Tag Archives: bridesmaid duties

Everything a First-Time Bridesmaid Needs to Know

Everything a First-Time Bridesmaid Needs to Know

So it’s your first time as a bridesmaid? No sweat! Being a bridesmaid can be a lot of fun, a lot of work, a pain in the butt—or a little of all three. It’s really all about what you make of it. If you’re excited about being a bridesmaid and approach it with enthusiasm, you’ll end up having a blast and creating great lasting memories with your friend. If you approach it like a chore, you’ll find yourself constantly complaining about how much work there is to do and how much you just want to quit. Here are a few things to keep in mind to set you up for bridesmaid success.

1. Your #1 job is one you’re already doing: Be the best friend you can be to the bride.

2. Take on what you can handle. If you’re not Little Miss Planner, don’t offer to create the itinerary for a bachelorette weekend.

3. Offer to do what you’re best at. Are you a photographer? Snap some artful shots at the bridal shower. Great in the kitchen? Offer to cook breakfast during the bachelorette weekend. Music more your thing? Create a rocking playlist to blast while the girls are getting ready for a night out.

4. Just because something is traditional doesn’t make it mandatory. Modern brides are choosing the customs they like and leaving the others behind. Just follow the bride’s lead.

5. You are the bride’s support system on her wedding day. Emotions will be running high that day. The bride may be nervous about a thousand things. (Will the caterers remember to create a gluten-free dish for her cousin who has an allergy? Will Uncle William drink too much and start making inappropriate comments to her friends? Will she still fit perfectly into her dress after that extra glass of wine last night?) You are there to put her at ease, make her laugh, encourage her and tell Uncle William to freaking cool it.

Are you like, yeah, great advice, but what do I actually have to do? What are my bridesmaid duties? Allow me to help:

Everything a First-Time Bridesmaid Needs to Know

Bridal showers: Bridal showers are traditionally thrown by the bridesmaids or a relative of the bride (aunts, sisters, cousins, even your mother-in-law-to-be). Though thinking outside the box is always encouraged, here’s the basic idea behind a shower. Bridal showers are usually held in the morning or afternoon. The celebration is multi-generational, including female friends and relatives of the bride, from her childhood friends to her aunts and grandmother, as well any close family friends she might want to attend. Only guests who are invited to the wedding should be invited to the shower. Gifts are usually given (hence the showering part—you’re showering her with gifts). For a more in-depth description of every aspect of the bridal shower and answers to the most common FAQ, read our Bridal Shower 101.

Everything a First-Time Bridesmaid Needs to KnowBachelorette party/weekend: Bachelorette parties are usually planned by the maid of honor with the help of the bridesmaids. Many brides now opt for destination bachelorette weekends—this is the best choice for brides who have friends scattered all over the country. The bachelorette should include things the bride loves to do, whether that be good food, shopping, beach time, hiking, a sporting event or a wild night out. It’s a time to bond with your best girlfriends. For more help on planning a destination bachelorette, click here.

Everything a First-Time Bridesmaid Needs to Know
Bridesmaid dresses:
The bride generally selects the bridesmaid dress, though some brides will provide a color palette or selection of dresses and let their bridesmaids choose. Sticker shock can be a factor as some popular bridesmaid dress retailers can run $200 and up (especially for floor-length dresses). However, lower-priced options are available. If your bride asks for help in hunting down bridesmaid dresses, look outside of traditional bridesmaid dress retailers. Check your favorite stores to see if they’re carrying cute dresses in the bride’s chosen palette. Just remember that the bride does have the final say and be prepared to deal with that (even if it means a color or fabric you hate). For more of what to expect when shopping for a bridesmaid dress, click here.

Everything a First-Time Bridesmaid Needs to Know

Wedding day duties: On the day of the wedding, as mentioned, you are the bride’s support system. You’ll spend time getting ready with her, take pictures, stand with her during the ceremony and party the night away with her. The maid of honor has the important job of signing the marriage license and giving a toast at the reception. For more in-depth run-down of wedding-day duties, click here.

Still have questions? Check out our Bridesmaid Basics section or leave it in the comments!

