You’ve just said yes to the bridesmaid dress as one of the bride’s closest friends, but what’s really expected of the wedding entourage? Whether you’re the maid of honour or a member of the bridal party, here’s our guide to everything from dress fittings to hosting the perfect hen’s party.
Dress fittings, bridal shower, hen’s party, rehearsal dinner – the list of pre-wedding events can be a long one! It can be a challenge for the bride and groom to get everyone in the same place at the same time, so it’s a good idea to let them know of any significant work or personal commitments upfront.
Weddings can be a large financial commitment for bridesmaids so it’s not unreasonable to ask the bride and groom about expected costs and any payment due dates to help with your own planning. So, who pays for what? Generally, the bridal party is responsible for dress, shoes, hair and makeup (as well as travel and accommodation if the wedding is out of town), though some of these may be covered as a gift from the couple.
Give all DIY projects your best effort and if a hot glue gun makes you armed and dangerous, try to find other ways to help! Addressing envelopes, purchasing extra supplies, catering for the group and helping with clean-up are all great options that will result in a very appreciative bride.
When your friend is agonising over the invite list or wondering whether her bonbonnieres are over budget, just letting her know you’re there for her will make things a little easier.
The Bridal Shower
Usually held anywhere between two months and two weeks before the wedding for about two hours, the bridal shower (or kitchen tea) was traditionally a morning or afternoon tea with gift giving and games to help the bride set up her new home.
While the event is still typically organised by the maid of honour with help from the bridesmaids, the shower is now any style of celebration that will be fun for the bride and her guests. Invitations are usually extended to all women in the bride’s life.
Whether she loves food, gardening, art or sport, you can arrange a unique activity and still include the ‘tea’ tradition so elderly or less active guests can join in. Some gift ideas include everyone bringing a different spice for her collection or a shopping spree at a nursery for her garden.
When it comes to finding bridesmaid dresses, there are so many beautiful styles available that it can be tricky for everyone to agree! Our advice is to keep an open mind and support the bride in her choices.
The Hen’s Party
The maid of honour is primarily responsible for planning the hen’s party, but she can ask the other bridesmaids for help with activity suggestions, the guest list and anything else that needs doing.
Traditionally held a week or two before the wedding, the hen’s party can be any outing, such as a high tea, dinner at a restaurant, cocktails and dancing at a nightclub, a slumber party or spa weekend. Think about what your friend will enjoy, and ask her who she would like to invite so you don’t forget anyone! If you’re planning an extravaganza, offer invitees the opportunity to join in with as many of the activities as they wish, keeping it accessible and affordable for everyone. It’s also good idea to decide on the price per person upfront as the bridal party usually cover the bride’s costs between them.
The Emergency Kit
You can never be too organised! Put together a bag of lotions, potions and safety pins that will help solve any dilemma on the day. Travel-sized products are cute and convenient but costs can add up quickly, so asking each bridesmaid to contribute an item is a simple way to reduce expenses.
The wedding day is a long one so it’s tempting to go ‘off-duty’ once you get to the reception! However, the couple may still need a helping hand with anything from the gift table to guest book signing, finding people for photos, outfit changes or collection of belongings at the end of the night.
Finally, whether your friend would love to see everyone relaxed and mingling or spending all night on the dance floor, you play an important role in creating the perfect party atmosphere! At the end of the day, she’ll appreciate not only your friendship but your focus on making her day special.
Photography: Kristin La Voie Photography via Glamour & Grace