Bridesmaid 101: A Crash Course

“Always the bridesmaid.. Never the bride… (or something like that)”

Our Hawkes Bay Wedding-978

Written by Renae Ingram.

You’ve likely seen the movie.. Katherine Heigl finds herself as a bridesmaid for the 27th time, leaving her with a wardrobe full of dresses she is never going to wear again, despite the age old phrase.. (You all know the one, so I won’t repeat it here..).

As someone who is rapidly approaching that status (In August I was a bridesmaid for the 5th time, yes you read that correctly.. FIVE people have trusted me enough to be beside them on one of the biggest days of their lives – cool huh!); I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way so, here is my Bridesmaid 101 crash course…

Formalities – Firstly, scope out your fellow bridesmaids, if you don’t know them, make an effort to introduce yourself, you will be working closely with these ladies (and sometimes gents) so get familiar! You all have a common goal here, to help your bride to have the absolute best day! – Add them on social media, grab a coffee, put your heads together and start brainstorming!

Frivolity – Now for the fun stuff… When the time comes to start the plans for the last hurrah before tying the knot there are some things you need to consider (it’s not all strippers and scavenger hunts). Hen’s Do’s (and Stag Do’s for that matter) can get seriously out of hand price wise if you aren’t careful.

Funds – Establish a budget before you start planning. Make sure everyone is comfortable with the amount you will be spending as you don’t want anyone to feel like they aren’t contributing as much; but you also don’t want to resent someone if they can’t afford to contribute as much. Keep tabs on your plans and decide early on if you will be asking guests for a contribution towards activities. Sometimes the simplest made plans make for the most fun days!

Fundamentals – Decide on ground rules and stick to them. If the bride doesn’t want strippers, gaudy costumes, cheesy to do lists or penis straws, don’t do it. You want this night to be enjoyable for her, she doesn’t want to feel uncomfortable, like she hasn’t been listened to and most of all like you don’t know her enough to know what type of celebration she would want!

Think outside the box – not all Hen’s Do’s are the same. What does the bride like? Would a theme go down well? Destination Hen’s Do’s are always a hit if you can swing it –  even just to the next town over; New Zealand is blessed with many amazing low cost destinations, Taupo, Napier, Martinborough, Greytown just to name a few.

Feel like taking a leaf out of the Stag’s book? One of the best Hen’s do’s I’ve been to included clay bird shooting and a very muddy ride in a farm 4×4 – complete with an encounter with another wedding’s Stag Do, which gave both parties a chance to tick a few tasks off their scavenger hunt lists -WIN!

Help Bride with Lippy

Friends – Look out for each other, though Hen’s do’s have traditionally been an allout affair, keep an eye out for when something might get too much, or push someone over the edge. Plenty of food and water to disperse the drinking is key to a long and eventful night. Make sure there is some grease to soak up the alcohol at the end also.

Forward thinking – let the bride know that you are available to help in the lead up to the big day. Chances are she will want to oversee everything to ensure her big day goes as planned but there are some brides who will relinquish some control and welcome the help.

Picking up last minute bits and pieces, organising supplies for the night before/morning of the big day are key jobs that the bride should not need to worry about! Have a run through the week before of all the things she needs for the big day. Dress, shoes and flowers are probably all accounted for but there are some things that will slip under the radar..  You don’t want to be running all over town the morning of the ceremony looking for suitable underwear for the bride…

First Aid – Blood and white dresses don’t mix, make sure you are prepared with a little emergency kit for the big day – ensure the usual suspects are included (plasters, tweezers, cotton buds, bobby pins) are all included but here are a few more things to consider having on hand…

  • Aerosol Deodorant (no one wants to share roll on…)
  • Spare Lippy
  • Painkillers
  • Makeup Setting Spray (single ply toilet paper works wonders on absorbing oil too!)
  • Hair Spray
  • Chapstick
  • Sewing Kit
  • Chocolate
  • Water
  • Drinking Straws (won’t someone please think of the lippy!)
  • Tissues
  • Mints/Gum
  • Tampons
  • Safety Pins
  • Lint Roller
  • Mirror

Foreword – The night before the big day you should all be in wind down mode.. Trust me. Face masks, movies and a decent dinner should be on the agenda. A celebratory glass of bubbles wouldn’t go astray but remember you have to be firing on all cylinders VERY early the next morning. Most weddings see the bridal party in hair and makeup from 7am!

The night before is also a good time to gauge how much assistance the bride would like the next day. Ask her if she will need/want help using the bathroom in her dress, does she want you to hype her up and get her excited or keep her calm? Does she want to be woken up in the morning to a certain song? (hint, “Let’s get married” by Jagged Edge goes down a treat – Thanks Jan!). You are there to serve and accompany your bride to the biggest moment in her life so far – Don’t fuss, but be there if she needs you!

A full belly the night before is also a good idea, the last thing the bride will be thinking about on the morning of her wedding is what’s for breakfast – though you will need to remind her to eat and drink throughout the day… Fruit, water and nuts are all perfect for helping keep the bride tribe sustained throughout the day.

Fanfare – Right, so you’re all dolled up, people are here and it’s nearly go time. Now is the time to let the bride have a few minutes to reflect. Have a last sip of water, have a last minute chat with Mum and Dad, let her know you are all there with her and calm any last minute jitters.  – Some of the most incredible photos come from this quiet time!

After the ceremony the happy couple are going to get absolutely swamped by guests, you could take this opportunity to grab them a drink before they get whisked away for photos. They will struggle to find time to eat and drink from here on out so it will be appreciated!

Fotos (see what I did there?) – A very wise woman in the grooms party at one of my favourite weddings put together a beautiful basket full of snacks and drinks for the bridal party to snack on while we were having photos taken – 10/10 would recommend. This was much needed sustenance for us all in the lead up to the reception. It helped line our stomachs before the champers started flowing!

Bridal SelfieFestivities – Okay now you can relax… the formalities are done and you can kick up your heels for a bit, enjoy the night, you got your bride here in one piece and she’s now a happily married woman! Just watch yourself before the speeches, all those toasts will get you on an empty stomach! If you get the privilege of saying a speech, don’t forget to thank the groomsmen, and your fellow bride tribe as well as toasting the Bride and Groom!

Finale…. You made it. Breathe.