I’ve been a bridesmaid three times. Well, technically four if you count the wedding I’m in next month.
It wasn’t until the third wedding, though, that I felt I really nailed the job of bridesmaid. Being a great bridesmaid comes with great responsibility.
Here are the 8 most important things I wish I knew before I took on the role.
1. Always go above and beyond your official ‘bridesmaid duties.’
Bridesmaid duties don’t come as a prepackaged to-do list that you can just check off. Sure, you can search the internet to find a list with the big requirements listed, but every bride and every wedding is different.
Regardless of the location and bride, though, something will most likely happen the day of the wedding that no one can prepare for — a rip in the wedding dress, rain at an outdoor wedding, or a drunken and belligerent uncle. Be ready to jump in with quick solutions wherever you can. Keeping the bride happy is the over-all goal of any good bridesmaid.
2. Don’t count on the other bridesmaids.
As much as you’d like to think that everyone who is in the wedding is excited to be there and happy to help in any way possible, some bridesmaids are not. Sometimes participants only see the fun parts of being a bridesmaid, including getting dressed up, taking photos, and enjoying never-ending drinks.
To be a ~great bridesmaid~, be prepared to handle as much planning and coordinating as possible, and if none of the other bridesmaids step up, have a few backup people you know you can rely on. Hopefully those people include the bride’s family, but if not, you can always ask a few of your reliable friends that will be at the wedding and the festivities beforehand (bridal shower, bachelorette, etc) to pitch in (monetarily or just with some fun ideas).
3. Don’t expect extra appreciation.
Despite going above and beyond, don’t expect extra appreciation or praise from the bride and other bridesmaids. The bride doesn’t need to be bothered with that fact that her other bridesmaids don’t want to pitch in, and the other bridesmaids probably don’t even realize how much work there is to do. Or they realize it and are more than happy that you are handling the work. No matter what, even if the bride doesn’t verbally thank you for your help, she really does appreciate it.
4. Being a bridesmaid will always be expensive.
Can you try being in a wedding on a tight budget? Sure, but don’t expect to be able to go above and beyond your duties.
From purchasing the gifts (yes, there are many) to buying your bridesmaid dress to planning the bachelorette party to throwing the bridal shower, it’s the bridemaids’ jobs to make the bride feel special at all times. And that means you’re going to have to spend money. A lot a lot a lot of money.
5. You can say no.
The first time I was a bridesmaid, I was a 21-year-old broke college student. My parents told me I could say no the job and that the bride would understand the situation and appreciate the honesty. However, the bride was my best friend and saying no wasn’t an option. This experience taught me though that you should only take part in this experience for good friends, so if I have to say no in the future, I will.
I have been in a wedding where a bridesmaid couldn’t afford to pitch in on gifts, and I have been in another wedding where one was too busy to help with any planning. Not only did these situations stress out the bride and everyone else in the bridal party, but it made the bridesmaids in question feel like a terrible friend. Sometimes turning down the offer is the better thing to do than saying yes and half-assing the job of bridesmaid.
6. The job doesn’t end after the ceremony.
Technically your bridesmaid duties are done after the bride and groom are officially married, but don’t start downing the champagne too quickly. If you’re the maid-of-honor of course you’re expected to give a speech at the reception. And you’re a bridesmaid, there a million things to help with throughout the night, including making sure the DJ plays all the requested hits and making sure the decorations and centerpieces aren’t left behind after the party ends.
7. How you look is important, but not more important than the bride.
There is no greater motivation for working out than knowing you have a bridesmaids dress to fit into. Creating a goal for yourself to get in shape for the wedding is great, as long as it doesn’t create any extra stress for the bride. Give yourself realistic goals, and make sure you have plenty of time to make any alterations necessary to the dress before the wedding. The only item of clothing a bride should worry about is her dress, not a bridesmaid trying to fit into dress a few sizes too small.
8. It’s completely worth it.
Being a bridesmaid gave me a whole new perspective on friendship. When it was my turn to get married, I only asked those closest to me that I thought would enjoy the experience to be in the wedding party.
Despite the time and effort being in a wedding takes, the wedding day itself is a blur of excitement and fun. From the photos to the dancing, keeping the bride happy ends up making you pretty happy too. And you’ll create great memories that neither of you will ever forget!