Bridesmaids' Duties or "I Was Supposed To Do What?"

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Not many women think of being a bridesmaid seven times as lucky, but as I’ve been getting ready for my own wedding, I realize that it was. I’d been a bridesmaid for three sisters by the time I was 20, not to mention watching them get ready for their friends’ weddings. By the time my own friends started getting married, bridesmaiding was in my blood.

But not everyone gets so much experience. When I asked my friend Trina to be my bridesmaid, the first thing she screamed was “Yes!” and the next was “What do I do?!” And a lot of people in a lot of bridal parties are in the same boat. I’ve caught plenty of my past fellow bridesmaids flipping frantically through etiquette books with one hand while Googling with the other.

Just to save you a little carpel-tunnel syndrome, here’s a quick rundown.

The maid of honor

Preparing for the wedding
• Help the bride shop for her gown and… you know… everything.
• Help choose the gowns for the bridesmaids.
• Help coordinate the final fittings and gown pickups for the bridesmaids.
• Be there to help the bride deal with stress.
• Help the bride address the invitations.
• Help the bride make or put together wedding favors.
• Host the bridal shower (with the bridesmaids).
• Plan the bachelorette party (with the bridesmaids).
• Attend the rehearsal dinner.

The day of the wedding
• Help the bride get dressed.
• Help coordinate bridesmaids.
• Go to the ceremony with the bride.
• Carry the bride’s emergency kit. (Unless you delegate it to a bridesmaid.)

During the wedding
• Straighten the bride’s train and veil before she walks down the aisle.
• Hold the bride’s bouquet during the ceremony. (And give it back.)
• Take charge of the groom’s ring!
• Witness the marriage license.

At the reception
• You may be asked to stand in the receiving line.
• You may be asked to toast the bride and groom.
• You may be expected to dance with the best man.
• Help the bride change for the reception or honeymoon if she chooses to do so.
• Help the bride deal with the foofiness of her dress on restroom trips if she decides not to change clothes.
• If the bride changes for her departure, you’ll take charge of her gown.
• You may help the best man take charge of the honeymoon luggage.

After the reception
• Help the couple’s parents gather gifts and mementos like programs, cake toppers, and toasting goblets.

The best man

Preparing for the wedding
• Help the groom pick out a tux and possibly the ring.
• Help the groom with other shopping or honeymoon arrangements.
• Be there to help the groom deal with stress.
• Let the groomsmen know where to send their tux measurements and how to pay for the rentals
• Make arrangements to collect rental tuxes from the out-of-towners after the wedding.
• Help arrange transportation for the wedding party.
• Plan the bachelor party
• Attend the rehearsal dinner

The day of the wedding
• If the bride and groom are heading to the honeymoon straight from the reception (and they haven’t rented a limo), help the groom get the car in which they’ll take off to the reception location.
• Help the groom get ready
• Drive the groom to the ceremony. (Or ride shotgun. Just go with him.)
• Make sure the officiant has the wedding license.

During the wedding
• Organize the groomsmen and ushers – get them clear on seating duties and where they’ll be standing.
• Escort the maid or matron of honor in.
• Take charge of the bride’s ring!
• Hold (and then hand over) the envelope for paying the wedding officiant.
• Witness the marriage license.

At the reception
• Escort the maid or matron of honor in.
• You may be expected to dance with the maid or matron of honor.
• You may be asked to stand in the receiving line (usually next to the groom).
• Make the first toast. (Yes, you can be a jerk if you want. Within Reason)
• If the bride and groom are leaving for the honeymoon from the reception, you’re the one who holds their travel documents.

After the reception
• Take the bride and groom’s luggage to their exit car or to their hotel room.
• Help the couple’s parents gather the gifts.

The bridesmaids

Preparing for the wedding
• Help organize the bridal shower.
• Help plan the bachelorette party.
• Help the bride run errands.
• Attend the rehearsal dinner.

The day of the wedding
• Help decorate the reception hall.
• You may help put together containers of birdseed for the newlyweds’ exit.
• Help amuse (or cheer up) the ring bearer, flower girl, or other little ones before the ceremony.

During the wedding
• Stand there and look nice.

At the reception
• You may be asked to stand in the reception line.

The groomsmen and ushers

Preparing for the wedding
• Help organize the bachelor party.
• Help the groom run errands.
• Attend the rehearsal dinner.

The day of the wedding
• Help light candles, if needed.
• Ushers arrive about an hour before the ceremony and should be ready to seat people half an hour before the ceremony. Friends of the bride on the left, friends of the groom on the right.

During the wedding
• Ushers may unroll an aisle runner for the bride.
• Stand there and look nice.
• Ushers will escort the mothers and grandmothers out.
• Groomsmen will escort the bridesmaids out.
• Ushers may help clean up the ceremony room and bring flowers or other decorations from the ceremony to the reception.

At the reception
• You may be asked to stand in the reception line.

The mother of the bride
• Help the bride shop for her dress. (Even if helping means letting her do it herself.)
• Help make the guest list.
• Help guests who need gift ideas.
• Help keep track of gifts as they arrive.
• Help with the seating arrangement.
• Help arrange transportation to the ceremony for the wedding party.
• Stand first in the receiving line.
• Arrange for storage of the bridal gown during the honeymoon.

The father of the bride
• Escort the bride down the aisle.
• Help arrange transportation to the ceremony for the wedding party.
• Stand with the mother of the bride in the receiving line.
• Dance with your daughter after her first dance with the groom.
• You may be asked to host or make a toast at the wedding breakfast.

The parents of the groom
• Help compile the guest list.
• Host the rehearsal dinner.
• Stand in the receiving line.

The guest book attendant or greeters
• Make sure the guest book is visible at both the ceremony and reception
• Greet guests at the ceremony and reception (and ask them to sign the guest book).
• Help collect and display gifts.
• Help give out favors at the reception.
• Collect the guest book and pen after the reception.
• Help collect gifts and mementos after the reception.