What Does a Bridesmaid Do? A Complete Guide to Key Duties

One of your besties has announced their engagement, and you’ve been invited to play a starring role as a bridesmaid. As part of the bride’s tribe, you’ll be involved in a whirlwind of wedding chat and planning. It’s going to be fun, but the job also comes with responsibilities. So what does a bridesmaid do?

Traditionally, bridesmaids were dressed in similar clothing to the bride to confuse any evil spirits that turned up. Nowadays, they play a less ominous role. As one of the bride’s helpers, you’ll offer support and do all you can to ensure the bachelorette party, bridal shower and wedding day are memorable for all the right reasons.

Not sure where to start? Not to worry, we’ll run through the pre-wedding bridesmaid duties and wedding-day bridesmaid responsibilities. We’ll also give you a heads-up regarding what’s expected of you after the wedding. Tiaras at the ready, let’s get to grips with all the bridesmaid jobs.

Pre-Wedding Bridesmaid Duties

Weddings are fabulous, the ultimate declaration of love. They unite couples and bring together friends and families in celebration. But the typical wedding takes a lot of planning up-front, and as a bridesmaid (or bridesman), you’ll be expected to pitch in. If you’re an honorary bridesmaid, check out our guide to see how your duties may differ.

A listening ear and a shoulder to cry on

Planning a big day is exciting, but wedding stress can cause tension and worry. The bride is going to be swamped by wedding plans so she might be feeling frazzled from time to time. The maid of honor traditionally acts as the bride’s right-hand woman, so she’ll be under pressure too. As a bridesmaid, you need to keep a cool head and be there for both of them.

Patience and advice

In the early stages, the bride might call on you to act as a sounding board. Listen to her ideas and give your honest opinion. Remember the bride might be a little emotional with all that’s going on so aim for constructive comments over brash bluntness.

Don’t be too pushy, just listen, offer your opinion when needed, and smile.  

Keeping the lines of communication open

Talk to the bride, the MOH, and your fellow bridesmaids from the beginning. If you don’t know one another break the ice by talking via group chat and meet up when you can. There might be a few differences of opinion, but remember this is about making sure the bride and groom have a wonderful wedding, so keep a lid on conflict.

Chipping in financially  

You will need to chip in for the bachelorette party (to cover your own costs and the bride’s costs) and might be asked to contribute toward the cost of the bridal shower too. It’s commonplace for the bridesmaid to purchase a gift for the shower, something from the registry, or something you know she’ll enjoy, e.g. a spa day.

If you’re unsure of gift expectations talk to the MOH and other bridesmaids.

When it comes to the wedding maybe you could all put together to buy a memorable gift for the happy couple.  The bridesmaid typically covers the cost of the dress and accessories too, but weddings vary, so the bride and groom may decide to foot the bill for wedding clothes, hair, and makeup for the big day.

what are the duties of a bridesmaid

Plotting and planning

The maid of honor typically takes the lead in arranging the bridal shower and bachelorette, but you’ll need to support her, especially if she’s not a natural planner. You’ll need to work with the bride and MOH to compile the guest lists, choose dates and venues, plan food and drink, and think about entertainment.

Wedding Day Bridesmaid Responsibilities

We know about the duties before the bride and groom say I do, but what does a bridesmaid do on the big day? There will be a lot going on, so here’s a heads up on your wedding day bridesmaid responsibilities.

Get ready, get steady, go

There will be lots of hubbub when you’re all getting ready. The bride might need some help with dressing and the other bridesmaids may need a hand too. The mother of the bride is usually around to keep things in check, but you can all pitch in. The bride may be emotional, so give her space if she asks for it and make sure she has everything she needs, including a bite to eat and a nice glass of fizz.

what are bridesmaid duties

Check-in with the wedding coordinator

Make yourself known to the wedding planner or event coordinator (if there is one), preferably at the rehearsal or some point before the wedding. On the big day, you can check in and make sure things are running smoothly. The planner will be issuing instructions and, as a bridesmaid, you can help the planner and the ushers make sure guests are in the right place at the right time.

