Not sure what to do when? We have your complete planning timeline and checklist. Remember to add important dates to your calendar. The bride loves when her bridesmaids are on time, and no one likes to make that awkward phone call telling you to get it in gear!
12+ Months in Advance
____ Send the bride and groom an engagement card, congratulating them on their wonderful news!
____ RSVP to any engagement parties to which you’re invited
____ Buy and wrap a gift for the engagement party
____ Once the wedding date and location is set, put in your request for time off of work immediately
____ When the wedding date and location are official, get the bride’s okay and hotel information, and book your travel and lodging with your date, if you’re bringing one!
____ Create your organizer, whether it’s a binder or a spreadsheet, to keep yourself on schedule
____ Offer to help the bride find her ceremony and reception locations, especially if you have attended weddings at the places she wishes to tour
____ E-mail the maid of honor to offer your help as well as any contacts you have who may be helpful in group party planning
9 to 12 Months in Advance
____ Follow the maid of honor’s lead in getting to know the other bridesmaids, such as her suggestion to e-mail each other if you’re local to one another. Carpooling may be an option!
____ If the bride invites you, join her at wedding expos
____ If the bride invites you, join her as she shops for her wedding gown
____ If you plan to get in shape for the big day, begin a health regimen or kick your workout routine into higher gear
6 to 8 Months in Advance
____ Start sending dress suggestions to the maid of honor (cc'ing the bride), if you find a fabulous dress or designer you’d like to consider for your wedding day wear
____ Have your measurements professionally taken by an expert seamstress to get the perfect dimensions for ordering a dress that will actually fit you!
____ Join the bridesmaids in the official search for your bridesmaids' dresses
____ Deliver your size card and deposit money for the official dress order
____ Review your finances and budget for the expenses coming up
____ Ask the bride or maid of honor about shoes and accessories. Should you wear your own silver strappy heels or join the group in ordering matching heels?
____ Offer to help the bride with any planning tasks
____ Find yourself a date, if you don’t already have one!
4 to 6 Months in Advance
____ Discuss bridal shower plans with the bridesmaids and maid of honor
____ Volunteer to take on any bridal shower planning tasks
____ Join the group in searching for the perfect bridal shower location
____ Be able to tell friends where the couple is registered, if you are asked
____ Deliver any payments due for your dress or shoe orders
____ If this is a destination wedding, check your passport validity or apply for a new or renewed passport
2 to 4 Months in Advance
____ If your dress has arrived, make your appointments for your dress fittings
____ If you’re buying a dress at a department store, make appointments for dress fittings
____ Buy your wedding day undergarments and shoes, in order to wear them at the fittings
____ Offer to help the bride with any wedding planning tasks, such as making DIY projects or collecting addresses for the invitations
____ Work on the bridal shower plans, and pay your share of the bridal shower expenses
_____ Buy and wrap the bridal shower present
____ Ask the bride about your wedding day hair and beauty appointments. Not all brides ask their 'maids to join them at the salon, so you'll need to know what you’ll be doing on the morning of the wedding
1 to 2 Months in Advance
____ Host and pay for the bridal shower
____ Help the bride keep track of who gave which gift
____ Plan the bachelorette party and send invitations to select guests
____ Host and pay for the bachelorette party
____ Offer to help the bride with any planning tasks, such as making favors or creating the seating chart
____ Return your response card immediately upon receiving it (with a sweet note written on the bottom!)
____ Continue with your dress fittings as needed
3 Weeks in Advance
____ Pick up your altered and pressed gown from the seamstress and store it in a safe place
____ Offer to help the bride with any wedding planning tasks
____ Take the bride out for a de-stressing activity, such as a hike, a walk through the park, a concert, etc.
____ Confirm your travel and hotel plans
2 Weeks in Advance
____ Offer to help the bride with any wedding planning tasks
____ Get your pre-wedding haircut, color and highlights
____ Write the bride a lovely letter to give her at the rehearsal dinner
____ Buy the wedding gift and wrap it, or have it sent to the bride and groom’s home
____ Confirm your beauty appointment
____ Purchase any stockings or accessories you will need for the big day
1 Week in Advance
____ Break in your new wedding day shoes (scuff up the soles for safe traction)
____ Check in with the bride to get an updated itinerary of where you need to be and when
____ Offer to help the bride with any last-minute tasks
____ Travel to the wedding location the required number of days in advance (such as two days prior) for pre-wedding events and helping
The Day Before the Wedding
____ Arrive on time (or early) at your hotel, and unpack completely so that you’re available for all pre-wedding events
____ Set out your dress (steam it to remove wrinkles, if necessary) and your accessories
____ Check in with the bride to see if there’s anything she needs picked up
____ Attend the arrivals cocktail party and greet guests, if the bride and groom are not in attendance yet
____ Attend the rehearsal
____ Attend the rehearsal dinner
____ Join out-of-town guests at the hotel for a post-rehearsal-dinner event, if planned
____ Join the bride to help her prepare last-minute items and tasks
____ Take plenty of photos!
____ Go to bed early. Tomorrow’s a big day!
On the Wedding Day
____Arrive on time (or slightly early) to meet the bride and the other bridesmaids
____ Attend the wedding morning breakfast
____ Join the bridesmaids at the salon for hair and makeup. Or prepare your own hair and makeup at the bride’s chosen location
____ Dress for pre-wedding photos
____ Help the bride dress and prepare, as needed
____ Pose for pre-wedding photos
____ Help the bride gather any necessary items, such as the groom’s ring, marriage license, emergency bag and other essentials
____ Be sure you have your purse, keys, cell phone and other essentials
____ Accompany the bride and bridal party to the ceremony location, and let the excitement begin!
____ Participate in the wedding ceremony
____ Stand in the receiving line, if required
____ Pose for post-ceremony photos
____ Participate in special introductions and dances at the reception
____ Help the bride with any needs during the reception
____ After the reception, help the bride gather any belongings to take home, and pack her gifts in the car
____ Direct guests back to their hotel, if needed
____ Attend the after-party
Sharon Naylor is the best-selling author of over 35 wedding books, including The Ultimate Bridal Shower Idea Book, The Bridesmaid Handbook and the new Bridesmaid on a Budget. Visit sharonnaylor.net for more bridesmaid tips and advice.