Photos top to bottom: Sam Jasper Photography, Ducky Jessica Photography, Blue Barn Photography, Glass Jar Photography, Brooke Images Photography

Ultimate Bridesmaid Census 2013: Duties You Love and Hate (Part 3)

The Best and Worst Parts of Being a Bridesmaid

In the final installment of results from our 2013 Bridesmaid Census, we’re looking at the things you love and hate about being a bridesmaid. I was especially interested in your responses to your least favorite duties and traditions since it’s not something we’re really supposed to talk about openly while we’re in active bridesmaid service. No one wants to be that bridesmaid—the one who complains about the dress or bickers with the other maids. But first, let’s look at what you love about bring a bridesmaid.

Your top answer blew all the others out of the running. 83% of you listed getting to be a part of your friend’s special day as the top perk of being a bridesmaid. After that, you seem to most look forward to events on the wedding day. You like getting ready with the bride and partying it up at the reception. The one response I found a little surprising? 28% of you enjoy helping the bride with wedding planning!

The free response section was seriously the best because it allowed you to tell me how your really feel. A top response for favorite bridesmaid trend or tradition was mismatched dresses or getting to choose your own dress. It’s easy to understand why—we all want to look good and getting to choose a dress that’s right for our body type helps with that equation. We also got multiple write-in votes for the cake pull, an old Southern tradition that seems to be making a comeback. And a lot of people mentioned how special it is to get to share the morning of the wedding with the bride. I personally couldn’t agree more. Getting ready together is your chance to have personal time with your friend on her big day. Once the wedding starts, she’s going to be focused on her groom and the swarms of guests. But prep time is just us girls, and it’s the best.

Ok, now let’s get to the juicy stuff. Your biggest complaint isn’t a huge surprise: It’s the cost. Plenty of ink has been spilled on how expensive it can be to be a bridesmaid—the dress, the parties, the gifts, the travel…it can add up fast. Plus, it’s very common for women to find themselves in multiple weddings a year. You’re likely to have at least one of these years in your life, when the planets converge and you find yourself in five weddings. The first bachelorette splurge doesn’t hurt nearly as much as the fifth. The same can be said for time commitment, which was the ranked third with 25%.

Your second least favorite part of being a bridesmaid makes me a little sad though—27% listed dealing with the other bridesmaids as a source of stress. This is really something we should strive to fix! It’s true that weddings can force you to spend time with girls who you’ve never met (since they met the bride in different times of her life) or who you’ve never gotten along with (you’ll never understood why the bride likes that one girl). But being a good bridesmaid means getting along with the other maids. Don’t stress out the bride by adding drama to her day with bridesmaid infighting.

Again, you have to love the free response to your least favorite bridesmaid trend or tradition. My all-time favorite response was a mini-rant on penis-shaped paraphernalia (thank you, I agree). Many people listed expensive and/or matching bridesmaid dresses as a trend they’d like to see disappear. But it wasn’t all rants and storm clouds. When asked what tradition you hated, lots of people said they wouldn’t change a thing!

The Bride’s Pledge to Her Bridesmaids

Last week I shared my slightly cheeky but heartfelt Bridesmaid’s Pledge to the Bride. Well, it’s only fair that the bride make a few commitments to her maids as well. After all, the bride really sets the tone for the wedding festivities—a relaxed bride makes all the difference. For me, what’s most important is remembering that even though wedding planning is stressful, you still need to be there for your best girlfriends just as they are there for you. This would be a great Will You Be My Bridesmaid idea!

the brides pledge to her bridesmaids

A Bride’s Pledge to her Bridesmaids

I, [insert your name here], being of sound mind and happy heart, joyfully ask you to be my bridesmaid. I pledge to uphold the following provisions and ask that the bridesmaids uphold the points set out in the Bridesmaid’s Pledge to the Bride.

  • I pledge to make no demands, as I understand that friends do not demand things of each other.
  • I pledge to remember that while this wedding is consuming my life, you still have one. I ask that you excuse me if I talk too much about calla lilies. I still love you and want to hear about your life, so tell me what’s up.
  • I pledge to be conscious of your budget throughout this endeavor and to be understanding should you be unable to attend a bachelorette party or shower due to cost or distance. I will miss you, but I will understand.
  • I pledge to try not to share every single wedding detail with you—unless you’re really into this shit, in which case, let’s talk taffeta!
  • I pledge to choose a bridesmaid dress at a reasonable cost and in a style and color that I actually think will look good on you.
  • I pledge to let you wear your hair however you desire.
  • I pledge to try not to freak out if things don’t go exactly how I planned. I ask that you let me know, gently, if I am being insane.
  • I pledge to remember that our friendship is more important than any little detail and that the most important thing is that you’ll be there by my side on my wedding day.

