What to Expect as a Bridesmaid (A Photographer’s POV)

Did you say “yes” to being a bridesmaid but have absolutely no clue what you’ve actually signed up for? From what to wear to what to do before the wedding to how to act on the actual day-of, I’ve got you covered! Whether you’ve never been in a wedding party before or you’re curious about any new tips that you wish you had known previously, this guide is for you.

Some bridesmaids may have the idea that they can just show up in a preselected dress on the bride’s special day, but, more times than not, you’re actually committing to quite a few duties as a bridesmaid aside from what you are wearing. From pre-wedding events to hanging out with the bride before her grand entrance to planning showers and parties, bridesmaids duties can certainly vary. Here’s a consolidated list of what you could expect now that you’re part of the wedding party:

Before the Wedding

One of the most important parts of being a bridesmaid, arguably, is what you’ll be wearing. Every bride handles this process differently, but many will share specific dresses, brands, colors, or cuts, and then bridesmaids are expected to order the dress on their own. Typically, dresses take several months to arrive, depending on the brand and ordering process, so it’s best to play it safe and order as early as possible. It’s also worth noting that many dresses may need altering, especially in the length, so definitely allow for this process as well. Additionally, bridesmaids are typically required to pay for their dresses, but some brides may offer to help cover this expense. I suggest not asking and to just expect to pay in full – letting the offer be a pleasant surprise is the way to go about this process. 

Showers, a Bachelorette Party, and other pre-wedding events are another duty as a bridesmaid. Depending on the bride and the couple, there could be several events before the actual wedding – from bridal showers to engagement parties to bachelorette parties. While it’s certainly nice to be able to attend (and even plan) some of these events, it’s certainly not a requirement. I suggest being direct with the bride so she is aware of your availability and your budget as opposed to waiting until the last minute to bail on an event that she’s been anticipating you’d be at.

Pre-wedding planning doesn’t stop there. Bridesmaids will often need to finalize their travel and accommodations if they cannot stay at home for the rehearsal and the wedding. Some bridesmaids choose to stay with their plus one, if they have one, or they may decide to stay with several girls in the party or even in a house with the bride. Make sure to communicate with the group to figure out what the plan is before locking in your reservations. Some brides also have welcome parties before the rehearsal or post-wedding brunches the day after the wedding as well, so don’t forget to confirm the dates of your travel, too.

Last, but not least, some bridesmaids may be asked or expected to help with some wedding planning tasks. I have worked directly with bridesmaids who have inquired about pricing or even helped facilitate details for the bride so that she didn’t have to arrange photographer logistics on her wedding weekend. If you’re in this position, I would absolutely be happy to connect with you and to share any advice as well!

TIP:  Don’t wait until the ride over to the wedding to purchase your wedding gift (we’ve all been there!) As a bridesmaid, you should look on the registry, if applicable, at least a month before the wedding to have your choice for gifts. Some brides may be okay with you gifting off the registry while others prefer not to acquire new items that they don’t need.

Wedding Day

It’s the bride’s big day, and you’re going to be right by her side! As a bridesmaid, you’re typically told what time to arrive at either the venue, a salon, or an off-site location to get ready. Do not arrive late to this first activity – the bride has enough on her mind, and you don’t need to add extra stress or anxiety to her wedding day. 

Now, this is where the fun begins! Bridesmaids will get their glam done together, or some girls choose to do their hair and makeup on their own. Again, this is typically a preference and decision coming from the bride, so make sure you understand what her vision is before opting in or out of one option or the other. Once everyone is dolled up but before dresses are on, photos will typically start to be snapped in cute poses during the getting ready process. These are a fun opportunity to hang out with the bride and to settle any of her nerves before she walks down the aisle. 

TIP: Don’t forget to eat! And make sure the bride eats, too. This is most likely the last thing on her mind, so it’s helpful to have her girls helping with food and hydration to fuel her for the evening ahead.

Once the dresses are ready to dawn, more photos will most likely be taken, and perhaps the bride and groom will do their first look. As bridesmaids, your role is to support the bride throughout this process and of course to engage with her during all of the photos and poses, too. Acting natural and enjoying these few hours before the ceremony begins will be some of the bride’s most cherished memories.

Now, the procession begins, and, as a bridesmaid, you should understand your role during the wedding – whether you’re walking out with a groomsman, standing or sitting, if you’re taking flowers and bouquets, etc. You’ll most likely have rehearsed this process the day prior during the rehearsal, so it should be fresh in your mind. During the wedding ceremony, you’ll simply just be there to support the bride and then to celebrate after the vows are exchanged. 

Aside from the speeches, which should have already been allocated and prepped and a potential entrance into the reception with the groomsmen, your duties are just about complete. Now, it’s time to celebrate with the bride and groom, their families and friends, and the other girls in the party and to dance the night away.

I hope this guide eases any concerns you may have had about your bridesmaid duties. If you have any other questions, if you’re looking to book a photographer (as a bridesmaid for the bride or as the bride yourself), I would love to connect!


Venue: Tampa River Center and Hotel Haya

Photographer: Sarah Marie Photography

Planning: Sarah Rose Events

Florals: Petite Fleur