The day my friend asked me to be her bridesmaid last August, I was immediately in research mode. It's a job most girls only get to do once or twice, so you want to make the most of it! But, most importantly, you want to do the best job you can.

Planning a wedding as a bride is like nothing else. With all the stress, anxiety and the hundred choices to be made, it is a completely unique experience. So as a bridesmaid, it can be difficult to know what your friend needs from you.

From my own experiences of being a bridesmaid, and also my experience of being a bride, here are the seven most important attributes that will make your friend thankful to have you there with her:

1. Be interested

Don't be one of those bridesmaids that just turn up on the day and are nowhere to be found during the whole planning process. Your friend thought very carefully when choosing her bridesmaids, and she picked you because she loves and trusts you.

It is such a privilege to be by someone's side on their wedding day. To be a bridesmaid is to be marked as someone very special to them, so don't take it for granted.

You don't want her to feel neglected or unsupported, so make sure she knows how excited you are, and how happy you are for her. Let her know that you are available to be as much a part of the planning as she wants.

Obviously there can be limitations such as distance, or other important commitments, but don't forget to call or text her once in a while and ask her how everything is going. She wants to share this exciting time with you, so assure her that you are proud to share it with her.

2. Be helpful

It's important to get the right balance in your role as a bridesmaid. You are not an unpaid wedding planner, and your friend's wedding should absolutely not take over your life (unless you want it to, of course!). But at the same time, the bride will need your help. She may need to bounce ideas off you, or have you come along to appointments with her.

A helpful attitude comes in most handy on the day itself. Things or people will go missing, drunk guests will need taking care of, skirts will need lifting up in order to pee.

There will be a thousand ways you can be helpful, but chances are the bride will be so preoccupied she won't think to ask you for help. So be on the lookout for little things you can do for her.

If the hairdresser or photographer is running late, manage the situation for her. Make calls for her, hold her bouquet when she's busy, help round up guests when it's time for the first dance or the cake to be cut. If no one's on the dance floor, head out there yourself and get the party going. Introduce yourself to her guests and help them feel welcome and included while she's carrying out the mammoth task of trying to speak to everyone at least once (trust me, it will take the entire day). Get things done without her needing to ask.

3. Be co-operative

A willing attitude is such a relief to a bride. With each decision she makes about what you'll be wearing or the tasks she might need your help with, she'll be anxious that you might not be happy about it.

The magic word is 'yes'. If she needs you all to get together, do your best to make it. If you're questioning why you have to do something so early, or at all, trust her process and do what she asks. If you hate your dress, smile and get over it. She doesn't have the time or the patience to drag you along with her, so don't make her.

Reluctance and stubbornness from bridesmaids is a fast way for friendships to be ruined, even if only temporarily. She needs you to be selfless for a little while, and will know very quickly if you're not fully on board. Remember this is all about her - not you.

4. Be thoughtful

Despite all the crazy, this is the one time your friend has this much attention on her. Why not make the most of it? Spoil her and try to make her feel as loved and special as you can.

Unless she is lucky enough to have a wedding planner, chances are she has a finger in each part of her day. It's all meticulously planned out, and as far as she's concerned she knows exactly what is supposed to happen. She won't be expecting any surprises - so why not give her one? You know her best and know what she will love, but if you want to do something nice and aren't sure where to start, ask her partner, her family or the other bridesmaids.

You can guarantee little things like this will be some of her most treasured memories of her wedding.

5. Be a peacekeeper

This might sound obvious, but don't argue with the other bridesmaids. Tempers can easily become aggravated as money is usually involved and people want different things.

As a bridesmaid you might feel as if you are a significant part of the day. You're not.Your dress, shoes, jewellery, hair, makeup and your role in the day makes up approximately 0.01% of the things the bride has to worry about. No matter how organised she is, you can bet she is overwhelmed the other 99.9%, and having to deal with squabbling bridesmaids could tip her over the edge. You're there to make her life easier - not add to her stress.

So whatever it is you can't agree on, be civil to each other. And if you must have something out, keep it between you and make sure the bride knows nothing about it. Absolutely never go to the bride to complain about another bridesmaid, or someone else involved in the wedding. Don't ask her to choose sides, or settle disagreements. It's not fair or helpful to her.

6. Be her friend

Weddings have a nasty tendency to take over a bride's life. There is so much to do, worry about and pray that it all comes together at the right moment, that there will be times when all your friend can do is eat, sleep and breathe "wedding".

But all that pressure can become very overwhelming, and she will need breaks from it. In all the kerfuffle of being her bridesmaid, don't forget you are also still her friend. Ask her about work, her family, her partner and everything else she has going on in her life. Hang out with her just like you did before she got engaged. Soon enough, the wedding will be over and you'll be back to normal - and you don't want to be out of touch with her life.

7. Give her a kick-ass hen

Obviously. It doesn't have to be expensive, it doesn't have to be abroad, and it doesn't have to include hundreds of people. Just make it one she won't forget.


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Published by Anastasia Alexander