It is a privilege to be asked by your best friend to be the chief bridesmaid. It’s also an honour you don’t get charged with every day and can be a daunting task. Here’s my guide for anxious bridesmaids.
As a chief bridesmaid, the bride is trusting you to help her with her wedding planning and take charge of her hen do (making sure not to leave her tied naked to a lamppost!) You may also be called upon to assist the bride with such tasks as hand-making the favours, writing the invitations and place cards and helping to assemble the table plan. The perfect chief bridesmaid should be supportive without being intrusive, helpful on the day, and always available for a wedding shopping spree.
Here’s a guide to what you can expect to have to do:
The Lead up to the Wedding
Your main duty is to be the bride’s personal assistant: someone she can rely on to chase quotes if required or to calm her down when stress gets the better of her.
An important task for any chief bridesmaid is to be an honest and reliable critic when it comes to choosing the all important wedding dress. Make sure she gives you some idea of what she is looking for and then be constructive about the styles and colours that suit her. And if she asks ‘does my bum look big in this?’, the answer should always be a constructive ‘it looks lovely but I prefer a wider A-line style on you – the fuller skirts are so much prettier.’
If the bride is trying out a new beauty or fitness regime before the wedding, your support will be very welcome. If she’s going to aerobics or has taken up jogging, try to go along to keep up morale. As chief bridesmaid you should attend the wedding rehearsal so that you know where you and other attendants should stand, when you should sit down and the exact order of the ceremony.
You will also be, to a certain extent, in charge of the other bridesmaids. You will need to keep them informed about any fittings, appointments, items they need to get (shoes, jewellery, gift for the bride), and if any of them misbehave in any way, you should be able to have a word to avoid upsetting the bride. If any of them have any specific tasks to perform (a reading at the ceremony, or preparing anything for the wedding beforehand), you should ensure their task will be completed on time.
The Hen Night
This is your chance to shine as the chief bridesmaid and to give your bride a real send off. It’s important to ensure that whatever you organise is something that she would like so unless you’re organising it together – have a good chat about what she does and doesn’t want. If she’s the sort of girl who would hate a stripper then, even if you and all other bridesmaids want one, don’t do it. You could book a restaurant, go to a club, have a sleepover or go for a weekend away. There are all sorts of things you could do, from quad biking to afternoon tea at The Ritz!
For more ideas for some great hen parties, check out our hen & stag section. And make her hen night one to remember with some hilarious hen night accessories!
Having a makeover is a fun way to spend a morning or afternoon. Try out some new brands or make-up artists for the big day and see what suits you, or just plain enjoy yourselves doing something girlie. Planning a spa day for the both of you and perhaps for any other bridesmaids and her mum or sister is a wonderful idea. If you do it close enough to the wedding day you could make it a pre-hen night pamper session and get all your facials, manicures and pedicures done and perhaps have a spray tan too! Some mobile beauticians will even come to your home with a pop-up spray tan booth and everything you need for a very special spa day.
Here’s my list for your emergency CBM kit. You can keep most of it out the way until after the ceremony, but it’s a good idea to have it within reach during the reception if needed:
Lipstick (essential plus Lipcote to keep it on all day)
Comb/brush (essential for photos)
Tissues (there may be tears!)
Breath mints (she’s going to do a lot of kissing)
Tights or stockings (plus spares just in case)
Safety pins (you never know…)
Hairgrips (in case your up-dos should come down)
Mobile phone (switched to vibrate)
Wet wipes (always come in handy)
Tampax if it’s that time (better safe than sorry, especially if her dress is white!)
Pain relief tablets (for a real emergency headache)
Finally, make sure the wedding guests have plenty of confetti – if allowed – and that they know when they can throw it. Find out more about bridal party roles and duties in the Wedding Blog.
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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.