I’m a first-time bridesmaid in a wedding this fall. What are some responsibilities along with proper bridesmaid etiquette that I should know?
We received this question from a Wed Society Community Member recently, and with so many ladies filling a bridesmaid role (many for the first time), we want to make sure we cover ALL the details for you!
So, what do bridesmaids do, exactly? We covered specific tasks for the bride’s BFFs in this blog, but if you’re looking for the bridesmaids’ general responsibilities, those can differ. A bridesmaid isn’t just a meaningless title – there’s actually quite a bit involved in the role! Let’s review below!
Photo // Chua Lee Photography
Bridesmaid Responsibilities + Etiquette: What to Keep in Mind
A bridesmaid’s duties start as soon as you are asked to fill the role (usually months before the wedding) and extend through the wedding night. Let’s go over all that’s involved in being a bridesmaid!
Attend all the things. And there will be quite a few events! Engagement party. Bridal showers (try to at least attend one, if you can’t make multiple events). Bachelorette party. Rehearsal. Rehearsal dinner. Getting ready together. The wedding (a non-negotiable!). Being a bridesmaid will quickly fill up your calendar, but hey – lots of excuses to get dressed up and celebrate a person you love!
The bride may or may not ask all of her bridesmaids to attend dress try-ons and fittings, but if she does ask and you can make one or two trips, it’s a very nice gesture to tag along and offer honest but always supportive, positive advice.
Additionally, the bride may ask certain bridesmaids to take on certain roles within the ceremony or reception (reading passages, giving toasts, etc.). Do your best to cheerfully accept these roles, even if they’re a bit out of your comfort zone.
Budget for Certain Purchases
If you agree to take on the bridesmaid role, you’ll be expected to pay for attire, events and gifts. Realistically, the cost of being a bridesmaids can total several hundreds of dollars, so be prepared to budget wisely! Here’s what you’re expected to pay for and contribute to:
Bridesmaid dress – the bride may give guidelines and let you shop for your own, or she may have a specific style picked out. Either way, in most cases, bridesmaids are expected to purchase their own dress.
Shoes + jewelry – again, the bride may have a certain pair she’d like everyone to wear or she may give a general guideline (nude strappy, black chunky heel, gold earrings). Do your best to find items that fit her wishes.
Professional hair, makeup and nails for the Wedding – if funds for any of these services are an issue, be sure to let the bride know up front and ask if she’s ok with you doing your own. If she does want everyone to have a specific style – especially an updo or intricate hairstyle, it’s best to do all you can to spring for the pro service.
Shower gift – in addition to chipping in funds for the costs of the shower itself, it’s customary for bridesmaids to give the couple a gift at the shower, or contribute to a large group gift.
Wedding gift – don’t show up empty-handed to the wedding, either. Budget for all gifts ahead of time and remember, you can’t go wrong grabbing something directly from their registry!
Wedding weekend transportation + accommodations – be ready to pay for a hotel, flights and/or transportation if the wedding isn’t local, in addition to other travel costs. Lots to budget for, but often an excuse for a fun trip to somewhere new!
Pitch in with Planning (and Paying)
The Maid or Matron of Honor is typically the person to take the lead on planning pre-wedding events to celebrate the bride, but as a bridesmaid, you’re expected to chip in both with the logistics and the funds. Don’t leave all of the prep work to the MOH!
Bridal shower – offer to help the MOH as well as any of the bride’s family members who may also be contributing to shower preparations. You may offer to pay for certain items or chip in a fraction of the overall cost of the event.
Bachelorette party transportation + accommodations + gift – the hallmark event of the bridesmaid role! As a bridesmaid, you’re expected to pay your own way to the bachelorette party and also to chip in for costs of food, decor and activities. Generally, the bride’s costs for this event should all be covered by her bridal party. Budget for a bachelorette gift and if you absolutely can’t make it to the event, still offer to help cover the bride’s costs if you’re able.
Help Where You Can
Above all, bridesmaid responsibilities include being a source of emotional support for the bride! Even if she doesn’t need you to assist with DIY projects, offer to listen to her vent on occasion, offer advice where you can and provide encouragement along the way. As stressful as being a bridesmaid may be, planning a wedding can take a mental toll! It’s always helpful to bear some of that load.
Bridesmaid Etiquette to Remember
Go with the flow: Your suggestions are welcome, within reason, but the bride has the final say on bridesmaids’ attire. Even if it’s not your favorite style, it’s one night of wearing something that makes your friend happy. Worth it!
Make friends! This isn’t your reality TV version of The Bachelorette. Although your bride friend may have bridesmaid friends from many different eras of her life, which means you may not know everyone or immediately hit it off with everyone, it’s important that you do your best to be friendly and engage with the group.
Know the plan and help keep the day on track: the wedding day will follow an itinerary to keep things on schedule. Be helpful to the bride, her family and her vendors she’s paying quite a bit of money for by being on time, not complaining when it’s time for photos and having a cheerful attitude throughout the day. This means assisting with setup and cleanup as well, if needed!
Keep the dance floor going: there’s nothing more awkward for a couple (and their band or DJ) when the dance floor is noticeably empty. Take the lead as a bridesmaid, grab some hands and get out there and DANCE!
Looking for more guidance as you join your BFF in this special season? Our Community over on Wed Society is filled to the brim with helpful tips and tricks, do’s and don’ts, plus all the answers you could ever need from our expert team of wedding editors who have been there, done that! Whether you’re a bride or a bridesmaid, this Community is for you!