What exactly are the job requirements?
Here are the basics of bridesmaid and maid/matron of honor duties, both tangible and intangible.
Think of these first two as “golden” rules:
1. Be there for the bride.
This one seems like a no-brainer, but it can’t be overstated. Your job is to help the bride in whatever way she needs. Don’t wait to be asked; ask what you can do! Many brides feel guilty approaching their friends for help, so take that burden away from her. Let her know that not only can you help, you’re happy to! If a bride has a wedding planner, she may only need you to be her sounding board. You can help her dig up inspiration, send her links to venues and vendors, and visit locations or attend fittings. If she’s planning an affair with more DIY elements, you can volunteer to take over projects (under her supervision of course!) that fit your talents. Design arrangements, address invitations, put together a music playlist—the options are endless.
2. Do not complain.
Hate the dress? Too bad. Anxious about how you’ll look on the day? That’s your problem! Planning a wedding is stressful and brides count on their girls to provide a safe haven from the madness. Do everything you can to encourage and support. This doesn’t mean you should lie. If your bride asks what you think of her dress options, weigh in honestly. She’s asking you because she respects your opinion. Just keep things positive and make sure she knows you’re excited for the day and recognize how hard she’s working.
Once you’ve mastered the rules, the following will come naturally.
3. Bridal showers and bachelorette parties.
Maids of honor should talk to their brides about what they want in terms of showers and bachelorette parties, then take the reins and plan something you know they’ll love. Bridesmaids should attend all events if you are local and at least one event if you have to travel. Combination shower/bachelorette weekends are ideal for friends who are spread out across the country. You get to spend more time together and pack all these traditional events into one crazy weekend.
4. Pay your way.
Some brides may offer to pay for some of these things, but you should by no means expect it. A normal part of being a bridesmaid is chipping in for your dress, shoes, makeup and hair. Please refer to rule 2. That said, of course everyone has different budgets and we all understand that being in weddings can be expensive. My advice is to speak with your bride about concerns once, at the beginning of planning. After that, try not to burden her. There are lots of ways to get creative with money. A personal gift or small token instead of a big purchase from the registry is perfectly fine. You being in the wedding is enough of a gift to the bride. You can ask your bride if its okay to do your own hair and makeup, or pitch in with other wedding guests to share rooms and transportation. As a last resort, you can opt out of the bachelorette or shower. The bride should understand that if you can only afford one big trip, the wedding is the more important one.
5. Help her enjoy the day.
Be on time the day of the wedding. Help the bride get ready. An unofficial bridesmaid duty is often keeping the groomsmen in line during photos (orders to “put down that beer and smile” may be required). Your bride will need different things from you depending on the format of the wedding. I’ve brought out trays of lasagna at a backyard wedding or been formally introduced and joined the first dance at more traditional receptions. Make sure you know what she expects before the events kick off. Once the festivities get going, she’s going to be focused on her groom and her guests and if her bridesmaids know the drill it will keep things running smoothly.
Maid of Honor:
The maid of honor does all of the above and more. I’ll go into more detail about these in the future, but for now make sure you:
- Plan a bachelorette party and/or shower.
- Be the point person for the other bridesmaids. On wedding day you’ll need to keep on a schedule and it will take the burden off the bride if you make sure all the girls are on time and ready to go.
- Hold the ring and bouquet during the ceremony.
- Constantly keep an eye on your bride and make sure she looks great. Adjust her dress or hair if she needs it.
- Sign the marriage license.
- Give a speech and toast at the reception.
The truth is, each wedding and bride is different and they’re going to need different things from their ‘maids. If you follow rules 1 and 2, you can’t go wrong.
What else should every bridesmaid do? What unusual duties have you had to take on? Leave it in comments!