Bridesmaid 101

July 18, 2014


This may seem trivial and self-centred, but I’ve always wanted to be a bridesmaid. As a child I didn’t once dream about my own wedding day, but I coveted the pretty, flouncy dresses that bridesmaids got to wear and the beautiful bouquets they got the carry. I wanted to do that so badly. “One day”, I thought, “one day it will be my turn”.

But it never was.

I have never been a bridesmaid. I’ve never planned a hen do, held the bouquet for a friend while she said her vows, or had to make a speech. And I’m not going to lie, I was starting to feel a little left out.

So you can imagine my extreme elation when my best friend from University, Carly, asked me to be her one and only bridesmaid when she came to visit last week. In fact I was so excited that the very next morning I was on the phone to a local bridal boutique to see if we could get an appointment to start dress shopping! I am taking my role very seriously as you can see.

I am a massive research nerd, so the next thing I did was to Google “bridesmaid duties” and “things to remember when you’re a bridesmaid.” Sure I might work in the wedding industry, but I want to make sure I do this thing right!

However I was disappointed to discover that nearly all the bridesmaid advice style articles I found on my internet travels came with a heavy dose of snark. What to do if you hate your dress, how to deal with a feuding bridal party, just how much it’s going to cost you… ugh, how depressing. This is not what I wanted to read at all!

So as the antithesis for all those awful articles, here are the real things you need to know if someone has asked you to be a part of one of the most important days of their lives.

Realise that it’s not about you

Your main duty is to help the couple in the lead up to their wedding; it’s not just about wearing a fancy dress and looking pretty! There are lots of little things you can do to assist, so be proactive. Offer to be the one to make the appointments, run errands, stay up late addressing invitations, organise a craft party to make these 100 metres of bunting that she has her heart set on…

Making the process easier and less stressful for your girl is your main prerogative. She’ll have a million things to do throughout the planning so anything you can take off her list will be massively appreciated.

Start with the fun stuff

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I always want to do the fun stuff first! And by fun stuff I of course mean dress shopping! It was the first thing I did when I got engaged and so it was the first thing I suggested Carly and I tackle too.

When it comes to finding that dream dress, all girls are different. She might be a super-eager forward planning type, or a more reluctant, slightly clueless babe. The key to being an awesome bridesmaid is knowing what kind of help your girl needs from you.

I don’t think Carly will mind me saying that she was crapping it about the whole dress shopping thing. She’s gorgeous, but she was stressing about not liking any of them and looking totally ridiculous. Now, I knew as soon as she tried some on she’d a) realise that they’re not as terrifying as she thought and b) that she’d look beautiful in them all. So, my first plan of action was to get her into something big and white so she would realise just how fun this whole wedding planning thing can be.

And it worked! After our appointment last week she turned to me and said “Well that wasn’t too bad, I actually liked a couple of them. I can’t wait to do it again!” RESULT!

By starting with some tasks that you know the bride will enjoy, you’ll help to elevate the “holy-shit-I’ve-got-to-plan-a-whole-wedding” pressure. If you have a nervous bride on your hands, start with the fun stuff – the dresses, the cake, the food tasting! Who cares about doing things in the ‘right’ order? Start with whatever you think she’ll most enjoy and take it from there.

kat carly

Don’t be a dress diva!

By all means, if she asks, explain to the bride what your preferences in dress style and colour are. If she’s a good friend she’s hopefully going to do her best to get you in something you love anyway.

However do not lay out a list of demands. Remember, this is not all about you! If you’re lucky enough that the bride is letting your pick your own dress, then by all means have some fun, but if you’re given some constraints on the colour or style, work with it and for goodness sakes be gracious. Bridesmaidzillas can be even more terrifying than bridezillas you know!

I’m not going to lie, I also started looking at dress options for me pretty much straight away as well (hey, it’s good to know what’s out there!) and although I’m convinced I’ll probably opt for something off the high street, this bridesmaid’s dress from Review actually caught my eye. I love the colour (that blue with my pink hair? Oh yes!), it looks flattering and easy to personalise.

Start thinking about the hen do

Organising the hen do (bachelorette party for my American readers) will probably be one of your biggest tasks as a bridesmaid, so start thinking about what you might do early. It’s important to consider who the bride might want there (her mother? old school friends? work colleagues?) as well as the kind of budget people might be able to spend.

I’m not going to lie, I started to whisper “Las Vegas” in Carly’s ear pretty much as she told me she was engaged. The soundtrack to our University years was Britney’s Toxic, so going over there to see her show might just be the most perfect idea ever.

Be emotionally supportive

No matter how organised a couple might be, wedding planning is a massively stressful undertaking. They face so much crazy stuff that things can escalate very quickly. Soon enough they’ll be fighting over seating plans and bickering over the choice of band.

As a bridesmaid your biggest job is as an emotional support system. You should be available for midnight phone calls, constantly ready to dole out that advice, and help the bride see some perspective when it all gets too much. Keep on checking in with her. She might need a laugh, or a cry, or a night out on the town! It’s your job to call and ask her how the wedding planning is going and to see if you can help in any way.

If you are also a bridesmaid this or next year then I am so excited for you too! As a rookie, I’d also love to hear some advice from anyone with more bridesmaid experience than me. Is there anything I really need to consider next?