Want to know how to be a great bridesmaid? In the last 10 years, I’ve been to over 300 weddings. I’ve seen good bridesmaids and bad, from supportive and helpful to snarky and mean. As a bridesmaid you can either contribute to making the day happy (which looks great in both the photos and your memories), or well, not so much. And on a few occasions, someone has really hit the mark and I’ve said to them at the end of the day “You are great bridesmaid!” Those are the people that really made a difference to make the entire day go smoother and make the bride’s experience awesome. So I want to pass on to you the things I’ve seen that get people into that World’s Best Bridesmaid category.
So here are 15 Tips to help you be the best bridesmaid ever, and look great in the process.
- Smile on your way down the aisle. I can’t tell you how many wedding processional images I can’t use because of frowning faces. I know … you’re nervous about stepping on your dress/being in front of people/tripping, but shake that off, pick your head up and be genuinely HAPPY as you go down the aisle.
- Make sure the bride looks good. Officially it’s the Maid or Matron of Honor’s job to straighten the train during the ceremony, but any bridesmaid can do it. As the photographer, I’m doing something else and often my movements are limited, but sometimes I’ve wanted so badly to just run up and straighten a bride’s train or veil during the ceremony because I knew how much better her photos would look. So even if it’s not technically your job, if you see something out of place, fix it. The bride will thank you.
- Pay attention and be helpful, especially to the bride. If the bride wants a drink, get her one. Make sure the bride eats in the morning and throughout the day. And yep, you might have to force her to sit down and eat something for dinner, but she will thank you. It feels good to help someone else have a great day.
- Don’t drink too much the night before the wedding. Hangovers are never pretty, and it’ll affect how happy and supportive you can be during the day.
- Drink plenty of water, and eat enough before the wedding. Bring water and/or snacks, with a little extra to share if someone else needs it. Your skin looks better when you drink lots of water, and you’ll keep your energy and mood more stable through the day. And I don’t know about you, but when I’m hungry I can get cranky. Don’t let yourself get hangry in between lunch and the reception dinner, which might be 6-7 hours!
- Be prepared. Make sure your dress fits ahead of time. I can’t tell you how many times the wedding photos get delayed because someone is pinning/taping/sewing a dress that doesn’t fit. Make sure you’ve got all the parts to your outfit and try everything on a day or two before the wedding so you can work out any issues before the wedding day. Make sure everything is properly pressed or steamed before you arrive.
- Keep toasts short and sweet, and appropriate. Don’t talk about the bride or groom’s dating history or tell any unflattering stories about the bride or groom, even if it’s funny. Rule of thumb: If the story involves an ex, intimate details, bodily functions, or being arrested, it’s probably not a good story for a wedding (and yes, I’ve heard all of those).Talk about what the couple means to you, tell why they’re awesome individually and together, or wish them well.
- Keep a positive attitude. Yes, it might be hot (or cold) outside, or you might not feel the love that dress, or you might not like the dinner choices. But keep any complaints to yourself during the day and focus on having a good time and helping the bride to do the same. There’s plenty of time after the wedding is over to complain if you need to, but if you focus on having a good time, you might forget about all those things by then anyway.
- Don’t bother the bride with questions and problems. I’ve seen many an otherwise tranquil bride driven to the brink of tears by constant questions and having to solve everyone else’s minor problems. A bride has a lot to do and think about on her wedding day, and no one should be asking her for last minute directions or making her fix a wardrobe malfunction. If your zipper doesn’t zip or your child can’t find his socks, find a solution and try to just handle it as quietly as possible without alerting the bride to it. Afterwards, you can tell those stories and they’ll seem funnier in the rear-view mirror. If there is a wedding planner, know who she is and approach HER with any problems or questions. Oh, and if you really want to go the extra mile? Help shield the bride from the questions and problems of other people. Take her phone and intercept the problem messages.
- Be nice. Even if you don’t get along with someone, keep it to yourself. Not only will snarking bring the mood down, it won’t look pretty on your face for the photos. And please be nice to the photographer. 🙂
- Compliment the bride and the wedding. Everyone likes to hear nice things, and the bride has probably worked for months to create a great experience for friends and family. The wedding and all the littlest details are a reflection of the bride’s style and personality and history, so make a point to notice them and tell the bride what you like. Don’t be fake, but find the things you can appreciate and mention them.
- Know (and stick to) the schedule. Know where you’re supposed to be and when, and actually be there. When people are late, it often affects the timeline for the entire day. Don’t be that person who causes the couple to not get the photos they want because you didn’t know where to be or make it on time.
- Don’t wander off. Bridesmaids are needed at so many times during the day, like during photos, when the bride gets dressed, preparing to go down the aisle. She’ll want you there for important moments during the reception, like the first dance, cake cutting, toasts, and bouquet toss. Even if you’re not part of those events yourself, you’ll be there to observe and cheer them on.
And, while we’re at it…
- Be PRESENT. Look interested in what’s going on. Or even better, BE interested. Most brides dream of all the important moments filled with a background of people excitedly watching the events. I’ve seen so many photos of events like the first dance or toasts or cake cutting ruined because the people in the background are not paying attention, are talking, or looking bored. Remember that if you’re looking bored during your friends first dance, that boredom might be caught on camera for her to see FOREVER.
- Stay until the end. If the bride and groom are planning an exit, you’ll want to be in those final photos seeing them off. Show your support and love until the very end of the night.