Just like the bride, you've said "yes!", but what are the official bridesmaid roles and duties? Crucially, what exactly have you really let yourself in for? Being a bridesmaid is all about supporting your best friend on the biggest day of her life: from helping her into her wedding dress on the day to throwing an ace hen party and providing invaluable moral support to tame any bridezilla moments. But not all bridesmaid roles and duties are silk and pink roses. In some cases, it can be like having your own part-time job.
Plan the hen party
The maid of honour is technically in charge of planning the hen party and bridal shower, but as a bridesmaid you will be expected to bring ideas to the table too. From coordinating guests to ordering catering - this is where your fantasy as a party planner can come true. Remember: this day is all about the bride and what she wants, so (as goes across the board), if you don't like it, you may just have to go along with it.
Pay for bridesmaid paraphernalia
Bridesmaids dresses, hen party, bridal shower… the costs can add up. The average wedding costs over £30,000, so don't be offended if the bride-to-be can't stretch to fund your gown. 45% of Brides readers will buy their own bridesmaids dresses (but not bags and shoes) - so it's worth bearing in mind that you may have to cough up for the dress. Similarly, in your duty to help plan the events, comes the duty to help pay. And with many hen parties taking place across a weekend or abroad, it can get pricey. You'll inevitably split the bill, but as it's often a surprise for the bride, you may have to fund some of her portion, too.
Attend the engagement party and rehearsals
As a bridesmaid, you will be expected to attend all pre-wedding events. That means: bridal shower, hen party, wedding rehearsal, rehearsal dinner… not to mention wedding dress shopping and general weekend crisis planning meetings. See, we did say it was like a part-time job!
Be one step ahead - and handle a bridezilla
If you're a maid of honour or chief bridesmaid, this is where your friendship really comes into play. From being constantly reachable on the phone (yes, last minute panics over whether white roses really are the right choice do happen) to pre-meditating the bride's needs, you'll be. But take it in your stride: create an 'emergency kit' bag for her complete with plasters, paracetamol, tissues and rescue remedy and keep a note of her wedding-day make up so you can have extras in your clutch to touch her up if she forgets.
Take on a supporting role at the wedding ceremony
Those pre-wedding nerves are inevitable and on the day you'll be a calming influence for the bride. Have a few nostalgic stories up your sleeve to help her relax as you help her into her dress. After getting the bride out of the car and making sure her dress looks on-point, you'll follow her up the aisle and sit or stand to her left at the front of the congregation. If you're the maid-of-honour, you'll take her bouquet and look after it until the leaving procession. It's a good idea to keep tissues in your bag should there be any tears of happiness near you!
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Be the life and soul of the reception
You may be asked to be in the 'receiving line' (where the bride and groom greet guests going into the reception). In this way you'll act as the bride's back up, making sure guests are having a good time and everyone is seated where they should be. There'll inevitably be a bonding moment of holding the bride's dress when she goes to the loo. But after all that: you've earned that glass of Champagne. To the dance floor!