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Wedding Wonderings: What Does a Bridesmaid Do?

Did your best friend, sibling, future sister-in-law, or another loved one ask you to be in her wedding? Being a bridesmaid is a wonderful validation of your relationship with that person and you should feel proud and excited that the couple wants you involved in their special day! Being asked to be a bridesmaid is a great honor, but for many first-time bridesmaids, it can be met with a lot of questions. It’s OK if you don’t know your role or expectations leading up to the big day; we’re here for you!

So what does a bridesmaid do, exactly? Bridesmaids make up the bridal party, and these are typically friends or relatives of the bride who will support her not only on the special day, but also with all the planning and preparation leading up to the exciting event. 

With all the craziness surrounding wedding planning, it can sometimes feel easy to be overwhelmed by everything that’s happening. Bridesmaids can help with all of this and give the bride some extra love and a boost of confidence on her wedding day. (And maybe a snack or a few tissues). Here are the key things you should know about what bridesmaids do, both before the wedding and on the day of when they are decked out in gorgeous bridesmaid dresses!

women in blush bridesmaid dresses from brideside
Here comes the bride tribe! Check out these Brideside collection in ‘Blush;’ all under $200! Photo Credit: Jenna Lee Pictures

Post-Proposal Bridesmaid Gestures

When thinking about bridesmaid duties, your job begins after your loved ones get engaged. With a resounding “yes!” the wedding planning can begin!

Many couples will not know who their wedding party will be around the time of their engagement, and some may choose not to have a wedding party at all, so be sure to hold off on any other planning until you’ve received a formal ask to be in the wedding. Once the bride has communicated who the bridal party is, you could also go in together on an engagement gift for the couple or give a gift on your own.

Are you the maid of honor? Congrats! You’re basically the leader of the bridesmaids and may have more responsibility in planning some events leading up to the wedding like the bridal shower or bachelorette party. Once you’ve been asked to be maid of honor (or matron of honor, if you’re already married), be sure to reach out to the bride to discuss her wants, needs and expectations over the wedding planning period. 

 burgundy bridesmaid dresses with sequin Maid of Honor dress from brideside
We love when the Maid of Honor gets a little extra love with a gorgeous sequined bridesmaid dress! Shop Jenny Yoo Jules in ‘Rose Gold Sequin’ today! Photo Credit: Eden Ingle Photo

How Do Bridesmaids Help with Wedding Planning?

On average, couples take about a year to year and a half to plan their wedding, but the timeline will really depend on their situation. The bridesmaids can offer creative assistance, such as helping the bride come up with a wedding hashtag for social media (calling all wordsmiths!). Deciding the wedding venue and theme is completely up to the couple, but you can lending a helping hand by listening, offering ideas and doing research if asked. If you’re the maid of honor, you might be asked to visit venues or caterers too. Keep an open mind and most of all, be supportive. You can always share a few cool ideas via social media that speak to the couple’s personality and style. They’ll appreciate that you’re thinking of them!

As you get closer to the wedding date, there will be more ways you can help. Share out the wedding registry and lead the charge on purchasing a gift off of it. Be sure sure to answer all RSVPs on time and help remind other guests to do the same. If the bride is handling any big projects — like mailing out 250 invites or putting together party favors — you might be asked to help stuff envelopes or bags. 

Maids of Honor: Ask the bride how you can be of assistance to her. She might be super appreciative if you can help arrange hotel rooms for out-of-town guests or provide a recommendation for a good bakery in town. Everyone who has planned a wedding knows there are a lot of different vendors, people and details to coordinate. Any little thing helps!

Wedding Dress Shopping Tips

As the wedding date draws closer, you might be wondering who goes dress shopping with the bride. Ideally, the Maid of Honor and bridesmaids would all be there, but this will largely depend on how many people the bride can take with her and everyone’s general availability. Most bridal salons have a guest limit, so wait for an invitation from the bride for this important event. 

Is your bestie doing an appointment at Brideside Bride? Make sure she knows these tips for preparing for her bridal appointment. FAQs are at the bottom!

