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Bridesmaid Duties: Your Ultimate Guide to The Role and Responsibilities of a Bridesmaid

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Discover the varied roles of bridesmaids from emotional support to ceremony assistance. Navigate your duties with ease using our detailed guide.

Jessica Bishop Headshot

So, you’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid? Congratulations! This is not just a testament to your close relationship with the bride (or maybe the groom) but also an invitation to play a significant role in one of their biggest life events. You are now a part of the wedding party– but what exactly does it mean to be a bridesmaid? This honor comes with its fair share of responsibilities. But fear not! We’ve got you covered with a detailed guide to bridesmaid duties to help you navigate this exciting journey! Keep reading because we will cover what the role of a bridesmaid is before, during, and after the wedding.  

In this article:

What are the responsibilities of a bridesmaid?

If you find yourself on a list of bridesmaids that means you have been selected to be in the wedding because you are a close friend or family member of the bride or groom. You’ve witnessed their relationship and love over time and they can’t imagine saying “I do” without you by their side. Besides standing next to the bride on her wedding day, what role do you play as a wedding attendant? Your exact bridesmaid duties and responsibilities will depend on the size of the wedding and what the bride or groom’s expectations are for their attendants. However, there are some basic bridesmaid tasks to cover. 

Pre-Wedding Bridesmaid Duties

Bridesmaids play a pivotal role long before the wedding bells start chiming. Their involvement begins after the engagement, typically when the bride asks a special question of her dear friend or family member. The acceptance of a bridesmaid proposal marks the start of your journey as part of the wedding party! The bridesmaid’s role is varied but indispensable. Below, we’ll fully explain typical bridesmaid duties and responsibilities before the big day, but here’s the TL;DR:

  • Providing emotional support throughout the planning process
  • Assisting the bride with dress shopping and fittings
  • Organizing and attending bridal showers and bachelorette parties
  • Helping with wedding day preparations, such as getting ready and decorating the venue
  • Enthusiastically celebrating the bride throughout the engagement period

Supporting the Bride Through Her Wedding Planning Journey

Most importantly, you along with the other members of the bridal party (including the maid of honor or matron of honor) are there to support and love your friend as they take on not only the role of fiancé but also wedding planner. You aren’t just physically standing next to your friend on their special day but you also will stand with them as they juggle the task of making wedding decisions

During their engagement, the bride or groom is inundated with many decisions that can feel stressful even though they are planning for a fun celebration. But having a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen, or even someone who can take their mind off the chaos of wedding planning is actually one of the duties of a bridesmaid.

Your goal is to keep your friend calm amidst the hectic schedule of the planning process, and it’s one of the best ways to be a good bridesmaid. A bridesmaid’s primary objective is to provide a sense of support to the bride and reduce the overwhelming feeling of wedding preparations, paving a clear path towards the big day.

Planning Pre-Wedding Parties

A significant part of the bridesmaid’s pre-wedding role revolves around planning and attending pre-wedding events. These festive occasions range from the engagement party and bridal shower to the bachelorette party, each requiring careful party planning and execution.

Bridesmaids, particularly the maid of honor, play a key role in organizing these events. The responsibilities include collaborating on the following:

Bachelorette party planning is quite an endeavor in itself. Throwing a good bachelorette party requires collaboration with the maid of honor and other members of the bridal party. You’ll have to work together to ensure you meet the bride’s wishes and expectations for her celebration. The aim is to ensure these events are a memorable part of the wedding journey, providing the bride with cherished moments of fun and relaxation amidst the busy planning process.

Read This: A Full Guide on Bachelorette Party Planning

Wedding Attire Collaboration or Assistance

Another key role for bridesmaids is to assist the bride in selecting her wedding attire and the bridesmaids’ outfits as well. This could include accompanying the bride as she embarks on wedding dress shopping and providing feedback to help her find the perfect dress.

Bridesmaid duties often include consulting or collaborating with the bride to select the bridesmaid dresses for the group. You may even go bridesmaid dress shopping to find the ideal dresses that complement the bride’s choice. The bride may select a specific color and style that every bridesmaid will wear, or she may opt for mismatched bridesmaid styles in the same color, or she could opt to let each of you have free reign to select the color and style of your choice! It depends on the bride.

However, in an ideal scenario, selecting a bridesmaid dress should be a mutual decision. If a bridesmaid is uncomfortable with the outfit chosen by the bride, it’s crucial to have a private conversation and find a mutually agreeable solution. It’s also worth noting that bridesmaids are typically responsible for paying for their own bridesmaid dress, as well as any necessary alterations.

Pro tip: bridesmaids should schedule their dress alterations about a month before the wedding for a perfect fit on the big day.

