It’s an honour to be a chosen as a bridesmaid but, truth be told, many ladies do not realise what it actually entails. Unless it’s a shotgun wedding, months of preparation lie ahead, and the bride will count on you to be her ever-patient and supportive sidekick.

In the lead up to the wedding, there is much to be done. Depending on what type of bride you’re dealing with – ranging from calm and serene to bitchy bridezilla – you may face very different expectations as to what your duties entail.

If you haven’t already been given a long list of responsibilities, here are three cardinal rules for being a bridesmaid.

Rule 1: Diarise!

If you were planning to go on holiday to the beach a week before the wedding, scratch that idea. Or, if you usually spend every weekend catching up on your chores, you better start recruiting a personal assistant.

From the time that you are enlisted as a bridesmaid, your free time belongs to the bride. Whether it is a make-up trial, yet another trip in search of the perfect dress, an appointment with the florist or a DIY decor craft day, you should be ready to drop what you are doing to support the bride.

There is a lot to be done before the big day, so it’s best not to view your bridesmaid commitments as a sideline duty.

Invest in a diary or a calendar, and do not forget about those all-important dates in the lead up to the wedding.

Rule 2: Sidestep dress stress

The bride will certainly have a very specific idea about what she wants her wedding dress to look like but, believe it or not, she may have an even more precise idea of how she would like her bridesmaids to look.

If her wedding theme is cream and lavender and you love the colour lavender, then this may not be an issue. However, if you hate lavender, you may run into problems – especially if the bride expects you to fork out good money for a dress that you hate.

Generally there are two clauses that apply here. If you are not expected to pay for the dress, then the bride has the right to dress you in whatever she fancies, even if you do end up looking like a giant lavender meringue. But, if you are expected to pay for the dress, the bride has to compromise and you should both come to an agreement on suitable attire.

The bridesmaid dresses can cause a lot of unnecessary tension, so try to clear this one up well in advance.

Rule 3: Decide: Genteel kitchen tea or brazen bachelorette’s?

As a bridesmaid, one of your primary duties is to throw the bride a kitchen tea, bridal shower or hen party. You’ll no doubt have to plan this with the other bridesmaids on the squad, but remember that what the bride wants should be your primary consideration.

If you know your friend wants one last wild night out before settling down, be sure to avoid throwing her a genteel tea where all her aunties feel right at home. But, if you know the bride is quite conservative in her tastes, do not put her in an awkward position where she is forced to eat and drink crudely shaped objects while her granny looks on.

In addition to these three cardinal rules, you should remember that being a bridesmaid is usually a team effort. You may not agree with the other bridesmaids from time to time, but the best way to support your friend is to keep the peace. A wedding is an enormous undertaking, with multiple fine details that need to be attended to. The purpose of having bridesmaids is to ease the load, so make sure that you do everything you can to contribute to the overall success of this momentous event in your friend’s life.

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Have you got any tips and tricks on how to be a good bridesmaid? Pop your suggestions in the box below.