Most importantly, I pledge to be what I pledged to be the day we became friends: there for you through it all, the best friend I can be.

Will You Be My Bridesmaid idea: The Bride's Pledge to her Bridesmaids

Want a copy to email to or print for brides in your life? Download the PDF here: The Bride’s Pledge to Her Bridesmaids.

And don’t forget to take a look at our companion pledge: The Bridesmaid’s Pledge to the Bride.

(Adorable photo of my friend Amanda and her sister via Alicia Lauren Photography.)

The Bridesmaid’s Pledge to the Bride

I love, love, love getting emails from my readers and I’m so honored that many of you have trusted me with bridesmaid-related problems that have arisen and asked for my advice. Some of these problems have the potential to cause a lot of heartache between friends, so the most wonderful feeling for me is when I’m able to help someone resolve an issue without them jeopardizing their friendship with the bride or bridesmaid. I’ve realized that a lot of the time we just need to be reminded of what is most important. So I decided to ask myself, “When I sign up to be a bridesmaid, what am I promising my friend? What are the givens, the things I can guarantee? And what do I expect from the bride in return?” I thought about the kind of friend I want to be, the things I want to do for my brides and the type of bride I’d like to be as well. I wrote down every little issue that might arise, from tiny annoyances to major troubles, and summed it all up in two “pledges,” one for the bridesmaids and one for the bride. Ok, some of these are not totally serious, but it is all heartfelt (though I am totally serious about no undergarment-shaped baked good—if I see one more corset cookie…). What’s most important is to remember to be there for your friend, above all else—to be kind, to be patient, to be loving, and to just generally continue to be the friend you’ve always been.

The Bridesmaid's Pledge to the Bride

The Bridesmaid’s Pledge to the Bride

I, [insert your name here], being of sound mind and happy heart, joyfully agree to be your bridesmaid. I pledge to uphold the following provisions and ask that the bride uphold the points set out in the Bride’s Pledge to Her Bridesmaids.

  • I pledge to bring laughter and smiles into your life whenever you’re feeling stressed.
  • I pledge to take your frantic calls regarding cake decorators and try my hardest to take your concerns regarding buttercream versus fondant seriously.
  • I pledge to hold my tongue if I do not like the flowers, venue, and/or color scheme you pick for your wedding. I will remember that it is your wedding, not mine, and that I am your bridesmaid, not your event planner.
  • I pledge to attend your bachelorette party and bridal shower, if distance and finances permit, and I ask that if I can’t come, you know that it’s not because I don’t want to be there. I know you might be sad, but I ask that you understand.
  • I pledge to wear whatever bridesmaid dress you deem perfect for your special day, though I ask that it not be too shiny or too tight.
  • I pledge to be a source of positivity and encouragement to you.
  • I pledge to be on time the day of the wedding (despite any previous difficulties with punctuality).
  •  I pledge to help calm your nerves as we wait for the ceremony, be it with drugs and alcohol or hugs and squeals.

Maid of honor clause:

  • I pledge to plan a bachelorette party you will actually enjoy. It will be classy, it will be fun, but most importantly, it will be you. There shall be no objects shaped like a penis and absolutely no baked goods in the shape of undergarments or shoes.
  • I pledge that your bridal shower shall not involve gowns made of toilet paper.
  • I pledge to toast you at your wedding. I pledge not to mention your ex’s or that one time in Cabo, and I pledge not to have too much to drink before the toast (afterwards, all bets are off).

Most importantly, I pledge to be what I pledged to be the day we became friends: there for you through it all, the best friend I can be.

bridesmaids pledge to the bride


Brides, make sure to check back soon for the Bride’s Pledge to her Bridesmaids so you can keep up your end of the bargain!

Want a copy to email to or print for your ladies? Download the PDF here: The Bridesmaid’s Pledge to the Bride.