Assisting with Other Wedding Prep Tasks

In addition to pre-wedding parties and attire collaboration, bridesmaids may be asked to assist with other prep tasks. These tasks are not always expected but could become part of the job if the bride is having a DIY wedding or is on a tight budget. Wedding planning tasks the bride might ask for assistance with could include addressing invitations, creating wedding favors, crafting decorations, managing RSVPs, or organizing menu choices.

Overall, you can at least expect to provide feedback on wedding suppliers and help the bride make decisions along the way. This not only eases the load on the bride but also provides an opportunity for the bridesmaids to contribute their skills and ideas to the wedding preparations.

The Bridesmaid’s Wedding Eve Duties

As the big day approaches, the bridesmaid’s role shifts into high gear. The wedding weekend is probably when a list of bridesmaid duties checklist comes in handy. The countdown is on and plenty of activities are taking place where you and the other bridesmaids will be needed. Bridesmaids play a crucial role during this time, including:

  • Attending the bridesmaids’ luncheon
  • Helping with venue setup
  • Participating in the ceremony rehearsal
  • Running any last-minute errands for the bride or groom
  • Providing emotional support to the bride
  • Attending the rehearsal dinner

The Bridesmaids Luncheon

Usually, the bridesmaid luncheon is held the week or weekend of the wedding. It’s a chance for the bride and often her mother to thank you for your support throughout her engagement and for all that you will be doing on the day of the wedding.  She knows you’ve given a lot of your time and money for her wedding and now she wants to honor you with a small gift and luncheon.

The day before the wedding is typically a whirlwind of last-minute preparations, rehearsals, and pre-wedding jitters, but also a whole lot of joy! After the bridesmaids’ luncheon, the rest of the day before the wedding may include some other pre-wedding prep tasks.

Venue Preparation

Bridesmaid duties the day before the wedding may include assisting with decorations, arranging the seating, and making sure everything is set for the ceremony and reception. This hands-on role not only aids the smooth running of the wedding but also allows bridesmaids to add a personal touch to the event. Throughout these tasks, their main goal is to ensure that the bride remains calm and confident, ready to enjoy her big day.

Last-Minute Errands and Emotional Support

When it comes to the crunch time of wedding preparations, bridesmaids are the bride’s go-to support system. They can assist further by offering to handle last-minute errands or giving emotional support to the bride. These last-minute errands could include:

  • collecting rentals
  • putting together decorations
  • organizing favors or wedding programs
  • accompanying the bride to nail appointments
  • gathering items for the wedding day emergency kit

As the big day draws nearer, the bride may experience a rollercoaster of emotions. In such times, the emotional support of bridesmaids can be invaluable. Being present, lending an ear, and offering words of encouragement can make a world of difference in keeping the bride’s spirits high.

Participating in the Wedding Rehearsal

Additionally, the bridesmaids along with the rest of the wedding party are expected to attend the wedding rehearsal. During this, they are expected to:

  • Listen attentively to the wedding planner
  • Familiarize themselves with the ceremony line-up
  • Coordinate with the groomsmen to ensure a flawless execution on the actual day.

Attending the Rehearsal Dinner

Once all the prep is over it’s time to start to enjoy the party. That usually starts at the rehearsal dinner. Traditionally, this is an event hosted by the groom’s family and while you may not have any specific duties that evening, it’s always nice to check in with the mother of the groom. 

As far as “what do bridesmaids wear to a rehearsal dinner, it’s nice to dress up a bit depending on the venue and dress code. As always, stay away from white unless the bride has requested you to wear it!  You may be asked to make a toast during the rehearsal dinner. This is usually reserved for the best man or maid of honor, and toasts are sometimes given at the wedding reception instead. Some families open the floor for anyone to offer up kind words to the couple so it’s never a bad idea to have a wedding speech prepared. 

Read this: Stylish and Affordable Rehearsal Dinner Outfit Ideas

Essential Wedding Day Bridesmaid Duties

On the actual day of the wedding, there are a lot of things that need to happen before anyone can say, “I do.”  The best way to be a good bridesmaid is to show up on time! Be punctual. The wedding day timeline is a tight schedule and it can throw everything off if someone is late.

When the big day finally arrives, bridesmaids have a significant role to play. From morning preparations to aiding during the ceremony and reception, their tasks are diverse and critical in ensuring a memorable day for the newlyweds. They could include the following:

  • spending time with the bride while she gets ready
  • offering emotional support and sharing in her happiness
  • making sure the bride has something to eat and stays hydrated
  • participating in the processional
  • standing beside the bride at the altar during the ceremony
  • being present for formal wedding photos
  • attending the wedding reception
  • celebrating the bride and her new spouse!

Let’s go deeper into the various bridesmaid duties that are expected on the wedding day itself. Below are the full details you’ll need to know to be a great bridesmaid.

