Being asked to be a bridesmaid is a real honour. The role usually goes to the best friend or sister of the bride, but just because you’re her closest confidant doesn’t mean you’ll definitely be asked. Here’s how to know if you’re the right woman for the job, what is likely to be expected of you, and when it’s okay to say no.
Bridesmaids were traditionally meant to be the unmarried closest friends of the bride: her maids of honour. A married bridesmaid is known as the matron of honour and these days we tend to choose adult and child bridesmaids and one chief bridesmaid.
An important part of any wedding, bridesmaids are the bride’s right hand women and the chief bridesmaid is like her personal assistant and is usually responsible for organising the hen night, assisting the bride with any home-made wedding accessories such as the invitations, table planner, favours and place cards. On the wedding day the bridesmaids are there to help the bride, to calm her nerves and adult bridesmaids will be expected to look after any younger bridesmaids or flower girls.
As chief bridesmaid, you should be organised, willing and able to help the bride at a moment’s notice. Being a calm person who will be on hand to soothe the bride’s nerves will also help as a wedding is a large event to organise and one of your jobs is to help ensure there are no last minute disasters.
An enthusiastic and supportive bridesmaid who is focused on her tasks and co-operative will be a huge help to the bride and friendships can become firmly cemented for all time during the wedding planning when the bride and her bridesmaid work together effectively to ensure the wedding goes as planned.
Although it is an honour to be asked to be a bridesmaid, there are occasions when someone has to refuse and there are some acceptable reasons for this such as a prior engagement on that day which cannot be changed, or an illness or disability that you feel may get in the way.
Pregnancy is not necessarily a reason to decline as the wedding date may fall well before the due date and the bride may be happy to arrange a dress to accommodate the bump.
A previous liaison with the groom is a good enough reason to decline, just as if you feel you don’t know the bride that well and are not sure why you’ve been asked. If you feel the need to decline then do it straight away, before any money has been spent and it’s too late for the bride to ask anyone else and do so graciously, thanking the bride for asking you.
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Kate Thompson is Confetti's features editor and wedding expert, and has worked in the wedding industry for 15 years. A widely published lifestyle writer, she has made BBC television and radio appearances discussing wedding trends in the UK.