If you are asked to attend, get excited! This is a big moment full of fun memories, and the focus should be on helping the bride find the wedding dress of her dreams. Some brides find their perfect gown right away, while others may need to visit multiple shops before they find the dress that’s right for them. Being there to help your friend find her wedding dress means a lot to her.

During wedding dress shopping, you can provide thoughtful feedback, help her find different styles and sizes, and ask open questions. Also important to note: Brides often fall in love with wedding dress styles they don’t expect to, so let her explore and offer suggestions along the way. Remember that her style might be different than yours; your job is to make her feel beautiful and special in whatever she chooses.

If you aren’t invited to the initial wedding dress shopping excursion, there’s still a possibility that the bride will choose to bring her bridal party to follow-up appointments or final fittings, so try to make time to attend these if you can.

Brideside bridesmaids react first look
Wedding dress shopping is the perfect place to practice your first look reaction so you nail it on the big day! Photo Credit: Christy Tyler Photography

Bridesmaid Dresses Shopping

After the bride has found her wedding dress, she’ll start thinking about what she wants the bridesmaids to wear. Brides may have different preferences on wedding party attire; some will want to pick each and every dress and color, while others may prefer to have every bridesmaid choose their own dress in a designated color or color range. 

Whatever she chooses, you can help her out by being present for try-ons or listening to her requirements and finding a great bridesmaid dress on your own. If you aren’t crazy about the color or styles that your friend picks, keep in mind that she loves you and she wants everyone to look beautiful too! If you’re working within a color range, ask if you can have the shade that’s most complementary to your skin tone. More than anything, be sure to clear your dress purchase with her before buying. 

Bridesmaid dresses are typically cut-to-order, which means that they take a bit longer to ship. Most stores have in-stock or quick-ship styles, but you’ll have the most luck with dress variety and time for alterations if you can buy you dress anywhere from 7–9 months before the wedding. Need something sooner? Contact us today!

Good news for you: Whether you’re coming in a group or shopping on your own, Brideside is happy to help you find the best bridesmaid dress. We carry designers like Jenny Yoo, Sorella Vita, Adrianna Papell, Dessy and Amsale, and we also have two collections of our own: Brideside and Aura, priced $200 and under! We’ve got every color under the sun, and can even send you three free swatches if you want the bride to sign off on a color before buying. Don’t live near a showroom location? We’re happy to send you a Try At Home box so you can see how different styles look on you in person. Sign up today to start shopping!

A Brideside stylist can definitely ensure you order the right size, and it might be larger than your typical size to allow for alterations. Many bridesmaid dresses run on a different size scale than typical clothing; for instance, a size 6 bridesmaid dress will often run a bit smaller than a size 6 in streetwear.

Once your bridesmaid dress comes in, you’ll be responsible for getting it altered and making sure it fits. Get your alterations done around one to three months in advance of the wedding so you can to give yourself (and the bride) peace of mind. 

mismatched mauve bridesmaid dresses from Brideside
Loving this mix-and-match bridesmaid dress look? Sign up to work with a stylist who can help you re-create it! Photo Credit: Samantha Laffoon Photography

Throwing a Bridal Shower

Most brides have a shower prior to the big day. Typically, the special women in the bride’s life are invited to the shower, and sometimes the groom shows up for part of it. At the shower, the guests typically enjoy a meal (can be brunch, a full meal or even a nice spread of appetizers and drinks). A few wedding-themed games are played, and the bride can open some bridal shower gifts. 

The maid of honor is often in charge of planning the bridal shower, but sometimes the brides other family members prefer to throw the shower instead. If so, the bridal party can simply ask the host what they need help with before or during the shower; e.g., sending invitations, getting a bag of ice, cleaning up gift wrap, etc. In some situations, the entire bridal party will throw a shower themselves. Consider hosting it in someone’s home or doing a potluck to cut down on costs! 

Time to Party, Bachelorette Style!

