When you're asked to be a bridesmaid or groomsman for your friend or family member's wedding, it is so exciting and you feel so honored! Then later on you start to wonder..."what exactly am I supposed to be doing?" and what are the ins and outs you need to know? It may be difficult to get this information and direct answers from your soon-to-be married friend because they don't want to come off bossy or they simply don't know themselves what the wedding party role entails. So I am here to help! If you are the wedding party member, use this as your guide to being the best bridesmaid or groomsman ever. If you are the bride or groom, forward this post to your wedding party to alleviate awkwardness or miscommunication.
Always ask how you can help
Don't wait for the bride or groom to ask you to help with something. Check in with them every so often and ask what you can help with, especially if you know they are big into DIY. If they are a DIY couple, they are likely handmaking a lot of their décor, favors, signage, etc. It can be a lot less stressful for the couple and make things go a lot quicker if they have the help of their wedding party. They will also more than likely need help the week of the wedding with transporting their DIY items to and from the venue, picking up and returning rentals, etc. The average bride is not a bridezilla and feels a bit apprehensive about asking for help and assigning tasks to the wedding party; so it will mean a lot for you to offer. Do not wait for them to ask you first, just because they don't ask for help doesn't mean they don't need help.
What you pay for
Unless the couple says otherwise, you should plan to pay for your own dress/suit, hair and makeup, manicure, etc. This is the main reason why wedding party members always receive gifts from the couple because they acknowledge the out-of-pocket costs to the wedding party and want to give a thank you. You'll also want to discuss with the other members of the wedding party how you will handle paying for events like the bridal shower or bachelor party. Is everyone just paying for themselves? Is someone specifically going to cover the bride/groom's tab? Is everyone going to split the tab equally? Talk about it beforehand with the other bridesmaids or groomsmen to avoid awkwardness the day of.
You should plan to give a gift to the bride or groom during the bridal shower or bachelor party. These gifts should be tailored to the bride or groom specifically and by no means need to be pricey or fancy, they can even be a little silly. You should also plan to give a wedding gift on the actual wedding day. This gift should be for both the bride and groom like something for their house or honeymoon.
Events that you attend
Be prepared to have multiple wedding events to attend and to possibly request multiple days off work during the month leading up to the wedding. Wedding events extend beyond just the wedding date. Other events are bridal shower, bachelorette/bachelor party, wedding rehearsal, and rehearsal dinner.
When most people hear wedding rehearsal, they think of the rehearsal dinner, not the actual rehearsal. Keep in mind that there will be a wedding rehearsal the day before the wedding at the venue. This is when the entire wedding party tours the venue, runs through the ceremony and parts of the reception to make sure everyone knows where they need to be and when on the wedding day and the order of events. After the rehearsal is typically the rehearsal dinner. This is either a smaller gathering just for the wedding party members or a larger event that's open to all wedding guests and acts more like a welcome event.
Being a member of the wedding party does not automatically mean you have to give a toast during reception so don't freak out if you have a fear of public speaking. However, the maid of honor and best man or usually expected to give a toast. At some point leading up to the wedding, the couple will likely reach out to everyone in the wedding party to ask who would like to give a toast or they may just ask specific people. If you volunteer or are asked to give a toast, keep in mind that your toast should be about 3 minutes in length. Write out your toast beforehand and time yourself reading it out loud. Too short of a toast may seem insincere and too long of a toast will cause guests to zone out and get bored.
Do not assume that because you're in the wedding party, that you automatically get to bring a plus one to the wedding. Be sure to ask the couple if you can bring a guest. The worst thing you can do is show up with an unexpected guest and now everyone is scrambling to find an extra seat and meal and the couple will also have end up having to pay extra for that unexpected person.
Be the life of the party
Part of being in the wedding party is to help make the reception fun and keep the party going. You should be the first person on the dancefloor and encouraging everyone else to get up there too. But by no means does "be the life of the party" mean to get wasted. Do not be the wedding party member that is sloshed, no help, making a scene, and embarrassing the couple. You may not be friends with them after the wedding.
If your friend turns into a bridezilla or just starts to be naggy or snappy, try to understand that they are under tremendous stress. The cost of hosting a wedding alone is enough to cause anyone to be on edge. In addition to that, they're dealing with guests that missed the RSVP deadline, difficult vendors, last minute changes, invasive in-laws, etc. So when their groomsman misses the suit fitting or the bridesmaid is late to the rehearsal, yea definitely expect some lash back. Understand that even if it seems like it's not a big deal to you, it could have unknowingly caused a bigger wrinkle or problem. And even if it didn't, you should acknowledge the basis that it is understandably frustrating for the couple. As a member of the wedding party always remember, you should be lessening the couple's stress, not adding to it.
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