Bridesmaids & Groomsmen (Roles, Responsibilities and Etiquette)
Have you been chosen to be part of the bridesmaids or groomsmen at a wedding?
We created this easy guide so you can be the best bridesmaid or groomsman at your next wedding.
In today’s day and age we have become so accustomed to pampering and prioritizing the wishes of the bride leading up to, and on the day of her wedding, that we literally say someone who never seems to be the center of attention is “always a bridesmaid, never the bride”.
However, when you’re serving as somebody’s bridesmaid it is your responsibility not only to step out of the limelight for the day, but to shine all your light onto the bride – it is her special day after all! Hopefully, as good friends, you and the bride can see eye to eye and she will not go full Bridezilla on you and/or have ridiculous expectations of her bridal party.
If you and the rest of the entourage just maintain a level head, standing up next to the bride on her big day can be a wonderful shared experience, and can bring you and the bride even closer together. Gentlemen; the same goes for you!
It is an honour to be asked to stand up next to the groom on his big day, and while your responsibilities seem to fall more in the “fun” column than the “admin” column, don’t sit back and kick your shoes off just yet – there are still jobs to be done!
Photo by – Yolandemarx.com
Bridesmaids’ Roles & Responsibilities
Before the Wedding
In the years, months, weeks and days leading up to the wedding, it is the bridemaids’ responsibility to be there for the bride to lean on when the stress of planning a wedding just becomes too much – one day, perhaps, she’ll return the favour and serve as a bridesmaid-cum-support system for you! Some of the bridesmaids’ responsibilities may include:
Making yourself available for bridesmaid dress fittings.
Paying for your bridesmaid’s dress in the event that it is not a gift from the bride – sometimes the bride may ask you to wear a specific dress, which she will then pay for, other times brides will allow their bridesmaids to wear a dress they already own so long as it is a particular colour and length.
In the event that the bride isn’t paying for the dress, you do have the right to take her aside and let her know your budget (politely!) but if you are incapable of purchasing a dress at all, it is your responsibility to let the bride know this before accepting her invitation to be in the bridal party.
It is NOT the bride’s responsibility to pay for your bridesmaid dress – if she offers, well and good, consider it a gift; but it is your responsibility to make sure you can afford the dress and still make ends meet!
Help the bride make decisions about the bridesmaids’ dresses. If you’ve ever taken an improv class, the same rules apply – never say no!
Well, rather, the rule is this: don’t focus on bombarding the bride with “won’ts” (e.g. I won’t wear spaghetti straps, or I won’t wear pink), instead, try focussing on positives and compromising.
Instead of telling the bride you won’t wear a strapless dress, for example, try telling her you’d feel uncomfortable in a strapless dress but if she falls in love with a strapless dress you wouldn’t mind adding straps to it at your own cost so that she can have the dresses she loves while you can be comfortable.
Photo by – Zara-zoo.com
Help the bride choose her wedding dress! You don’t necessarily have to traipse with her to all 20 local bridal boutiques, especially if her mother or the MOH will also be in attendance, but going to her first appointment, a fitting, or helping her pick between two gowns comes with the territory – don’t complain about it, you signed up for this!
Helping the bride compile/make/arrange any DIY elements of the wedding – this may mean showing up for craft night, helping save empty wine bottles in the months leading up to the wedding, or may require you to become very good friends with the manager of a local PNA, stat! Nothing helps you save on DIY elements like a good staff discount!
Helping the Maid of Honour & Mother of the Bride plan the Kitchen Tea and Bachelorette parties – this can mean brainstorming, pitching ideas, setting up the budget, setting up and decorating the venue, breaking down and cleaning up after the party, and doing it all with a smile on your face and a song in your heart because, and say it with me, you love the bride!
Chipping in to cover the costs of the Bachelorette and the Kitchen Tea – while the Mother of the Bride, or even the Mother of the Groom may chip in some funds toward either party this is an exception to the rule and it would be bad etiquette to solicit anyone besides your fellow bridesmaids and the Maid of Honour for financial contributions to either shindig.
Attend the Bachelorette party and the Kitchen Tea! Unless there are extenuating circumstances, it is your responsibility to attend the “pre-game”, so to speak, and to be there to support and celebrate the bride at the functions and parties that are hosted before the actual wedding.
If the Bachelorette party is going to be particularly raunchy or go particularly late you do, however, get an “out” if you are pregnant or have a newborn at home – nobody can fault you for putting family first.
Bonus Round: You may even find yourself having to help the groom and groomsmen with the honeymoon travel arrangements if the boys just can’t manage to stay on top of the admin themselves! You could even save your bestie from ending up on a honeymoon to the bushveld when she was hoping to relax and unwind on a tropical island.
