So your bestie popped the question: she asked you to be her bridesmaid! What does it mean to be a bridesmaid? What are your responsibilities? How can you be a helpful bridal party member? In this blog we'll cover all your essential bridesmaid obligations and ways you can go above and beyond for your favorite wedding couple!
Bridesmaid & Maid of Honor Responsibilities + Events
It’s time to get started on your bridesmaid duties checklist! You’ll have plenty of responsibilities to take care of before, during, and after the wedding. You’ll also be expected to attend as many wedding related events as you can including the bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, and bridal shower. Below are some of the most important responsibilities and events for bridesmaids and the maid of honor to focus on.
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Pre-Wedding Bridesmaid Events & Expectations
The wedding itself will only take hours (or maybe days depending on your traditions) but the preparations could be going on for years! Get ready for a whirlwind of responsibilities and events leading up to your friend’s big day. Your duties as a bridesmaid start as soon as you agree to be a part of the wedding party. The wedding preparations might be a wild ride, just remember to have fun along the way!
1) Celebrate the Bride & Her Partner (Engagement Party)
Congratulations! Your bestie just got engaged. After the engagement, be supportive and encouraging! Traditionally, engagement parties are hosted by the parents of the bride or the couple themselves. You’re not obligated to help plan the party, but feel free to offer a helpful hand if you’d like. Do your best to attend the engagement party if the couple has one. You may not even know if you’ll be a bridesmaid at this point, so just focus on celebrating your friends!
2) Communicate with the Bride & Establish a Budget
As a bridesmaid, you’ll want to attend and help plan as many of the wedding-related events as you have time and money for. Make a list of items to talk to the bride about including: bachelorette party expenses (travel, accommodations, food/drink, dress code), wedding expenses (travel, accommodations), wedding attire (bridesmaid dresses, accessories, shoes), etc. You’ll want to know exactly what her expectations are so you can decide how much you can realistically take on. If you are worried about costs, sit down and talk to her early - be on the same page about your budget and time limitations.
3) Create a Group Message or Line of Communication with Bridesmaids & Brides
The maid of honor will usually be responsible for planning the events and communicating to the rest of the bridesmaids. Make your life easier by creating a group chat with all of the bridesmaids and the bride in it. Work with the bride to get everybody’s contact info. Bridesmaids can help by communicating openly, responding to messages, and RSVPing to events in a timely manner.
4) Attend Wedding Dress Shopping (If Invited)
Typically only the mother(s), sister(s), and closest friend(s) are invited to go wedding dress shopping. Most bridesmaids won’t have to worry about adding this into their calendar. If you are invited to tag along, be super supportive and helpful. Be sure to take photos and videos of her in each dress so she can look back at her favorites.
5) Participate in Bridesmaid Dress Shopping
If everyone is in the same area, you’ll probably be expected to attend an in-person appointment to shop for bridesmaid dresses. More often than not, bridesmaids are scattered and busy and will have to order at-home try-on bridesmaid dresses from an online retailer. Coordinate with the bride and other bridesmaids in your group chat to make sure everyone is on the same page about the dresses. Offer feedback and suggestions on dresses you like and gently express which ones you prefer not to wear.
Don’t forget: you are expected to pay for your own bridesmaid dress and shoes, so budget accordingly. Once you and the bride settle on the right bridesmaid dress, order as soon as you can to avoid last minute stress and extra shipping fees.
6) Help Plan the Bridal Shower
One of the first events that the bridesmaids are responsible for planning is the bridal shower. Come up with a fun theme, choose some ice-breaker games to play, and scour the internet for creative bridal shower ideas. Traditionally, bridal showers are for the girls, but many couples now opt to invite everybody! If you’re planning a couple’s shower, feel free to get the groomsmen involved in the planning too!
Maid of Honor Bridal Shower Duties
Planning responsibility mainly falls on the maid of honor and/or bridal shower hosts (hosts often can be aunts/cousins/family friends of the bride). The to-do list includes: inviting guests, choosing decor, buying or preparing food and drinks, greeting guests, and planning a few games or activities. Also, be sure to write down gift details as she opens presents so she’ll be able to write thank you cards to all the guests!
Bridesmaid Bridal Shower Duties & Expectations
Bridesmaids don’t always need to have a role in planning the bridal shower. However, if no hosts step up, be sure to financially contribute to the shower and help out the maid of honor with planning so that she isn’t on her own. If the maid of honor and host have everything covered, just make sure you do your best to attend the bridal shower and give a gift.
