What to Expect When You’re a Bridesmaid


When it came to being a bridesmaid, I had no idea what I was doing. Not a clue. I was like a college kid who crammed the week before my final exams and hoped for the best. I tried to take cues and clues from romantic comedy movies, because maybe they had a little truth to what might happen… And then, of course, there were tips on Pinterest and good ol Google, which were basically the contemporary Spark Notes for your everyday clueless bridesmaid.

Unless you’ve been a bridesmaid before, nothing can really prepare you for what the experience is like, because every wedding is different. However, if you start planning months ahead by buying everything you’ll need for the gifts, outfits, parties, and everything in between, I promise you’ll be a little less stressed out the week before the wedding.

As much as you try to budget, weddings are expensive. While finding out the news that your best friend has finally found her happily ever after is beyond words, and being asked to be a bridesmaid is an honor, at some point reality will knock on your door and remind you that in order to be there on that special day you will have to set aside some money to purchase the dress, or tux, shoes, accessories, pay for travel expenses, parties, and more. It may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but if you break things down into events, it will be easier to plan accordingly.

The Fitting 

  • Whether it’s supporting your best friend while they try on multiple styles, or attending a bridesmaid dress fitting, it’s always best to dress nicely, but also be comfortable. Try to avoid wearing any jewelry that will cling easily to intricate details like lace, because the last thing you want to do is to damage a dress while trying it on. When I went to my friend’s bridesmaid dress fitting at David’s Bridal, I wore tights, a semi-casual dress, and denim jacket along with shoes that had a two-inch block heel that was padded and comfortable enough to wear afterwards when we went out for sushi.
  • Make sure to take pictures of the dress, or tux styles and sizes for reference. This will make your life easier so that you don’t forget the size of the garment you’ll need later if you decide to come back in store and purchase, or if you decide to order it online.

Buying Shoes & Accessories 

  • Price compare with shoe stores in-person, or look online and order months in advance. You’ll thank yourself that you did. Make sure to check in with the bride about styles and colors of the shoes. After purchasing your shoes, try them on with the bridesmaid dress and determine if you’ll need to get the length of the dress altered.
  • Is everyone going to wear jewelry? Earrings? Necklaces? Bracelets? Are you going to paint your own nails, or get them professionally done? To save some money, I bought a Sally Hansen kit to do a French manicure and pedicure myself. Try to figure out the details of a similar color scheme of jewelry and styles with the bride and fellow bridesmaids. A Facebook group chat is convenient for sharing pictures, comments, and will help you stay organized.
  • Do you need a clutch to go with your bridesmaid dress? In my experience, I bought one, but didn’t end up needing one. However, I’m glad that I chose a style that I can definitely wear later in the year for holiday parties, special events in the future. As a bridesmaid, you’re so busy taking pictures with everyone and practicing walking down the aisle that no one really notices or cares about what clutch or handbag you have, because it ends up getting stowed away somewhere in the corner.

The Bridal Shower

  • As I discovered the day of the Bridal Shower, 99.8% of the people invited are going to gift things that were listed on the wedding registry.
  • I tried to get Google to help me on this one for advice, yet I wanted to be more creative and personalize the gift. I ended up buying a coffee mug that said ‘Wifey’, a tin of the bride’s favorite tea, a planner for 2018, and a small matching wallet to the planner.
  • While I ended up buying separate gifts for the Bridal Shower and Wedding, if you want to save a bit, depending on circumstances, you may be able to have the wedding gift also count as the bridal shower gift if you buy something off of the registry.
  • As for attire, it depends on the location of the Bridal Shower, and also what your fellow bridesmaids and the bride-to-be will wear. It never hurts to discuss with everyone in advance about what’s appropriate to wear, and outfit ideas.
  • Bridal Showers usually revolve around food, sometimes games, lots of pictures, and also gift opening.

The Bachelorette Party 

  • Plan with your fellow bridesmaids about the party location, food, accessories like sashes, crowns, pins, decorations, and any games that you’ll play.
  • Bring cash with you, because you never know when it may come in hand for drinks, or buying game cards for places like Dave & Busters to get better deals.
  • You and your fellow bridesmaids should definitely chip in together to pay for the party, as well as food and drinks for the bride-to-be.

Travel Plans 

  • If the wedding venue is further away, make reservations for the hotel as soon as possible. Figure out whether you’ll be travelling by car, train, bus, or airplane.
  • Sometimes, even carpooling might work with your fellow bridesmaids so you can split the cost of gas.
  • Make sure you’re on time to check into the hotel, and for the rehearsal dinner.

Rehearsal Dinner

  • Depending on the location, the rehearsal dinner may be casual, business-casual, or even black tie. It’s important to find out the details from the bride-to-be, especially when it comes to outfits. You don’t want to be overdressed when everyone is in jeans, nor do you want to be under dressed in jeans if everyone is wearing a little black dress.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be practicing your walking skills possibly anywhere from 40 minutes to more.

The Wedding

  • Make sure you know what time everyone is going to start getting ready for hair, makeup, getting dressed, and photographs. Set an alarm the night before, and prep a bag to carry all of your essentials that you’ll need to bring with you.
  • If you’re curling your hair, don’t wash it the day of the wedding. Freshly washed hair is going to be slippery and not hold a curl that well. Touching up with a little dry shampoo to refresh your hair is the way to go.
  • It’s easier if all of the bridesmaids and bride-to-be carpool together. That way, no one is missing, and everyone can stick to the schedule.
  • Make sure to eat breakfast, or lunch before the wedding if it takes place closer to dinnertime. It’s going to be a long day of pictures, and last-minute rehearsing.
  • Bring your hair curler with you to the wedding venue just in case in a travel bag. If it rains, it’s likely that your curls will straighten out even if you try to shield yourself with an umbrella in transit. As long as you get there early, find an outlet where you can touch up on hair and makeup.
  • Lastly, it’s okay to go without a plus one. I promise. Everything will be okay, and it’s not the end of the world if you’re a single bridesmaid. In fact, you’re going to be busy getting ready, taking pictures with the rest of the wedding party, walking down the aisle, and eating food. Sure, you may skip out on the slow songs, but when the other songs come on, dance with your fellow bridesmaids and have fun!

While everyone’s experience as a bridesmaid is different, and each wedding is unique, these are a few of the things that I’ve learned along the way from my experience. And if you, a fellow first bridesmaid-to-be, are in a panic about what to do, hopefully these tips will help you.




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