What's a girl to do? A brief guide to being a bridesmaid

When the couple finally decided to get hitched, you were likely one of the first people the bride called to share the 
good news. 

You’re one of her best friends, after all, and barring a barrage of sisters waiting in the wings, it was really no surprise when she asked you to stand up at the altar with her on the biggest day of her life. 

The invitation was elating, but when you said “I will” to the bride-to-be, there’s a good chance you didn’t know exactly what was in store for you. 
You have responsibilities

Being a member of a bridal party means more than just wearing a pretty (or-not-so pretty) dress and dancing the night away with the groomsmen. There are a lot of things required to make a wedding happen, and your role is integral to keeping the bride’s anxiety at a manageable level. The months leading up to the wedding are an investment of time and money into your friend’s big day and traditionally, certain things are expected of you. 

We’ve compiled a list of things that bridesmaids and the maid of honor are typically expected to help with or host. If you’re strapped for cash or time, it’s best to have the conversation up front about what the bride wants, and then divvy up the tasks among the ladies.

Emotional support: This is your biggest job. Weddings create a roller coaster of emotions and the bride bears the brunt of the decision making in most cases. Be there to offer a shoulder to lean on, dry any pre-wedding tears and rejoice in the happy moments. 

Dresses & shoes: It’s expected that the maid of honor and bridesmaids will cough up the cash for these items. While she may consult you on the color, cost and style, don’t be offended if she doesn’t. 

If necessary, be up front with your bride about any monetary concerns you may have, and if you can’t swing it, bow out gracefully and find another way to support her.

Bridal showers: Generally held two to four weeks before the wedding, this is a joint endeavor, generally led by the MOH (but bridesmaids or female relatives might step up as well). Share the costs so the financial burden doesn’t fall on one person, and then split up the planning tasks to make it easy on everyone. 

Bachelorette party: This typically is the responsibility of the MOH to plan. Since you’re likely headed out for a night on the town, but bridesmaids should plan on chipping in for food and drinks. If possible, don’t have this the night before the wedding. It’s best for the bride to have the eve of her wedding to rest and relax.

Gifts: Yes, you are supposed to buy a gift. Many bridal parties go in on a group gift in order to get something nice and keep the gift-giving expense to a minimum, but it is appropriate to give gifts at each party and the wedding. 

Decorations: Offer your time and labor as much as possible, because, after all, many hands make light the load. If the bride has trouble delegating, take a look at what she’s got on her list and offer to bring over a bottle of wine and help. 
Maid of Honor

With great honor comes great responsibility. You get the biggest bouquet (next to the bride) and your own special dress, but you also get your own set of tasks to manage along the way.

Dress fitting: Attend at least one fitting with the bride to make sure you know how to help her get into her dress and how to bustle her train for the reception.

Wrangle the bridesmaids: Make sure the other members of the bridal party have their dresses and accessories, have made their hair and makeup appointments and know when and where they are supposed to be on the big day.

Rings: Hold the groom’s ring during the ceremony. Tip: Your thumb is a great place to keep the ring visible and handy for the exchange. 

Make her look beautiful: When the bride gets to the end of the aisle and takes her place, you’ll need to arrange the train of her gown and her veil so that she looks her best. Hold her flowers and keep a tissue handy during the ceremony – she’s likely to tear up.

Clean up: If the bride hasn’t hired someone to do this part, it will fall on you to make sure the venue is spic-and-span at the end of the day. Makes sure everyone has a job and that all the decorations and gifts end up at their final destination. Box up the top layer of cake, grab her dress (if she changed) and turn out the lights.