Consider the above your mini bridesmaids’ duties checklist for the lead up to the big day.
Also see – Wedding Etiquette For The Bride and Groom
On the Day of the Wedding
As a bridesmaid, your “on the day of” responsibilities aren’t massive, essentially you just need to stand there and look pretty, and make sure the bride looks even prettier! However, there are still one or two things you want to be sure to do:
Have your hair and makeup done like the bride would like you to. Also, pay for this yourself unless it is the bride’s gift to you.
If the bride wants you to have a full face of makeup and an updo, it is not unreasonable of her to request it, but it is also not unreasonable of you to ask her if you might be able to do it yourself or have a friend do it instead of the professionals because money is tight.
Help ensure the flower girl and ring bearer make it down the aisle in an orderly fashion. Sometimes little children do get stage fright; offer to walk them down yourself, or just pull a funny face and wipe away tears so that the little ‘uns can get down the aisle on time!
Help the bride look extra glam all the time – whether this means carrying her bouquet around between photos, carrying her train or her favourite lipstick for touch-ups – you are now the glamour squad and your number one priority is keeping her looking and feeling fantastic!
Get out on the dance floor and bust a move! Especially if the party is a slow starter, it is your job to dance. Enthusiastically.
Photo by – Yolandemarx.com
Roles & Responsibilities of Groomsmen
Before the Wedding
In similar fashion to your female counterparts, the bridesmaids, you will have some work to do helping the groom prep in the months, weeks and days leading up to his big day. Some of your roles and responsibilities will include:
It is expected of the groomsmen to help the groom pick his suit. Usually the bride will have given this particular outing some kind of direction (i.e. pick a black suit, or a blue suit), but occasionally the groom will have 100% free reign and then it becomes the groomsmen’s responsibility to prevent the groom from going too radical on his wedding day.
If he does not regularly wear paisley and cowboy boots, his wedding day is not the day to start!
Groomsmen’s etiquette dictates that the groomsmen pay for their own suits. Usually you can get away with hiring something or wearing a suit you already own – either way, cough up the cash for necessary hires/tailoring and thank your lucky stars your suit doesn’t cost what the bridesmaids’ dresses cost!
Make sure you have your suit tailored to fit the body you have and not the body you wish you had! Same goes for the groom; make sure he buys a suit that fits him, not a future him he may or may not sculpt into being before the wedding.
Plan the Bachelor party along with the Best Man. As a groomsman it is your responsibility to help brainstorm, budget and plan for the bachelor party.
You and the rest of the groom’s entourage will likely split all the costs and you want to know your budget has been taken into account when planning so make sure you’re involved from the get-go. While some bachelor parties are all about raunchy late-night galavanting, these days many more modern men are opting to forego the traditional “last night of freedom” bit and doing something more low-key and laid back with their mates before tying the knot.
While it is your responsibility as groomsman to support the groom and to be there for him to celebrate his transition from bachelorhood, gone are the days when marriage was considered the end of one’s freedom – you don’t need to compromise on your personal morals and neither does the groom.
If he says “no strippers”, respect his wishes; and if he wants strippers and you’re not down with that lifestyle, it is perfectly acceptable for you to decline to attend. Offer to take the hungover party out for breakfast the next morning, or join them for one drink before they head to the strip club instead.
Photo by – Yolandemarx.com
Help the groom plan the honeymoon. If the groom needs any help with admin or ideas pertaining to the honeymoon; the groomsmen are his go-to guys. If you are married and have done this before, your experience may prove invaluable to the groom!
Pro Tip: Ask the bridesmaids to do some digging for you so that you can ascertain what the bride is really hoping to do on her honeymoon and that way you can help steer the groom in the right direction.
Day of the Wedding
The groomsmen’s duties on the day of the wedding are minimal.
Make sure you are well-dressed, well-groomed and on time.
And for heaven’s sake make sure the groom is all of the above as well!
Photo by – Zara-zoo.com
You may be asked to escort a bridesmaid down the aisle, or you may be standing up with the groom at the front of the venue from the get go. Have some tissues handy, especially if you know the bride or groom are criers! They’ll thank you for it later!
Dance the night away! Pay special attention to the single ladies who look like they’d love to dance but find themselves sans partner! It is your responsibility to make sure everybody is out on the dance floor and having fun!
At the end of the day, the job of the groomsmen and the bridesmaids is just to be there for their friend who has decided to honour the friendship by inviting you to be a part of their special day.
If you’re an attentive listener, and a helping hand, you cannot go wrong when serving as groomsman or bridesmaid for your mate. Who knows? Maybe one day they’ll return the favour! If at any point you don’t know what you could be doing to better help the bride or groom prepare for the big day, ask them!
Your assistance and kindness will not be forgotten in the many happy years of their marriage to come!