Bridal Shower Gifts from the Maid of Honor or Bridesmaid
More than likely, your bride will have a registry for you to choose gifts from. Respect her wishes if she wants everyone to focus on those specific items. If you decide to get something creative instead of (or in addition to) a registry gift, make sure it’s special! The bride will love gifts that are sentimental between the two of you, useful for one of her hobbies, and/or personalized with her and her future husband’s names. Below are a few fun gift ideas to get you started!
a) Personalized Bamboo Charcuterie Board Bridal Shower Gift
If the bride and groom love to cook or host parties, this customized bamboo board is the perfect wedding shower gift for them! It can be used as a cutting board for cooking or as a beautiful charcuterie board!
b) Custom Engraved Marble Wood Coasters
Help the couple protect their furniture with personalized coasters. This gift is especially perfect for a couple moving into a new home together to help them make it feel like their own. They come custom engraved with the couple’s name and wedding year!
c) Personalized Candle for the Wedding Couple
Everyone loves a great scented candle! Instead of choosing a generic candle, you can get one customized with the couple’s names on it and with a scent they will love.
7) Throw a Bachelorette Party
Planning the bachelorette party might be the most fun responsibility you’ll have as a maid of honor or bridesmaid! There are so many fun bachelorette party ideas to choose from. If you want to make planning easier, choose a creative bachelorette party theme to stick to. Make sure you choose decor and activities that suit the bride’s personality!
Maid of Honor Bachelorette Party Responsibilities
Typically, the maid of honor is in charge of planning the bachelorette party. Start by getting ideas of what the bride wants so you can make sure she’ll love her party. Choose a theme and then plan activities and decor based on the theme. Use a group chat to communicate the plans to everyone involved. Be sure to plan the party within reasonable cost - especially if it’s an out-of-town trip. Some bridesmaids will be on a stricter budget than others, try to choose ideas that won’t exclude anyone.
Reserve accommodation in advance so that you can shop around for a great deal! Splitting an AirBnb is a great budget-friendly option. Don’t forget to arrange transportation as well! You definitely don’t want any of the group drinking and driving.
Bridesmaid Bachelorette Party Expectations
As a bridesmaid your main responsibility is to make time to attend the bachelorette party and to have a good time. However, you’re also expected to be a team player and help the maid of honor pay for and plan the party. All bridesmaids are expected to attend the party and contribute in some way. Ask the maid of honor to delegate a task to you so you can take something off her long to-do list!
8) Offer to Help with Wedding Planning / Coordinating
The most important step to being a great bridesmaid: ask the bride what she needs help with! The bride and groom may already have an outpouring of help and not need an extra hand. If not, they are going to be happy to have you helping them with their very long wedding to-do list. Offer to take on a specific task for the wedding such as greeting guests or coordinating the vendors.
Work with your skills to help the best you can. If you’re a lawyer, offer to look over vendor contracts for the couple. If you’re crafty, lend your skills for DIY wedding projects. If you have an eye for design, offer to help them choose the wedding colors and decor.
9) Get Your Bridesmaid Dress Altered (Plan Ahead)
You will most likely need to get your bridesmaid dress altered. Everybody’s body is different and you’ll want your dress to fit correctly for such an important event. Bridesmaid dress alterations prices vary based on how much your dress needs to be altered. You should budget for around $75-150 on average. In general, you’ll want to book your alterations appointment for about a month in advance. However, timelines vary based on how busy your seamstress is. Be sure to call the alterations shop as soon as you get your dress to make your appointment so they can tell you their availability and recommendations.
10) Buy the Couple a Thoughtful Wedding Gift
You’ll want to have the perfect wedding gift picked out for your favorite couple. Guests and bridesmaids often spend about $50-$200 on wedding gifts. However, don’t feel pressured to overspend if it’s out of your budget. You can opt for sentimental wedding gifts if you don’t have money for an expensive item. Thoughtful, personalized, and useful wedding gifts are always the best options!
Week-Of Wedding Bridesmaid Duties & Expectations
The week before the wedding is a busy time for bridesmaids. You’ll be expected to attend the rehearsal dinner (and possibly the bachelorette party), help with any last-minute errands, and prepare your speech if you have one!
1) Attend Any Wedding Week Festivities
You’ll definitely need to attend the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. Your most public role as a bridesmaid is to stand next to your bride during the wedding, so you’ll need to know where to stand, when to walk, and more. All members of the bridal party are expected to attend the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner, unless you have extenuating circumstances.
2) Offer to Prep A Wedding Day Emergency Kit
One of our simplest pro-tips for weddings is to create a wedding day emergency kit! A wedding emergency kit includes simple yet often-forgotten items that may be needed on the wedding day. These emergency kit items include: tweezers, tampons, wet wipes, extra make-up, a mini sewing kit, and more. If you don’t have time to put one together, you could buy a premade wedding day emergency kit instead.
3) Prepare a Toast or Maid of Honor Speech
If you’ve been chosen to be the maid of honor at a wedding, one of the most unique responsibilities you’ll have is giving a speech at the reception. Your maid of honor speech should be heartfelt, personal, upbeat, and appropriate for everyone at the wedding to hear. Generally, only the maid of honor will give a speech at the actual wedding reception. If you’re a bridesmaid, you may want to prepare a cute toast for the rehearsal dinner. If you get started on your speech early, you’ll have plenty of time to edit it to be perfect!