Follow the schedule

You should know the drill, the bride will have taken you through the whole day in minute detail by now, so you just have to keep things on track. The bride and groom should be able to relax and enjoy their day, so it’s down to the planner and wedding party to make sure the timings are followed.

MODERN MOH TIP: Be prepared for a spot of fire-fighting, if there’s a problem on the horizon work with the MOH, fellow bridesmaids, and other wedding party members to smooth things over before the bride and groom get wind of any issues.

Chat and Mingle

One of the best jobs a bridesmaid has is to party and chat with guests. You get to drink champagne, eat canapes and work the room. It’s tempting to stick with your friends, but this is a good opportunity to get to know other guests, and it’s your job to be sparkling company. Younger members of the wedding party are going to be excitable, so keep an eye on them and offer reminders, prompts, and encouragement when needed.

Show off your moves

No loitering at the buffet for you! It doesn’t matter if your feet are aching from wearing heels (kick them off and grab some flip flops!). Even if you’re feeling tired out after bridesmaid duties, you’re still expected to join the bride, groom, and fellow guests on the dance floor. Be warned, you might have to shake your thing with Great Aunt Gladys and possibly do the Macarena with the ring bearers and flower girls!

Dress and bathroom duty

The bride looks like a princess but her big, billowing dress isn’t easy to move about in. Bridesmaids need to make sure the bride can negotiate doorways, get in and out of the car, up and down any steps, and make an elegant entrance into the wedding venue. There’s also the all-important pee duty, when the bride’s gotta go, she’s gotta go. You might need to help her lift her skirt and maneuver herself onto the toilet. It’s not a glamorous job but someone’s got to do it!

MODERN MOH TIP: Depending on the dress, it might be easier to lock the bathroom and help her remove the dress completely! Or try lifing the dress and using the toilet backwards – it might seem an awkward position, but it’s easier to keep the dress out of the way!

After the Wedding Bridesmaid Checklist

Most of the bridesmaids’ duties are carried out before and during the wedding, but what does a bridesmaid do after the nuptials? There are one or two bridesmaid jobs still left to tick off your list, so bear with us.  

Upload photos and share memories

Official photos will be treasured by the happy couple, but unofficial pics taken by family and friends can be just as wonderful. Contact the wedding party and ask for copies of wedding photos and video footage then put together a digital montage. You can work with the MOH and other bridesmaids to collate your collection. The bride and groom will be over the moon with your thoughtful post-wedding gift.

Post-wedding logistics

Once the wedding is over you can help the bride and groom collect gifts or any leftover items and transport them where they need to go. If items e.g., candelabras have been hired you can return them to the vendors.

What Does a Bridesmaid Do – Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve talked about bridesmaid duties, and hopefully, you’ll be clearer on your responsibilities, but take a look at our FAQs just in case.

What does the bridesmaid pay for?

There are no hard and fast rules but it’s common for bridesmaids to pay for their dresses and accessories. Bridesmaids also chip in for the bachelorette party (covering the bride’s costs as well). You might be asked to contribute toward the bridal shower too, along with buying a bridal shower gift and a wedding gift.

What’s the difference between the maid of honor vs bridesmaid duties?

As the bride’s right-hand woman, the Maid of honor duties are plentiful. The MOH leads the bachelorette party and is heavily involved in making sure the bride is happy and the day runs smoothly. The MOH might need to write a speech too. The bridesmaids support the MOH and the bride to ensure the wedding is a success.

Does a bridesmaid get the bride a gift?

If the bride is having a bridal shower, it’s commonplace to buy a gift, either something from the registry or something you know she’ll enjoy.

MODERN MOH TIP: If you’re short on cash after paying for your wedding attire and chipping in for the bachelorette party and shower, why not make something for the bride? Handmade gifts are often appreciated and treasured.

Being a bridesmaid is hard work but rewarding

Hopefully, our guide on what does a bridesmaid do has given you insight into the duties of a bridesmaid before, during, and after the wedding. Bridesmaids’ jobs may be varied and plentiful but don’t let that put you off. It’s a compliment to be chosen. Enjoy the big day and make sure it’s a memorable one for the bride and groom – and for you too! Here’s to love, marriage, and a wonderful wedding day.

UP NEXT: When Should Bridesmaids Get Their Dresses?

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