Morning Preparations and Assistance

Bridesmaids’ duties start early on the morning of the wedding. They arrive at the bride’s side to help her get ready, providing emotional support and ensuring everything runs smoothly. Your job on the day of the wedding is to make sure the bride is relaxed and enjoying herself while you are getting ready together. You might assist the bride with her outfit and ensure she has a hearty breakfast. You’ll either spend time with her while you do your hair and makeup or have your hair or makeup done by professionals. Also, take care to assist the mother of the bride when needed and try to be a calm presence. Smile in the photos and create core memories together!

This involves:

  • Helping with the bride’s outfit
  • Ensuring she eats and drinks
  • Taking getting ready photos
  • Wearing matching getting-ready outfits if applicable
  • Keeping the atmosphere light and calm

Punctuality on the wedding day is paramount for bridesmaids. Being on time not only helps keep the bride calm but also ensures a smooth and stress-free getting-ready experience for everyone involved. You might even craft a special playlist for the occasion! Ideally, bridesmaids should start getting ready at least four to five hours before the ceremony, giving ample time for hair, makeup, and some pre-ceremony photos.

sometimes bridesmaids may carry floral hoops instead of bouquets

Bridesmaid Ceremony Duties

During the ceremony, bridesmaids have several responsibilities. These include processing down the aisle to the wedding altar before the bride, ensuring that the bride looks her best throughout the ceremony, and standing beside her at the altar.

Keep an eye on the bride’s veil and the train of her dress is not wrinkled or bunched when she makes it to the altar. You may need to help arrange them for the best photos. During the actual ceremony, bridesmaids typically hold floral bouquets (the maid of honor additionally holds the bride’s bouquet during the ritual). If you think about it, you may want to tuck away a Q-tip or tissue for yourself or others! It’s an emotional moment and you’ll want to be prepared. Stand in support of your friends and savor the moment of this milestone!

Once the ceremony has concluded, the bridesmaids then exit down the aisle in a recessional, either alone or accompanied by a groomsman or other member of the wedding party.

Reception Bridesmaid Duties

Once the two have sealed their union it’s time to get the party started! At the wedding reception, bridesmaids take on the role of party hosts for the wedding guests. Make sure the bride has at least tried some of her delicious food and cake, and remember to ask her if she needs any water or other beverages. Help fill the dance floor, and have fun! (But not too much fun, you don’t want to ruin the night because you drank too much!) You might have several responsibilities, including:

  • Joining in the bridal party dance, if applicable
  • Making sure the bride is having fun and attending to her needs
  • Keeping her drink filled or making sure she has water
  • Addressing any questions or concerns to ensure everyone feels comfortable
  • Assisting with special requests or accommodations with kindness
  • Joining the bride on the dance floor, encouraging guests to join in the fun

When it’s time to say goodbye and send the couple off on their grand exit, help organize the remaining guests for the send-off.  And finally, check with those left behind and see if you need to clean up and return any items or gifts to the couple’s house.

Bridesmaids not only assist with the logistics of the wedding day but also play a key role in energizing the celebration. They can set the tone by being the first to hit the dance floor, spurring guests to participate and enjoy. Their goal is to create a welcoming and fun atmosphere for everyone to enjoy the celebration.

bridesmaids group photo

Post-Wedding Bridesmaid Tasks

The bridesmaid’s responsibilities don’t end when the couple rides off into the sunset after the reception. Post-wedding, they continue to support the newlyweds in several ways if the couple asks for additional help. This could include:

  • helping with cleanup
  • returning rented items
  • sharing photos and memories from the event

Now, let’s move onto the specific tasks that may be required of bridesmaids in the post-wedding phase so we can expand in more detail.

Assisting with Cleanup and Returns

In some cases, couples may not have hired a professional wedding coordinator or planner, so they may need additional help from their wedding squad. If the couple is on a tight budget, they may also ask you to do some cleaning up at the wedding venue after the reception. This could involve gathering items like toasting flutes, cake serving sets, personal wedding signage, and photographs. You might also be involved in clearing tables and folding table linens.

You or the maid of honor may also gather some of the bride’s items like the wedding day emergency kit or anything else she left behind and give it to her family members. Apart from cleanup, bridesmaids could also be responsible for returning any rented items like bridesmaid dresses, accessories, wedding cake stand, or other decorations. Helping with cleanup ensures a smooth transition from the wedding to the next day while returning rented items ensures all obligations to vendors are fulfilled.

Sharing Memories and Gratitude

Once the wedding ceremony and reception are over, the bridesmaid’s role doesn’t just come to a halt. Instead, bridesmaids can continue to lend their support and assistance to the newlyweds in several ways, post-wedding. This can include:

  • Sharing photos and videos, and reminiscing about the event with the couple
  • Allowing the couple to relive their special day
  • Showing love for the bride and excitement for her new union

This sharing of memories can be done in various ways, from using a photo-sharing app to ordering prints or sharing a Google Photos or Dropbox link. Bridesmaids can also express their gratitude by writing personalized thank-you notes, giving meaningful wedding gifts, or simply by expressing their appreciation to the couple.

