The Wedding Reception

Now that the vows have been recited and the couple has sealed their marriage with a kiss, it’s time to party at the reception! Well, actually, it’s probably time to spend an hour taking pictures first, but after THAT, it’s off to the reception. But before you and the bridesmaids let loose, you should act as hostesses for arriving guests and direct them to things like the

restroom, the gift table, the bar/buffet if applicable, the guest book, where to sit and try to answer whatever questions they may have. Guests don’t want to bother the bride and groom with these inquiries, and you will be wearing the bridesmaid uniform, so you’ll be a target for questions.


Many brides choose to have a big entrance for themselves and the groom, as well as the wedding party. This type of introduction usually goes in this order: entrance and the first dance of bride and groom, father/daughter dance, mother/son dance, bridal party introduction, and dance. This order can of course be mixed up any number of ways. During the bridal party dance, you’ll likely be paired with the best man. However, the bridal party dance is not a given at any wedding reception. Many traditions like this are regional; it may be the thing to do in the Northeast but people in the South have never heard of it, or vice versa. It’s another one of those expectations you’ll need to check with the bride on. Even if there isn’t a bridal party dance, but there is dancing at the reception, you and the bridesmaids and the groomsmen should make an effort to get people on the dance floor by being the first ones to bust a move!


If it’s a traditional or formal wedding reception, the best man will probably make a toast. It’s a wonderful touch and so meaningful for the maid of honor to follow him, but in most cases, it’s optional.

Taking Care Of The Bride

Once the reception is in full swing and you’ve completed all your official duties, you can relax and enjoy yourself but still, make sure the bride has everything she needs at all times. This includes making sure she’s taken a moment to eat and drink (unless the reception is a seated dinner), fixing her bustle or dress if needed, checking and reapplying makeup, and, let’s be honest: it might even include holding up her dress while she, ahem, “powders her nose.” Also, if the couple didn’t opt for a receiving line, the bride and groom will be bombarded with guests talking to them at the reception. While this is great and what the couple wants, there will be guests who don’t know when enough is enough, and the couple needs to make the rounds to all their guests. This might be a good time to rescue the bride by telling her she’s needed somewhere and taking over with the guest or simply by joining the conversation so that the bride can make a gracious exit without leaving her guest alone. Of course, be as discreet and courteous as possible; these situations can be tricky.

Helping The Bride Choose Wedding Attire

What’s The Best Way For Me To Help The Bride Shop For Dresses?

Traditionally, brides ask the maid of honor to help them find their wedding attire. This task can be monumentally challenging and take months and several out-of-town trips, or it can be a lucky coincidence that she finds “the one” on the first shopping day. As maid of honor, you may want to ask the bride when she’s planning on going and let her know you’d love to come and help if she would like as wedding attire. And any bride would feel spoiled if you presented her with a stack of clippings from bridal magazines full of dresses that just made you think of her or that you thought would look amazing on her. She has undoubtedly been scouring the magazines herself looking for THE dress but an outside opinion is always helpful.

Knowing ahead of time which dresses she wants to try on can save time in the search, but try to encourage her to be open-minded and try on lots of different styles.

How Do We Find Out Where To Go?

This really depends on the bride’s budget, which can be anywhere from $150 to $5,000 and up. If you are in a smaller town, it’s probably a good idea to research the bridal shops in the nearest metropolitan area and spend a day shopping there for wedding attire. Research on a site like to find out the price ranges of certain designers and you can call the bridal shops ahead of time to see which designers they carry-that way you don’t waste any time at a shop that only carries designers that are way out the bride’s price range. Regional bridal magazines and the internet are a great resource for finding out what dress shopping choices you have locally.

What Time Frame Should We Follow For Making Her Choices?

For many brides, dress shopping is the first thing she wants to do as soon as she is engaged. Generally, if the bride is traditional and classic, this approach works well. However, if the bride is ultra modern and trendy and wants the dress of the moment, she should try to hold off on purchasing her gown as late as six months before the wedding, so that the “it” dress isn’t soo five minutes ago. Some dresses can take as long as three months to come in, while some can arrive in as little as a month, and then others that can be bought off the rack and taken straight home. You’ll also want to consider the time needed for fittings. The first fitting should take place at least six weeks before the wedding day. For example, for an early October wedding with a dress that takes the maximum time to come in, the dress would need to be purchased in mid-May. Five to six months is really the latest most brides should wait to purchase their wedding gown.

What Should I Know About Purchasing My Dress?

The necessary lead time for purchasing bridesmaid dresses is similar to that of the wedding attire: purchase 5-6 months before the wedding and leave at least 4 weeks for alterations. In almost every case, you are responsible for purchasing your own attire for the wedding, including the dress and alterations, as well as any accessories such as shoes and jewelry. You can probably expect to pay $120-250 for your dress, plus around $50 for alterations. If you’re asked to wear a dress any more expensive than that, the bride should really offer to pay.

More Tips for the Maid of Honor