One of the best times to bond is during the bachelorette party! This is one of the major events the Maid of Honor plans, with help from the bridesmaids and sometimes family members. The bridal party usually covers the cost of the event for themselves and the bride. Other friends or family members, even if they aren’t in the bridal party, might be invited to this as well.

If you’re in charge of planning the bachelorette party, keep in mind what the bride would enjoy the most. If she’s not big into going to clubs, maybe an intimate weekend at the beach would be better. If she’s a beer fan, see if there’s a fun brewery nearby to take a tour of. Does she have her heart set on a destination event? Work with the rest of the bridal party to see if it’s possible, otherwise come up with some other options that feels like a glamorous stay-cation.

Planning a bachelorette party is a bit easier when the bridesmaids are all friends. Consider that with a  collection of women who don’t know each other, you might need to bake in some activities that can help break the ice. Get your matching one-piece swimsuits, champagne glasses and Instagram posts ready; the bachelorette party is an unforgettable experience!

floaty drink holders from brideside gift collection
Keep your friends close and your drinks closer with floating cup holders!

Wedding Week Countdown

When it’s just about time for the big day, the most important thing the maid of honor and bridesmaids can do is be there for the bride. Offer emotional support and reassurance as the wedding date gets closer and closer helps the bride feel confident and comfortable. Running through the wedding day schedule with her is also a terrific way to calm any nerves and help the bride feel at ease.

There are usually some last-minute errands to attend to as well, such as tweaking schedules, delivering checks or picking up a dessert. As part of the bridal party, it’s also expected that you’ll assist with entertaining guests and helping out-of-towners navigate the area. Any ways the bridal party can alleviate the stress of last-minute tasks can be super helpful! 

The Wedding Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner

Hooray! The wedding day is almost here! Now it’s time for the final preparations and the wedding you’ve all been waiting for. The maid of honor and bridesmaids are expected to be at the ceremony rehearsal on time (venues can be pretty strict about this) and be ready the run-through the proceedings of the big day. After the ceremony is the rehearsal dinner. The bridal party is expected to entertain the bride’s family and friends through socialization and celebration. The maid of honor usually prepares a toast for the rehearsal dinner, but not always. Check with the bride in advance to make sure! The Maid of Honor should also make sure that the bride is well-rested and ready for one of the biggest days of her life!

Although it’s tempting to party hard the night before the wedding, keep in mind that the following day will be long, and there will be plenty of opportunities to drink. Try to save your energy for the big event, and help the bride do the same. There’s nothing worse than feeling groggy and dehydrated at a wedding ceremony!

What do Bridesmaids do on the Wedding Day?

Do you hear the wedding chimes? It’s finally time for your loved one to marry the person of her dreams!  If you’re wondering how to help out the bride on this day, remember to focus on fun memories and do whatever you can to make her experience the best it can be.

brideside bridal and bridesmaids
Be ready for lots of cheers!

Bridesmaids are expected to offer emotional support, get their own hair and makeup done, complete any pressing errands and help the bride get dressed in her wedding gown. The bridal party is usually responsible for their own hair and beauty day of, either by paying a professional to do it or coordinating with friends to do each other’s makeup. Either way, make sure you talk to bride and put a plan in place ahead of time so you aren’t scrambling.

During the wedding day, bridesmaids should be there to help the bride go to the bathroom and make sure she’s drinking water and eating enough. It’s a busy day and all eyes are on the couple, but they often miss chances to eat and stay hydrated.

The maid of honor often gives a speech during the dinner portion of the wedding reception. Prep for the event by writing out everything that you want to say. You don’t have to memorize a speech if public speaking makes you nervous! Take a deep breath and speak from your heart.

Bridesmaids are the ultimate dance crew, so be ready to bring it on the dance floor and give your bride some love!

bride celebrating with bridesmaids on the dance floor
The bridal party is supposed to lift up the bride emotionally (and sometimes physically)! Photo credit: Kimbrali Photography

Time for Celebration!

Looking forward to your role as bridesmaid or maid of honor? You can seek inspiration for your wedding duties by visiting Brideside for the best selection of bridesmaid dresses and accessories.

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