A wedding day is the big finale. It's the culmination of all of the decisions the bride has made during her engagement. After months of chicken or fish, tuxedos or suits, cream or white, tulle or lace, traditional or contemporary, 3-tier or 4, outdoor or indoor, first look or no first look... the day finally arrives.
There are countless decisions woven into the fabric of a wedding day. And one of the most important decisions that any bride makes when planning her wedding is who will be standing beside her.
Choosing the wedding party is a high priority on the wedding-planning list. Once a date and venue are chosen, it's usually time to ask your friends to stand by your side.
I didn't realize the honor of being asked to be a bridesmaid or the commitment of saying "yes" until I had been both a bride and a bridesmaid myself.
After being in a few weddings, and having one of my own, here are some tips on how to be a great bridesmaid.
Think before saying yes. When you say “yes” to being a bridesmaid, it’s more than just wearing a fun dress and hoping to catch the bouquet. It is a commitment. Anyone who has been a bridesmaid can attest to this. It affects your time: showers, parties, appointments, dress alterations, rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, wedding day. It affects your finances: buying gifts, throwing showers, bridesmaid dress and alterations, wedding day hair and makeup. Don't accept if you don't think you can fully commit.
Be available. Be present to your friend during this busy season. I can tell you that wedding planning, while wonderful, fun and exciting, can be overwhelming and stressful at times. Ask them if they need help with anything. Chances are, they do. And don't just ask once... ask often and follow through. Whether it's spending a few hours scrolling through Pinterest for inspiration, going dress shopping, or bringing her an iced latte on a rough day—it all helps. As a past bride, it's so humbling to feel the love from your best girlfriends during your wedding season.
Don't leave it all up to the maid of honor. While it's usually true that maids or matrons of honor have more to-do's on their plates, it can't all be up to them. As a bridesmaid, you can offer to help throw a shower, come up with bachelorette ideas, pitch in with finances, etc. Let the maid or matron of honor know you're available if needed.
Remember that it's their day. Your wedding day will come, or maybe it already has, but remember that this is not your day. If your friend asks for your opinion, share it in a kind, helpful way. Maybe it's not the dress color you would have chosen. Maybe the style isn't your taste. Perhaps the flowers don't match with the overall theme. Your friend's decisions probably will not align with what you would do/purchase/make—but it's their day. Ultimately, your presence in the wedding-planning process is to encourage and be a help.
Be encouraging and helpful. This never stops being important, especially on the wedding day. The truth is that there will be things that don't go as planned on the big day: vendors not showing up, a rainy day, forgotten details, decorations not turning out right. This is when your role as a bridesmaid is really crucial. On my hot wedding day, the AC in our limo was broken and one of my bridesmaids blew in my face to keep me from sweating before pictures. When my best friend's outdoor wedding had to get moved inside due to a severe thunderstorm, all of her bridesmaids started moving tables, decor, signs and flowers to make the indoor space as beautiful as it could be. When my other best friend's wedding day turned into a rainy mess, I looked at her and said, "Do you want us to be positive for you or upset with you?" Put the bride first and think of what she might need throughout the planning process, and especially throughout her wedding day.
Many of these characteristics are not only indicative of a good bridesmaid, but also a good friend. Chances are if you were asked to be a bridesmaid, you're probably a great friend.
Enjoy every season of being a bridesmaid! Celebrating friends brings so much joy and excitement. Cheers!