Bridesmaids play an important role on the day. These are the chosen ones: the girls a bride can count on to be there for her when she needs a helping hand. Here’s your essential guide to a bridesmaids duties on the day of the wedding, from cheerleader to childminder to toilet assistant!
As chief bridesmaid, your role on the day is of utmost importance to the bride and the other attendants. It is your job to maintain a calming influence throughout the day and be as organised as possible.
On the morning of the wedding, you should ensure that everyone is where they should be when they should be, that the right clothes and accessories are ready for the right person, and that you are prepared to deal with any emergencies that might arise.
Your other duties on the day will include being on hand to help dress younger attendants and keep them looking perfect until the transport arrives. And being the bride’s general cheer leader so she enjoys the day!
You may also be asked to look after emergency supplies for the bride such as lipstick, tissues, a powder compact, mirror and anything else she might need in a pretty bridal bag.
The chief bridesmaid, bridesmaids and other attendants will probably travel to the ceremony venue with the bride’s mother.
Once all the attendants are assembled, the photographer may want to take some pictures before the bride arrives. The chief bridesmaid will have to organise the other bridesmaids and pageboys, particularly any very young ones.
When the bride arrives, the chief bridesmaid will need to ensure everyone is assembled and in the right position behind her, ready for her entrance. Calm any excited little bridesmaids and pageboys, using bribery if necessary!
Make any necessary adjustments to the bride’s veil and dress so that she looks absolutely gorgeous for her big entrance as all eyes will be on her and that fabulous dress.
Bridesmaids have very specific duties. You follow the bride into the venue (or you may go first, American style) and usually sit near the front, ready for the procession back out at the end. Make sure that you know where to go and that any very young children have their parents seated close by.
Once the bride has joined the groom, the chief bridesmaid takes her bouquet and gloves, if she is wearing any, and looks after them for the duration of the service. If in a church, when the couple sign the register, the chief bridesmaid goes with them into the vestry or side room, accompanied by the best man, to witness the signing.
On leaving the ceremony venue, the chief bridesmaid and the best man take their positions behind the bride and her new husband for the recessional. Other older bridesmaids will be escorted by the ushers while younger bridesmaids and pageboys will follow behind.
Once you are all outside, the chief bridesmaid may need to organise the couple and attendants for the photographs. It is also quite usual for the chief bridesmaid to have her photo taken with the best man.
Next, the chief bridesmaid gathers together any runaway younger attendants and get them all into the car to take them to the reception.
Once at the reception, the bride may want the chief bridesmaid to be a part of the receiving line. The purpose of the line is to allow the guests to meet the bridal party, and to ensure that the bride and groom say at least a few words to each guest.
You may have the responsibility for displaying the bride’s bouquet somewhere safe (and preferably cool), ensuring it doesn’t get damaged during the rest of the day. This is especially important if she is planning to have the flowers preserved as a souvenir.
The chief bridesmaid should also circulate amongst the guests during the reception, ensuring that they are enjoying themselves and using any disposable cameras provided. In this way you act as the bride’s back‐up; she will have only limited time to spend with each guest.
Although the speeches at the reception are generally a male prerogative, it is becoming more usual for either the bride, chief bridesmaid, or even both of you to make a speech.
The first dance is exclusively reserved for the newlyweds, but it is traditional for the chief bridesmaid to take to the floor with the best man and join the happy couple midway through the first dance. The chief bridesmaid can also remind the bride to throw her bouquet into the crowd of female guests for luck. Whoever catches the bride’s bouquet is said to be the next girl who will marry.
Finally, when the couple change into their going‐away outfits, the chief bridesmaid should be on hand to take care of the bride’s wedding dress and ensure that it is returned to her home or, if necessary, to the hire shop. The other attendants’ dresses may need to be returned too and she may well ask you to take responsibility for this.
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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.