You might be thinking... What exactly have I let myself in for..? But, remember, while being a member of the bridal party can sometimes feel like a part-time job, it's also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share in one of your bestie's most life-changing experiences. It's an honour and it's mega-exciting. Basically, being a bridesmaid is all about supporting your friend: from helping her choose her wedding dress to throwing an awesome hen party, as well as (you guessed it), providing invaluable moral support to tame those bridezilla moments.
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
Your dress, the hen party and/or bridal shower… the costs can add up. The average wedding costs around £30,000, so don't be offended if the bride-to-be can't stretch to fund your gown. 45% of Brides readers 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 it, too. Similarly, with the responsibility to help plan various events comes the duty to help pay. And with many hen parties taking place across a weekend or even 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 dress shopping and general crisis meetings. Granted, it's unlikely your bride will have all of these events, but be prepared to give her your time when she needs you.
Be prepared on the big day
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!
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!
The day after
As the saying goes, what goes up must come down again - and the same rule applies to the next day. No matter how fuzzy your head is from the night before, flash your best smile, pop on a playlist you and the rest of the bridal party will love and get to work. After all, many hands make light work and the couple will really appreciate help tidying up the venue.