Indian weddings are known for their grandeur, elaborate rituals, and intense family drama. If you're lucky enough to be asked to be a bridesmaid in an Indian wedding, you may be wondering what exactly your duties are. In this article, The Desi Bride covers everything you need to know about being a bridesmaid in an Indian wedding, from the henna ceremony to the post-wedding cleanup.
Bridesmaids are usually close friends or family members handpicked by the bride to be by her side during her wedding ceremonies. The primary responsibility of a bridesmaid is to support the bride in her wedding planning responsibilities and to provide additional assistance to organize the bride's ideal wedding (and make sure she has an amazing time!).
"I attended the bachelorette and bridal showers, and helped set up for events (bridal shower activities, pre/post ceremony games like stealing shoes, making goodie bags for bachelorette parties, etc.). We also helped the bride get ready for her reception and did an entrance with the groomsmen. And did a dance at the sangeet of course! We only wore matching outfits at the reception. There were 3 other bridesmaids. She actually asked me before the pandemic and made a box of little goodies like a personalized wine glass and a tiny bottle of champagne, and some candy I think. It was pretty cute.", says a former bridesmaid from a major online platform.
Bridesmaids are required to participate in the wedding from the very beginning since they are important members of the wedding party. They have the responsibility of participating in the wedding preparations, planning the bachelorette party/bridal shower, and offering the bride assistance. Here are a few of an Indian bridesmaid's major and crucial responsibilities prior to the wedding.
Source: Lomesh Photography
Planning a desi wedding can be both exciting as well as exhausting. This is the time that the bride will need the most support. Bridesmaids have the job of being the bride's emotional support system as her closest friends, siblings, and other family members, as well as typically the people she wishes by her side as she makes this important life decision. They should keep in touch with her throughout the wedding planning journey, ask about her concerns, and give their best to deliberately and sensitively support her feelings. Knowing that her BFFs and sister(s) are there to back her up as and when required, will reassure the bride when planning her wedding gets stressful. Although it may be first and foremost the bride's responsibilities, she may not be a natural planner and it will be crucial for the bridesmaids to stand by her and contribute their part in getting the pre-wedding and post-wedding celebrations underway. Setting the tone of the planning process as a group endeavor (if the bride wishes it to be) is also important from the beginning.
Offering advice is a key part of being a bridesmaid as long as the bride asks for advice.There is a small line between offering advice and being forceful about what one believes to be the best course of action. Throughout the planning phase, the bride might ask for a bridesmaid’s opinion on a variety of issues. Being truthful is acceptable, but if the bridesmaid’s response is upsetting the bride, they must take a step back, be tactful and ask the bride’s perspective from a different angle.
Indian weddings are filled with multiple events celebrating the union of the couple, but the only events that really put the spotlight on the bride alone are the bachelorette party and the bridal shower. Although there are no rules here and both events can be planned by the bride herself, typically, it's the bridesmaids who should take a lead in making the bride feel special. These events are a celebration in the bride's honor of her upcoming nuptials attended by her closest friends and family members. A bachelorette party can be a low-key weekend in the mountains or a full-blown spa weekend complete with yoga, partying and gourmet chefs. A bridal shower is typically a themed brunch or dinner, like a scene from Bridgerton. Depending on the bride's preference, both events can be planned a few weeks or even a couple of months before the wedding. Communication is key so a discussion with the bride to know what she wants and who she wants to attend will go a long way in giving the bridesmaids a heads up and come up with a theme, the outfits and activities to do.
Source: Lomesh Photography
Every bride has a different experience when looking for her wedding dress, and every bride will want a different number of entourage members. For the bridesmaids, it is vital to observe some basic etiquette guidelines when shopping if they are invited, and research the latest wedding dress styles to help the bride make an informed decision. Some brides may already have a vision of what they want their bridal party to wear but if she asks for help, the bridesmaids can offer suggestions for the outfits, hair and makeup.
