Complete Guidebook to Being an Unstoppable Bridesmaid

By Lorna Urwin

Being a bridesmaid is a wonderful honour. You’ll be one of a select group chosen to remain at the bride’s side through each step of the wedding preparation and the special day. But if the movie ‘Bridesmaids’ has taught us anything, it’s that being part of a bridal party isn’t always the easiest job in the world to navigate! We’ve pulled together some essential tips to help you step into the role with confidence. 

1/ ENSURE EXPECTATIONS ARE CLEAR

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Image by Perry Trotter Photography

Being successful comes down to understanding and working with expectations. While many responsibilities of being a bridesmaid will be familiar, the role can vary a lot depending on the bride, the scale of the wedding and how tasks are delegated. Avoid making assumptions about what the bride or maid of honour may want by establishing excellent communication straight away. If in doubt, it never hurts to ask! 

2/ BE THE ULTIMATE TEAM PLAYER

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Image by Sawyer Baird

As early as possible make sure you’re introduced to everyone else in the bridal party (the other bridesmaids in particular). Gather contact details and plan how best to stay in touch. By all means be generous with your suggestions, particularly if you’ve been a bridesmaid before or are particularly in tune with the bride’s likes and dislikes. But remain open-minded, flexible and cooperative – seek others’ views and opinions rather than assuming you know best. 

3/ BE FLEXIBLE

Between wedding preparation and pre-wedding events, chances are there will be things that don’t go to plan. If this happens, try to be as flexible as possible. The group shopping trip has been rearranged to a far less convenient time? The wine tasting you’d planned for the hen party just fell through? No worries, you can make it work (within reason, of course!).

4/ OMIT THE NEGATIVE

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Image by Perry Trotter Photography

As the adage goes, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all! If you have a poor opinion of something (or someone) involved in the wedding, don’t be tempted to share! A wedding is often a very personal event, with everything from the music to the favours to the way the budget is allocated signifying something important to the bride. Criticism at this time isn’t appropriate. 

If you do feel the need to vent your frustration (so many fittings! The maid of honour is a nightmare to work with!), then make sure you don’t vent to anyone involved in the wedding, and certainly not to the bride herself! 

5/ BE POSITIVE 

Being a flawless bridesmaid doesn’t just mean keeping quiet about your complaints. You should also bring enthusiasm and positivity to your role whenever possible. Let the bride know you’ve got her back and are there to boost her mood rather than sour it! 

This might be most crucial when it comes to any issues with the bridesmaid dress. Even if you’re not thrilled with it, remember that the day is all about the bride, not you. Be positive and support the bride’s choices. While you can certainly offer feedback if asked, be sensitive to the bride’s view and keep your comments constructive and objective. Accept her final decision with enthusiasm and wear your outfit with a huge smile on the day!

6/ TAILOR THE PLANNING TO THE BRIDE

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Image by Justin DeMutiis Photography

Be sure to heed the bride’s preferences when it comes to planning a shower, the hen do or any other surprises. Reflect on what you know about her style and preferences and listen closely if she voices opinions about anything relevant to the planning (including dress codes, locations or the scale of events). If in doubt, you can always ask the bride some general questions to make sure you’re not taking things in completely the wrong direction!

7/ BE THERE AND BE AVAILABLE

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Image by Ainsley Rose Photography

Assuming you live locally to the bride, try your best to attend all pre-wedding events and make sure you let the bride know promptly if you’re unable to attend. The main thing, though, is being there for your friend – both practically and emotionally. Go above and beyond by offering to accompany the bride to wedding-related viewings or fittings. Make yourself available if she needs time to blow off steam from the wedding stress. A movie night or cocktails might be a just what she needs!

8/ LOOK AFTER YOURSELF

The wedding day itself will be a long one. Get plenty of sleep the night before. Keep hydrated and, while plentiful celebration and fun will be in order on the big day, know your limits and moderate your drinking so that you won’t be remiss in your bridesmaid duties. 

9/ BE PREPARED 

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Image by Perry Trotter Photography

Being prepared, for the responsibilities and costs that come with being a bridesmaid and for the wedding day itself, is key to maximising your ability to perform the role well!


IN ADVANCE:

Start putting money aside early. Between travel and accommodation, parties, outfits and gifts, being a bridesmaid can be a highly expensive undertaking. Make sure your bank balance is prepared to take the hit for all expected costs (plus extra for any unexpected!). If you just can’t afford it, it’s vital to explain to the bride that you’re unable to fulfil the role ASAP.
Keep all wedding information organised. Including contact information, your expenses, schedules, to-do lists. 
Rehearse your role and getting ready. Rehearsing the process of hair, makeup, dress and accessories will streamline getting ready and minimise stress on the wedding morning. Focus on other details too, from walking in your dress and shoes to holding your bouquet (in line with your belly button is the perfect height for photos!). If the bride needs help with her dress, veil or train, familiarise yourself with that process too.
Clarify any significant on-the-day responsibilities. Larger tasks like looking after the bride’s phone/fielding questions from vendors, organising wedding gifts or handing out tip envelopes to vendors sometimes fall to members of the bridal party. If delegated to you, make sure you know any specific requirements ahead of time! 

ON THE DAY:

Anticipate the bride’s needs as best you can. Be proactive to ensure she remains hydrated, relaxed and happy. Bring your own wedding emergency kit with essentials like a sewing kit, deodorant, wipes, mints and bobby pins. 
Prepare for the worst. While big problems like a freak weather storm, vehicle breakdowns or the bride getting cold feet aren’t likely to strike on the day, it doesn’t hurt to run through how you would best deal with them ahead of time and without any pressure. Add any key items and a list of phone numbers to your wedding emergency kit to ensure you’re best equipped to handle a variety of situations should they arise.
Keep things celebratory. Though there’s plenty of effort involved, don’t forget that a wedding is a celebration. Be the person ready with the refills of champagne for the bride and groom, the first one on the dance floor and the last one standing (an exhausting but fun part of the role!).
Be available and helpful to guests. Being a bridesmaid isn’t always glamorous. In helping the day to be the best it can be you may also be required to support guests by answering questions, helping people find their seats or call taxis at the end of the night. 

10/ REMEMBER WHY YOU’RE THERE

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Image by Brian Hatton Photography

Last but by no means least, the role of bridesmaid fundamentally represents a close bond of friendship. Don’t let any drama or stress get in the way of that and you’ll be good to go!


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