you plan to party.

4. Attend all pre-wedding events.

If it wasn’t already implied by your ultra-important title of bridesmaid, now you know — your attendance at the bridal shower, bachelorette party, and rehearsal dinner is not optional. Barring distance/budget or an emergency, plan on being right by the bride-to-be’s side every step of her way to the altar.

5. Be available.

Planning a wedding is no easy feat, and it can become downright stressful at some points. As a bridesmaid, make a habit of checking on the bride regularly and being available as a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and a general source of positivity. I’m not suggesting you drop everything in your own life to be there for the bride, but do your best to make space and time for her if she needs it.

Help the bride make decisions

6. Help the bride make decisions.

Checking in on the bride can go beyond being someone to lean on — there will likely be plenty of moments when she’s going to ask for your input on some aspect of the wedding. Whether it’s helping her pick out her wedding dress, going to a cake tasting, or coordinating with vendors, don’t hesitate to step up and take on any tasks you’re able to. Believe me; your bride will be so thankful you did.

7. Connect and be present.

Be sure everyone has your contact info and stay in communication. Don’t be a ghost; answer all wedding related texts and emails as soon as possible. Also, be sure to pay close attention during the reherasal, so you know the plan for the big day.

On the Wedding Day

8. Bring a bridal emergency kit.

One thing I always bring with me, whether I’m serving as a bridesmaid or just getting ready with the bride, is a bridal emergency kit. Now, the specifics will depend on the bride in question, but safe bets always include Advil, chapstick, lotion, tampons/pads, bobby pins, a mini bottle of her favorite alcohol, and moleskin for her shoes. Let her know you’ve got her covered — you can even come up with your own secret signal and meeting spot in case of an emergency!

9. Show up on time

This should be obvious, but do not show up late on the wedding day. If you usually show up right on time or a few minutes late, make a point of arriving at least 10 minutes ahead of your scheduled time. Believe me, no one wants to go searching for an integral member of the bridal party the day of the wedding. Make your presence known as soon as you get to the venue and know when and where you’re expected to be throughout the day.

Create the perfect getting ready playlist

10. Create the perfect getting ready playlist.

Set an upbeat, fun vibe with the right music while you’re getting ready with the bride and the rest of the bridal party. There are plenty of great pre-curated feel-good playlists on Spotify and other streaming services, but if you’re inclined to create a totally custom assortment, by all means go for it! You can always ask the other bridesmaids to add their own tracks to make it more collaborative.

11. Ease drama and tension if/when it arises.

Of course, we never want there to be a single snag or worry when wedding day rolls around, but there’s always a chance something will go sideways. Be on the lookout for any potential signs that drama is unfolding and put out any (small) fires you feel comfortable confronting. If anything, loop in the wedding planner so they can problem-solve — the thing to remember is to not worry or bother the bride with anything she doesn’t need to worry about. Here are more unexpected duties you may not have thought about.

12. Give a gift.

Another seemingly obvious part of being a bridesmaid is buying a wedding gift for the couple — but we’re still including it here for safe measure. Sure, your presence is the greatest gift of all, but that doesn’t mean you’re exempt from giving a proper gift from the couple’s registry. Once wedding invitations go out, that’s your cue to check RegistryFinder.com for their wish list. That way, you’ll have the most gifting options to choose from, which can be helpful if you know you’re on a budget.

13. Don’t complain.

Listen, you might be fully in the right to complain at some point during the wedding day. Obviously, that’s never the hope, but it could happen, and when it does, it’s a great opportunity to practice humility and the art of silence. Now, I’m not saying you should jeopardize your safety or physical comfort — if something is seriously wrong, let someone know (just not the bride). Otherwise, do your best to be all smiles and positivity, especially when you’re around the bride.

14. Tend to the bride’s needs.

Throughout the day, as the bride is getting ready or even waiting between photos, ask her if she’s hungry or thirsty (bonus points if you show up with snacks) and keep an eye out for any flyaway hairs or makeup smears. Think of yourself as one of the bride’s sidekicks, helping her to make sure she looks and feels her best all day long.

fun on the wedding day

15. Bring the fun on the wedding day.

I have a feeling it won’t be too hard to achieve this step, since pretty much every wedding ever is naturally a blast. As a bridesmaid, though, you have a true responsibility to party, dance, and bring the fun during the wedding reception. Of course, be respectful of the bride and groom’s families and the traditions dictated by the venue. Oh yeah, and be prepared to help the bride with any trips to the bathroom — it takes a team to hold a dress up!

Be the Perfect Bridesmaid

Being the perfect bridesmaid is no simple feat, but that’s why brides don’t ask just anyone to be there for them on their wedding day. With this helpful checklist and even more tips for bridesmaids from Cheryl, you’ve totally got this!

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