A List of Bridesmaid Duties & Responsibilities, From Start to Finish
Your BFF asked you to be a bridesmaid and you said yes. It's exciting, but now what? Supporting your friend on the wedding day is the main thing, but there are other important bridesmaid duties along the way you don't want to forget about. Alongside the maid of honor, you'll wear a lot of different hats leading up to the wedding day, including pseudo wedding planner, event host and unofficial therapist. To help you prepare for the role, we're outlining all of the possible bridesmaid responsibilities and basic bridesmaid etiquette to know—plus, we've asked wedding planning and etiquette experts for their tips on how to realistically juggle it all.
Bridesmaid Duties You Need to Know:
Plus: What Is a Bridesmaid?
What Is a Bridesmaid?
In simplest terms, the bridesmaid definition is a person who is asked to participate in the wedding. Bridesmaids are generally the most important people in the to-be-wed's circle of loved ones, such as best friends or relatives (sisters, sisters-in-law, etc.). They are part of the wedding party, which usually consists of the maid or matron of honor, best man, groomsmen and other attendants chosen by the couple. Bridesmaids help plan and attend prewedding events, stand at the altar during the ceremony and assist with other wedding duties as needed.
"When you're asked to be a bridesmaid, you might find yourself feeling overjoyed and overwhelmed," says Jen Glantz, founder of Bridesmaid for Hire, a team of professional bridesmaids that provide services for weddings worldwide. "That's because there are no set guidelines for the role. Every time you say 'I do' to being a part of someone's bridal party, you might be asked to do a ton of different things and spend various amounts of money. But the heartbeat of being a bridesmaid is just being a good friend to the person getting married. That's all that should matter," says Glantz.
Before you agree to be in the wedding, it's okay to take some time to think about the bridesmaid meaning, what a bridesmaid is supposed to do and whether or not you can realistically handle the role. Glantz recommends asking the bride or couple for their expectations before making any decisions. "Resentment happens weeks into being a bridesmaid when you hear how much the role will cost you and how many different activities you have to participate in," says Glantz. "Tell the person getting married how grateful you are that they asked you to be their bridesmaid and then ask what they had in mind for the role. Based on what they share, be upfront about how much you can commit to right now, both time-wise and financially, based on what you have going on in your life."
Printable Bridesmaid Duties Checklist
Brushing up on your wedding planning etiquette? Bookmark this printable checklist for your wedding Pinterest board so it's easy to find when you need a quick bridesmaid duties refresher.
Prewedding Bridesmaid Duties
There's more to being a bridesmaid than showing up on the wedding day (although that's a major part of it!). Planning a wedding involves a lot of moving parts, and your friend will likely need help and support along the way. "The best part of being a bridesmaid is that you're part of a team," says Glantz. "You don't have to take on everything but you should take on something that compliments your skill set."
Ready to win the award for best bridesmaid ever? Here are seven bridesmaid duties before the wedding to keep in mind.
Send an engagement gift.
It's a nice gesture to send the couple a celebratory gift shortly after their engagement, even if you haven't officially been asked to be a bridesmaid yet. You don't want to be too presumptuous, so keep it simple with a bottle of bubbly or a bouquet of flowers and a nice handwritten note. If the to-be-weds have already decided who's in the wedding, you might be tasked with helping to plan an engagement party.
Shop for your wedding day attire.
When you're officially a bridesmaid, one of the first things you'll do is choose your wedding day outfit. In most cases, the couple will give you guidelines about what to wear, and you might even go shopping as a group with the other bridesmaids. Whether you're wearing matching bridesmaid dresses or you have the freedom to pick your own attire, it's best to get this bridesmaid duty out of the way early before the wedding, in case you need to order special items or find time for alterations.
You might also be asked to help your bestie find their wedding day attire. Some brides ask their bridesmaids to join them for wedding dress shopping appointments or to weigh in on different outfit options. If you're invited or asked for your opinion, do your best to stay positive. Offering negative feedback or opinions can confuse your friend and make the experience more stressful than it needs to be.
