The Truth Behind Being a Bridesmaid: 10 Real Bridesmaid Duties

Hello my lovely,

Today – the true role the bridesmaid! Being a bridesmaid is not just about fluffing the bride’s train and looking pretty, it goes far beyond that.

I am not sure how many of us realise the importance of having bridesmaids by our side who are not only fun, but patient, honest and are soldiers at offering emotional support!

I received the following email from a gorgeous Nu Bride reader who asked me to address this subject to help you:

“If you’d told me before I was engaged that you need a support network whilst wedding planning I’d have laughed. I underestimated how crucial these girls would be, thinking they just held my train and wore a nice dress. I even picked the wrong girl to be maid of honour, finding out my best friend and I had grown in different directions. But now… What I’m realising more and more is that as NONE of these girls are married, I’m basically screwed – as they simply cannot empathise with what I’m going through.

They have no idea what it’s like to spend all your spare time thinking about your wedding and stressing about all the minor (and major!) details.

Don’t get me wrong I’ve got a great set of girls – they all care, they’re all committed to helping, etc etc (they could be so much worse!), I’ve actually found that the married friend I rarely speak to is far better at understanding what I’m dealing with and how to support me.

Sadly this is not an uncommon reader concern. I think choosing your wedding party shouldn’t be taken lightly, you don’t want to look back at wedding photographs and not be in contact with people who shared such special moments in your life with you, to not have them in your life at future events like bubba’s christening for example.

This may sound harsh and it’s advice I have given before, but if neither you or your bridesmaid are happy, have a calm conversation about how you both want to move forward. Don’t be afraid to part ways and yes,  ‘firing’ your bridesmaid is an option, for some it may also come as a relief, as some bridesmaids admit to saying ‘yes’ out of obligation (some are also asked out of obligation), but it really just isn’t for them! (Think of Samantha in Sex and the City at Charlotte’s wedding!)

Sam&Mandy | Helen Russell Photography © Helen Russell Photography | Mandy & Sam

Growing apart though sad, is natural and it does happen to all of us. Actually I think once you are moving into the new transition of marriage,  your values and beliefs shift, it puts a spotlight on the relationships you need to let go of and  reinforces the ones you cherish, or those you need to invest more in.

Just as my reader says: “I’ve actually found that the married friend I rarely speak to is far better at understanding what I’m dealing with and how to support me” ……I’m so glad you have found a great supportive friend to journey through your wedding planning with, being validated during what is such a significant (and life-changing) event for you is important. Marriage does bring these relationships to the forefront too and it sounds like you are now forging a stronger and gorgeous relationship with someone who was once a distant friend. Magic!

Bridesmaids | 10 Real Bridesmaid duties | Bandele Zuberi Photography_Wedding_London_Luton_Hoo_Hotel_Freccia_Travis_Nigerian_Guyana_Caribbean_Bentley_020© Photography: Bandele Zuberi

The other point my reader raises: “NONE of these girls are married….they simply cannot empathise with what I’m going through”  You may think why on earth does it matter if your bridesmaids are married or not?

I had two bridesmaids – one who was married, one was not and they complimented each-other perfectly. However the one who was married was the one I leaned on more, the one who was more involved and the one who understood about my table-plan woe’s. lol! Ultimately it is down to the individual and their personality – but if they are married, than naturally there is a ‘different’ level of understanding that complements their role as a bridesmaid.

Sam&Mandy-40© Helen Russell Photography | Mandy & Sam

Another reader and former bridesmaid says:

Not to open a can of worms but being a bridesmaid is a massive role. Standing up in front of a room of people you may not really know.. In a dress chosen by someone else.. in a style you wouldn’t normally choose.. And (as a key part of the ceremony) being constantly looked at.. All the while desperate to make your friend / sister proud.. But knowing you will be in all the pictures!! Big up the bridesmaids I say!! Huge honour.. Huge pressure!!

Babb Photo Wedding Photography Cain Manor Hertfordshire Photographer (116)© Babb Photo

I hear so many sad stories from readers who are finding their bridesmaids stressful (and vice versa no doubt) of bridesmaids being ‘fired’.  Not supporting, not attending fittings, being rude and not wanting to be involved in the wedding planning process at all. It’s hard to believe isn’t it, (why would you NOT want to be involved! I adored being a maid of honour), but it does happen.

Being a bridesmaid is a huge honour and with that comes responsibility and some pressure, so it is NOT for everyone and that’s ok.

So if you think all your bridesmaids’ need to do is look hot and hold your train, think again, here are some of the unwritten roles of being a bridesmaid that might help you choose who to ask to hold that honour and responsibility!

1. Emotional Supporter

KLP Photography© KLP Photography

Getting married is a huge life transition, with that comes excitement, anxiety and pressure. Planning a wedding is a massive undertaking –  it is a full-time job and more. If you are not naturally organised or creative it can be incredible challenging, throw in the mix of family politics. Stressful. This stress can, understandably, illicit out of character Bridezilla tendencies! A-hem!

As Nu Bride readers have discovered, having girls on your side simply to listen, empathise, to fight your corner, support any emotional ups and downs and to help curb that Bridezilla behaviour is imperative.

2. Wedding Dress Shopping Assistant

Now this was one of my favourite roles as a bridesmaid! To help you shop for your wedding dress.  Popping several dates in the diary in advance to ensure they are free to help you find your dream dress and to help you with any indecision and eliminate the ones that aren’t you.

3. Toilet Attendant

If you are wearing a rather large or corseted dress, you may find yourself having to rely on your bridesmaids to lift your dress while you relieve yourself in on your wedding day  –  not for the faint hearted bridesmaid! This role will take your relationship to whole new levels of intimacy!

