Your friend has asked you to be a bridesmaid. You’ve agreed. Now what?

Being a bridesmaid is more than wearing an awesome dress. There are a lot of expectations, but every experience is different. Some brides rely on their bridesmaids more than others. In general, I would put the traditional responsibilities into four main categories: 1. the planning process, 2. the bridal shower, 3. the bachelorette party, and 4. the wedding weekend.

(1) The planning process, for many brides, is long and stressful. The expectations of the bridesmaids throughout this time will vary significantly based on a number of factors (i.e. geographic proximity, relationship, availability, etc.). Some brides will want her nearest and dearest involved in every decision from wedding dress shopping to cake testing.  Others will only consult their fiancés. Some DIY brides will ask their maids to help by folding 1,001 paper cranes or creating thematic place cards. Others will hire a planner and delegate these tasks. The important thing to remember is to provide emotional support to the bride, your friend, during this uniquely mentally taxing time period.


(2) Bridal shower planning responsibilities traditionally fall to the maid of honor, but sometimes, other bridesmaids pitch in or a female family member (e.g., a sister, an aunt, a cousin) will take the reigns. Some brides have multiple showers–family-only, couple’s shower, etc. Typically, bridesmaids are expected to attend at least one of the showers, if possible, and bring a gift. (When my sister got married, one bridesmaid was in China during the planning process. She did not fly back for the shower, nor was there any expectation she would.) Beyond showing up, responsibilities will depend on the circumstances. Just be available if needed to pitch in, and always show up a little early and plan on staying late to help out.


(3) The bachelorette party, like the bridal shower, is traditionally planned by the maid of honor, but can be planned by any of the bride’s close friends. Bachelorette parties are intended to celebrate the bride’s last nights of being single, but to me, they are just an excuse to go out and have fun with friends (old or new). Bridesmaids are typically expected to attend, if not participate in the planning process, but as per usual, this will vary.

(4) The wedding weekend is a whirlwind of activity for the bridal party. Besides being sure to bring the necessary dress, shoes, and any other adornments, bridesmaids are expected to attend the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner (typically the night before the wedding), keep any day-of appointments (hair/make-up) the bride has arranged, and generally be on hand to keep the bride calm, cool, and collected. Be prepared for last minute “emergencies” to pop up, such as a snag in the wedding dress or a last minute no-show vendor, and as needed, step in to help the bride coordinate any of these details. Enjoy the festivities, and remember to celebrate with the newly married couple.


Have I missed anything? Obviously, there are nuances to ALL of those categories, which we will get into over time… 🙂