02 Mar Bridesmaid’s Duties
Brides often ask me if a married friend or family member can fill the position of a bridesmaid. The answer is definitely yes, however, I do think it is important to note the difference between a bridesmaid and maid/matron of honour.
A maid of honour is an unmarried individual that is chosen for her energetic “getting things done” attitude and will act as head “bridesmaid”. Her biggest job is to listen to the bride, make her laugh, and offer emotional and logistical support. Even better if she is a good organiser. If your chosen maid of honour is married, the title simply changes to matron of honour.
Bridesmaids on the other hand are traditionally unmarried young ladies and are there to support the bride and maid/matron of honour. As maid/matron of honour (MH) you have one of the most important jobs for the wedding, so make sure you are next to the bride every step of the way. You will need to be an advisor, party planner and a consoler, and you may even need to play the role of psychiatrist, referee and ‘reality checker’ sometimes. If you are uncertain about what will be expected of you, these handy tips are sure to make you the best bridal assistant you can be:
- As the MH it is your job to direct the other maids through their duties. Make sure everyone gets their dresses, attends fittings, and finds the right jewellery. Also make sure everyone in the wedding party is aware of all the pre-wedding events.
- When offering your assistance with the wedding planning, be specific. Rather than saying “What can I do?”, say “Can I help you with the invitations?” or “Can I help you shop for bridesmaids’ dresses?”
- Spread the news about where the bride and groom have gift registries.
- Plan or co-host, and pay for the kitchen tea/bachelorette party with other bridesmaids.
- Decide before the kitchen tea/bachelorette party which bridesmaid will keep notes of all the gifts received, so that the bride/couple can write thank-you cards afterwards.
- Assist the bride by scouting for bridesmaids’ dresses, shoes, jewellery, and other accessories. Paying for the bridesmaids’ dresses is very much budget dependant (and different cultures have different customs with regards to this), but you might consider offering to pay for the entire ensemble.
- Remember to break in your shoes before the wedding day as this can minimise slipping, blisters, and aching feet.
- Offer to run specific last-minute errands, like collecting dresses or wedding stationery.
- Make sure you are able to attend the ceremony rehearsal and rehearsal dinner (if there is one) and the MH also needs to coordinate transportation and lodging for all the bridesmaids, if necessary.
- As MH you need to make sure that all bridesmaids get their hair and makeup done, get to the ceremony on time and have the correct bouquets.
- On the day of the wedding, be on hand to receive flower deliveries, meet and direct confused suppliers, or satisfy junk food cravings at the bride’s request.
- Carry a small emergency kit in your clutch with some needle and thread (in case the bride’s dress needs mending), plasters, white chalk (to cover up any dirty spots on the bride’s dress), deodorant and a touch-up kit which the make-up artist should supply the bride with. (For a full bridesmaids’ emergency kit inventory, see here.)
- The MH holds the groom’s ring during the ceremony (safest place to put it is on the thumb), as well as the bride’s bouquet while the couple exchange vows.
- The MH arranges the bride’s train and veil before the ceremony begins and just after she arrives at the altar.
- Assist the bride with her dress throughout the day by helping carry her train when necessary. Make sure you know how to bustle the dress before the dancing begins and accompany the bride on visits to the restroom, if asked.
- Act as auxiliary hostess at the reception by introducing guests to each other, making sure they know their way around the venue, telling them where to put presents and graciously inviting them to sign the guest book if there is one.
- Collect any gift envelopes brought to the reception and keep them in a safe place – preferably one designated person should do this. Coordinate with the best man and groomsmen to help move the wedding presents into a reliable person’s vehicle so that it can be taken to the couple’s home.
- Make sure the bride takes a moment to eat something – refresh her drink, get her a plate of food from the buffet table, or instruct the waitrons to keep her food warm if she is mingling with guests.
- If invited to speak, the MH toasts the couple after the best man, but this can also be done as a fun team effort by a few of the bridesmaids.
- When the dancing starts, hit the dance floor. Dance with the best man/groomsmen during the first dance, if requested by the couple. Also, be on the lookout for toe-tapping guests who might need encouragement and/or a dance partner.
- Being a bridesmaid will definitely stretch your pocket, so when it comes to the wedding present, team up with one of the other bridesmaids. This provides more buying power, and two heads are better than one when it comes to gift ideas. Sometimes the entire bridesmaid troop pitches in for one ‘knock-her-socks-off’ wedding gift.
- Help the bride change into her ‘after party’ dress if she has one, and arrange for storage of her wedding dress in a safe place until she returns from honeymoon.
- Laughter can be as effective as venting, so make sure you have lots of fun and laughs during this very special time.
Every bride has an emotional crisis at some point and often this will require lots of tissues, hugging, and hair-smoothing. You will need to make sure you provide plenty of emotional support during the planning process, as well as on the wedding day. As the MH you will need to give the bride lots of reassurance. Be a trusted friend and a good listener, provide an ear when needed and above all give sensitive, but smart, advice. Even if she seems to dwell on the same subjects repeatedly, make her feel that she has someone with whom she can share her thoughts. Weddings rarely pass without a little challenge so prepare yourself emotionally. My advice would be to pre-book some relaxing spa treatments for you and the bride in the months leading up to the wedding – after all, happy bridesmaid = happy bride!