Unfortunately, this is also a moment for the bridesmaids to keep silence if they are requested to wear an outfit or color they don't love. The only exception is when they are required to wear anything that makes them extremely uncomfortable (for example, a dress that is too low cut or with which you cannot wear a supportive bra). It's entirely fair for them to bring up their discomfort if they already know what they are and it’s best for them to let the bride know beforehand so that preparations won't be derailed.
A helping hand from the bridesmaids during the arduous wedding planning process is greatly appreciated. It's not necessary to act out of control; just be present, pay attention, and reassure the bride that everything will be alright. The challenge may arise if the bridesmaids are not well acquainted, which happens most of the time. There is also a chance that interactions will be interpreted incorrectly or that personalities will clash because they may come from various locations, backgrounds, and stages of the bride's life. We highly recommend for the bridesmaids to not rely on the bride to act as a go-between or set the group's mood. Even if there are disagreements, since it's likely that there will be more than one bridesmaid, it’s one of the duties of the bridesmaids to be careful to present a united front. After all, they have the same objective: to make the bride's special day successful.
Indian weddings are incomplete without gifts and favors, and it also counts as an optional duty of a bridesmaid. A spa day in the midst of all stress is a thoughtful example. Bring the monsoon season of India to the bride with the Indian Monsoon Jar by Scrumptious Wicks or spice up your bridal shower with a bite size version of paan, a popular Indian wedding treat with Paan Truffles by The Paanwala. For the sweet-toothed bride, gift the Seasonal Collection by Tagmo, a box filled with nut-free and vegan chocolate treats. It's also a terrific idea for the bridesmaids to get a larger present for the newlyweds if all of them wish to contribute.
Today is the big day for the bride and it is the bridesmaid’s duty to ensure everything goes without a hitch! This entails being there for the bride all day long, from getting dressed in the morning (even if that means waking up at 2 am to get your hair & makeup done), keeping the nervous jitters away to being on-hand during the ceremony for handling any mishaps. For the complete list of duties, a bridesmaid might have on the wedding day, take a look below.
It makes sense for the bride and her bridesmaids to get ready together, so arriving at the right location on time is crucial for the bridesmaids. Once they are getting ready, it’s important for the bridesmaids to take the lead in making sure that nothing is out of place with the bride’s attire, ensuring a constant supply of snacks for the bridal party, making music arrangements for a lively mood and even popping a little bubbly if the bride is open to it. Makeup remover, bobby pins, lipstick, and other sewing and cosmetic supplies should be included in an emergency pack. It’s better for the bridesmaids to get dressed quickly so they can assist the bride in putting on her wedding dress and handle any other last-minute activities that may be required. She might require last-minute assistance with vendors when they arrive or double-checking seating plans and other last-minute details.
Source: MnM Photography
Bridesmaids must take the initiative to know the wedding planner and the event(s) schedule. The wedding planner will probably introduce themselves and their team to the important friends/family members prior to the festivities and will offer instructions at some time throughout the events. To ensure that everything runs well the day of, it's essential to work with the planner, pay attention to their schedule, and make sure to do any tasks they require from the bridesmaids. A week or two before the wedding, the timeline should be communicated, and followed by the bridesmaids. It’s okay not to memorize it but the bridesmaids should examine it, comprehend how the day will go, and do their best to recall the specifics.
Make sure the bride has everything she needs for the ceremony and photographs after everyone has completed getting dressed. A bridesmaid can assist as the keeper of the small items such as touch-up lipstick, blotting papers, and the bride's smartphone. Typically, the planners will have the majority of the crucial stuff such as rings, vows, any change in shoes, etc. Group shots normally take place shortly before the wedding ceremony or right after. Bridesmaids should remain together and be prepared to go through the photographer's instructions instead of scattering into the crowd since it may be exhausting to round up stray guests for these photographs and it also takes away valuable time from the couple's opportunity to enjoy their cocktail hour.
The bridesmaids distract the groom from entering the venue because being married to the bridesmaids’ closest buddy is the nicest thing that has ever happened to him. And since marriage comes with taxes, the bridesmaids make sure to receive their due portion of "Shagun." Moreover, as the groom reaches the mandap, South Asian tradition demands for him to take his shoes off. This is where the fun ritual, ‘Joota Chupai’ begins. The bridesmaids steal the groom's shoes as discreetly as possible, hide them and extort money in exchange for the shoes from the groom since he can't leave the venue without them.