(Adorable photo of my friend Amanda and her sister via Alicia Lauren Photography.)

Ultimate Bridesmaid’s Top 10 Posts: Year 1

Ultimate Bridesmaid's Top 10 Guides (Bridal Shower Games, Writing a Maid of Honor Speech, Planning a Bachelorette Weekend and much more!)

When I was first asked to be a bridesmaid, I Googled “bridesmaid duties” (just like you probably did) and found myself led to a string of websites that look like they were thrown together around the time the internet was invented. I was really disappointed to see that there was very little real advice for bridesmaids that delved below the superficial and most of the lists I found seemed dated and out of touch, a sort of “Miss Manners” approach rather than an honest assessment of what to expect. I decided to use my own experience to put together articles and guides that might help other women like me. I’m really honored to find out that these articles dominate this year’s top 10. I could spend hours collaging gorgeous images of bridal showers or compiling bachelorette inspiration boards, but I really put my heart into these articles. Thanks for reading them and I promise I’ll keep more coming in year two. Please let me know what topics you’d like more info on in the coming year!

1. The Ultimate Maid of Honor Speech

How to Give the Ultimate Maid of Honor SpeechThis post was far and away the highest viewed in our first year. In my opinion, delivering a speech at a wedding is probably the most difficult thing asked of the maid of honor. Planning parties may be time consuming and logistically complicated, but writing and delivering a speech comes with a lot of pressure. This post breaks down how to structure the beginning, middle and end of your speech, with ideas for topics, jumping-off points and even a gimmick or two.

2. The Maid of Honor Speech: Do’s and Don’ts

The Ultimate Maid of Honor Speech: Do's and Don'ts

Speech writing and giving was such a large topic that I had to split it into two posts. If you’re looking for down and dirty tips for delivering the speech, I actually recommend this post over the first, which is more focused on the writing process.

3. Bachelorette Games: The Fiancé Quiz

Bachelorette Games: The Fiance QuizAfter the Maid of Honor Speech, you were most interested in bachelorette games. This is a classic, and is still my number one go-to for every kind of bachelorette party, be it a raucous destination weekend or a more intimate dinner with friends. It can even be adapted to a bridal shower—just make the question PG-13 for the daytime crowd.

4. Bachelorette Games: Bar Scavenger Hunt

Bachelorette Games: Bar Scavenger Hunt

Your fourth favorite post—with super-fun free printable checklist!

Ultimate Bridesmaid bachelorette bar scavenger hunt

5. Bachelorette Games: Most Likely To…

Bachelorette Games: Most Likely To

A hilarious game to play with a close-knit group of friends (even if its not a bachelorette party!).

6. 5 Simple Bridal Shower Games (that don’t suck)

5 Simple Bridal Shower Games (that don't suck)

I typically find bridal shower games to be incredibly boring, so I decided to pull together five not-lame options. Toilet paper wedding dresses are just not my jam. Being made to wear a hideous veil every time you let the word “bride” or “wedding” slip? Highly preferable. Maybe that’s just me.

7. A Step-by-Step Guide to Planning a Bachelorette Weekend

A step-by-step guide to planning a bachelorette weekend

This post was seriously a labor of love. I pulled from all of my experiences to put together all the details for organizing a bachelorette weekend, with a timeline and advice on how to coordinate a huge number of girls, find lodging, book dinners, plan events and keep everyone entertained.

8 and 9. Lingerie Shower and Mission Bachelorette Party!

IMG_1040These two posts make me a little bit nostalgic and bring back great memories because they are two of my very first posts on Ultimate Bridesmaid. Both talk about my own experiences planning parties, one for my friend Amanda’s lingerie shower in Atlanta and another for my friend Marisa’s bachelorette party in Savannah.

10. Six Dirty Details Bridesmaids Need to Know

Six Dirty Details Bridesmaids Need to Know

From your unofficial role as Designated Bride Bodyguard on bachelorette night to corset-lacing, bustling and the ol “help the bride pee” bit on wedding day, this list includes six parts of bridesmaiding you may not be looking forward to, but you’ll need to be prepared all the same!


Let me know what aspects of bridesmaid duties you want to know more about in the comments! I’ll have many new guides and articles in year 2.

