Inviting your friends and family to be your bridesmaids is a special moment for you and your girls, but what is actually involved? Do your maids know what they’re getting into? We take a look at some of the roles and responsibilities so you can see if your girls measure up!

Chief bridesmaid duties

According to Marc Ahmed of wedding planners Scarlet Events, the chief bridesmaid should be looking after the bride’s needs on the day and organising the other bridesmaids during the photography. During the ceremony, she needs to ensure that everything is in order and act as the bride’s liaison with the suppliers. While getting ready, she should also be in charge of the bride’s wardrobe, and she should also make sure that the bride gets to the church (or wherever) in good time. In fact, she’s the go-to person for anything relating to the bride.

That’s quite a responsibility. So you need to think carefully about who is going to be your chief bridesmaid. Your oldest friend might not necessarily be the best person for the job.

“The chief bridesmaid should also be a good source of emotional support, ” says Carey Gordon from Bridesmaid blog. “Sometimes you may feel a bit overwhelmed with all the wedding planning, so your chief bridesmaid needs to be there for you.”

The hen party

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It’s generally the chief bridesmaid who’ll be the co-ordinator for a bride’s hen party. She’ll need to organise the activities, rally up the girls and organise the timetable. She needs to make sure that the bride is happy with what’s involved and doesn’t feel uncomfortable about anything happening during the party.

On the wedding day

Getting ready

The chief bridesmaid will be making sure that everybody is in the right place on the day. She needs to arrive at the bride’s house, in plenty of time, for hair and make-up and to help dress younger bridesmaids. She also needs to exude an aura of calm! If any emergencies arise, the chief bridesmaid should help sort them out – without involving the bride.

Traditionally, the head bridesmaid travels to the ceremony in the same car as the bride’s mother and the other bridesmaids. She then waits at the venue with the other attendants for the arrival of the bride and her father. On arrival at the venue she should check that all the other girls look good and have their bouquets at the ready.

The ceremony

When the bride arrives, the head bridesmaid should help her to adjust her veil and dress, so they look perfect as she walks down the aisle. She should also take the bride’s bouquet from her just before the bride and groom exchange rings.

The chief bridesmaid and the best man will witness the signing of the register by the bride and groom, going into the vestry if the marriage takes place in a church. Older bridesmaids are usually escorted by the male ushers at this point, with younger members of the party following behind.

At this point, the photographer is usually ushering everybody into a group for photographs and the chief bridesmaid should make sure that the younger members of the bridal party are present. After the photographs are taken outside the venue, she should gather everybody together into their transport for the wedding reception.

The reception

As the reception begins, the chief bridesmaid can act as a greeter, breaking the ice, introducing guests to one another and making sure people know where they’re sitting. Although the bride and groom would like to speak to everybody, the reality is that they will have little time to do this, so the chief bridesmaid and best man can be a useful back-up.

As you can see, agreeing to be a chief bridesmaid is no small task. Your chief bridesmaid is within her rights to decline if she doesn’t feel she is up to the job, perhaps due to her location, a pregnancy, or if she is not in the best of health.

However, if a chief bridesmaid does take on this supporting role, she’ll find it very rewarding that she’ll be a big part of the couple’s special day.

A final tip for would-be head bridesmaids – if the bride is using a wedding planner, make sure you talk to him or her about your responsibilities for the day and have as many rehearsals as possible. The more people know what they are supposed to be doing, the more smoothly the day is likely to run.