If the bride is wearing a form-fitting dress, she will need some assistance in holding the dress up on her way to the restroom. Even in between the events like the Grah Shanti and Pithi, the bridesmaids can help the bride change outfits. The planner or the stylist will definitely be there for the bride but she may be more comfortable with her sister/BFF around. The bridesmaids would also have to make sure that the bride is well-fed and well-hydrated even if it is only snacks throughout the day and ensure that the bride at least drinks water. Guests and photos can take over the couple’s day, so hydration is key. Furthermore, it’s essential to keep in mind that it is a long day for the entire wedding party on the big day, and the couple is under the most strain, so the bridesmaids should key their frustrations to themselves. If they have any issues with the hair or cosmetics that didn't come out as they had hoped, they must talk it over with the professionals rather than the bride. Checking in with guests for any of their needs, helping them navigate through the location for the refreshments section or the restrooms, and assisting the family members with the wedding favors are also included in the wedding day responsibilities of Indian bridesmaids.
Source: Biyani Photography
The bridesmaids may not be delegated this task, but on behalf of the bride, they can take the initiative or check in with the person in charge of collecting all the wedding presents and taking them to a secure place or a storage space until the newlyweds return from their honeymoon.
For the speech, the bridesmaids should be mindful of the couple's wishes, make sure to honor them, and keep them happy with what they wish to say. Make sure your stories are aunty and uncle appropriate!
The bridal party, along with the important family members, has the responsibility of mingling with the guests after the ceremony and make them feel at ease as well as welcome. The bridesmaids may also be responsible for dance performances (at the sangeet or after the wedding at the reception) after the newlyweds have had their first dance.
As bridesmaids, it is one of the most important duties to take photos of the happy couple and share with them as soon as possible after the wedding. The couple would love to enjoy and relive the joyful memories on their honeymoon. We recommend creating a Google photo album and asking guests to upload their photos / videos to the shared album.
Source: MnM Photography
In Indian weddings, having bridesmaids isn't always a norm and so, Indian brides who want to assign this role officially, as well as those who find themselves becoming a bridesmaid, may have questions. So, along with the duties mentioned above, The Desi Bride added a handful of FAQs. Here are answers to some of the most common questions about Indian bridesmaid etiquettes.
Absolutely not! There are no rules set here. The bride can have as many and as few bridesmaids as she wants.
The bride will decide who she wants to include in the bridal party. They can be her sister(s), BFF, other close friends, and cousins. She will make sure to introduce everyone to each other.
The bride will have her makeup artist ready for all the events. Most of the time, she will have the makeup artists do all the family members'/friends' hairstyles and makeup. The bridesmaids must remember to have this conversation with the bride about who will get ready when and where.
Source: Biyani Photography
The bride will typically want everyone to feel at ease and will give everyone the option, but it's always a wise decision to check! The bridal party can decide on a coordinated look that matches the wedding if she isn't rigid about everyone matching. Consider wearing neutral sandals and elegant jewelry for the special occasion.
It’s best for the bride to wait and finalize all the important details, such as the date, venue, and guest count. We highly recommend informing all the bridesmaids about their roles 6-8 months prior to the wedding so that they can start their own preparations.
The bridesmaids are essentially the wedding VIPs and it makes sense to treat them as such from the get-go. Having a box of thoughtful goodies to pop the question is one great way to make the bridesmaids feel special. There are tons of South Asian brands that offer giftable and useful items that Indian brides can put together before asking their close friends/family members to form the bridal party. Check out this blog post for a highly curated list of South Asian brands perfect for a luxury gift to desi bridesmaids.
In conclusion, Indian bridesmaids have a lot of duties! From helping with the wedding planning and helping the bride get dressed to attending all of the pre-wedding ceremonies and taking care of the guests, they play a vital role in the wedding. To make sure you are prepared for your BFF’s desi wedding, be sure to visit our website for everything you need to know.
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