Six Dirty Details Bridesmaids Need to Know

The term “bridesmaid” often conjures up images of wild bachelorette parties, pre-wedding mimosa toasts and breathless wedding gown shopping with the bride. But first-time maids beware: It’s not all fun and games. Here are some of the dirty details of bridesmaiding, the jobs you don’t think about but nonetheless better be ready for!

Let’s start with the bachelorette party and bridal showers.

1. On bachelorette night, you’re the Designated Bride Buddy. If you’re the maid of honor, I personally think that you are officially in charge of taking care of the bride. You’re her best friend and it’s her night to go crazy, but someone has to make sure she gets home safe. Looking out for her can be as simple as making sure she has her purse and arranging transportation for the night, but it can also mean cutting her off, fending off unwanted attention, or taking care of her if she gets sick. In order to truly watch out for her, you’ll have to dial it back a notch and party a little less than the rest of your group, but your bride will appreciate that someone had her back all night.

2. Sometimes you have to be the bitch. How can I explain this…? Ok, for example, I once attended a bridal shower where one of the guests had very recently found out she was pregnant. She proceeded to hijack the shower, constantly turning the conversation to herself. The bride was way too sweet to say anything, but I felt really bad watching this girl take over the bride’s day. Bridesmaids (and especially MOH), if someone’s got to be the bitch, make it you. Now, I don’t mean go all bridesmaid-zilla on her. But pull girls like this aside and remind them what we’re here to celebrate. The same concept can apply to girls who are holding up the group at bachelorette parties, stressing the bride out with worries for the future or needling her for any “nagging doubts”. If there’s negative energy in the group, take into upon yourself to “bridesmaid up” and stand up for your friend.

On the wedding day, you may find yourself involved in all kinds of precarious situations.

3. The term “bridesmaid” can sometimes translate to “event helper”. If a bride has taken on a lot of the planning, decorating and organization of the event herself, she’s going to need willing servants the day of to do her bidding. You are now officially manual laborers. You may find yourself setting up chairs, arranging flowers, hanging decorations or completing any number of tasks. I once helped the bride cook dinner for her fifty guests, arranged chairs in the yard, made a veil out of few yards of mesh and then cleared dirty plates and carried out each of the three courses during the reception.

4. Wedding dresses are complicated. They require things like corsets and bustling. Both of these tasks will fall to the bridesmaids and trust me when I say they can be frustrating and time-consuming. It’s highly, highly recommended that at least one of the bridesmaids go to the final fitting with the bride! There a wedding professional can teach you how to properly lace the corset (And make it look good! That’s the hardest part!) and bustle the gown. Make sure you try it yourself at least once in the salon. Need a refresher? Here’s a great video on corset lacing (with a British accent!). Bustling will really depend on the gown, so make sure someone has taken notes!

5. You may be familiar with the ol “help the bride pee” bit. This is a real thing people. If the dress has any kind of volume or train, the bride will need some assistance and it’s your job to give it! This may even extend to helping the bride sit without wrinkling her dress. One of my brides had a huge gown that would wrinkle if she sat on it, so as we waited for the ceremony to start we draped the entire skirt around a sofa with the bride plopped in the middle. She looked like a giant cupcake, but that dress stayed wrinkle-free!

6. Oh, picture time. You are so long and complex. But during this time, it’s your job to keep the bride looking fresh and perfect. Of course someone will need to carry around her train, but you should be ready for anything. I’ve toted around a damp towel to dab off sweat during a hot Florida summer and a friend of mine once switched underwear with the bride halfway through the photo shoot because the bride’s colored panties were showing through the dress!

In the grand scheme of things, these dirty details are just that—details. What I remember about each of my experiences as a bridesmaid are the good things—the excitement, the fun, the laughs, the tears. But be ready to be a helper and supporter to your friend, even if that means getting your hands (and dresses) a little dirty.

Wedding Day Duties

So the day has finally come. Time to put your game face on and make the bride your number one priority. It’s important to keep things in perspective and remember the role you signed up for. Your bride may be giddy with happiness or petrified with nerves—just be the friend she needs that day.

I’ll use photographs from the lovely Michele’s wedding to lay out how a traditional wedding day will unfold. This of course all flies out the window if your bride has planned a nontraditional ceremony. In that case, just be sure to communicate with her beforehand and know what she needs you to do.

