Being asked to be a bridesmaid is a dream come true for many girls. Who doesn’t want to dress up in a nice outfit and be part of a celebration of love? However, not all bridesmaids are aware of their true role on the day.

Bridesmaids were originally required to form part of the ten witnesses to any wedding under Roman law. Males and females made up the wedding party to ensure there were enough people of standing who knew the couple to satisfy that requirement.

During the Middle Ages, the role of a bridesmaid altered somewhat to become a distraction for evil spirits who wanted to ruin the marriage. Bridesmaids dressed up like the bride so those spirits didn’t know who the bride was and couldn’t interfere with the union. Since then the role of the bridesmaid has changed to include much more practical duties. It is those we are going to discuss today.


One of the primary roles of a chief bridesmaid, Maid of Honour or bridesmaid is to offer opinions on the preparations for the wedding, help the bride choose dresses and themes and assist wherever possible. It’s also their job to keep the bride out of (too much) trouble on her hen night.

On the day itself, the bridesmaids are to keep the bride calm and ensure everything runs smoothly in the house while the wedding party is preparing for the ceremony. That includes ensuring everyone is where they are supposed to be, when they are supposed to be there.

The Wedding Ceremony

At the wedding ceremony itself, the chief bridesmaid’s job is to ensure everyone and everything is in place for proceedings. Any last minute adjustments to the wedding dress, wedding party or train and anything the bride needs before entering the venue also comes under her remit.

During the ceremony itself, the bridesmaids follow the bride in the procession and peel off once they reach the officiator. The chief bridesmaid will take any gloves, hats and bouquets and look after them during the ceremony. They will also accompany the best man in witnessing the signing of the register if it’s a church wedding.

Bridesmaids will then follow the newly married couple out of the venue and cooperate for the photographer.

The Wedding Reception

As a bridesmaid, your day isn’t over quite yet. Depending on the situation, you may be required to look pretty for photographs, stand in the receiving line and help manage guests. The true role depends on the bride and the kind of reception you’re having.

The chief bridesmaid should act as the bride’s proxy during the reception, checking everyone is okay and that the bridal party has everything they need. It’s a long and tiring day so the bride may not have the time or energy to circulate as much as they would like, which is where the chief bridesmaid comes in.

It is also becoming more common for a chief bridesmaid to prepare a speech to read after the best man. It isn’t mandatory by any means, but it is something that seems to be happening more and more. It’s up to the bride whether they want you to perform that particular job!

Once the reception is over and the bride needs to change into her going away clothes the bridesmaids perform their final duty. Helping the bride get out of the dress without spoiling it and into her going away clothes is an important end to the day.

Getting all the bride’s belongings back to her home will be the last thing asked of a bridesmaid. If the outfits are hired, it may be the bridesmaids job to ensure they are in good condition and return them the next day too.

In return for helping the bride survive her wedding day, bridesmaids get to play an important role in the wedding and support the bride in anything she needs, they get to wear a lovely dress and be near their friend on this most important of events. It can be hard work, but it really is worth it.

Depending on the wedding setup, the bride and groom may present gifts to the bridesmaids. This is now to thank them for their efforts, but was originally to act as bribes to entice them to lure the bride-to-be somewhere for the man to propose. It’s an ancient custom that has evolved to meet the needs of the modern wedding.

The role of a bridesmaid in a modern wedding can be easy, or full of activity. Much depends on the extravagance of the day and how much the bride needs your help. Whether bridesmaids have to work hard or not, it’s an important job that is only offered to really good friends, trusted family members and those whom the bride has the utmost confidence.

So, if you’re asked to be a bridesmaid, there’s a little more to it than wearing a dress and standing behind the bride. You now know what could be expected of you on the wedding day. It can be hard work, but totally worth the effort!