4. A Model

10 real bridesmaid duties | Bandele Zuberi Photography_Wedding_London_Luton_Hoo_Hotel_Freccia_Travis_Nigerian_Guyana_Caribbean_Bentley_005© Photography: Bandele Zuberi

Your bridesmaid will end up attending many wedding fashion shopping trips and at least 2 fittings if you are having a dress made for them.  (Choosing bridesmaids who have an open mind about style and colour choices helps!)

Just as you will, your bridesmaids will get constant attention from the wedding paparazzi, so will be expected to be comfortable in-front of crowds of people and comfortable in front of a camera. This can be nerve-wracking even for the most confident.

5. Dresser

JK Photography© JK Photography

In the morning you will need your girls to help you to get ready and into your wedding dress and also if you have a long dress – helping you bustle your dress after the wedding breakfast, so you don’t trip over your dress during your first dance! Make sure you practice how to bustle your dress before the big day! When it’s dark , emotions are high and alcohol has been consumed suddenly this simple task can feel like brain surgery!

6. A Realist

Whilst having supportive bridesmaids is important, it’s worth noting, being supportive doesn’t always mean agreeing with everything you say. It’s so important to choose bridesmaids that are kind, honest and can reign you in when that imagination is going overboard. (Yup – even I needed reigning in!)

7. Planning the Hen Do

Rebbeca&Vinnie_20130907_550© KLP Photography

Of course one of the well-known roles of the bridesmaids is to plan your hen do celebrations. To research celebration options. To liaise with your friends and family about planning details, to book and liaise with venues, to plan and execute any surprises. To host and make everyone feel welcome on the day and to execute your celebration with perfect precision!  They need to be organised and personable (well, at least the bridesmaid assigned to planning your hen do does!)

8. Little Helper

Your bridesmaids can be a huge help and relieve some of that wedding planning pressure, if you delegate tasks to them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, for the most part, they will absolutely enjoy helping.

For example –  you could ask them to search for some wedding venues online for you to narrow choices down, or to research some invitation or wedding favour ideas, you might ask them to help making some of your handmade invitations. Stuffing envelopes. Chasing RSVP’s. The list is endless.  Always ask first, don’t dictate 🙂

9. Point of Contact on the Day

JK Photography | 10 real bridesmaid duties© JK Photography

Your Bridesmaids (maid of honour in particular) should be your point of contact on your wedding day, should any guests or suppliers need to contact you (aka the bride!). The happy couple should not be bothered with; ‘I’ve forgotten my invitation; where’s the wedding again?’ type questions on their wedding day.

10. Financial Commitment

Bandele Zuberi Photography_Wedding_London_Chigwell_Hall_Rebecca_Abiola_Nigerian_African_004© Photography: Bandele Zuberi

And of course being a bridesmaid does carry a financial commitment as well, which shouldn’t be ignored. Whilst it is accepted in western weddings that the cost of bridesmaids dresses are usually covered by the bride, shoes accessories, travel expenses to fittings, shopping trips and wedding events, costs of the hen do, hotel accommodation, beauty appointments, any gifts etc, all do add up too and should be considered.


Are there any roles in there you didn’t expect? Have I left some out? Are you having bridesmaid woes? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Being a bridesmaid is indeed such a wonderful honour, it is also quite an undertaking. So choose your girls (or guys) carefully, you want them to be able to enjoy the process with you and to be able to support you.

Pssst, it goes without saying, make sure you get your diaries out at the beginning and plan some lunch and dinner dates to thank your girls and to also spend some quality time together. Enjoy it!

Much Love

Nu Bride


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8 Responses to “The Truth Behind Being a Bridesmaid: 10 Real Bridesmaid Duties”

  1. Fiona Campbell
    September 17, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    Amazing post. I’m always in awe of the bridesmaids at weddings. They are so generous with their friend, and it’s beautiful to photograph such good friendships.

    • Nu Bride
      September 17, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

      Thanks for commenting Fiona . Love your observation around the generosity . So true and so gorgeous !

  2. Laura Babb
    September 17, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    Great post, Nova. I think people agree to be a bridesmaid without realising it is actually a little more involved than turning up and looking pretty!

    • Nu Bride
      September 17, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

      I think you’re right Laura! Blissfully unaware! Glad you enjoyed the post and hopefully this will help both brides and potential maids to make their decision x

  3. Karen -
    September 19, 2014 at 11:00 am #

    A really useful post, and one that I will certainly recommend to be read by both brides and maids. A real eye-opener, especially as I chose not to have bridesmaids – instead I handpicked a few special friends and family members to unofficially help me with bits and bobs. A great read as always Nova!

    • Nu Bride
      September 25, 2014 at 7:38 am #

      Thanks Karen. Would love to know Karen, what was your decision not to have bridesmaids? That seemed to be quite a popular choice to ‘travel light’ with many couples this year.

  4. Nathalie - ButtercupBus
    September 20, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    Bridesmaids …. I have had so many wedding car bookings where they have needed extra vehicles to accommodate all the BMs. I can’t help but think that many brides simply can’t face the discomfort of whittling the selected few down to those that REALLY matter and will be the best support. It is too easy to get swept into the family obligations… Anyone with a large family must find the selection process difficult. Great post as always!!!

    • Nu Bride
      September 25, 2014 at 7:37 am #

      Thanks Nathalie! It’s so true, so many bridesmaids sadly pick due to not wanting to hurt feelings by ‘missing people out’ or out of obligation. Not good for either party! I think this reader highlights the importance of choosing a supportive few who are happy and comfortable to do the role. Thanks for sharing!

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