So in our traditional scenario, bridesmaids are asked to meet several hours early to start getting ready. For a girl who can be dressed and out the door in fifteen minutes this may seem excessive, but you really will need the time if everyone is planning to get hair and makeup professionally done. Even if that’s not the case, remember that job of yours? Support. Your bride wants to be surrounded by her friends. Show up when she asks.

Ok, so the hair and makeup folks have arrived or you have broken out the curling irons and mascara yourself and the primping is under way. Wear a button-down shirt or loose top so that your hair and makeup won’t get messed up and you’ll be comfortable. What else should you do for the next couple hours? I’m partial to celebratory mimosas but I highly, highly recommend keeping drinking in check—one or two at most. If you start getting ready in the morning for an afternoon or evening wedding and drink at a steady pace, people will be wasted, tired and sloppy at the actual event. MOHs can coordinate with the bride’s mother to make sure there will be food for everyone. If Mom’s not planning to provide, make it your job to arrange this. You all need to eat at least something small. No one wants to pass out at the wedding. Youtube “bridesmaid fainting” for a preview of how that will go.

Holding the bride’s mimosa.

This is also a great time to present the bride with a small gift from her maids. For Michele, we got her an FSU garter. The bride may have favors for you as well (Michele made us beautiful bracelets to wear on the day!). Sometimes you’ll present the bride with a gift as a group, but I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary since you’ll already have given her shower/bachelorette/wedding gifts. One thing I always try to do though is bring a card for the bride and share a private moment with her. I like to include my thanks for asking me to be in her wedding, my excitement for the day and encouragement about the future. It’s a great way to share a personal moment before she gets swept up in the events of the ceremony and reception. I kind of cherish that getting ready time, because after that the bride is going to be bombarded by the other guests and you won’t have as much time with her.

Michele with her gift—an FSU garter.

After all the maids are dressed, you’ll help the bride into her gown. If she’s using a professional photographer they will probably be on hand at that point to capture the moment. For the next hour (or so) you’ll take pictures with the bride, either at the reception venue or the church. Some couples may choose to do a “first look,” in which case the whole wedding party will meet up and take photographs before the ceremony. If there’s no first look, you’ll be expected to take more pictures after the ceremony. Either way, you’re in for the long haul here. The MOH should stay with the bride at all times and make sure her dress and hair are always looking great. Carry her train for her if she has one and step in to fix problems if you see them (I don’t want to even get into the red underwear situation).

The first look!

After photographs it’s time for the ceremony! When processing down the aisle, adopt that time-honored BBQ slogan: slow and low. Walk slowly and carry your bouquet low, where your hands would sit naturally if you folded them in front. Higher will block your face and dress and just looks weird. The MOH holds the ring (if she has a pocket or place to keep it; if not sometimes the best man will carry both rings). She stands beside the bride, fixes her train and veil when the bride makes it down the aisle and holds the bride’s bouquet and her own throughout the ceremony. When the vows are said and the ceremony complete, the MOH, along with the Best Man, will sign the marriage license—the true reason we have attendants in the first place. They are our witnesses to the validity of the marriage!

Excellent bouquet form.

If your couple has planned post-ceremony pictures you’ll now partake in those. Then the wedding party heads to the reception. Some couples may want you to be formally introduced, in which case you’ll wait for the other guests to enter and then come into the reception as your names are announced. Sometimes the wedding party stands around the dance floor as the couple has their first dance, other times they might join in after a few bars or just take your seats. It’s a good idea to find out in the morning what your bride had planned for this, because in the moment she’s going to be a litttle preoccupied.

An enthusiastic introduction.

The bridal party gathers around during the first dance.

Then, unless you’re the MOH, your “official” duties have ended! Your unofficial duties: make sure guests are having a good time—point out wedding day events like photo booths or guest books, help pass out favors, lead dances if necessary, chat with lonely old ladies, if single cruise for eligible bachelors—you know the drill. If your bride has taken a more DIY approach, your work may only be beginning, but that’s really specific to each bride.

She doesn’t even know that woman (to my knowledge).

If you’re the MOH, you’ll need to give a speech. But more on that another time.