Financial Planning for Bridesmaids

Being a bridesmaid is not just an honor; it’s also a financial commitment. Yes, it’s true. Bridesmaids are typically expected to shoulder some of the costs associated with the wedding, including their attire, transportation, and accommodations. You’ll want to make sure you have a clear understanding about what the bride expects you to be financially responsible for. You may need to adjust your budget so you can plan for any expenses related to the wedding.

The costs can range from your bridesmaid dress and accessories to travel and accommodation expenses. Moreover, they may also need to contribute to other wedding-related events before the big day itself, such as the bridal shower and bachelorette party. These costs can add up to anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000, highlighting the importance of financial planning in bridesmaid responsibilities.

Budgeting for the Big Day as a Bridesmaid

Formulating a budget for wedding-related expenses is a wise step for all bridesmaids. This involves getting a clear picture of the total wedding and pre-wedding event expenses and setting a budget for your own costs as well as any shared costs with the other bridesmaids.

It’s advisable to start thinking about the budget early in the wedding planning process, ideally as soon as the bride pops the question to you. When it comes to budget, the more time you have for planning and earmarking funds before making any wedding-related bookings, the better.

Understanding the Costs

Grasping the costs associated with being a bridesmaid can aid in managing expectations and averting any financial stress. For instance, a bridesmaid dress can range from around $100 to $350 or even more, depending on the style and brand.

Key expenses to include in the budget are:

  • Your bridesmaid dress
  • Accessories
  • Gifts
  • Hair and makeup
  • Travel
  • Accommodations
  • Extra expenses for pre-wedding events

By having a clear understanding of these costs, bridesmaids can plan their budget effectively and ensure a smooth and stress-free wedding experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve covered a lot in this guide but have stuck as close to tradition as possible.  So for some of you, you may still have some unanswered questions like: 

What is the traditional purpose of bridesmaids?

The original tradition of bridesmaids has a dark and kind of twisted history, but today, the tradition is for bridesmaids to be of support to the bride and to stand beside her on the big day. This can include providing emotional support throughout the wedding planning process, collaborating with other members of the bridal party to organize the bridal shower and bachelorette party, and assisting the bride on the wedding day.

What is the main duty of a bridesmaid?

The main duty of a bridesmaid is to support the bride throughout the process of planning her wedding, stand beside her on the big day.

What makes a good bridesmaid?

If you’re wondering how to be a good bridesmaid, remember your primary goal. Be supportive and help the bride with any stresses leading up to and on her big day. Be present to make sure things run smoothly and help her look her best, while also having fun yourself! Do your best to be kind and get along with the other members of the bridal party and maid of honor to ensure a stress-free experience for the bride-to-be.

What are the financial responsibilities of a bridesmaid?

What do bridesmaids pay for? The answer is, it depends. Often bridesmaids are expected to cover their attire, transportation, accommodations, and contributions to pre-wedding events like the bridal shower and bachelorette party. But each bride is different, so make sure to clarify her expectations so you know what you’ll be responsible for covering.

What do bridesmaids do on the eve of the wedding?

On the eve of the wedding, bridesmaids help set up the venue, attend the rehearsal, run errands, and provide emotional support for the bride. They’re also involved in the rehearsal and following festivities such as the traditional dinner.

What do junior bridesmaids do? 

She does all the same things as the other bridesmaids, just age-appropriate and probably won’t be attending all the parties especially if they are more grown up in nature.

Or what do you call Male Bridesmaids? Can guys even be bridesmaids?

Of course! Having a gender-neutral wedding is perfectly fine! If a male friend or family member stands beside the bride on the wedding day, they could be called a bridesman, a wedding attendant, or a member of the wedding party. The label doesn’t matter, the friendship does.

Go Forth and Be the Best Bridesmaid!

Being a bridesmaid goes beyond wearing a beautiful dress and standing by the bride’s side on her special day. It involves careful financial planning and a range of tasks from pre-wedding preparations to post-wedding support.

Overall, being a bridesmaid is one of the highest honors your friends can bestow on you. It’s such a special time in your friend’s life, and being selected to join her on the journey is a testament to your relationship. So, embrace your role and bridesmaids duties with grace and enthusiasm, and you’ll surely create cherished memories that will last a lifetime!

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Jessica Bishop Headshot

Jessica Bishop is the founder of TheBudgetSavvyBride.com, and has worked in various areas and roles within the wedding industry since 2007. She is the author of the best-selling book,The Budget-Savvy Wedding Planner & Organizer and also hosts The Bouquet Toss Wedding Planning Podcast. Jessica's expert wedding advice and savvy savings tips have been featured by Good Morning America, COSMOPOLITAN, Glamour, and more.