How do you choose your bridesmaids, what are their duties and what should you do if problems arise? We’ve got Lucy Dimblylow to spill the beans on all things ‘bridesmaid’, helping you pick the best support team possible…
If you’ve ever watched the film Bridesmaids, you’ll be well aware that choosing and managing your maids is a potential minefield. Horror stories abound of bridesmaid disasters, from dress dilemmas to catastrophic arguments. But if you get it right, you’ll walk down the aisle on your big day surrounded by those loved ones who have helped you every step of the way.
Your bridesmaids’ duties
Being a bridesmaid is a great honour, but a great responsibility too. “As the bride, you need to be up front about what you’re expecting from your bridesmaids,” says Holly Poulter, owner and creative director of jointherevelry.com. “They can’t read your mind, so you need to tell them what you want them to do.”
Your bridesmaids’ duties are not set in stone, and may change depending on what stage of your planning you’re at. Not sure where to start? Here’s a few ideas how your bridesmaids can help out…
Before the big day
- Helping to choose your wedding dress and the bridesmaids dresses (obviously!)
- Accompanying you to wedding fairs and helping you make tough decisions
- Going to wedding dress fittings with you
- Helping with practical tasks such as making DIY details and addressing envelopes
- Organising the hen night (with input from you if you’d like)
- Attending the wedding rehearsal
- Helping with any last-minute tasks like dressing the reception venue, etc
Before the ceremony
- Helping younger attendants get ready
- Assisting you when you’re getting dressed
- Making sure you have enough food and drink on the morning of the wedding day
- Looking after the mother of the bride
At the ceremony and reception
- Helping to arrange your dress and veil before your big entrance
- Looking after your bouquet during the ceremony
- Witnessing the signing of the register
- Organising younger bridesmaids and pageboys
- Taking care of your make-up bag
- Helping you use the bathroom – this isn’t a myth, it’s a necessity!
- Helping to organise people for photographs
- Looking after the guests and making sure they find their seats okay
- Making a speech, if you’d like her to
- Joining the first dance with the best man
Alongside these duties, one of the most important roles of your bridesmaids is to be an emotional support throughout your wedding planning.
“They need to be there for you to communicate and correspond with, willing to listen and be involved in decisions,” explains wedding planner and event organiser Katrina Otter of katrinaotterweddings.co.uk. “Your bridesmaids should be your best girls, your confidantes and shoulders to lean on.”
Choosing your bridesmaids
Deciding who to have as your bridesmaids can be difficult, especially if it’s complicated by a sense of duty. “Brides often feel obliged to choose a particular person, for example because they were that person’s bridesmaid some years ago,” says Katrina.
Keep in mind, though, that you can avoid causing upset if you’re tactful. You could, for instance, give them other duties such as doing a ready during the ceremony or have them included in a particular part of the planning process.
When you’re picking your maids, think about their different characters. “Try to choose people who will come together as a team,” Holly says. “You need someone to be your cheerleader, someone you can confide in, and someone who’s a real doer. Pick people who will work well together, and if you know two people just won’t get on, you might want to give them a different role instead.”
Think also about how much involvement you want from your maids. “You might want people who will really get stuck in with helping you make DIY details, in which case you’ll need to choose practical personalities who have plenty of time to spare,” Holly adds.
“On the other hand, if you’re a control freak, you’ll need people who are prepared to be your ‘yes women’.” Deciding how much commitment you need from your girls should help you choose.
Ultimately, though, your bridesmaids should be people you cherish. “Above all, choose the friends and relatives who you can really rely on,” Katrina advises. “If you can’t imagine getting married without them by your side, they’re the people you should choose.”
The perfect gift
It goes withour saying that you’ll want to get your bridesmaids a special gift to thank them for all their support. “The traditional bridesmaids’ gift is a piece of jewellery that they can wear on the day,” says Katrina. “Ideally, look for something special and wearable that they’ll use over and over again.”
There’s also a growing trend for individual gifts. “You could, for example, buy some amazing new headphones for a bridesmaid who’s a music lover, or put together a movie hamper for your film buff bridesmaid,” Holly suggests. “It shows thought and appreciation for the effort they’ve put in.” You don’t have to spend a fortune – just putting a little extra thought in can go a long way.
Other options include champagne, shoes, and personalised gifts. “I gave my own bridesmaids a photo from the hen night, framed with a little note about everything I loved about them, and it was a lovely thing to share with them on the wedding day,” Katrina says.
Whatever gift you choose for your favourite girls, don’t forget that words matter just as much as gifts. “Writing a proper thank-you letter to your bridesmaids afterwards doesn’t cost a thing,” advises Holly. “Be specific about what you’re grateful for, and how they helped you – it really helps cement those friendships.”
So that’s all you NEED to know about your bridesmaids, but here’s how to spot a bad bridesmaid.