Book your wedding travel and accommodations.
If the wedding isn't taking place where you live, be sure to cross this bridesmaid responsibility off your list sooner rather than later. Book any flights and overnight accommodations as soon as you have the finalized wedding date (ask the couple about rehearsal dinner and postwedding brunch plans so you can be present for those, too).
Attend (and help plan) the bridal shower.
The maid of honor will lead the charge when it comes to planning the bridal shower, but there's a good chance that you'll be asked to pitch in as part of your bridesmaid duties. Be prepared to lend a hand for anything that the MOH needs, such as chipping in financially, helping to decorate the venue or arriving early to greet guests. You'll also need to bring a wedding shower gift, but you can consider giving a group gift with the rest of the bridesmaids.
Attend (and help plan) the bachelorette party.
The bachelorette party is another prewedding event on your list of bridesmaid responsibilities. Following the maid of honor's lead, you'll be expected to help plan—and pay for—the bachelorette party, which usually takes place a few months before the actual wedding day. All of the bridesmaids will be invited to the bachelorette party, and in most cases, you'll each pay for your own expenses while also pitching in to cover the bride's expenses. On top of that, you might be asked to help the maid of honor with various planning tasks, such as making reservations, buying decorations or using your spreadsheet skills to design a detailed itinerary for the group.
Attend the rehearsal dinner.
The to-be-weds will plan the rehearsal dinner, but you're expected to attend as part of your bridesmaid duties. The rehearsal dinner usually takes place the night before the wedding, following the runthrough of the processional order and other ceremony details. You don't need to do much here except follow the suggested dress code, listen to the speeches (usually given by parents or other family members) and enjoy the meal. Word to the wise: Don't stay out too late, as you'll want to be rested for the big day ahead.
Be there for moral support.
Aside from the obvious to-dos on your bridesmaid duties list, the most important thing is to simply be there for your friend throughout the wedding planning process. "Weddings can bring drama and stress into a person's life," says Glantz. She explains that showing up for your engaged friend, taking things off their to-do list, checking in on them and spending time with them during the wedding adventure can all make a difference.
Being supportive can be as simple as making time to meet for coffee, or it can be something more impactful, like writing funny wedding party bios for the couple's wedding website. "Good friends make great bridesmaids," adds Glantz. "Everything else is extra. It's when you layer on expectations, obligations, that complicates the role."
Bridesmaid Duties on the Wedding Day
"A bride will have plenty to juggle, so she will be counting on you when it comes to the details," says Lisa Mirza Grotts, a certified etiquette professional with more than 24 years of experience helping her clients navigate social situations and beyond. "Remember this: you are in it together until she reaches the altar, and then there's the reception! It may not be a paid job, but it's certainly a job—and an important one at that." Whether it's your first time as a bridesmaid or you've done this before, here's a rundown of the most important bridesmaid responsibilities on the wedding day.
Get ready with the other bridesmaids.
Getting ready on the wedding day is just as important as the actual ceremony—not only is it a good time to help the bride combat any butterflies, but it's a fun opportunity for the group to start the day on the right foot. As a bridesmaid, you'll most likely be expected to get ready with the rest of the bridesmaids and other loved ones, like the flower girl, mother of the bride and/or mother of the groom. Plan for an early morning, especially if you're having hair and makeup professionally done. Hair and makeup can take one or two hours per person—and you need time to eat, get dressed and take pictures before the ceremony. Leading up to the wedding day, be sure to pack a bag with all of your essentials, including your attire, accessories and an emergency kit.
Give your wedding gift to the couple.
Yep, you're expected to give a wedding gift as a bridesmaid. If you purchase something from the couple's wedding registry, you can send it directly to them before the wedding. But if you're giving a card with cash or another gift that can't be sent ahead of time, bring it with you on the wedding day and add it to their gift table at the reception. Lastly, depending on your relationship with the bride, you can surprise her with a small gift on the wedding day.
