After months of planning, your wedding is finally here – and it’s now time for your bridal party to help deliver the day you’ve always imagined. Claire Moulds offers up some words of wisdom to your nearest and dearest …
There’s absolutely no doubt that you have one of the most important jobs of the day, which is to help the bride look exactly how she’s always pictured herself. You might be working to images she’s shown you previously or have been involved in hair and makeup trials in the run up – you might even be undertaking one or both tasks yourself – but the crucial thing is to stick to the brief.
It’s not unheard of, in a fit of self-doubt, for a bride to suddenly decide she wants to go with a whole new look. Here’s where you need to step in and gently remind her just how many months of research she’s undertaken – carefully planning the image that people will take away with them – and how it might not, therefore, be the time to go with something completely different.
The best bridesmaids are not only a great emotional support, calming any last minute nerves and alleviating any worries, but are also attentive to those all-important details – straightening a train here, rearranging a veil there. You’ll also need to be the bride’s eyes in terms of when a makeup refresh is required, or when her hair needs some attention to ensure she looks her best in all the photos. Always look after her in a way you’d like someone to look after you on your own wedding day.
And, while it’s not always glamorous being a bridesmaid – helping your friend go to the toilet in her enormous dress, for example, and patiently listening to her Great Uncle Eric’s stories about his allotment – always keep a smile on your face, as you never know when someone will be taking a picture. No bride wants to look back on images from her big day and see one of her attendants looking glum.
Better still, remember that, once the first dance is over, you will officially be ‘off duty’ and can finally let your hair down and celebrate your friend’s transformation from Miss to Mrs.
While the focus of the bridesmaids is naturally the bride, your role encompasses far more than just looking after the groom. And, while you may have a team of ushers to call on to help you, there’s no denying that, on the day, you will be the ‘main man’.
Not only will venue staff look to you to answer any queries or act as a liaison point between them and the couple, but guests will come to you for guidance on everything from what time the cake will be cut to where they should leave their gifts. Be prepared and ask the bride and groom in advance for any information you feel you’re likely to need.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t be on hand to provide your friend with any emotional support he might require, to help him with his outfit or to proffer last minute advice, but it’s a role that needs to be balanced with ensuring that the show runs smoothly from start to finish. Your job, in effect, is to ensure the bride and groom’s plans are implemented so that they can relax and be free to enjoy their day.
Always have some money in your pocket for incidental expenses. A spare set of shoelaces is never a bad idea, either, nor is a small bottle of the groom’s aftershave so he can freshen up before the evening do. Fight the urge to joke about making an embarrassing speech – no matter how much they trust you, all couples worry about exactly what their best man is going to say – as it will only exacerbate any nerves. And, of course, reassure the groom that his own speech is perfect – or help him with any last minute tweaks, so that it is.
Finally, whenever you’re in doubt, think what you’d like him to do/say if the roles were reversed. And, never forget, you’re the best man because he thinks you’re the best man for the job.
FLOWER GIRLS & PAGE BOYS
There’s no doubt that little ones can bring moments of delight to a wedding but they can also, quite easily, unwittingly wreak havoc. A friend’s three-year-old nephew ran headfirst into the cake table during her wedding drinks reception, causing the three tier creation to later collapse. The moral, of course, for all parents is not to let go of small exuberant offspring, official attendants or not. Maybe decorative reins are the answer.
Nobody expects your son or daughter to behave beautifully all day, and the fact they have been given such a special role shows how much they mean to the bride and groom. However, there will be certain things the couple will expect. Chief of these will be that the professional photographer gets some lovely shots of your child in their wedding finery before anything gets creased, stained or ripped, so it’s advisable to hold off putting your offspring in their outfit until the very last minute.
If your child has been asked to perform a certain task during the ceremony, such as being the ring bearer, do practise in the run up to the big day and tackle any fears they might have about doing it. While it’s important for them to understand how much it means to the couple, it’s also vital not to build it up into something that they are dreading. If they are nervous, tell them to focus on whichever member of the bridal party they know best – bride, groom, best man or bridesmaid – and ask that person to offer them encouragement as they make their way down the aisle.
And, if you’re worried about how long you might be able to keep your youngsters clean, happy and awake, ask the bride and groom if it’s possible to have any photos they want with the children as soon as possible after the ceremony, so that you can then put them down for a nap, feed them or change them into ‘normal’ clothes if they aren’t comfortable in what they’re wearing ‘officially’.
Finally, head straight for the nearest exit if there are tears at any point during the ceremony or the speeches. Nobody wants to be unable to hear their bride say ‘I do’ or their groom tell them how much they mean to them. The couple will always remember that you showed respect for their special moment.
Ultimately it’s a huge (albeit nervewracking) honour to be asked to play such a central role in the couple’s big day. You’ve been chosen as someone who will offer all-important practical and emotional support… but also, most simply, because the bride and groom enjoy your company. As is always the way, the best memories will be accompanied by a great deal of laughter… so relax and enjoy the day you’re helping to make special.