Wedding top tips on how to be a great bridesmaid

True fact: I have never been a bridesmaid! I am rather gutted to have got to 40 and never been a bridesmaid. I got close once and then got pregnant and ended up due the day of the wedding so couldn’t be there.

In my day to day work as a wedding photographer, I have witnessed a lot of different ways that bridesmaids can support a bride on her wedding day (or not) and also in the lead up to the big day. Having only got close to being a bridesmaid on a wedding day I realised I wasn’t best placed to give first hand advice, so I thought I would ask my wedding industry friends and some of my brides (and their bridesmaids) for their tips and pointers on how to be a great bridesmaid. Straight from the horses mouth, here are some of those top tips.


It can be very easy for friendships to be tested in the run-up to a wedding and on the wedding day. Nerves and anxiety can make some brides more stressed than others. Things can be said that maybe aren’t really meant and sometimes what should be a fun and exciting time can become a little soured. But…for most brides this is a time to reconnect with their friends. An opportunity to spend wonderful and amazing time planning their day, getting excited with their bridesmaids and looking forward to champagne-filled shopping trips with their best mates. I think the most important thing is to remember this is one of the most special days in your friends life and that she is the priority! You may not like all her choices but if she’s your friend you need to support her, not knock her down. You should be available when you can and be honest when you can’t.

Bride getting ready Sussex Bridesmaid in grey with bride Grey bridesmaids dressesBridal shoes added sparkle

The Do’s and Don’ts of being a Bridesmaid

Being a bridesmaid in the lead up to the wedding

• Prepare a hens day that is about spending time together and doing something nice, like renting a house in the country, cooking together, going on a beautiful walk and picnic, or a visit to a vineyard? Time for good chats that otherwise wouldn’t happen on a boozy night out. Think about what the bride would like to do.

• If you must fake tan, please go to a PROFESSIONAL a couple of days before the wedding.

• Ask the bride for a bridesmaid dress with pockets (saves you carrying a bag for all the bits).

• Don’t wear too long a dress as you will very likely trip on it!

• Make sure you can walk in your shoes. Sounds obvious, but you are on your feet a lot during the day so you don’t want shoes that cripple you!

Leeds Castle wedding fiona kelly

On the Wedding Day

• The bride will not be used to going to the loo in her wedding dress and so bridesmaids will need to help a bride go to the loo! (Make sure you are available for the bride and not permanently at the bar!)

• Be a good friend and note what could stress out the bride on her wedding day on the lead up, so that you can be the one to sort it out without her needing to worry.

• Carry and re-apply her lippy whenever she needs it.

• If the couple have young children, or there are young flower girls and page boys that need distracting when you’re all getting ready before the wedding, then help entertain them (Disney DVDs are useful!)

• Speaking as a wedding photographer, please keep a list of the group shots the couple want to help identify the people. Be on hand to help round people up to make the group shots go smoothly.

• Stay off your phone – you can do that any day.

• Get ready before the bride so you have time to help her as needed.

• When carrying the bride’s train, remember to maintain her modesty and not hold it too high, especially when there’s no petticoat layer

• Being a bridesmaid might be the time to finally learn how to do basic hand sewing, because as bridesmaid you’ll be first port of call for any guest clothing emergency!

• Don’t accept a drink off EVERYONE! Oops!

• Check out the groomsmen when sober, so that your vodka goggles don’t confuse you later (if you ask very nicely I might tell you who this tip came from!)

• Don’t eat the tray of cake that you’re meant to be handing out.

• If one of the brides relatives (be it mum, sister, auntie, whoever) starts to stress the bride out get them to help you out with something, so as to diffuse things.

• Act a like a Girl Guide and be prepared!

• Keep an eye out throughout the day to see if you can help the bride.

• Be ready to carry the train of the brides dress if she needs help. Make sure not to lift the dress too high though…!

• Make sure the bride eats something on the wedding morning and has plenty of water to drink.

• If anything goes wrong or runs late step up to the mark and help to sort it out.

• Practice some basic sewing so you are ready to step up if anyone has a minor clothing emergency.

• If it hasn’t already been done, why not arrange for a bottle of Champagne or Prosecco to be delivered during the prep time. This is a lovely way to celebrate the morning of a wedding day and can help steady the nerves!

xBridesmaid dressing gowns Lace detail sleeves wedding dress Woburn Abbey wedding fiona kelly Pink roses and greeting card Woodhall Manor wedding fiona kelly

Why not create an emergency must-have kit for the bride?

Here are a few things you could include in an essentials kit:

• safety pins

• make-up for touch up throughout the day (face powder, mascara & lipstick)

• tissues (there will always be a need for tissues during the wedding day!)

• hair grips

• facial blotters for the shine

• ANYTHING else she wants to have accessible (One colleague remarked: “So what if your own stuff doesn’t fit in after all that. It’s not your day!” Good point!)

• see-through nail varnish for laddered tights

• fragranced body wipes/baby wipes or a mini body spray

• plasters or Compeed

• Bach’s rescue remedy

• a mini sewing kit

• paracetamol

Off the shoulder lace wedding dressat home manicure London

If you want to read a bit more about bridesmaid’s duties, check out the lovely Nova at Nu Bride.

Thanks for popping by. If you have any more bridesmaids top tips feel free to share them in the comments. I am happy to keep this updated.


Fiona x

Weddings featured in this post:

Suffolk wedding at Woodhall Manor

West Sussex festival wedding

Woburn Abbey & Woburn Safari Park wedding

Moor Park Mansion wedding

A beautiful wedding in Tuscany

Colourful outdoor wedding

Laidback wedding at Frasers in Kent

Rustic outdoor wedding blessing at Gildings Barn