What Is a Bridesmaid?

Bridesmaids helping bride into wedding dress
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A bridesmaid is first and foremost someone who the bride wants to be a part of her wedding. Perhaps she is a sister or a very close friend; her friendship and support of the marriage are meaningful.

More than that, a bridesmaid and/or maid-of-honor serves a practical purpose. During the hectic time of planning a wedding, she is a confidante, advice giver, doer of menial tasks, errand runner and more. A bride should have at least one bridesmaid (preferably the maid-of-honor) who is reliable, cheerfully helpful, organized, and who lives close to the bride.

Duties of a Bridesmaid

  • Helping the bride shop for her dress and bridesmaids’ dresses.
  • Giving advice on decorations, favors, music, and more, only when asked.
  • Helping the maid of honor to plan a bridal shower, and, if appropriate, chipping in for the costs of food, decorations, or venue.
  • Helping to plan a bachelorette party (the bridesmaids may pay for this or split the cost with the other attendees).
  • Helping the bride dress (and stay calm) before the ceremony.
  • Providing moral support at all times.
  • Telling others where the couple is registered and other details, such as when they will return from their honeymoon, where to send gifts, and any name changes.
  • Being useful at the wedding reception. The couple may ask you to help direct guests to the guestbook, assist with a special moment, make sure that vendors have arrived, or do crisis management. You might also want to stick around after the reception and make sure things are cleaned up and wedding presents secured.
  • Being social. Be sure to talk to as many guests as you can, making them feel warmly welcomed. If there's a dance floor, help get the party going!
  • Consider throwing (or helping to pitch in for) a day-after brunch. These events are great to help the couple catch up with out-of-town guests, and have a more relaxed environment to socialize in.

A good bridesmaid also makes sure she is helpful rather than a hindrance. This means being where she needs to be, on time, ordering her bridesmaid dress at the right time, and not badmouthing the bride behind her back!

Duties of a Maid of Honor

A Maid of Honor or Matron of Honor has additional duties. She is the person whom the bride most wants to honor and celebrate her friendship. At the wedding ceremony, she has the honor of being the last to walk down the aisle before the bride and stands next to her during the ceremony. In addition to a bridesmaid's duties, listed above, a maid of honor's duties include:

  • Helping with wedding planning, such as researching locations, florists, caterers, and other vendors.
  • Volunteering to help address wedding invitations and/or announcements.
  • Making sure her fellow bridesmaids have ordered their dresses and accessories on time.
  • Helping with the rehearsal dinner.
  • Holding the bouquet during the ceremony.
  • Giving a meaningful toast during the reception.

The Expenses of Being a Bridesmaid

There is a considerable expense involved in being a bridesmaid, including the costs of apparel, travel and hotel room for the ceremony, hosting a party, as well as a shower gift and a wedding gift. A bridesmaid can save money by asking others to pitch in for the showers, wearing a dress she already owns (if that’s okay with the bride), making her own dress, and staying with friends. She can give her friend the gift of time, for example the gift of addressing and stuffing the invitations. Also, a bride may pay for some of the expenses if her budget allows it.

The Bachelorette Party

Planning a bachelorette party should be a fun experience for a bridesmaid to toast the bride and have a blast with both new and old friends. The party planner should be sure to keep the bride in mind always. Just because the wild maid-of-honor might want a stripper doesn’t mean the bride will. Consider if the bride is more a gambling-in-Vegas type of gal or a sitting-by-the-pool-with-a-white-wine-spritzer girl. Either way, you might want to plan a few bachelorette party games for a night to remember. Most of all, a bachelorette party should be a unique and amazing experience that’s both a total blast and a time for bonding.