Being asked to be a bridesmaid is a wonderful honour and one that most girls feel incredibly lucky to experience. However, if you’ve never been one before, it can seem a slightly daunting task. Worry not though, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to being a bridesmaid and defined your key roles and duties for before and on the day.
Bridesmaids Duties and Jobs During Your Wedding Day
A Bit Of Background
The history of the bridesmaid varies across cultures, religions and time periods. In early Roman times, bridesmaids formed a kind of bridal troop. As a troop, they marched alongside to accompany the bride to the groom’s village. This ‘protective shield’ of similarly outfitted bridesmaids was supposed to intervene if any vengeful suitors tried to steal her dowry.
However, the Western bridesmaid tradition seems to have originated from the later Roman law. This law required ten witnesses at a wedding in order to outsmart evil spirits believed to attend marriage ceremonies. The bridesmaids and ushers would dress in identical clothing to the bride and groom so that the evil spirits wouldn’t know which couple was which.
Even as late as 19th century England, the belief that ill-wishers could administer curses and taint the marriage still existed. In Victorian wedding photographs, for example, it can take quite a bit of inspection to pick out the bride and groom!
The Morning of the Wedding
It makes sense for all the bridesmaids and pageboys to get dressed wherever the bride is getting ready. This helps prevent creasing of the wedding outfits and gives everyone the chance to make any last-minute adjustments.
If you’re the chief bridesmaid (or Maid of Honour if you’re married), your role on the day is of utmost importance to the bride. You must maintain a calming influence throughout the day, and be as organised as possible.
On the morning of the wedding, you’ll need to ensure that everyone is where they should be when they should be.
Your other duties in the morning include:
- Arriving at the bride’s house in plenty of time for the hairdresser and make-up artist.
- Being on hand to help dress younger attendants
- Looking after a handbag for the bride. Keep tissues, blotting paper, and a lipgloss/ lipstick to hand for touch-ups throughout the day.
We also recommend you pack an ‘emergency kit’ for the morning too – this could include plasters, rescue remedy and a sewing kit in case any wardrobe malfunctions.
Getting to the Ceremony
The maid of honour, 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 maid of honour will have to organise the other bridesmaids and pageboys, particularly very young ones.
Duties at the Ceremony
When the bride arrives, the maid of honour will need to ensure everyone is in the right position behind her, ready for her entrance. Calm any excited little flower girls and pageboys using bribery (sweets) if necessary.
Make any necessary adjustments to the bride’s veil and dress so that she looks absolutely gorgeous for her big entrance. All eyes will be on her.
Bridesmaids also have very specific duties. The bride will follow you into the ceremony and usually sit near the front, ready for the procession back out at the end. Make sure young flower girls and page boys have their parents seated close by.
Once the bride has joined the groom, the maid of honour takes her bouquet and looks after it for the duration of the service.
When the couple signs the register, the maid of honour accompanies them into the vestry or side room, to witness the signing. The best man joins for this too.
On leaving the ceremony venue, the maid of honour 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. Younger bridesmaids and pageboys will follow behind.
Once you’re all outside, the maid of honour may need to arrange the couple and attendants for the photographs. It is also quite usual for the maid of honour to have her photo taken with the best man.
Once at the reception, the bride may want the maid of honour to be a part of the receiving line. The purpose of the line is to allow the guests to meet the bridal party. It’s also to ensure that the bride and groom say at hello and thank you to each guest.
You may also have the responsibility for looking after the brides’ bouquet, ensuring it doesn’t get damaged during the rest of the day. Liaise with the venues wedding coordinator to get a vase or jug of water to keep the flowers refreshed.
The maid of honour should also circulate amongst the guests during the reception, ensuring that they are enjoying themselves. 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 the bride and bridesmaids to make a speech too. Check out these 4 best EVER wedding speeches for inspiration.
The first dance is exclusively reserved for the newlyweds. However, it is traditional for the maid of honour to take to the floor with the best man and join the happy couple midway through the first dance.
When the couple leaves at the end of the night, the maid of honour should be on hand to take care of the bride’s dress. It is the maid of honour’s duty to ensure that it is returned safely. The other attendants’ outfits may need to be returned if they’ve been hired and she may well ask you to take responsibility for this.
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