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The exact duties your bridesmaid performs will vary depending on their age and the make up of your bridal party. Very young bridesmaids are only really required to turn up on the day looking pretty and either follow or precede you down the aisle. Older bridesmaids, on the other hand will have a much more useful role to play in the run up to the wedding, on the day itself, and after the festivities are over. If you have a maid or matron of honour, she will take on many of the duties that would otherwise be performed by the bridesmaids.
Here are some of the duties that you could ask older bridesmaids to take on, assuming that you are having a maid of honour or chief bridesmaid as well:
The main duty of the bridesmaids before the wedding is to be available for dress fittings, to give some input into the style of the bridesmaids’ dresses, and to attend your hen’s party.
However, there are many other duties you can ask your bridesmaids to perform. These include going bridal gown shopping with you if your maid of honour can’t be there, helping to organise your hen’s night or bridal shower, making wedding stationery or bombonieres, and picking up various items such as the wedding cake. You can also ask one of the bridesmaids to keep track of any gifts you receive at your hen’s night and bridal shower so you can write thank you notes.
Your bridesmaids should arrive at the place you are getting ready in plenty of time to have their hair and make up done, and to get into their outfits. If necessary they should help any younger bridesmaids or flower girls to get ready, and try to keep them clean and entertained. They may need to have photos taken before they leave for the ceremony.
Your bridesmaids should know how they are getting to the ceremony, and should liaise with the mother of the bride to make sure there are no issues with wedding transport. They need to make sure they arrive at the ceremony before you do.
Your bridesmaids will already have attended the rehearsal of your wedding ceremony, and this will give them an idea of the duties they will need to perform at the ceremony itself. Depending on the style of processional you choose, your bridesmaids will either walk down the aisle before you, or follow you down the aisle. Traditionally, bridesmaids would hold up the bride’s train, but few modern bridal gowns require this. Instead the bridesmaids will usually carry their own bouquet.
Once the bridesmaids reach the altar, they will sit down in a designated seat at the front of the ceremony. Their main duties during the ceremony itself will be to hold and look after items such as vow cards and the bride’s bouquet or gloves. The maid of honour won’t be able to do this as she has to go and sign the marriage register.
During the reception your bridesmaids may be required to take part in the receiving line, greeting your guests individually, or you may prefer to have them mingling amongst your guests making introductions and checking that everybody knows where they should be going.
Depending how many bridesmaids you have, they may be required to sit at the top table with you. Later in the reception you could ask your bridesmaids to distribute bombonieres or wedding cake to your guests, and once the dancing starts it’s only fair that they have a dance with the ushers.
Your bridesmaids may think their duties are over once you are a married woman, but there are a few things you could ask them to do after the wedding, especially if you are taking off on honeymoon straight away. These include returning anything that was hired, having your bridal gown dry cleaned and packed away, and having disposable camera photos developed.