A bridesmaid accompanies the bride at her wedding. Usually, a bride will have at least a maid of honor, along with one to four bridesmaids.

Being chosen to stand up alongside the bride as she marries her beloved is an honor; thus, the bride will typically ask her closest female friends or relatives such as sisters or cousins to be bridesmaids. If the bride wants to have male friends stand up with her, they are called bridesmen, and their duties will be similar if not identical to those of bridesmaids.

The pre-wedding duties of a bridesmaid will vary, with the maid of honor having the most duties. They might include:

  • Helping the bride choose her dress and the bridesmaids' dresses. It is crucial that the bridesmaids assist in the latter task, because bridesmaids' dresses can be hideous tangerine or lime green monstrosities that one will never be able to wear again; if the bridesmaid acts as a voice of reason during the choosing of the dresses, she can end up with a tasteful gown she can wear at other formal occasions.

  • Helping select, purchase, or create wedding decorations. The closer the maids are to the bride, the more involved they are in this process.

  • Helping put together the wedding program, both in terms of how the wedding will proceed and in selecting paper/fonts for the program itself.

  • Organizing/hosting the bridal shower. Typically, the maid of honor does this, but in other situations the mother of the bride might host and the maids might assist.

  • Organizing/hosting the bachelorette party. Once again, this is typically the responsibility of the maid of honor, but the maids might decide to do this as a group. Bridesmaids who want the wedding to go smoothly will ensure that the party is not the night before the wedding, and will ensure that the bride doesn't get alcohol poisoning, overdose, and/or run off with a male stripper. And above all, the maids responsible for the party should consider what the bride will want. While some may consider excessive drinking and last-minute fornication to be the whole point of the party ... she (or the groom) might not. Friendships and weddings can wreck on the rocks of an ill-considered bachelorette party.

  • Arranging for the rehearsal dinner. This means finding out who will attend, and helping with the cooking if the dinner is at someone's house. Otherwise, it means coordinating with the bride's and groom's family and making reservations at an appropriately nice restaurant. The groom's family will traditionally pay for the dinner, so in this regard the bridesmaids' responsibilities are only organizational.

  • Helping select, assemble, and mail the wedding invitations.

Whew! That's a lot. Come wedding day, the bridesmaids just have to throw on their dresses and be on time, right?

Wrong. The wedding day is when bridesmaids are most crucial; even a bridesmaid who had nothing to do with any of the aforementioned duties still has important tasks to do:

During the wedding itself, the bridesmaids along with the groomsmen will precede the bride and groom in the processional; typically the maids will have their own bouquets, but the maid of honor will hold the bride's bouquet during the ceremony if there's no flower girl. The maid of honor may also hold the groom's ring before the exchange if there's no ringbearer.

A bridesmaid is far more than a simple ceremonial decoration. So, when choosing your bridesmaids or bridesmen, be sure to find people who are cheerful, organized, efficient, resourceful, and unflappable.

Brides"maid` (?), n.

A female friend who attends on a bride at her wedding.

 

© Webster 1913.

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