The Bridesmaid Guide: On the Wedding Day


If you’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid (or maid of honour), or you’re a bride-to-be who wants to give your bridesmaids some gentle guidance without being a dreaded ‘Bridezilla,’ then read on! Being a bridesmaid is a wonderful honour, and while you will have responsibilities, it can also be lots of fun. However, if you’ve never been one before, or don’t know much about the formalities of a wedding, it can seem a daunting job! So here at Auckland Weddings we’ve put together the ultimate guide to being the best bridesmaid, and outlined the key roles and duties you’ll have on the big day.

Essentially the bridesmaid’s duties fall into two categories: The first is to make sure the bride looks perfect for the entire day, from the ceremony to the moment she leaves the reception. The second is to provide emotional support and make certain she has a fantastic time without any unnecessary stresses or worries.

The Morning of the Big Day

On the morning of the wedding, it’ll be yours (and your fellow bridesmaids) duty to ensure that everyone is where they should be, when they should be, and are wearing the right outfits and accessories.

Your other duties in the morning include: arriving at the bride’s house in plenty of time to have your hair and makeup done, and also dressing and looking after the younger attendants (flowergirls and/or pageboys). Give the bride lots of water so she stays hydrated and make sure she has a little something to eat as she’ll need lots of energy to make the most of the day. Keep her smiling, laughing and relaxed. For a bit of fun, take a few informal ‘selfies’ with the girls as a memento of the big day.

The bride will be looking absolutely stunning with her makeup and hair newly done. As an able-bodied bridesmaid you are expected to make sure she stays that way. So you really need to make sure you are organised and plan ahead for any unexpected surprises! This is where the all-important Bridal DIY Kit comes in:

As a bridesmaid, you’ll be in charge of looking after a clutch/evening bag for the bride. This should contain tissues, plenty of hair pins, a comb/hairbrush, deodorant or perfume, lip gloss, lipstick, and powder and/or blotting paper for touch ups throughout the day. And don’t forget a packet of mints or Listerine strips for great breath along with a few toothpicks or a roll of dental floss. The cameras will capture the good, the bad, and the ugly (we’re looking at you, salad greens!)

We also recommend you pack a few ‘emergency’ items too – including plasters, painkillers, fabric tape, and of course a sewing kit in case any small clothing rips occur.

Getting to the Ceremony

The maid of honour, bridesmaids and other attendants will probably travel to the ceremony venue in either a second bridal car or with the bride’s mother. As everyone will be excited and perhaps even a little emotional about the imminent events, your calming influence may be tested to the limit. Once all the entourage is assembled, the photographer may want to take a few pictures before the bride arrives. The chief bridesmaid needs to be responsible for organising the other bridesmaids and flowergirls, particularly very young ones.

Duties at the Ceremony

When the bride arrives, the maid of honour will need to ensure everyone is assembled and in the correct order and position for the grand entrance. Check each other’s hair, makeup and bouquets. Don’t forget to make any necessary adjustments to the bride’s dress and veil so that she looks absolutely stunning for her big moment. Everyone’s eyes will be on her (especially the grooms, of course!)

Bridesmaids also have very specific duties during the ceremony. In New Zealand, the flowergirls walk up the aisle first, followed by the bridesmaids and the maid of honour. In most cases, the bridesmaids usually stand near the front on the bride’s right side. Make sure that you know where to go, and if there are any young children in the bridal party, have their parents seated close by.

Once the bride has joined the groom, the chief bridesmaid re-arranges the bride’s train and then takes her bouquet and holds it for the duration of the service. The maid of honour will also sign the registry as a witness during the ceremony.

For the recessional, the chief bridesmaid and the best man take their positions behind the bride and her new husband as they leave the ceremony venue. Once you are all outside, the bridesmaids may need to assemble the newly married couple, attendants, and family members for group photographs. This may involve liaising with the official photographer to organise everyone within the required time frame.

At the Reception

Arriving at the reception, the bride may want the maid of honour to be a part of the receiving line (if this hasn’t already been done after the ceremony). The purpose of the line is to allow the guests to congratulate the newly married couple, and to ensure that the bride and groom have a chance to say hello and thank you to each individual guest.

You may also be responsible for displaying the bride’s bouquet somewhere safe (and preferably cool), guaranteeing it doesn’t get damaged during and is ready for the bouquet toss at the end of the night. Ask the wedding venue coordinator to provide a vase or jug of water to keep the flowers looking fresh.

Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. Make sure the newlyweds are being social and moving around from table to table to talk to all their guests. The bride should never be in want for a drink, be it a glass of bubbly or a glass of water. Ideally it should be a balance of both – you don’t want her dehydrated or too drunk! It’s a fine line and ultimately your responsibility. And that goes for food too, make sure she eats at least some of the delicious reception meal.

Make at least one copy of the bride’s speech (if she’s having one) and keep it in your DIY Bridal bag or at the table. You don’t want her freaking out if she can’t find it at the right moment. The bride may even ask you (if you’re the maid of honour) to give a speech, while this isn’t strictly traditional, it is becoming more and more popular for the chief bridesmaid to say a few words.

After the cake has been cut, rather than having waiters/waitresses hand it out, rally together the bridesmaids and personally offer the cake to the wedding guests. The bridesmaids should also act as the bride’s back-up, circulating amongst the guests, ensuring that they are enjoying themselves and aren’t in need anything.

Hit the dance floor with enthusiasm when the music kicks in! While the first dance is exclusively reserved for the happy couple, it is traditional for the maid of honour to take to the floor with the best man and join the newlyweds halfway through the first dance. As the night progresses, be on the lookout for those guests who might need a little encouragement and/or a dance partner before they’ll join in the fun.

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