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Being a bridesmaid isn’t just about wearing the horrible matching dress and walking down the aisle with an awkward groomsman. If you’ve been chosen to be a bridesmaid, chances are good that it’s because you’re someone the bride feels close enough with to take advantage of terribly and trust that it will be forgiven. So of course, you’re flattered but you can admit that you’re kind of dreading it. The list of duties can be endless but here’s a basic idea of what to expect, assuming you’re not dealing with a complete bridezilla.
5 Give a Toast
Chances are good that the maid of honor will be the one who gives a toast at the wedding itself. But if she doesn’t want to or her English is shaky the job may get passed down to one of the bridesmaids. More commonly a bridesmaid will give a toast at a rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding. This is a great opportunity to bring yourself to the attention of the cute groomsman sitting at the other end of the table, so take advantage of the opportunity. Most important: be brief. Nobody came to this event to hear speeches so keep it well under five minutes. Of course you want to be witty and entertaining but this is a serious day for the bride and groom and they may still be trying to win over each other’s families, so don’t embarrass anyone. Try not to talk about yourself too much and be sure that you address both members of the couple even if only know one of them well. If you have to, do a little bit of research ahead of time so that you don’t end up with the terribly overused “Groom, I don’t know you but if you’re marrying my best friend then you must be an amazing person.” Everyone knows it’s a copout.
4 Witness the Wedding Certificate
Although this won’t be the case at all weddings, many couples will have a member of the wedding party sign the wedding certificate. Fortunately, this isn’t one of the jobs that will require you to put in a lot of time, effort or cost. Basically you just have to show up and know how to write your own name. But it’s an honor so you may want to practice your flourishes in advance.
3 Attendance on the Wedding Day
There are two parts of this job and the bridesmaids will probably want to divide it up between them based on where each person’s talents lie. The first part involves a big bag. Fill this bag up with anything that the bride might need on the big day, including a water bottle, aspirin, a non-make-up-smudging snack, extra make-up and pantyhose, safety pins and a sewing kit. Now just stick close and be prepared with the magical bag when needed. The other part of the job is to run interference. The last thing the bride needs is to smudge her makeup onto her cell phone just to give directions to her cousin Marvin who’s called her six times in the last hour because he’s sitting in the church parking lot and thinks it might be the wrong church. Instead, that’s your job. Answer her phone and having a working knowledge of the plans for the day so that you can filter any questions that the caterer, photographer, DJ or wedding planner might have.
2 Bachelorette Party and Bridal Shower
Like everything on this list, the Maid of Honor is the leader of the team of bridesmaids. So even if she’s hosting these events, it may still be helpful if she can delegate some of the work to the bridesmaids. That may mean dividing the cost or some of the organizational work, or simply sitting there and tying off 30 net bags of candy. Just make sure to speak up when these things are being planned. If the other bridesmaids start talking about a weeklong trip to Vegas take the earliest possible opportunity to politely suggest that something a little less time consuming and expensive might be in order. Or consider trading duties with another bridesmaid “Things are just crazy at work now, but I’d be happy to buy some more of the wine if you could make the stack of cucumber sandwiches that I was supposed to contribute.”
1 Dress Fittings
If you’re a friend or family member on the bride’s side, chances are you’ve gone shopping with her before. And this will be the same only more so. Sure, this time it’s for THE dress but she’ll have the same shopping quirks and your job will be the same. If the bride has a tendency to overspend, it may be helpful to discretely remind her to check the price tag before she falls in love with anything and if she is indecisive then you’ll have to commit to an opinion. Or, your job may simply to be to gush with joy as soon as she puts on a veil.
Trust us, this list can go on forever. As much as we can try to break down the bridesmaid’s duties into five steps, the primary responsibility is to support the bride. Even for the bride who has opted for the simplest wedding in the world, this can be a time of major change and pressure. If she’s expressing it by obsessing over napkin colors, then there’s no harm in expressing a preference for the green one. Of course, sometimes supporting the bride means helping her to a healthy dose of reality check and proportions. But it’s for her own good, of course.