Keep tabs on the wedding day timeline.
Knowing the wedding day timeline (or at least having it written down in your Notes App for easy access) is another important bridesmaid role. Remember, it's your job to make the couple's life easier on the wedding day, which means knowing exactly where you need to be and when—without having to be told. As a bridesmaid, you should also be prepared to answer basic questions from wedding vendors, like where they can find the venue coordinator or when the newlyweds are scheduled to leave for the night.
Participate in the wedding ceremony.
During the wedding ceremony, you'll likely be expected to walk down the aisle (either by yourself or with another person in the wedding party) and stand at the altar beside your BFF. Don't worry—you'll have rehearsed all of this ahead of time, so there won't be any surprises about what to do on the actual day. And if your friend needs a tissue or an encouraging smile as they say their vows, you'll be right there to help them out. If the bride has a bouquet, the MOH or a bridesmaid usually holds it during the ceremony. You'll also be on outfit duty: making sure their train is fluffed, their veil is smoothed down and any other adjustments to help your friend look picture-perfect.
Be available for wedding photos.
The photographer might take some pictures throughout the morning, but the bulk of the photos are usually taken after the ceremony and sometimes into cocktail hour. Part of your bridesmaid duties on the wedding day is to stick around for group portraits as long as the photographer needs you, which means you might miss out on a few hors d'oeuvres. Make the process as quick as possible by cooperating with the wedding photographer, the wedding planner and the couple—you'll have plenty of time to party after!
Give a speech at the reception if the couple asks you.
At the wedding reception, the maid of honor, best man and parents are usually the ones to give speeches, but the couple may ask you ahead of time to say a few words. If that's the case, prepare a few words (use our easy wedding toast templates as a shortcut) and make sure you practice in advance. If you're not giving a speech, listen to the ones being given respectfully. Then, it's party time! Bring positive energy to the reception by engaging with other guests and letting loose on the dance floor if you feel comfortable. Getting up and dancing will likely encourage other guests to join in, which will make the reception extra fun.
Check in with the newlyweds throughout the party.
Finally, check in on your friend to make sure they're getting enough water and food (and cocktails too). They might be busy talking to guests or taking pictures, so passing them something to eat could make all the difference by the end of the night. "Manners are rent-free, so this is a wonderful opportunity to showcase yours," says Gotts. "It's [the bride's] day, so it's the time to pull out your magical powers and make it memorable." Go the extra mile in your role as a bridesmaid by helping with outfit changes, wedding dress bathroom breaks (IYKYK) and other thoughtful requests, like asking the wedding planner or caterer to pack up to-go boxes for the couple.
Postwedding Bridesmaid Duties
The wedding is over, but you still have a few more loose ends to tie up before finishing your role as a bridesmaid. Check in with the couple after the wedding to see if there's anything else they need, and keep these final bridesmaid responsibilities in mind too.
Attend the farewell party (if there is one).
The couple might be hosting a farewell party or postwedding brunch the morning after the wedding. You're expected to attend as a bridesmaid, so know exactly when you need to be there and don't be late! We know it might be tough to get out of bed after a late night, so set your alarm the day before—and drink water throughout the wedding reception to stave off a hangover. Text the newlyweds to see if they need anything from you (like extra-large coffees delivered to their room). Then, you're free to enjoy the morning alongside your newly-married bestie.
Organize miscellaneous or leftover wedding items.
Maybe you helped take down decorations at the end of the wedding, or maybe you collected the couple's wedding gifts and cards during the reception for safekeeping. If there are any miscellaneous things that need to be returned to the newlyweds or other bridesmaids, take time to organize them a few days after the wedding so you don't forget (or worse, misplace them).
Settle outstanding payments and other bills.
Don't wait too long after the wedding to close the loop on any remaining expenses that need to be split among the group. The bride's wedding mani-pedi bill that you put on your card, the rideshare you took with the other bridesmaids to the airport—whatever it may be, send your Venmo requests sooner rather than later so you don't catch anyone by surprise.