4) Help Run Any Last Minute Errands
A lot of wedding details will have to be completed at the last minute. As a bridesmaid, it would be super helpful if you offer to help the bride and groom with their last minute errands. In the days before the wedding you could help by picking up rentals, assembling last minute decor, picking up cake and desserts, attending nail appointments, and more.
Wedding Day Bridesmaid & Maid of Honor Responsibilities
When the big day finally arrives, make sure you’re on top of all of your bridesmaid duties. Arrive as early as you can, be helpful throughout the wedding, and have a great time! Don’t forget to snap lots of photos to remember the night by.
1) Arrive On Time & Get Wedding Ready with the Bridal Party
Getting ready on the wedding day is going to be an all day event for the bridal party. Be sure to arrive on time for any hair, make-up, and photography appointments you need to attend. You don’t want to get stressed, feel rushed, or worse - cause the bride extra anxiety. Getting ready will be a fun bonding moment for you, the bride, and other bridesmaids. It will also be a great photo opportunity for future wedding memories.
2) Help Set Up Wedding Day Decorations
The venue your bride chose will most likely set up most of the decorations, food, and other wedding necessities. However, there’s a chance they will need extra help making sure everything is as the bride wants it. Some venues may not have designated staff for decorations. Be sure to ask the bride and groom ahead of time if they’ll need help with setup so you can plan to be at the venue early!
3) Take Care of All the Little Things for the Bride
As a member of the bridal party, you will be the brides support system for the wedding! She’ll need you to help her with tasks during the day as she’s busy being pulled in different directions by parents, extended family, venue staff, wedding vendors, and more.
Some things bridesmaids can do to help the bride during the wedding day include:
- Keep track of her phone, bouquet, makeup, etc. throughout the day.
- Make sure she stays fed & hydrated.
- Help her change & go to the bathroom.
- Hand out tip envelopes to vendors.
5) Capture Behind the Scenes Photos & Videos Throughout the Wedding
The bride and groom won’t be on their phones much (if at all) during the wedding reception. While you won’t be able to take photos during the ceremony because you’ll be standing up at the altar with them, you can take plenty of photos during the wedding prep and the wedding reception. The wedding couple will be so happy to have a set of photos and videos that they can look at immediately while they wait for their professional photos.
6) Always Be Ready for Photos (& Help Round Up Family for Photos)
Sometimes it can be a lot of pressure to have your photo taken but on your best friend’s wedding day you’ll need to make it work! Be sure to go into the day prepared to have tons of photos taken of you. Try to encourage other friends and family to embrace the photographers as well. Looking back everyone will be happy to have these precious wedding memories documented!
7) Make Sure Everything is Running According to the Schedule
The bride and groom won’t be able to keep every part of the wedding running smoothly on their own! If they have the means, they will have a wedding coordinator to keep everything on schedule. Otherwise, they will need their bridal party to help keep the guests and vendors on time and in line.
8) Keep the Energy On the Dance Floor
Some of your favorite people just got married! As a bridesmaid, you should be one of the most enthusiastic people at the wedding reception. Some guests will be too shy to dance, make sure you set a good example by having a good time on the dance floor! If possible, make sure the DJ plays you and the bride or groom’s favorite song to dance to!
Post-Wedding Bridesmaid Responsibilities
Don’t run out right after the cake cutting! After the wedding, there’s still a lot to be done. As a bridesmaid, make sure you stay as long as you can to help the wedding couple with the post-wedding responsibilities. This is the final stretch of wedding party duties, make sure you keep supporting your friends through to the end!
1) Attend the Gift Opening (If Applicable)
The wedding couple probably won’t open their wedding gifts during the reception. They may just casually open them after they get home or they may have some sort of gift opening party. Either way, offer to be there for them if they need help. The maid of honor can help by writing down which guest gave what gift on a list for the couple. This list will make their thank you writing process much easier!
2) Offer to Help with Any Teardown or Cleanup
Just like any big party, after the wedding there will be a lot of cleaning up to do. Offer the bride and groom some help with the teardown so they can relax after the wedding. If the venue is staffed, they will take care of most of the post-wedding cleanup. There will still be things the wedding party needs to take care of such as taking centerpieces that don’t belong to the venue, grabbing any decorations that the bride bought or rented from outside vendors, and getting the bride's personal things together. If enough bridesmaids, family, and friends help out it will be a quick and easy job!
Start Your Bridesmaids Duties Checklist Today!
We covered a ton of bridesmaid and maid of honor responsibilities in this blog! If your head is spinning, it might be helpful to write your own bridesmaid duties checklist. A checklist will keep you organized and you’ll have the satisfaction of checking off each event, gift purchase, and responsibility as you accomplish them. This list may seem long and daunting. Just remember: your most important bridesmaid duty is celebrating your friend's wedding!