your dream team

Some couples (somewhat irreverently) just go it alone. You can see why: a hoard of irregularly shaped friends, cousins and siblings in mix-and-match silks and accessories, cluttering up the occasion and doing nothing of any great use, could be at odds with a couple’s idyllic nuptial vision.

But they could be missing out. The system of best man and ushers, maid of honour and bridesmaids can be one of the most effective – and enjoyable – of all wedding traditions. You just need to bring it bang up to date. Only the tiniest weddings run smoothly without the support of a small army and on the day, you want to be bride and groom, not administrative officers, so delegation is vital.

Today we’re going to focus on a bride’s most trusted helpers; her bridesmaids.


Traditional duties: Besides cooperating with dress fittings and being decorative, bridesmaids are there to support the bride and maid of honour in her responsibilities above, follow them up the aisle and down again, look after younger attendants and accompany ushers.

  • Modern role: Pitching in on the multitude of tasks that are general team preparations and on-the-day logistics.
  • Who to choose: As many or few as you wish of your closest friends. It’s customary to equal the number of ushers, for pairing up (formally or otherwise!). Don’t worry about them looking nicer than you: they really won’t. Again, don’t appoint under pressure (no-one should expect to be a bridesmaid), but do consider everyone’s feelings. And even if you’re not close, asking your future sister-in-law is a nice gesture, and should help you get to know each other better.
  • Style counsel: As brides get older, so do their maids, and if ever blousy or frilly frocks were a good idea, they certainly aren’t now. And who says bridesmaids have to wear long dresses: what about knee-length outfits, suits, and wide, fluid trousers? As a basic rule, bridesmaids should dress as close to their own style as possible. If she’d never want to see the outfit again as long as she lives, don’t make her wear it on your wedding day. I don’t subscribe to the notion that being a bridesmaid is a one-way treat that must be repaid by wearing any vile thing the bride or her mother chooses. To the contrary, it can be stressful and expensive, and bridesmaids should be treated with consideration. The issue of money raises it ugly head again here (bridesmaids historically pay for their own dresses), but even if the bride is paying, is it really nice to make unwelcome demands in return? Bridesmaids, in turn, need to be accommodating, though!

The designs of many modern bridesmaids’ dresses, are thankfully grown up, simple and elegant. Or for a thoroughly modern approach, why not:

  • Choose a single colour: a natural halfway house, everyone simply chooses their most flattering silhouette, but all in the same colour. Bring the look together with matching pashminas and kitten heels.
  • For a very unstructured wedding, simply pick a style or role model: Say ‘trouser suits’, or ‘Oscar night’, then have just one unifying factor, such as a wrap, or buttonhole.
  • Go for black: it really does make for the most elegant line-up.
  • Put all the bridesmaids in the same dress, but in a set of harmonious shades – such as coffee, chocolate and cream.
  • Accessorise with greatest caution: if you find yourself giving serious thought to Dorothy bags, give yourself a serious talking to, instead.

Featured image courtesy of

  • Great advice – it’s nice to see a quick overview of the traditional roles and a proper explanation of modern roles for bridesmaids.

    I recently read a wedding magazine article which ended with “bridesmaids should do as they’re told – it’s your day after all”!

    It’s refreshing and useful to see what it’s really all about. Great post :-)

    Claire x

Leave a Comment