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Official Bridal Party Duties, According To A Wedding Planner

By Karen Tietjen
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Being asked to be a bridesmaid in a loved one's wedding is (or should be) an honor. But if you've been in multiple ceremonies, you probably know that, depending on the bride, it can either be a breeze ... or a huge burden. In the best case scenario, the expectations (financial and otherwise) are clear from the get-go, but unfortunately, this isn't always the case. Still, knowing some official bridal party duties can help you gauge what to expect.

"Bridesmaids serve an all-important role throughout the planning process, from helping out with events like the shower and bachelorette party, to standing by the bride’s side on the wedding day," sums up Esther Lee, senior editor of The Knot. "While the role may be accompanied by some stressful moments, bridesmaids should, ultimately, walk away from the festivities with fond memories and new experiences."

From planning special events to common expenses that come with the role, most pros agree that the best advice is for everyone to be up front about expectations and limitations. However, in the event that this isn't the case, ahead, two wedding gurus break down what being a bridesmaid traditionally entails. So, the next time you're asked to be in a wedding, remember this advice from Lee: "While there is typically some element of sacrifice involved with being a bridesmaid, those selected should consider the value of their friendships and make a measured decision about whether to accept or politely decline."

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Planning Bachelorette Party Festivities

Naturally, it's up to the bridal party (often with the maid of honor taking the lead) to plan and fund the bride's last hurrah of singlehood. This can range from an affordable night out on the town to a destination bachelorette party that consists of a weekend getaway or a full-on vacay.

And with the latter rising in popularity, bachelorette party costs are rising, too. "On average, bachelor/bachelorette attendees spend $537 per party on just their travel, accommodations and gifts, according to The Knot 2018 Real Weddings Study," explains Lee.

Throwing Or Co-Hosting The Bridal Shower (Sometimes)

"The bridal shower is typically hosted by the bride's mom and mother-in-law, showcasing two families coming together," explains Lauren Grech, CEO and co-founder of LLG Events, which specializes in destination wedding planning. . But depending on the dynamics, the wedding party isn't always off the hook.

"Leading up to the wedding, the MOH is the co-host of the wedding shower if the family of the bride doesn’t take the lead on this particular event," adds Lee. This can include everything from sending out invitations, to booking a venue, to organizing food and decorations, to greeting incoming guests. Further, she says, the bridal party may be asked to chip in financially, too.

Assisting With The Bride-To-Be's Checklist

Every woman who's been married knows that the days leading up to the wedding — including the day of — can be especially hectic. So, it's up to the bridal party to pick up extra tasks in order to take some stress off the bride. For instance, says Lee, to-do items like picking up the veil and dropping off welcome bags at the hotel can be delegated to bridesmaids. Earlier in the planning process, things like attending dress fittings, assisting with guest favors, and helping to stuff and send invitations can also take a load off the bride.

Credit: Lilly Red via LLG Events

Wearing What The Bride Requests On Her Big Day

Yes, it's in the bridesmaid job description to wear (and pay for) exactly what the bride requests on her big day. Lee explains that obligations include covering your dress or outfit, alterations, shoes, and accessories.

Professional hair and makeup is sometimes required and also comes with a hefty price tag, upwards of $300 or more. But as far as who foots the bill, the experts say it really depends. "If the bride is requesting her bridesmaids get their hair and makeup done, she may cover these costs for the wedding day," explains Lee. However, "if she is not covering it and the bridesmaid is worried about budget, she shouldn’t feel obligated to pay for hair and makeup if she doesn’t want to."

Lee also adds that there's a point where bridal party members should draw the line. "We at The Knot firmly advocate that bridesmaids should never feel pressured to [drastically change their physical appearance] to be a part of weddings," she says. "I once read about a bride asking her bridesmaids to gain weight so that none of her bridesmaids were skinnier than her… not okay."

Miscellaneous Expectations: Bringing Gifts To Celebratory Events & Covering Your Own Transportation & Accommodations

In addition to contributing to costs for pre-wedding events, bridesmaids are expected to bring gifts, as well. That means presents for the wedding shower, wedding day, and often, for the bachelorette party.

Other expenditures can include transportation and accommodations, especially in the case of a destination bachelorette party and/or wedding ceremony. However, lucky wedding party members are sometimes treated to these expenses by the couple-to-be. "We've seen a lot of couples who are very generous with their wedding party, taking care of hotel rooms, transportation, hair and makeup, wedding day attire, getting ready gifts, etc," Grech points out.

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Providing Unwavering Moral Support

Amidst the celebrating, toasting, and yes, the money-spending, sometimes it's easy to forget the real reason a bride should be surrounded by her closest friends during this milestone. "The overarching official duty of the wedding party is to support the couple in their journey through marriage," reminds Grech. "The wedding party should be people the couple chooses to support their marriage through the different seasons of life. Ultimately, it's not about what the wedding party need to pay for, or the parties they need to throw, it's about their responsibility to the couple beyond the wedding day. The parties are thrown in support of the couple's decision to get married and are a supplement to the bigger picture."