Traditionally the Bridesmaid should be a maid, in other words an unmarried maiden. Traditionally, that is. In reality, however, while it is seldom too difficult to find an unmarried friend of the bride, finding a maiden is quite another matter.
As with so many other traditions, this one is honoured more in the breach than the observance and the bridesmaid not only doesn’t have to be a maid, these days she doesn’t even have to be unmarried. A married woman who acted in the role of bridesmaid was called a Matron of Honour – a name one seldom hears these days and it’s easy to see why.
The bride needs a trusted confidante with whom she can share the joy and excitement of her day and the most important thing when choosing a bridesmaid is the closeness of the relationship – age or marital status doesn’t really come into it.
The bridesmaid’s duties can be described as “being there when needed”. She is to help the bride through the many stages of the planning and to make sure the bride is ready on the day.
The bridesmaid’s dress is traditionally paid for by the groom although these days the cost tends to be shared between bride and groom. In any event, the bride has the final say on what the bridesmaid or maids wear.
The Chief Bridesmaid is usually the bride’s sister or her closest friend and she undertakes many of the same duties as the best man for the groom, but unlike the best man does not make a speech.
Her duties begin more or less from the moment she is asked to be chief bridesmaid and consist very largely of being on hand to help the bride with whatever needs to be done.
Before the wedding
The chief bridesmaid usually has a myriad of tasks among which are the following:
- Ensure the bride keeps a record of who has accepted and declined the invitations
- Help the bride with the choice of her own dress and with the choice of outfits for the other attendants
- Organise the hen night
- Check and double-check that the last-minute details ( florists, photographer and videographer, transport etc.) are under control. The last minute is when the bride will be at her more stressed and when the bridesmaid is most needed.
On the wedding day
- Arrive at the bride’s home early and go with her to the hairdresser
- Help her dress for the wedding
- Ensure the transport is on its way and on time
- Check and double check that the bride has packed everything for the honeymoon and that the luggage is organised
- Arrange her dress , train, veil and head flowers before the bride enters the church
- Ensure the flowergirls or younger bridesmaids are prepared and know what they are doing
- Stand behind and to the side of the bride at the top of the aisle, Take her bouquet and when she is standing beside the groom at the alter, lift her veil.
- Work together with the best man at the reception to break ice and introduce people to each other.
- Ensure her dress is secure and put away carefully if the bride is changing at the reception venue.
After the wedding
Collect the remaining pieces of wedding cake from the reception venue and keep it well wrapped and in a cool dry place until the bride returns from honeymoon.
Return any hired dresses or clothing