Welcome back to #WeddingWednesday, our semi weekly column where we bring you wedding tips, tricks, crafts, interviews, and interesting Chicago wedding happenings. 

Your friend/sister/cousin is getting married! And she’s asked you to be a Bridesmaid! You are overjoyed for her! And so honored that she asked you to be such an important part of this huge life event! But with this honor comes great responsibility, and maybe even a wee bit of stress . . . Having been a Bridesmaid and a Maid of Honor (twice!), I have learned a little bit about these things go. A lot depends on the size and scope of the wedding and whether you are working with a Bride or a Bridezilla.

If your bride is easy-going, clear in her directions, and mindful of your time and budget, you will probably have a wonderful time. If your bride is a demanding psychopath, you will have a harder time making the best of it, but remember YOU are in control of your attitude and experience. If this is your situation, take a deep breath and get ready to be the bigger person. You will get through this, and you’ll feel like a hero at the post-wedding brunch!

The first time I was in a wedding, I was completely clueless. I thought it was just a one-day thing, but it is more like a festival that takes months of coordination and hard work. I feel like I fell short the first time I was in a wedding and regret not being more informed on all the ways I could have helped the bride have an even more magical day. If you are a newbie bridesmaid, here is a quick run-down of your basic duties and some tips to help you along the way!

1. Start saving!

Build yourself a bridesmaid expense account so you will be less stressed about the costs involved. Costs?! Yes, you’re going to need to budget. You’ll be expected to buy a dress and possibly shoes and jewelry. There are a lot gifts – at the very least, one for the Bridal Shower and one for the Wedding. You will need spending money for the Bachelorette Party and other events (don’t forget cash for a cab home!) You may be asked to contribute to the cost of the Shower and Bachelorette Party too. A lot of brides want to do a mani-pedi with their bridesmaids – fun! – if you have budgeted for it. Do your own hair and makeup if you can (and the bride will let you), to save some cash, but be prepared to pay (and tip!) a stylist if necessary. Take travel expenses into consideration too if the wedding is out of town.

2. The Dreaded Bridesmaid Dress

Buy your dress, shoes, and jewelry in a timely fashion – especially ordering your dress since you will almost certainly need alterations. It is appropriate to let the bride know that you are on a budget and appreciate her taking that into consideration – she is your friend/family member after all! If your bride is cool, she will let you have some input about what you wear. If she is really cool, she will just give everyone a direction and/or color scheme and let them pick out their own dresses. If she is really really cool, she will also just give everyone an easy color for the shoes, so you can choose a comfortable pair of shoes that you already own.

My best friend, Rachel, a really really cool bride

My best friend, Rachel, a really really cool bride

Note: If your bride selects something hideous and unflattering that you will never wear again, don’t worry! It’s only one day – just wear the stupid dress with grace while you secretly imagine all of the cool ways you’re going to transform that trainwreck of a dress into a really creative Halloween costume.


3. Party Planning

You may be asked to help plan the Bridal Shower and Bachelorette Party, so be ready with great ideas, but be flexible and go with the flow – you can do things differently at your own wedding. Offer to help as much as you can, but do not overcommit yourself. For instance, if you can help write addresses on invitations, that’s great; just don’t sign up to do something cuckoo like make 300 elaborate centerpieces by yourself.

4. Rehearsal Dinner

This is a great opportunity to connect with the families of the couple and other members of the bridal party. If you’ve never met the person you’ll be walking down the aisle with, bond quickly with your groomsman, so you can put each other at ease on the big day.

5. Day Of

Assist the Bride in any way you can! Help her and the other bridesmaids get ready, ask the bride if she needs anything – food, water, a moment of privacy, etc. Don’t think of yourself as a servant even if you are being treated that way. Remember everyone is probably a bit nervous and stressed out, and people are generally not at their best under those circumstances. Think of yourself as a very high level executive assistant who is crucial to the success of the event! You have the power to save the day!

6. The Wedding

Smile, breathe, and don’t walk too fast. You are probably walking too fast.

7. Photos

Be patient and keep smiling. Keep your eye on the prize – a glass of wine at the reception!

8. Reception

Continue to be fabulous and charming! Don’t complain about how your feet hurt, that the photos took forever, that the food is awful, or that the bride hasn’t said “thank you” once – even if all that is true. Mingle with all of the guests, enjoy yourself on the dance floor, and try to catch the bouquet (if you can still stomach the idea of getting married yourself.)


Bride & Groom at the Reception

Bride & Groom at the Reception

Whew! I know, it is a lot, and since every wedding is different, this list is far from complete. Being a bridesmaid is a huge honor and it is a great opportunity to provide moral support to a friend or loved one throughout the process. If you stay calm, look for opportunities to help, and maintain a positive outlook, you will not only survive, but have a wonderful time!! 

Have a bridesmaid success or horror story you’d like to share? Sound off in the comments!

Photos by Gordon Downey & Amelia Falk